Dallas Mavericks

Rondo moving fast on learning curve with Mavericks

DALLAS One of the unique talents about Rajon Rondo is he has a photographic memory which allows him to remember an opposing team’s plays once he’s seen them a time or two.

That memory was put on full display during his first practice – a shootaround -- of any kind with his new Dallas Mavericks teammates Saturday morning at American Airlines Center.

“We were going through some of the stuff today in shootaround and coach was just calling out plays and he was going to the exact right spot,’’ center Tyson Chandler said. “It took me a couple of months before I could do that.

“So maybe his basketball IQ is a little higher than mine. Coach is still cussing me out. Tyson, no!’’

Rondo’s innate ability to quickly recall plays from the opposing team is what sets him apart from many point guards. It’s also one of the reasons the Mavs are not really all that concerned about what they’re going to get form the 6-1 playmaker when they host the world champion San Antonio Spurs tonight at 7:30 at AAC.

“We walked through some things (Friday) night and we did it again this morning and we went through a shootaround,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “The important thing is to keep it as simple as possible, and I’ve learned through my 13 years of doing this that in coaching there’s a temptation to get into too much detail, and we can’t do that here.

“But we have kept things pretty simple this year for the most part, and this situation is no different.’’

Backup point guard Devin Harris isn’t surprised at Rondo’s level of basketball intelligence, adding that it will work to the Mavs’ advantage.

“The guy remembers the plays that he ran 10 years ago,’’ Harris said. “He’s that type of guy.

“He’s been playing against us long enough to probably know what we do.’’

In a way, Rondo is an extension of a coach on the floor. And his overall mindset is a dream for any coach.

“He’s going to do great, I think he’s going to be fine,’’ Carlisle said. “He’s really smart and picks things up very quickly.

“I don’t see a big adjustment period. He’s just got to get ready to compete with our guys.’’

Simplicity is definitely the name of the game for the Mavs during Rondo’s transition period.

“A lot of times when a guy comes in and he’s traded and it’s that first game out, it’s like streetball out there and you’re just getting a feel for one another,’’ Chandler said. “We definitely don’t need to be calling plays.

“We just let him run his fast break. We’re a veteran group. so we understand a lot of sets are similar, a lot of NBA teams run the same exact sets, just by different names.’’

A lockdown defender, Rondo knows he’ll be asked to shut down the plethora of top-flight point guards who adorn Western Conference rosters.

“Whatever game, I’m going to have to bring it,’’ Rondo said. “In the Eastern Conference, it’s not like they made life soft, but it’s night and day when you compare the East to the West point guards.

“I think that’s one reason why they brought me here is to get some defensive stops, check the best opposing guards on the floor. That’s my job and I take full responsibly and I’m looking forward to it.’’

It’s a job Chandler – the Mavs’ defensive anchor in the middle – can truly appreciate. Asked if he did any cartwheels after the Mavs acquired Rondo in a trade with Boston this past Thursday, Chandler said:

“I just think it’s just big for the team. A lot of people are saying things defensively, but Rondo is an incredible offensive player, a floor general point guard that understands the game and is going to put players in the right position.

“I was just happy -- happy for our team. This gives us another punch, another weapon, it makes us stronger to compete for what we ultimately what to achieve this year.’’

The Mavs won’t publicly admit it. But they believe the move to obtain Rondo puts them in an excellent position to claim their second world title during the last five years.

“I like having good players, and he’s a really good player,’’ Carlisle said. “He’s been an All-Star four times, he’s a big-time player, so you want to have as many guys like that as you can.

“I’m looking forward to working with him and I know our guys are looking forward to playing with him.’’