Brad Stevens, who coached Rajon Rondo for 52 games from last season until the Boston Celtics traded him in December, was surprised to see things end poorly for him with the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks announced on Wednesday that Rondo was “out indefinitely” with a back injury suffered in Game 2 against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
"Yes, I am [surprised]. I haven’t paid as much attention or read every article, or even really watched anything on it. Obviously, I’m aware of it. I’ve said many times I felt like Rajon had played really well at the start of the year,” Stevens said before the Celtics took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of their first-round series.
"I coached him during a really tough time for him, simply because last he was never, he was just overcoming and coming back from that ACL tear. Not having any practice, which is really unique. It was just a matter of getting him to feel a bit better."
The Mavericks insist that Rondo’s back injury is completely separate from his issues with coach Rick Carlisle, who has openly feuded with the guard. Rondo was suspended by the Mavericks in late February after a verbal altercation with Carlisle in the second half of a game against the Toronto Raptors. Carlisle did nothing to downplay speculation of a rift with Rondo when asked if the free-agent-to-be would ever play for Dallas again, the coach said: “No, I don’t.”
In 46 games with the Mavericks, Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds on 43.6% shooting. Those numbers dipped significantly in his two playoff games.
"I was around him a lot this summer, around him a lot this fall,” Stevens continued. "He had the unfortunate hand break at the start of the season and that put him behind again, although I thought he played pretty well here. So, yes, I was a little bit surprised."