The Mavericks have fallen to seventh in the Western Conference, and Rajon Rondo has taken the brunt of the blame.
He got into it with Rick Carlisle on the court and in the locker room, and Dallas suspended him. Rumors swirled neither side was happy with the partnership, and Rondo would leave this summer in free agency.
But maybe Rondo isn’t the only problem.
Monta Ellis has shot just 38.5 percent from the field and 25.0 percent on 3-pointers since the beginning of February. His 4-of-22 shooting, including 0-of-8 in the fourth quarter, during a loss to the Suns yesterday was particularly horrid. Nobody had taken so many attempts and shot such a low percentage in a game all season.
Ellis had nothing to say, refusing to stop to talk to reporters as he exited the locker room with headphones covering his ears. Ellis often bucks NBA rules by blowing off the media, particularly after poor performances.
Carlisle dismissed a follow-up question about Ellis’ extended slump by focusing on what he perceives to be the Mavs’ biggest problem.
“This is not a Monta Ellis shooting problem,” Carlisle said. “This is a Dallas Mavericks hard-play problem, all right? We don’t play hard all the time. And that’s a problem.
“It’s pretty clear that’s where our inconsistency is and we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to be a more together team. I believe that we can do it. We did it in the second half, but it’s work. It takes effort. It takes effort in the locker room, it takes sacrifice and we’ve got to be willing to do those things.”
Regardless of whether anyone will admit it on the record, Ellis is a big part of that problem. Folks in the Mavs organization have been fretting for weeks about the impact Ellis’ moodiness has on the team’s soul.
Something is going wrong in Dallas. Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t need to be there long, and he recognized it.
But I also believe reporters have a tendency to conflate an athlete being uncooperative with the media with an athlete being uncooperative with his coach and teammates. Those might overlap, but they don’t necessarily. See Russell Westbrook.
Perhaps, MacMahon has impeccable sources within the organization who are assessing Ellis for only how he affects the team. But it’s also possible MacMahon, colored by his own interactions with Ellis, is unduly influenced by those.
I’m not exactly sure what to make of this, but it’s possible we get more time to figure it out.
Ellis reportedly planned to opt out of his contract this summer. If his value sinks low enough, maybe he opts in and the Mavericks must deal with his moodiness – whatever that is – another season.