The Rajon Rondo trade didn’t end well for Dallas or Rondo last season.
Rondo averaged 9.3 points and 6.5 assists per game in Dallas, with a true shooting percentage of 46 percent (numbers close to what he had done recently in Boston). But Rondo never meshed well with coach Rick Carlisle and the Dallas offense, which up until his arrival had been one of the NBA’s best. It was a clash of styles. Rondo’s lack of a jump shot had teams sagging off him, he dominated the ball at times, and the result was the Mavericks’ offense lost its spacing. Bottom line, the Dallas offense was 5 points per 100 possessions worse when Rondo was on the court. He improved the Dallas defense by 1.7 points per 100 possessions, but that was not enough to make up for the offensive issues. Everything deteriorated, and midway through their playoff series with Houston, Dallas ended the Rondo experiment.
Getting Rondo may not have worked out, but it was the kind of gamble owner Mark Cuban is known for. That said, he told Zach Lowe of Grantland during a recent Lowe Post Podcast that the decision to get Rondo was not unanimous in the front office, instead it was more of a coin flip (hat tip to Tim MacMahon for the transcription).
“Everybody went back and forth 100 times. There was no 100 percent, yeah, let’s all go do it. Everybody changed their mind 50 times. At the end, it really came down to a coin flip more than anything else. And the coin flip was as much about, is there going to be anything else that we could do? Because we knew we had to do something. But that’s the way it all worked out, and what’s done is done. No hard feelings. He has his approach to basketball. Look, where I give him credit, he came as a 29 percent free throw shooter and left as a 77 percent free throw shooter because he put the work in. I would bet every penny I had to bet against him shooting 3s, and by the end, working with our guys, he ended up shooting 35 percent I think from 3s and actually was somewhat consistent at the end. There were other reasons why it didn’t work, but one of the reasons it almost could have worked is because he was a hard worker. He really did put in the time to make it work.”
Cuban is right, Dallas was strong on offense early in the season but clearly was a team not on the elite tiers of the West with the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers or Rockets. Getting Rondo was a gamble that didn’t pay off, but the end result of a first-round playoff exit was where Dallas was heading without him. Nothing much changed, it was simply the hopes of Mavericks fans that spiked and fell.
However, just because this didn’t work out, don’t expect Cuban and the Mavericks to be gun shy the next time there’s a risk to take.
Both sides have moved on, with Rondo landing in an interesting situation in Sacramento. Cuban and the Mavs will be looking to roll the dice again.