Is this incident indicative of a bigger problem?
The reality is Rondo’s run with the Mavs is extremely unlikely to extend past this season.
There are rumblings among rival front offices that Rondo might just be the personality type to forego a five-year deal with the Mavs for a four-year deal with the team of his choice — the Lakers.
When the Mavericks traded for Rondo, they believed they’d re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Rondo gave them the edge – but he also didn’t close the door on leaving Dallas.
The Lakers are interested in Rondo, and Kobe Bryant said he’d continue to recruit him until Rondo signs. Rondo and Kobe are friends, and that – plus the Los Angeles market and the team’s gobs of cap space – should make the Lakers a viable option.
Of course, money will factor. Here are Rondo’s projected max contracts if he re-signs with Dallas (blue) or signs elsewhere (green):
The Mavericks definitely have an edge there – if they’re willing to max out the 29-year-old. Considering his stated desire for a max contract, I presume Dallas was willing to do so when it traded for him, but their partial season together might have changed those plans.
Still, the Mavericks might have an edge in other areas when it’s all said and then.
We’re evaluating Rondo’s intentions at his lowest point so far with Dallas. It’s quite conceivable he and Carlisle patch up their differences and the Mavericks advance deep in the playoffs. If either of those things happen – let alone both – Dallas could look much more appealing to Rondo.
But it’s safe to say, so far, this trade has not worked out as well as either side had hoped. If that remains to be true, Rondo very well could wind up walking.