Sacramento Kings

George Karl Discusses Rajon Rondo Before Kings vs. Celtics

Sacramento Kings head coach George Karl, left, and guard Rajon Rondo (9) share a fist-bump during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. The Kings won 97-91. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
Danny WebsterAnalyst IIIFebruary 6, 2016

Rajon Rondo will return to Boston as the enemy for the second time when the Sacramento Kings take on the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Rondo has revived his career with the Kings, leading the league with 11.7 assists per game after a disastrous 46-game stint with the Dallas Mavericks in 2014-15. Sacramento head coach George Karl, the latest legendary coach to work with Rondo, admitted that the four-time All-Star is a "challenge to coach,"  per ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg:

Last year, Rondo and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle got into a shouting match after Rondo failed to call a play that Carlisle wanted to run. The coach then benched Rondo for the remainder of the game. And according to Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com, former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and Rondo almost got into a physical altercation while the two were in Boston.

Karl admitted it's not easy to coach a point guard like Rondo, who a Celtics insider told ESPN's Baxter Holmes last year "always thinks he's the smartest person in the room, even if he isn't."

For the most part, Rondo and Karl's relationship has worked in Sacramento. Despite a 21-29 record, the Kings are only three-and-a-half games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoff race.

Although ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported the Kings were considering firing Karl after a loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, Karl knows how to get the most out of his point guards. He coached Gary Payton in Seattle, Sam Cassell in Milwaukee and Allen Iverson in Denver, and Karl put Rondo in the same breath as those three in regard to letting his guards have freedom to do what they want while running the offense, per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

Rondo may be a handful, but Karl is giving him freedom, and it's paying dividends. Although the Kings are eight games under .500, there's plenty of time for the team to inch closer to playoff contention.

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