With news that Rajon Rondo will be out indefinitely after reportedly suffering a back injury in Game 2 against the Rockets, his days in a Mavericks uniform appear all but over. Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle echoed that line of thought, as ESPNDallas reporter Tim MacMahon noted.
Asked if he expects Rondo to return to Dallas, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle responded, "No, I don't."
If this is indeed the end for Rondo in Big D, he’s leaving behind a disturbingly drab tenure with the franchise that gave up Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, draft picks (including a first-rounder) and a $12.9 million trade exception to get him from the Boston Celtics back in December.
Rondo’s scoring output increased by one point per game in Dallas, mostly because he shot 35.2% from beyond the arc as opposed to the 25% of triples he hit in Boston. But his rebounding and assist numbers each saw dramatic declines.
The system fit was a disaster from the get-go, and Rondo repeatedly butting heads with Carlisle certainly didn’t help matters. Prior to the trade, the Mavericks were the best offensive team in basketball. Their torrid scoring prowess was “on pace to smash the all-time league record for scoring efficiency by an almost comical margin,” as Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote back in November. With Rondo in tow, that trajectory experienced a glaring contrast.
The Mavs scored 103.4 points per 100 possessions with Rondo orchestrating the offense and 112.2 when he sat on the bench. Dallas even shot the ball more efficiently without Rondo, as his renowned passing skills failed to make much of an impact on a team that had been firing on all cylinders.
The on/off stats only got worse for Rondo in the postseason. While we’re dealing with an admittedly small sample size of just two games and just 37 minutes played, Rondo had a net rating of -45.2 in his time on the court. Houston’s offensive rating was an absurd 133.3 when Rondo was on the court for defense. Not surprisingly, the 29-year-old’s player efficiency rating (PER) of 12.4 in a Mavericks jersey was the lowest of his career (it was a pedestrian 15.5 in 22 games for the Celtics).
Throw in Rondo's downright ghastly 45.2% shooting from the free-throw line in the series and there aren’t many (if any) positives to glean from Rondo’s stint with the Mavericks. He was 39.7% on the season overall, which was only better than DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond among qualified players.
Rondo will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. There’s reason to believe he played his way out of a max contract despite his All-Star track record. The rumor mill insists he’s bound for Los Angeles, but would the Lakers really want to bring in an enigmatic, aging point guard coming off the worst year of his professional career (with an injury history to boot)?
The future is murky for the former NBA champion, but one variable that looks crystal clear is that his time with the Mavericks is sure to be over. The experiment to bring him in failed spectacularly.
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