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Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins Reunited in New Orleans

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Rajon Rondo has agreed to sign a one-year contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, The Vertical’s Shams Charania first reported. After trade talks with Detroit for Reggie Jackson stalled, the Pels proved they were serious about acquiring a veteran Point Guard. Rondo will likely be signed using part or all of New Orleans’ $7.5 million Mid-Level Exception.

I expect the Pelicans to start both Rondo and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt next season, and I think it’s a brilliant move for them. With two primary ball handlers on the floor with their two superstar big men, New Orleans can ball screen and attack from either side of the court at any time in a possession.

Ball-screens are one of the toughest actions to effectively and consistently defend in basketball. Chris Paul showed that with the Clippers when he had one of the highest assist rates with the league’s best mid range field goal percentage. In the NBA if you help off the screener, it’s an alley oop dunk or wide open jump shot. If you don’t help off the screener, it’s a layup or floater for the ball handler. And now in New Orleans, you can’t help off the opposite big either. So, good luck trying to defend them in the half court next season.

Defensively the Pelicans have two rim protectors, and Anthony Davis can effectively defend almost any position anywhere on the floor. Both Holiday and Rondo can defend either of the opposing backcourt spots. Holiday is 6’4”, and Rondo is 6’1” but with a 7’0” wingspan.

The addition of Rondo has a huge impact on this team for one other key reason as well, and that’s both on and off the court. Rondo was DeMarcus Cousins’ favorite teammate, by far, in Sacramento. That season Rondo averaged a career-high tying 11.7 assists per game along with 12 points and six rebounds per game. Sacramento won 33 games that year, the most of any of Cousins’ seasons with the team.

An under looked aspect of the trade New Orleans made to acquire Boogie from the Kings is that the Pelicans made this move with no assurance that Cousins would stay with the team beyond this season. The team has not been shy about their intentions to keep him around long term, and signing Rondo is likely another piece of their pitch.

About Preston Dubey

Lifelong basketball fanatic and Bucks’ supporter

I coach basketball; but I eat, sleep, and breathe the game.

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