Rondo trade not sole reason for Mavericks’ struggles

Rondo leaving Dallas given slightly less apathy by the media as Anaheim gave to the Hamilton departure. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
Rondo leaving Dallas given slightly less apathy by the Dallas media than Anaheim gave to the Hamilton departure. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Alex Gustafson

Following the December 18th trade of Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, I was optimistic of the team’s future with the nine year veteran from the University of Kentucky.

Yes, the local media have called coach Rick Carlisle and Rondo’s relationship on the court toxic (let us not forget that former Mavs point guard and current Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd had his fair share of disagreements with coach Carlisle during Kidd’s second tenure in Dallas, from 2008-12 including a championship during the 2010-11 season).

However, I see other problems that go along with the Carlisle-Rondo chemistry issue. The Maverick roster is full of aging veterans and little youth presence. While both are important, I believe that Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban need to consider more of the latter when putting together rosters in future off-seasons. Injuries have plagued Dallas during the 2014-15 season, notably free agent, small forward Chandler Parsons, who missed the final six games of the regular season. Moreover, upon appearing in Game 1 of the team’s first round of the playoff series against the Houston Rockets he re-injured his knee and chose to have surgery soon afterwards.

Forwards Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and point guard Jameer Nelson are the key trade pieces of the Rondo deal that have been welcomed by their respected peers in their new surroundings (Nelson is now a member of the Denver Nuggets while Wright is a member of the Phoenix Suns). The Celtics qualified for the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. They were swept 4-to-0 in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were led by the trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. While Crowder has been embraced by the fans in Boston since the trade, Rondo has been labeled as a distraction in the huddle and in the locker room in Dallas.

I see this as what happens when a veteran player goes from playing for a young coach in Brad Stevens to a veteran coach in the Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle, although Rondo was coached by current Clippers head coach and President of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers from 2006-13 before the team traded Rivers to the Clippers for a first round draft pick. This has been well documented over the past month with Kidd and Carlisle during the former’s time with the franchise (2008-12). To me, this is proof that veteran coaches and players can rarely coexist following a blockbuster trade.

My prediction: Like most members of the local media, I do not think the Mavericks will make Rondo an offer and pursue other free agent options at the point guard position. I see Rondo’s tumultuous time in the “Big D” coming to an end. Furthermore, I see major roster changes coming this offseason as well.