Rajon Rondo knows exactly why he was a dud last year in Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s offense, but has flourished this year for Kings coach George Karl.
“I run [Karl’s offense] for the most part,” Rondo said prior to Thursday’s game at American Airlines Center. “Coach gives me a lot of freedom, but that’s his style.
“Rick’s style is completely different, and that’s all it is.”
In one game last season, Carlisle called a timeout when Rondo wasn’t running a play he was asked to run.
On his way to the bench, Rondo cursed at Carlisle and Carlisle cursed back. The Mavs suspended Rondo for one game for conduct detrimental to the team.
I run [George Karl’s offense] for the most part Coach [Karl] gives me a lot of freedom, but that’s his style. Rick’s style is completely different, and that’s all it is.
Kings point guard Rajon Rondo
The discord continued when the Mavs and Rondo eventually parted ways between Games 2 and 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets.
In retrospect, Rondo thought it was a terrific idea when the Celtics traded him to the Mavs. But it eventually imploded, and Rondo wound up signing a one-year, $9.5 million free agent contract with the Kings last July.
“It looked great on paper,” Rondo said. “It’s just the styles of play were different.
“I need the ball on my team. I’m not into friction.”
Karl said he realized why Rondo decided to join the Kings.
“I think he came to a team that needed a point guard,” Karl said. “Maybe he was intrigued by how I let my point guards have a lot of freedom.
“Every point guard I coached I had a little bit of a wrestling match with, but usually it’s because I want them to create the game for us and also be my quarterback on the floor. It’s a lot of responsibility, but also I think a lot of fun if you do it well and you have success with it.”
Rondo is succeeding in Karl’s system. Entering Thursday, he leads the NBA in assists with 12.1 per game, is third in triple-doubles with five, eighth in steals with 1.95 per contest, is ninth in double-doubles with 29, and averages 11.8 points.
I think he came to a team that needed a point guard. Maybe he was intrigued by how I let my point guards have a lot of freedom.
Kings coach George Karl on Rondo
The freedom to run the offense is what drives Rondo, and is what he was used to when he played for coach Doc Rivers with the Celtics.
“That’s what I’ve been accustomed to playing nine years in Boston,” Rondo said. “That’s just how it was, the situation I was in.”
“Early in the season when we were struggling, Rajon, I think, accepted that challenge to take the responsibility of leading the team,” Karl said. “And he’s done a very good job for us.”
Rondo admits he learned a lot about himself during his four-month tenure with the Mavs.
“Things were different last year,” he said. “It made me the better person that I am today.”
▪ Euless Trinity graduate and Pacers forward Myles Turner was selected as the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for February. Turner averaged 13.4 points and 6.6 rebounds.
▪ After playing at Denver on Sunday, the Mavs will face nine consecutive opponents currently with a winning record.