Sitting in a fresh tan suit in front of the beautiful San Francisco bay, NBA free agent to-be Rajon Rondo took deep sighs before answering the questions.
Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump with Rachel Nichols, Rondo attempted to detail what it was like to be a part of a Sacramento team that saw Coach George Karl bicker with star center DeMarcus Cousins and ownership flirt with firing Karl in February before finally giving the veteran coach the axe in April.
“Too much tension. I’ve never witnessed or experienced a thing like that in my 10-year career,” Rondo told Nichols.
After openly admitting during the season that only three or four players regularly attended optional shootarounds, Rondo again pointed to issues with the team’s commitment and chemistry. While Rondo said he enjoyed playing with Cousins and would be open to a return to the Kings, his description of his club last year did not match how he said he would his teammates next year to behave.
“I want to see myself in a situation where guys want to grow, guys want to get better. I don’t want to be the hardest-working guy in the gym,” Rondo said.
“There were too many distractions on and off the court. The organization as a whole, I don’t think was together completely. I think as a team you have to want the best for the next man beside you, and that wasn’t the case with the Sacramento Kings.”
Despite the circumstances, Rondo averaged 11.9 points, 11.7 assists and six rebounds — all above his career averages — during his year in Sacramento.
Known to be moody and volatile on and off the basketball court, Rondo also showed his compassionate side, using the platform to again apologize for directing a gay slur at NBA official Bill Kennedy last winter and reaching out to the victims of the mass shooting that occurred at a night club in Orlando on Sunday.
“Want to send my thoughts and prayers out to the LGBT community,” Rondo said on The Jump. “The only thing that’s going to stop all this madness is love. The only thing that can conquer hate is love. I think that’s what we need to do is love one another. My prayers and thoughts go out to the community of Orlando.”