Rajon Rondo’s brief time in Dallas came to an end long before the Mavericks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Rockets.
After a disastrous 36-second stint to start the second half of Game 2, where Rondo picked up two personal fouls and a technical in an immature display that had many feeling like he quit on his team, he was benched by his head coach, never to return to the Dallas lineup.
The team said a back injury was to blame, and that it would sideline Rondo indefinitely. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle later said he didn’t expect Rondo to ever wear a Mavericks uniform again, and now we know the reason why.
Rondo never really fit with the Mavs, as the concerns about the impact of his poor shooting in coach Rick Carlisle’s flow offense quickly manifested and were never solved. The hope of a “Playoff Rondo” sighting was crushed after his poor Game 1 performance and the appearance he gave up in Game 2.
The Mavs and Rondo made a mutual decision to part ways the next day, sources told ESPNDallas.com, framing the reasoning as a back injury as a favor to try to help the four-time All-Star point guard save face.
The truth was that the Mavs didn’t want Rondo, who was going to be replaced in the starting lineup regardless, pouting and rubbing off on other players, Ellis in particular. Essentially, the Mavs made a drastic move in an attempt to do damage control on a chemistry crisis.
Just as we all suspected.
The back injury story was nonsense, if only because Rondo had been playing through it all along, and it was clear that his demeanor (and not his back) was what was hurting the team the most.
Telling the truth publicly at the time, that Rondo was a cancerous addition to the Mavericks who would be benched the rest of the way, would have only caused needless controversy for the remaining players in the locker room who were still battling to try to win a first-round playoff series.
It’ll be very interesting to see where Rondo lands as an unrestricted free agent after all of this — and especially at what price.