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    Rajon Rondo is staring at an NBA midlife crisis. At the age of 29, the Louisville native and University of Kentucky alum will attempt to salvage his career in Sacramento.

    To paraphrase Michael Keaton’s character in Birdman, Rondo must be wondering ‘how did I wind up here?’

    NBA training camps have opened and the Kings don't look like a playoff team. The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas listed Sacramento's 2015-2016 win total at 30.5 – the fifth fewest in the Western Conference.

    Rondo is a four-time All-Star. He was the starting point guard for the 2008 champion Boston Celtics.

    Now he’s playing for a moribund franchise on a one-year, $10-million deal. It's a far cry from the five-year, $100 million max contract he reportedly hoped to get from the Celtics.

    Rondo paid a steep price for bad timing with a career-worst season.

    “Nobody thought the situation in Dallas would end up like it did,” said Central High School’s Doug Bibby, who coached Rondo at Eastern High School.

    The only way 2014-15 could have gone worse is if Rondo was simultaneously attacked by rattlesnakes while being struck by lighting. He was traded from Boston to Dallas last December and was expected to be a pivotal piece for the Mavericks.

    Instead, his assists per game plummeted from 10.8 with Boston to 6.5 with the Mavericks. He feuded with coach Rick Carlisle and was suspended by the team for one-game after an on-court shouting match with Carlisle.

    Tensions between Dallas and Rondo were so bad that his teammates reportedly agreed not to give him a playoff share.

    “It takes a lot of patience to coach Rondo,” Sean Deveney of The Sporting News said. “You’ve got to be in touch with his quirks.”

    Bibby, however, said: “Going to a new team is like a relationship. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t work.”

    According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Ratings, Rondo ranked 41st out of 50 point guards. His assists per game (7.9) were the lowest since his second season. His points per game (8.9) were the fewest since his rookie year in 2006-07. He shot 39.7 percent (31 of 78) from the free-throw line.

    That’s not a misprint.

    It’s hard to pin down an exact reason for Rondo’s decline. One theory is that he hasn’t been the same player since tearing his ACL in 2013. Another possible explanation is that Rondo’s game is ill-fitted for today’s NBA.

    The San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors have won the NBA championship with ball movement.

    “When you look at point guards now - Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose – and even a guy like Jeff Teague – you don’t need playmakers at that position any more,” Deveney said. “You need scorers, shooters. The playmaking comes from all-around ball movement. That’s just the way the game has developed. It’s almost like Rondo’s game has been left behind a little bit.”

    Rondo has always been a special – and some would say mercurial – talent. He has constructed a successful career despite being a career 26.3 percent 3-point shooter.

    Can he adapt and fit in with Sacramento coach George Karl and fellow Kentucky alum DeMarcus Cousins?

    “He wants to be a winner,” Bibby said. “He wants to be back on top like he was when he was with the Celtics.”

    Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Kings.

    Michael Grant's picture

    About Michael Grant

    Sports reporter in Louisville. Film buff. Capricorn.

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