Rajon Rondo and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle exchanged heated words on Tuesday against the Raptors in a situation that is going to become a national news story.
This site strives to provide the best smart coverage of the Mavericks without falling onto sensationalism or senseless click bait. The Mavericks' starting point guard and the head coach exchanging words with each other is a story, and so we are covering it. However, I will attempt to do that in a matter that is as even as possible.
Here's what happened. With 8:22 left in the third quarter, Carlisle and Rondo had some sort of dispute. It appeared Carlisle wanted a timeout called, something Rondo ignored, leading to Carlisle calling it himself. As he came to the bench, Carlisle exchanged heated words with Rondo and took him out of the game. He did not return.
You can see video of Carlisle and Rondo yelling at each other above. Here's video of Rondo apparently ignoring Carlisle. I'm not going to editorialize it for you. Make of it what you will.
Rondo ignores Rick...forces Carlisle to call timeout. pic.twitter.com/7kknyxeMpk— Kenny Bybee (@KennyBybee) February 25, 2015
Carlisle had the highly publicized benching of Rajon Rondo in January. In a podcast around the trade, Grantland's Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe said they heard whispers that Carlisle may not have been totally sold on the trade when it happened. This is unconfirmed and clearly Carlisle signed off on the trade in some form, but it's interesting in this context.
However, I also think it's important to say Rondo and Carlisle have shown mutual respect for each other. Rondo has been very complimentary of his head coach at times, saying he has a lot to learn from him. A player and a coach exchanging heated words is not a sign of a fractured relationship or a chemistry issue that cannot be fixed. It's simply a player and a coach exchanging heated words.
After the game, Carlisle unsurprisingly refused to elaborate. He said there was a "difference of opinion" and shrugged off any other queries as him making a "coach's decision."
"Emotional game and we had a difference of opinion," Carlisle said. "Once it was over, it was over."
It wasn't over, clearly, as Carlisle chose to not bring Rondo back into the game. As for the point guard, he was present in the locker room after the game talking with his former college coach, but declined to answer any questions from the media before leaving.
"We won. Discuss it with Rick," was all he would say.
While not surprising, it is important to note that Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki both downplayed the situation.
Mark Cuban on the Rick Carlisle-Rajon Rondo shouting match: pic.twitter.com/abyYtWQwjb— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 25, 2015
Dirk on the dustup between Rondo and Carlisle: pic.twitter.com/PK7TvQH5cu— Bryan Gutierrez (@BallinWithBryan) February 25, 2015
The Mavericks play Atlanta on Wednesday, which hopefully will help shorten the news cycle of this story. There's a lot that you can make of this story, but at least for me, the bottom line is I don't know what exactly it means. At least for the moment, let's just wait and see.
This piece was updated at 11:12 p.m. to add and reflect the post-game comments (or lack thereof) made by Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo.