Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he wasn’t concerned by negative comments about Rajon Rondo before last month’s trade, reports Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com. “Contrary to what a lot of people say about him,” Carlisle said, “he’s thirsty for knowledge. He’s a sponge. He wants to learn as much as possible about our team.” Rondo returns to Boston tonight for the first time since the December 18th deal. Through six games with the Mavericks, the team’s defense has improved with Rondo, but the offense has slipped.
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- The Rockets have already seen the good and bad side of Josh Smith, opines Fran Blinebury of NBA.com. Houston signed Smith last Friday after he was waived by the Pistons, and he played a key role in a victory at Memphis that night. But he has also displayed the poor shot selection and questionable judgment that got him run out of Detroit. Blinebury writes that until GM Daryl Morey makes another move, the assimilation of Smith will determine whether the Rockets can become an elite team.
- To make room for Smith, the Rockets waived center Tarik Black, which has created more playing time for Joey Dorsey, writes Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle. “It was tough to let go of Tarik, but Joey is coming off the bench, he is giving great energy and great effort and that’s exactly what we want,” coach Kevin McHale said. “Any errors that he is having aren’t for lack of effort, and that’s all you can ask for.” Dorsey signed a two-year deal last summer worth nearly $2MM after spending three seasons overseas.
- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is concerned that age may finally be catching up with his team, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio fought through a difficult December schedule and a rash of injuries — particularly to Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard — and at 20-14 the team isn’t a lock to reach the playoffs. “People have been calling us old for, like, 10 years, it seems like, but it’s true,” Popovich said. “We are getting older and those injuries take a toll the older you get. You don’t come back the same way. It’s not just, ‘If we’re healthy, we’re fine.’ What level of health will we be if we don’t take care of some of these? But it’s out of your control, so we just move along.”