Rajon Rondo has always been a prickly personality whose competitive and combative nature is sure to rub some people the wrong way. But when the Mavericks acquired the point guard on Dec. 18, the move was met with near unanimous praise. Dallas lost some depth in Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder, but a starting lineup of Rondo, Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons was expected to help the Mavericks keep pace in the brutally tough Western Conference.
Things haven't quite worked out. Rondo's poor shooting has cramped Dallas' spacing and his ball-dominant nature has clashed with coach Rick Carlisle's offense, which is heavy on ball movement.
The frustration between player and coach culminated in Rondo being suspended for Wednesday's loss to the Hawks. Rondo and Carlisle got in a shouting match on the court in Tuesday's win over Toronto, an argument that spilled into the locker room.
Both Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge gave their opinions on the polarizing point guard on Wednesday:
Stevens called Rondo a "proud guy." Didn't wanna guess on what happened but thinks Rondo will respond with a good performance.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) February 25, 2015
Ainge on Rondo: "I know that Rondo's an emotional guy and a feisty guy, so none of it surprises me."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) February 26, 2015
Even without the drama, Rondo has slowed down the Mavericks' once-prolific offense. Dallas is averaging nearly nine fewer points per 100 possessions with Rondo in tow, though their defense has picked up with him around:
Rondo's personal numbers haven't dropped off much, and his usage rate in Dallas has actually increased. But the point guard isn't allowed to dominate the ball like he was in Boston, and he's nearly useless when asked to stand in the corner of the Mavericks' offense:
The relationship may be beyond repair, as ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon reported Wednesday that the free-agent-to-be is "extremely unlikely" to remain a Maverick past this season. Dallas is still fifth in the West and is talented enough to make a run.
But for that to happen, Rondo and Carlisle must get on the same page. Rondo displayed his disruptive side often in his Celtics' tenure, even admitting his defense effort lacked in Boston.
Leaders like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, as well as coach Doc Rivers, were able to control Rondo's eccentricities in Boston and fully unleash his talent. Whether Carlisle is able to do the same will determine what the Mavericks' ceiling truly is.
Photo credit: Ronald Martinez, Getty ImagesDan Hoppen 2/27/2015 11:51:00 AM Tweet Edit