Back in 2015, Rajon Rondo and Rick Carlisle mixed about as well as ammonia and bleach. Or alcohol and late-night texting. You get the idea. The high-IQ, strong-willed player who likes to do things his way, and the coach who wants to micromanage, were destined to be a disaster. Rondo’s time on the court kept dropping and dropping to the point when he was deactivated midway through a first-round playoff series and left the team.
Carlisle knew what was coming before the trade. Dallas gave up a lot of quality — Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, and a first-round draft pick — to Boston in a deal Carlisle didn’t want to happen.
Why did it? Dirk Nowitzki. That’s what Mavericks writer Tim MacMahon of ESPN said to Nate Duncan on the Dunc’d On’s Season Outlook for the Dallas Mavericks. (Hat tip Real GM. Also, if you’re not listening to the Dunc’d On podcast, you’re doing it wrong.)
“The Rondo deal, that’s the one that stands out. Rick Carlisle told them he did not want him. He said he was going to kill the spacing. He said Rondo is going to be a really bad fit. But essentially what happened there, and Rick stood down once he understood this, Dirk wanted the deal done. Dirk has traded for two point guard during his time. He’s traded for Jason Kidd; that one helped deliver a championship here. Got off to a rocky start but certainly ended up with a ring. He made one great deal for a point guard while the Rondo trade was a total disaster.”
Consider this your 1,672,341st reminder that in the NBA superstars wield a lot of power. A lot of them also think they know how to be GMs, when in fact they are horrible at it.
Rondo was given a lot of freedom by Geroge Karl in Sacramento last season, and he put up better numbers — he shot 36.5 percent from three — but the Kings were not happy with the fit on or off the court and didn’t chase him hard as a free agent this summer.
Rondo is going to be a huge key to just how good Chicago is this season. Can he help provide some spacing? He’s a clever passer still but will he be willing to share offensive control with Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler at times? Will he be better than he has been on defense? Can he make this team of assorted pieces mesh? He will be at the heart of whatever success the Bulls do or do not have.