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The Los Angeles Clippers are acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Lou Williams, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The Hawks will also get cash and two second-round picks from the Clippers. The Clippers pursued Rondo this offseason, but could not make the money work once they used their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Serge Ibaka. Williams, however, makes almost exactly the same amount of money as Rondo, so a trade became feasible from there. 

Rondo signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, but has largely been a disappointment. He has averaged only 3.9 points and 3.5 assists per game in a bench role this season, and with Bogdan Bogdanovic getting healthy, the Hawks just don't have many spare minutes to offer a player who is struggling. In Williams, however, the Hawks not only get an extra scorer that already had one successful stint in Atlanta, but more importantly, get off of the second season on Rondo's deal. 

The Clippers, meanwhile, have sorely lacked a true point guard all season. Those struggles have manifested most glaringly in the clutch, when the Clippers offense looks stagnant and in sore need of ball-movement. Rondo should help provide that, and even if he isn't a great regular-season player anymore, last season proved just how effective he can be in the playoffs. 

The Clippers did not have a single tradable first-round pick to dangle at this deadline, and they were light on feasible matching salary as well. That limited their avenues to improvement, so they took a swing on a veteran that, in the right environment, might be able to make a difference in the postseason. In that sense, they grade out fairly well in this deal.

Los Angeles receives:

Rajon Rondo
CLE • PG • #1
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 Atlanta receives:

Lou Williams
ATL • SG • #6
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  • Two future second-round picks
  • Cash considerations

Clippers trade grade: B+

The Clippers wanted Kyle Lowry. They wanted a surefire impact point guard, but they weren't going to get one with what they had available. The Paul George and Marcus Morris deals deprived them of all of their first-round picks, and Williams was their only meaningful expiring salary. Realistically, they had three options. They could've hoped someone of note became available on the buyout market, but that appeared unlikely. They could've broken up more of their rotation and offered a player like Ivica Zubac for an upgrade, but that would've created one hill to fill another. Or, they could've made a move like this. Low-cost, high-reward. It makes sense. 

Rondo has not played well this season. That's not a surprise. He didn't play well last season either. He hasn't averaged double figures in scoring since 2016. He's shot 42.4 percent from the field in the regular season ever since. But Rondo was sensational in the postseason for the Lakers last season, a trend that has largely held up ever since he's left Boston. Rondo improves when it counts, and the Clippers needed that badly. 

The Clippers have been outscored by 14.1 points per 100 possessions in clutch settings this season, the fifth-worst mark in basketball. They rank No. 17 in the NBA in passes per game, but only No. 24 in potential assists. The offense lacks movement and structure. Rondo, if he can recapture the form from the bubble that got him a multi-year deal from Atlanta in the first place, will help on those fronts, and he'll do so at a reasonable price. 

Losing Williams stings. Microwave scorers have value on a team that struggles to generate points systematically. But he simply couldn't stay on the floor late in games due to his defensive deficiencies. The Clippers landed a player in Rondo that might be able to close games for them in the postseason. The same wasn't true for Williams. Even if they had to eat an extra year of money and give up some draft capital, that alone makes this a worthwhile trade. 

Hawks trade grade: A

Atlanta's goal this season was simply to make the postseason, not win anything once they got there. In that sense, Rondo was always a strange signing. Making the postseason means playing well in the regular season, and that's something Rondo hasn't done in years. The Hawks gave him a two-year deal that looked like a mistake almost immediately. Williams, whose contract expires this offseason, is essentially an escape clause. If nothing else, the benefit of this trade is that it saves the Hawks money next season. That money could be important with John Collins a restricted free agent. 

But Williams might actually help the Hawks. Injuries are a big part of this, but the Hawks have been over 15 points per 100 possessions worse offensively when Trae Young has gone to the bench. Williams will at least help them generate some pick-and-roll points for those bench units, and with the Hawks now firmly back in the playoff picture, that's going to mean quite a bit this season. That they also got two second-round picks out of the deal is a nice bonus. Atlanta succeeded on every front in this deal. They saved money. They added a player who could help them in exchange for one that hasn't. They added draft capital. Win-win-win.