Are Rajon Rondo and the Dallas Mavericks Heading for Divorce?

It appears that the honeymoon period for Rajon Rondo and the Dallas Mavericks is officially over.

Rondo was not on the floor Wednesday night when Dallas lost to the Atlanta Hawks 104-87. The point guard was serving a one-game suspension for what the Mavs called “conduct detrimental to the team.” The punishment was a result of the profanity-filled exchange that occurred between he and coach Rick Carlisle during the team’s 99-92 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.

Before last night’s game Carlisle said, “The incident last night was born in large part out of poor communication between him and I. That’s on both of us. We had a long talk about the situation today, and we both agreed that we need to communicate more frequently. We need to work on the solution for making his stint as a Dallas Maverick the most successful one possible. We’re looking at 23 games here. Right now, this is a critical time for us.”

It makes sense that the Mavericks would want to make the situation with Rondo work. After all, when he’s at the top of his game Rondo one of the best point guards in the NBA. However, when there is clear a difference in philosophies between the coach and player, you have to ask yourself, “is this marriage inevitably doomed?”

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

When the Dallas Mavericks traded for Rondo back in December it looked like beginning of a shift in the balance of power in the Western Conference. The Mavs now had enough pieces to really strike fear in the rest of the league. In Rondo, Dallas acquired a creative point guard with a knack for making plays. With his long arms, huge hands, and high basketball IQ, Rondo has an amazing feel for the game. However, he operates best when he is free to make his own decisions on the floor. And that’s not how it works in Dallas.

Since joining the Mavs, Rondo’s points per game average has increased, but some of his other key numbers have dipped. Despite his 9.0 points per game, the point guard is now averaging only 6.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals a contest. This decrease could be a result of being a part of a more talented roster, or it could stem from the fact that he is in a system that doesn’t allow for improvisation.

Tuesday’s incident resulted from a dispute over play-calling responsibilities, the majority of which are handled by Carlisle. And this hasn’t sat well with Rondo for some time now. He likes to be in control out on the court, and this style has been known to make him difficult to coach. But the Mavericks had to have known this before they made the deal with the Boston Celtics, right? Perhaps they were hoping that things would be different in Dallas. Clearly that doesn’t seem to be the case. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if the two parties can work things out. If not, we could be looking at another short-lived NBA marriage.

Statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.