ATLANTA — The Hawks are signing Rajon Rondo to a two-year, $15 million contract, the AJC has confirmed.
Rondo, 34, will bring a veteran presence and playoff experience to a young Hawks team trying to qualify for the postseason this year. He will also fill a hole on the Hawks' roster as a secondary playmaker and ball-handler behind Trae Young. That was one of three major problems Atlanta had to solve entering the 2020 season — improved 3-point percentage (which the Danilo Gallinari signing addresses), improved team defense (which the Kris Dunn signing addresses) and preventing the offense from stalling when Young goes to the bench, something the Rondo signing can help with.
Last year with the Lakers, Rondo did not have a good regular season, and his defensive skills have regressed. Overall, he tallied 7.1 points per game, the fewest since he was a rookie, adding five assists and three rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game, the smallest amount of playing time he's gotten in his career.
But he performed well in the playoffs held in the Orlando bubble and ultimately helped the Lakers to a championship. Also, the Hawks' core is still very young and still learning how to win, and the presence of a veteran can help foster that development.
Rondo spent the first eight-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Celtics, and helped them to a championship in 2008 as their starting point guard. At the peak of his career, Rondo tallied 2-plus steals per game and 11-plus assists per game. He is still a good passer, a trait the Hawks will welcome.
Last season, without Young leading the charge, the Hawks could not accomplish much on offense. They converted two-way player Brandon Goodwin to an NBA contract, and Goodwin had some great scoring bursts, but he should likely be in more of a third guard role. They traded for Jeff Teague, but he didn't fix the problem, either. They started the season thinking Evan Turner could play some backup point guard, but he clearly wasn't the answer and played sparingly.
Young played 35.3 minutes per game, and if he was out, wing Kevin Huerter would slide over to point guard (he had some success filling in, though it took him out of his natural position).
With his passing ability and veteran presence, the Rondo addition can help the Hawks, even if he does not appear to be the player he once was.
ESPN first reported the deal.(c)2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC