The Los Angeles Clippers pinpointed a team weakness and moved on deadline day to fix it.
L.A. flipped guard Lou Williams, two second round picks and cash to the Atlanta Hawks for point guard Rajon Rondo in a deal announced before the NBA’s 3pm trade deadline on Thursday.
Rondo is just what the doctor ordered for the Clippers, a team that is averaging the 19th-most assists per game this season and is in serious need of a playmaking infusion. The 35-year-old will also bring a high basketball IQ and level of experience to this side of L.A. Not to mention the championship DNA Rondo exudes after winning rings with the Celtics in 2008 and the Los Angeles Lakers in the bubble last year.
The Louisville native signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks after his championship triumph, but never really took off with the team, averaging 3.9 points and 3.5 assists in just 27 games, only two of which were starts.
Now, he’s back in Los Angeles, and he’ll be looking to make it two straight championships as part of an L.A. team. The Clippers are currently sitting in third on 888sport’s table for odds to win the NBA championship with +425 NBA odds.
Rondo’s arrival with the Clippers also represents a reunion between the point guard and his new head coach, Tyronn Lue, who coached Rondo way back when he first came into the league and Lue was an assistant on Doc Rivers’ Celtics staff from 2011 to 2013.
When discussing the Rondo acquisition, Lue shared that Rondo was “pretty much my project,” while they were in Boston together.
“He’s fiery, that’s what we need,” Lue said on the topic of Rondo. “He’s tough. He understands the game. And he respects people as a straight shooter and will tell him the truth. That was my biggest thing in Boston, was just being honest with him and telling him the truth and keeping it real with him.”
There is no doubt that Rondo will have a huge impact on his new team as they go down the stretch and into what they hope is a deep playoff run, but Lue has yet to figure out exactly where the savvy vet will fit into the rotation, indicating that he will begin coming off the bench.
“We’ve got to get everybody together, get everyone healthy,” Lue said. “Just trying to see what works. It’s going to take some time. Just not sure right now.”
The Hawks will welcome back Williams, who last played in Atlanta from 2012 to 2014. The only three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year in the league’s history—the last two of which came as a Clipper—Sweet Lou was having a bit of a down year this season before he was dealt, averaging just 12.1 points per game in 42 appearances, his lowest per game number since his last season with the Hawks, coincidentally.
The Gwinnett County native recently surpassed 15,000 career points and said that he nearly called it a career when he learned that he was going from a championship contender like the Clippers to a team that’s a ways away from serious contention like the young Hawks, but eventually realized he still had enough to offer.
“Yea, so I thought about retiring yesterday,” Williams said in an Instagram post. “You give so much to an organization and you wake up and boom, it’s no more. Then in true clipper nation fashion I was reminded that my talent and contribution was appreciated and It made me reflect on what’s to come.
“There’s plenty left in my tank and I’m privileged to continue my career in my backyard. LA, thank you. Love you. Appreciate you. Great times and memories!!! ATL, LouWillVille. Mr. Williams, welcome home.”