The Hawks are determined to take a step up next season. Following the signing of Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta is signing guard Rajon Rondo to a two-year, $15 million deal according to multiple reports. Rondo, 34, spent the previous two seasons with the Lakers, playing a key role in the playoffs for the 2020 champions. The Hawks had the third-worst net rating in the NBA last year, but are aggressively pursuing upgrades around Trae Young. Let’s grade the deal.
This deal really depends on which version of Rondo the Hawks are receiving. The point guard struggled during his first season in LA, and was so-so before the playoffs this year. Then all of a sudden Rondo turned it up and became an integral part of the title run, most notably beginning to shoot much better from three. Will he have that level of focus throughout his time with the Hawks, especially if a Finals berth isn’t remotely on the line? Rondo will be important if he plays significant time along Trae Young, who needs help defensively. Between Rondo and Kris Dunn, who was also signed this week, Atlanta is banking on there being enough shooting elsewhere in the lineup to offset the skills of their free-agent pickups.
Rondo can certainly be useful in the right situations, and his IQ and willingness to mentor young players are truly valuable traits. At this point in his career, he just seems like someone who makes much more sense on a team ready to contend as opposed to one trying to make the playoffs for the first time with its current group. This isn’t the kind of deal that’s an overpay or too many years. I just question the utility for both sides. Can the Hawks really make such a big leap up from cellar dweller with the older players they’ve acquired? Do those players make sense with Young’s timeline? And for Rondo, will he be okay for ultimately playing for such low stakes compared to the situation he left? Both sides seemed to have some more sensible options, but I also don’t think either Rondo or the Hawks are going to be filled with regret because of this move.