Dallas Mavericks

Are the Mavs ready to hand the play-calling keys over to Rondo?


DALLAS – After the rather ugly and embarrassing events of Tuesday night, perhaps it’s time for the Dallas Mavericks to take a hard and honest look at Rajon Rondo and ask themselves this pertinent question:

Is the nine-year veteran really ready to be the Mavs’ glorified point guard of the future?

A little over two months into trying to get used to his job with the Mavs, and there Rondo was Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors, loudly cursing coach Rick Carlisle while over 20,000 stunned fans at American Airlines Center looked on in utter dismay.

It was a scene rarely seen around these parts, and probably had Mavs management wondering what exactly have they gotten themselves into.

"I’m not surprised,’’ center Tyson Chandler said. "Two guys, two competitive guys.

"One player that’s been in this league for a long time and one coach that’s been in this league for a long time and seen a lot of basketball and dealt with a lot of different personalities, and I’m pretty sure he’ll know how to deal with this one.’’

This one was a scene out of – well Boston. Especially since Rondo once tossed some curse words in the direction of then-Celtics coach Doc Rivers under similar conditions.

In other words, when it comes to hurling unpleasantries at his coach, Rondo is a repeat offender. Regardless of who’s watching and who’s listening.

How do the Mavs move forward from here? They have to be asking themselves this after the player who becomes a free agent this summer -- and would likely want a multi-year contract close to $15-$17 million a year – cursed the coach for all to see and hear.

"I think the main thing is that we stay together in the locker room and understand that we’re all trying to win and we’re all in this together,’’ Chandler said. "Those two, they’re two grown men, and they can handle their problems within each other.

"As far as this team goes, everybody in this locker room has to be into winning and wanting to win. And everybody in here does want to win.’’

The Mavs gave up a lot of promising pieces – including Brandan Wright -- when they acquired Rondo from the Celtics in a blockbuster trade on Dec. 18. And while the Mavs’ defensive numbers have improved, thanks to Rondo, their offensive numbers have decreased.

That’s mainly because Rondo still hasn’t become an effective shooter, even though he was recently tutored by Holger Geschwinder, Dirk Nowitzki’s long-time mentor, coach and advisor from Germany.

Early in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game, Carlisle was trying to motion Rondo to run a certain play. And when Rondo wasn’t doing what the coach asked him to do, Carlisle angrily called timeout and said a few things as Rondo walked by.

Rondo, who makes $12.9 million this season, then cursed at Carlisle, and Carlisle hurled those exact same cursed words right back at Rondo.

Is Carlisle’s flowing offense one that is not tailor-made to Rondo’s liking? Is this why frustrations boiled over and led to the temper tandrum by Rondo and Carlisle?

"It’s an emotional game and we had a difference of opinion, so there was an exchange and then in my mind it was over.’’

Asked if the difference of opinion was in regards to play-calling, Carlisle said: "I’m not going to get into that. But in my mind once it was over, it was over.’’

As the Mavs (39-20) to play at Atlanta on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., that remains to be seen.

"I think Rajon has been in this league a long time – he knows how to play,’’ Nowitzki said. "I guess he feels he needs a little more leverage out there, but this is not for me to decide.

"It was a tight ballgame and I guess ultimately the coach has the last word.’’

Nowitzki has seen frustrations of this nature before from a Mavs point guard. Back in 2008 when Jason Kidd joined the Mavs, he didn’t exactly pick up Carlisle’s flowing offense right away.

But he eventually soaked it in, drove the offense resourcefully and became one of the cornerstones when the Mavs captured the 20111 NBA title.

"Sometimes taking over the team mid-season is hard,’’ Nowitzki said. "I think we’ve been through it with J-Kidd when he first got here there was some frustrations.

"It’s just not easy trying to get used to a new system. You play at a certain style, a certain way, a certain system for a long time. It was the same with J-Kidd.’’

And as Kidd finally caught on, will Rondo, who refused to talk to the media after Tuesday’s win over the Raptors?

"Eventually we worked through all the kinks and the frustrations (with Kidd,’’ Nowitzki said. "And he was a huge part of us winning the championship a few years later.’’