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The persistent Rajon Rondo to Sacramento rumor

06.25.14 at 8:54 am ET

The once strange Rajon Rondo to Sacramento rumors continue to persist, and the latest development makes more sense than any previous narrative.

According to’s Marc Stein, the Kings and Pistons have discussed a deal that would pair Josh Smith with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins in the Sactown backcourt. So, what does that have to do with the Celtics point guard?

The hope, at least from Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro‘s standpoint, may be to leverage longtime friends Smith and Gay as recruiting coordinators in convincing the C’s captain to sign a long-term contract with a team that has not made the playoffs since 2006. Smith, Gay and Rondo all have openly discussed their desire to play with each other at various points over the last few years.

Sacramento’s interest in Rondo is nothing new. In February, the Kings and Celtics reportedly discussed a trade that would send Rondo packing in exchange for a package including Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas and a pair of picks.

None of those pieces are involved in the reported Smith swap (Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams and/or the expiring contracts for Carl Landry and Jason Terry).

Thomas is a restricted free agent, so he could still be included in a sign-and-trade, and the possibility of adding last year’s No. 7 overall pick (McLemore), Sacto’s No. 8 pick this season and a future pick is an increasingly intriguing haul should C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge not land Kevin Love and instead deal Rondo.

While Rondo’s impact as a four-time NBA All-Star point guard isn’t reflected in this past season’s statistics, a look at the numbers for the principle pieces in this trade scenario isn’t as lopsided as one might think.

  • Rondo: 998 minutes, 11.7 ppg, 9.8 apg, 5.5 rpg, 1.3 spg, 46.1 TS%, 15.3 PER
  • Thomas: 2,497 minutes, 20.3 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.0 rpg, 1.3 spg, 57.4 TS%, 20.5 PER
  • McLemore: 2,187 minutes, 8.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 48.5 TS%, 7.7 PER

Considering the Celtics would also receive Sacramento’s No. 8 pick, Ainge would have to strongly consider this deal should he choose rebuilding over reloading. Adding Thomas, McLemore, their own No. 6 selection (Joel Embiid?) and No. 8 (Julius Randle?) to the existing young core would be a step in the right direction on the long road ahead.

The bigger question is whether the Kings can pull off the necessary moves to convince Rondo to stay in Sacramento. While it comes as no surprise Stan Van Gundy is shopping Smith’s contract (3 years, $40.5 million) after assuming Detroit’s coaching and player personnel duties, DraftExpress analyst Jonathan Givony suggested talks between the Pistons and Kings are “dead.” Thus, the rumored Rondo deal becomes a larger obstacle, considering the Kings would have a harder time convincing him to sign an extension without Smith in place.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Josh Smith, NBA, Rajon Rondo
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