Rondo unveiled by Kings, says he has high hopes
LAS VEGAS (AP) Asked what the potential of the Sacramento Kings will be this coming season, newly signed point guard Rajon Rondo did not hesitate before giving his answer.
''Sky's the limit,'' Rondo said.
This much is clear - they'll be interesting.
The Kings brought Rondo, Caron Butler, Marco Bellineli and other newcomers to Las Vegas on Monday, coinciding with the NBA's summer league for an unveiling of sorts. Head coach George Karl and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins shared a handshake, newsworthy in that it's no secret that the relationship between those two has been strained, and not long after that Rondo was talking playoffs.
''I'm excited that everybody's doubting us,'' Rondo said.
There are reasons for that, of course. One, the team's best player - Cousins - seems less than enthralled with Karl, to the point that when the coach approached for a handshake on Monday the Kings' big man put his head down, then got up from his chair and started looking away. Two, the last time the Kings played a postseason game was 2006.
Hence, the makeover.
''Whatever this is called,'' Karl said, ''it was necessary.''
Rondo went to the Dallas Mavericks midway through last season, things didn't work out and he wound up taking a one-year deal to join the Kings. He didn't seem offended, said he'll value the relationships he built in a short time in Dallas - and said Mavs owner Mark Cuban was honest with him ''from day one'' about his situation there.
''I've been basically challenged my whole life,'' said Rondo, a four-time All-Star and part of a championship with Boston in 2008. ''It is what it is. A lot of people didn't expect me to come this far in the NBA. I have no doubts about what my talents can do. ... Life is about handling adversity and I've dealt with a little bit of adversity this past season.''
Karl and Cousins will be dealing with something in the next few weeks. It was widely reported that Karl wanted to trade Cousins, but that neither Kings owner Vivek Ranadive nor VP of basketball operations Vlade Divac would sign off on the deal.
''Cuz and I have to work together to get back together and I think we will,'' Karl said. ''All of our guys are hungry for winning. And Cuz is our best player, our most talented kid. And we need him to feel like there's a commitment from both sides, from he to us and from us to he.''
As for coaching Rondo, Karl just pointed to how he's dealt with strong-willed guards in the past - a list that includes Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Andre Miller.
''It's going to be fun coaching him,'' Karl said. ''I think he wants to lead our team but he also wants to be part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustible but it can also work on a high level because I think we're all trying to make the team the best.''
Butler, who has a championship from his time with Dallas in 2011 and is considered one of the wiser vets in the league, had offers to go to other teams that might be more championship-ready.
None of them, he said, were more appealing in the end than going to the Kings.
''It's a great opportunity for me,'' Butler said. ''At this point in my career I'm stable and it's not about the money. It's about playing the game of basketball, being utilized the right way and being wanted and needed. The want and need, I felt, was more in Sacramento.''
Associated Press Writer W.G. Ramirez contributed to this report.