Rajon Rondo's half-season with the Mavericks ended as poorly as it possibly could have. After four months of ineffective play, Rondo was benched in the second half of Game 2 of the Mavericks' first round series and subsequently dismissed from the team. At the time, head coach Rick Carlisle said it was a back injury, but Rondo didn't reappear at Mavericks facilities and the team voted to withhold his playoff share after the series.
Basically, it was all but confirmed that there was a mutual parting of ways after Game 2, despite the Mavericks' season carrying on for another week.
In a great interview with ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon, Rondo stuck with the story of the injured back. Here's an excerpt from MacMahon's conversation with the guard.
Let's just be honest here. The back's not the reason you left.
Rondo: "Yeah, my back was hurting. What else was reported? I mean, you never heard from me, did you? I haven't said a word, so ..."
No, I didn't hear from you, but I did hear from other people that it was essentially a mutual departure.
Rondo: "Yeah, we had some talks. I guess the game where I didn't continue to play -- that's why I tell [DeMarcus Cousins], ‘You have to stay off the floor. The floor is undefeated.' In Boston when I had back problems, I would hit the floor a lot. It's just a nagging feeling. I still to this day try to make an emphasis not to hit the floor."
Rondo went on to say he could have "played through anything," including the back.
"I mean, I loved every minute I was there," Rondo told ESPN. "I don't regret it. The fans treated me with a lot of respect, and I played as hard as possible every night. I wanted to win. I'm going to always be a competitor."
Go read the full ESPN interview here. We'll see if Dallas reciprocates that love he apparently still holds for them tonight when Rondo makes his first appearance since that Rockets series.