Report: Mavs To Get “First Word,” But Rajon Rondo Will Explore Free Agency

01.03.15 5 years ago

The Dallas Mavericks took a risk when trading for Rajon Rondo. Not only has the former All-Star been a shell of his elite self over the past two seasons, but he’s also a free agent once 2014-2015 comes to a close. With the existing possibility of Rondo failing to regain his past form and no assurance that he’d re-sign in Dallas this summer, Mark Cuban and company gambled bigger than most league followers seem to comprehend. And though the Mavs’ most recent play with Rondo in tow has vastly improved after a rocky start, there’s still no guarantee he’ll be donning blue and silver for any coming seasons. According to a new report, Rondo will give Dallas the “first word” come July but will also explore other free agency options.

Same familiar names highlight the list of teams with known interest in the 28 year-old. Via the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney:

The Mavericks made a deal for the four-time All-Star last month, and did so without seeking explicit confirmation that Rondo would re-sign with Dallas, a source told Sporting News. Instead, ahead of making the deal, the Mavericks wanted only to know they would be given a fair shake for Rondo this summer. By the same token, the Mavs have made no commitments in terms of putting up a max-contract offer.

There will be other teams involved in the pursuit of Rondo. The Lakers have long expressed interest and still are expected to be among the first in line in the bidding for Rondo. The Knicks—yes, even with the triangle offense—are already certain to be in the mix, too, a source with knowledge of the situation told SN.

…Rondo’s preference would be to play for a winner, and the Mavericks are set up to contend for the next few years. “Depending on how things go from here, obviously, Dallas would get the first word,” with Rondo, the source said.

None of this is surprising.

It wouldn’t make sense for Rondo or the Mavericks to make a handshake agreement on a contract without having a better grasp of how the sides will best eventually mesh. That won’t be fully known until much later this season, and any prevailing or coming notion otherwise – especially before he suited up for Dallas at all – was foolish. The early returns of this partnership, though, are encouraging: Rondo has emerged as a bellwether for Rick Carlisle’s defense and is acclimating rapidly on the other side of the ball, too.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have had a public interest in Rondo for some time. Rumors of a potential trade involving Rondo between basketball’s most storied rivals first popped up after he was spotted dining with Kobe Bryant in early December, and persisted until Boston’s deal with Dallas was complete.

New York covets every starry free agent in its quest to quickly re-build, but Rondo is an awkward fit there from a basketball perspective. Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher have made a strong commitment to the triangle offense, and Rondo’s status as a non-shooter who demands the ball clashes with the ideals on which that hallowed system is built.

Rest assured that the Knicks will give chase in free agency regardless, though. Like the Lakers, they’re flush with cap space this summer and command a meeting with most any player they target. The harder part for both franchises of late has been making anything of those ballyhooed sit-downs.

Might they do so this time? Our money is on Rondo re-signing with Dallas. Cuban made it clear at Rondo’s introductory press conference that he wanted the four-time All-Star to be a Mavericks fixture for years to come, and that Rondo recently admitted to giving less than maximum effort over his final years in Boston leads us to believe his impact on Dallas will be more fruitful than we initially anticipated.

But it’s early in Rondo’s Mavs tenure, and the tenor of relationships between team and player can turn very, very quickly.

What do you think?

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