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NBA AM: Rajon Rondo, The One-Year Rental?

Is there enough friction between Rajon Rondo and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to be concerned – long term?

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Could Rajon Rondo ultimately end up being a one-year rental in Dallas?

The NBA is filled with guys at the top of their respective professions, playing or coaching a sport with the goal to ultimately win at a high level. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise the game is also filled with egos – massive egos. It’s part of the game. Always has been, always will be.

The Dallas Mavericks suspended former All-Star guard Rajon Rondo for one game prior to Wednesday’s road game versus Atlanta for conduct detrimental to the team. Rondo and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle got into a shouting match during the club’s Tuesday night contest versus Toronto. The guard apparently ignored Carlisle’s play call from the sideline, which led to the coach rushing the floor to call a timeout and the subsequent altercation.

Rondo has a championship ring as a player. Carlisle has one as a head coach. Both guys have won at high level in their respective roles.

Let’s make this clear: Coaches, players and team officials have disagreements all of the time. They spend too much time together not to have the occasional spat.

But Rondo and Carlisle’s disagreement deserves a bit more attention. The Mavericks acquired Rondo from the Boston Celtics in December as the team looks to make one last championship run before All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki hangs up the laces for good.

What makes the friction between Rondo and Carlisle stand out more in this situation is the fact the guard is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Both parties are still supposed to be in the honeymoon phase of their relationship after just two months working together.

For now, Carlisle has maintained that Rondo is still a huge part of the Mavericks’ plan moving forward.

“The incident last night was born in large part from poor communication between him and I, and that’s on both of us,” Carlisle said, according to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “We had a long talk about the situation today and we both agreed that we need to communicate more frequently and we need to work on the solution for making his stint as a Dallas Mavericks the most successful one possible.

“I want to stress and reiterate how important Rajon Rondo is to the Dallas Mavericks. For us to get where we want to get this season, his abilities have to be utilized by us the best possible way. That’s in large part my responsibility, and I do not dodge that.”

Carlisle also defended his reasoning for being more involved from a play-calling standpoint since Rondo’s arrival from Boston – where the guard had more offensive freedom.

“We’re in a situation where his abilities mesh with our team a certain way, and there is more play-calling when he’s on the floor because that’s been the most successful way to play offensively,” Carlisle said.

“He and I, early on, talked a lot about the right plays to call and the right tempo to play at and things like that, and we’ve gotten away from it a little bit in recent games. We’ve got to get back to it. And that’s on both of us.”

Rondo seemingly fits prominently in the Mavericks’ future plans. The team currently has $74 million in salaries on the books this season, but just $28 million in guaranteed deals next season. Rondo is in the final year of his deal worth $12.9 million this season. Former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler ($14 million) also expires at season’s end while shooting guard Monta Ellis holds a player option worth $8.7 million in 2016.

Celtics’ Jared Sullinger vows to become more committed

When you think of professional sports, you rarely think of guys battling weight issues, but every now and then there are some cases to reference.

Boston Celtics third-year forward Jared Sullinger is currently out for the remainder of the season after suffering a fracture in his left foot. The forward’s rookie campaign was also cut short due to injury (back) in 2013.  When it’s all said and done after this season, Sullinger will have missed 31 percent of his games since entering the league.

Sullinger believes his injury problems could be due to his conditioning and body type and vows to change his physique during his time on the mend.

“I’m always the type of person that a light switch has to happen,” Sullinger said, according to Jay King of Mass Live. “I developed my grades through a mistake I made with my father. By not doing my work, he sat me out. Next thing you know I was on honor roll. So I’ve always been that type of person. And sometimes I’m a little late with things, but as long as it happens, it happens.

“I got in better shape (this past offseason). It’s just there’s another level to it. There’s always another level for everybody. I just gotta take it to another level now. This year I came back in a little better shape, but obviously it wasn’t good enough. Now I just have to get back to the grit, the grind, the usual, kind of break my body down just to build it back up. And I think that’s what I’m going to do this summer.”

Sullinger was in the midst of a career year for the rebuilding Celtics. The forward was averaging 14.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 45 percent shooting in 51 games this season.

Now he’s recovering from his second season-ending injury since entering the league.

“Getting in better shape is going to be the biggest thing just because stuff like this can reoccur,” Sullinger said. “And you don’t want it to reoccur. Just got to get in better shape.

“(Injuries happen) to everybody, honestly. I was playing a lot of minutes. I was doing a lot of things. It happens. My body couldn’t handle all that, and so now I just have to change some of the ways I go about things.”

The Celtics (22-33), winners of six of their last 10 contests, remain just 2.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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