Robb: Mavericks Rave About New Teammate Rondo
BOSTON (CBS) – Rajon Rondo may have irked a few Celtics fans on Friday with his candid comments regarding the lack of defense he played during his final two years in Boston.
After a season-high 29 points against his former team on Friday night, there's no question just how much of an impact the 28-year-old point guard is making in his new home with the Dallas Mavericks. While Dallas' success on the floor speaks for itself (team is 6-2 since the trade), it's striking just how much his new and improved supporting cast and coach have raved about the four-time All-Star.
"[Rondo]'s great," Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki said Friday. "Always talking, always communicating out there; in the locker room, on the court, pushing guys in the right spots, he's just an animated guy. Its been great ever since we picked him up, we needed a couple games to get used to each other but I think we are getting better."
After witness a career performance from Rondo in his homecoming (Rondo hit a career-high five 3-point field goals in the game game), Mavericks center Tyson Chandler did not hesitate to heap praise on the point guard he has done battle with in so many playoff games in past seasons.
"He's a big game player. He's amazing. I was already impressed by his basketball IQ and knew he was a big game player from witnessing him outside. But to come into a situation like this where you spent your entire career and had incredible success I know it had to be very emotional, but he came incredibly locked in. It shows the type of player he is, he lives for moments like this," Chandler said.
Despite Rondo's talent and the lack of a hefty compensation package the Mavericks were forced to give the Celtics in the deal (Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, two future draft picks) many still questioned the trade in NBA circles.
Bringing in a player that has butted heads with coaches before and missed a full training camp before the season always carries a risk for any NBA team. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle can already tell though that the pros Rondo brings to the table outweighs any growing pains the team will have by integrating him into their scheme.
"I had never coached him. From afar you admire all the things that he did so well," Carlisle explained. "But in two weeks time I've learned a lot about him. He's learned a lot about us. The thing that's impressed me the most is his humility and his commitment to learning as much as possible about our team and how to help us win. There's going to be bumps along the road when you integrate a guy that's a totally different kind of player, but he's doing his part to make it as smooth as possible."
That transition includes playing alongside hybrid Mavericks guard Monta Ellis, a player like Rondo who thrives with the ball in his hands.
"Listen, they fit well together," Carlisle said. "Rondo can figure out any puzzle. That's one thing I'm learning about him. He's got a great intellectual curiosity about the game of basketball, but more specifically about how to make it work and how to win. He's not that into stats, you know? He's into getting to know his guys. He's into chemistry and figuring this thing out as quickly as possible. When you've got a guy like that coming into the fold, it helps your situation."
While the Celtics' future remains as uncertain as ever following the deal, one thing about the Mavericks looks clear: with Rondo in the fold, they now have the talent to compete for an NBA title in a loaded Western Conference.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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