Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make. Along the multiyear journey of building the 2014-15 Houston Rockets, general manager Daryl Morey has learned and relearned this lesson a handful of times.
Ultimately, after an offseason in which they swung and missed on numerous free agents, perhaps this season's Rockets will be the ultimate reinforcement of that adage. Either way, whether they win a title or not, it is undeniable that the Rockets should be thankful that any interest they had in Rajon Rondo back in December didn't turn into Rondo's becoming a Rocket.
The surly, truculent eighth year point guard is the Dallas Mavericks problem now, and on Tuesday, after a Game 2 in which Rondo obliterated every semblance of teamwork and winning culture, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle opted to put that problem in the freezer.
Per ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the news came down this afternoon:
ESPN sources says Mavs are ruling out Rajon Rondo indefinitely after back injury he sustained in Game 2
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 22, 2015
If you watched Game 2 and blinked, you may have missed Rondo's performance, if we can even call it that. He played an uninspiring ten minutes, in which he managed to rack up four fouls, a technical foul, and was even called for an eight second violation when he was nabbed bringing the ball up the floor far too casually.
The box score for Tuesday's game also doesn't begin to capture Rondo's utter disinterest in playing basketball on that night. The only time he appeared to be engaged was when he was glaring at his head coach, and when he wasn't glaring at Rick Carlisle, he was completely ignoring directions from him.
If Tuesday was ultimately Rajon Rondo's final night as a Dallas Maverick -- Carlisle said at his media session on Wednesday afternoon that he doesn't expect Rondo to be a Maverick next season -- then we will point back at the first 34 seconds of the second half of Game 2 as the moment where Rondo figuratively "went boat shopping with Tony Soprano."
Foul, foul, technical foul. In 34 seconds. It takes a special kind of selfish asshole to execute that trifecta. I mean, you almost have to be trying to get caught for it to happen that quickly.
And for all of these reasons, I feel completely comfortable saying that Rondo's injured back is complete and utter bullshit. His injured back may as well be placed in between air quotes in size 72 font. This is Carlisle ridding himself of a problem that he probably wishes he could have rid himself of long ago. From the time that Rondo was acquired from the Celtics, he's been an awkward fit, and his petulant demeanor did nothing to smooth the transition, as he routinely and publicly jousted with Carlisle.
Dallas' ill conceived acquisition of Rondo, a consequences-be-damned "star grab" if there ever was one, is ironic given owner Mark Cuban's (asinine) take on the Rockets' roster construction philosophy this past fall:
"(The Rockets) just have a different understanding and approach to chemistry than we do. Some teams, and that's not just the Rockets, just put together talent and the talent takes care of itself. We think chemistry matters ... That's not our style."
Hello, Pot. Meet my good friend Kettle.
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Forget about what the Rondo implosion means for this series. Think about what it means for the well being of the Mavericks' roster as a whole. How much more dangerous would this team be this postseason with Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, and Jameer Nelson in place of Rondo? How much better would they feel heading into the offseason with the 2016 first and second round picks they gave up? Not to mention the $12.9 million trade exception they traded to Boston as well.
So it appears that Rajon Rondo's run in Dallas is coming to a close. Rumor has it that, before Cuban and the Mavs made the deal to bring him to Dallas, Rondo was signed, sealed, and delivered to head to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers with Kobe Bryant.
As big as a disaster as the Lakers are, Rondo would fit in perfectly there.