NBA AM: Is Rondo Mentally Checked Out Of Dallas?

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Rajon Rondo deal starting to look like a failed experiment

Heading into the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks became a trendy pick to pull off an upset over the second seeded Houston Rockets in round one. On paper, the theory seemed logical. After all, the Rockets limped into the playoffs without starting point guard Patrick Beverley, former All-Star center Dwight Howard was on a minute restriction and key role player Donatas Motiejunas was lost for the season.

Rajon Rondo, especially, figured to play a large role in providing constant chaos in the series with the absence of Beverley in Houston’s lineup. However, the Mavericks find themselves on the ropes and in serious trouble heading into Game 3 facing a 0-2 series deficit.

There are more than a few reasons why the Mavericks are in their current predicament, but none is driving the results more than the disappearing act of Rondo, a former All-Star once considered a potential franchise player.

Rondo is averaging a pedestrian 9.5 points, three assists and one rebound in this year’s playoff despite the absence of Beverley. But it is Rondo’s Game 2 stinker that is going to drive most of the rhetoric about the guard’s long-term future in Dallas. Rondo posted four points, two rebounds, one assist and four fouls during 10 uninspiring minutes in the Mavericks’ double-digit defeat.

Rondo’s play prompted always outspoken TNT analyst and Hall of Fame forward Charles Barkley to accuse the guard of essentially looking ahead to free agency despite being in the midst of a playoff series.

“He’s not engaged in this game,” Barkley said during TNT’s broadcast. “He’s distracted. He’s ready for free agency.”

Barkley elaborated further in his postgame comments, saying Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle should strongly consider benching the guard for the good of the team because Rondo is clearly disengaged in his eyes.

Carlisle publicly maintained his decision not to play Rondo down the stretch was strictly strategic in nature and not indicative of a future lineup change.

“He got his fourth foul, so I took him out,” Carlisle told the media postgame. “Other guys were playing well. A coach’s decision. We need everybody at his competitive best. This is not about one guy did or didn’t play. It’s about everyone pulling in the same direction.”

Rondo was acquired by the Mavericks last December from Boston in exchange for Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, a conditional 2015 first-round pick and 2016 second-round pick. Rondo is headed toward unrestricted free agency this summer and was considered to be, at the time, a large part of the Mavericks’ plans moving forward.

But since Rondo has arrived in Dallas his tenure has been marred by clashes with the coaching staff, inconsistent production and an inability to fit into Dallas’ overall style of play.

Game 3 is set for Friday, April 24 in Dallas.

Greg Monroe reiterates he will strongly consider re-signing in Detroit

While the playoffs rumble on, franchises outside of the hunt for a title have started to plot out their next steps – evaluating the draft, free agency and potential trade options available in the coming months.

The Detroit Pistons are a team with a few big decisions to make this offseason – namely what will be their approach with talented forward Greg Monroe, an unrestricted free agent this summer.  The Pistons had a chance to lock Monroe up long-term last summer and avoid the drama, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement and the forward opted to sign the team’s qualifying offer.

Monroe is rumored to be on multiple teams’ free agency wish list, so he will have options aplenty. However, the forward maintains he hasn’t fully given up on the idea of re-signing in Detroit long term.

“I don’t know why people have the notion or the thought that I am just out of here already, like it is one foot out the door,” Monroe recently told Terry Foster of the Detroit News. “At the end of the day, I am going to do what any free agent would do. I will listen to everybody and assess it.”

Monroe, drafted by Detroit in 2010, averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds on 50 percent shooting this season in 69 games. The forward pushed his scoring average to 17.6 per night post All-Star break with a slight uptick in minutes.

The New Orleans native maintains Detroit has a special place in his heart and any decision of his future won’t be made haphazardly.

“I have ties here; I have been here my whole (adult) life,” Monroe said. “They drafted me, so of course I am going to listen to them with the same ear as I listen to everybody else. They have the upper hand.”

Free agency begins July 1 and Monroe will enter the frenzy as arguably the second rated big man on the market behind Portland All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.