The Dallas Mavericks sent shockwaves around the NBA by trading for Rajon Rondo. The Mavs acquired the All-Star point guard by giving up role players Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and draft picks to the Boston Celtics. The Celtics will reportedly receive a first-round pick in the 2015 draft and a second-rounder in 2016.
Rondo joins a Mavs squad that features future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons. The new Dallas starting five easily becomes one of the most potent in the Association, and it gives Dallas coach Rick Carlisle another chess piece to work with.
Rondo could fill the Jason Kidd role that worked perfectly in 2011 when Dallas won the NBA title. Rondo does need to score to be effective. He’s a walking triple-double — just like Kidd — on offense and on defense he provides the Mavs a terrific on-the-ball defender who can stick guys like Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul.
Carlisle should send his former Boston buddy Danny Ainge a Christmas card because the Celtics president of basketball operations just gift-wrapped him a wonderful holiday present. With Rondo, the Mavericks went from a very good team into one of the elite squads in the Western Conference.
“[This trade] puts [Dallas] in a position to win a championship,” ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose said on The Grantland Basketball Hour. “They are going to be a terrific team in Dallas. [Rondo] is going to balance the floor. This guy is a floor general. He makes players around him better.”
The Mavericks are now loaded in the backcourt. Rondo and Ellis are the clear-cut starters; J.J. Barea will likely back him up at the point and Devin Harris can play either guard position. Raymond Felton is still on the roster, so Carlisle will have to make a decision who to sit because you can’t rotate five guards. It’s a nice problem to have.
If there’s a negative side to the deal it’s the Mavericks’ weakened frontcourt. Wright was a solid backup center who kept Tyson Chandler from having to play a ton of minutes. Now, Tyson will have to extend himself a bit more.
The trade ends Rondo’s nine years with the Celtics, a stretch that includes an NBA championship in 2008 and a trip to The Finals in 2010. Rondo carved out his niche in Celtic lore with some memorable playoff moments. None better than when he dislocated his left elbow in Game 3 of the playoff series against the Miami Heat in 2011. Rondo courageously returned to the game, arm dangling, and led the Celtics to an emotional win at the TD Garden.
But when the Celtics started peeling off their championship squad, Rondo — who is coming off ACL surgery last season — didn’t fit into the rebuilding process. The Celtics are clearly looking into the future, and Rondo was in the way of that plan. They drafted point guard Marcus Smart in 2014, which led many to believe was the beginning of the end of the Rondo era in Boston.
Rondo’s statistics declined in some key areas this season. His free throwing shooting percentage is a career-low .333 and his scoring average dipped to 8.3 points per game, his lowest since his rookie season of 2006-07, when he averaged 6.4.
“We all know what he does really well,’’ Celtics coach Brad Stevens told The Boston Globe. “There’s very few people in the game that can do some of the things he can do and you can probably extend that — the way he passes the ball and the way he gets other people the ball — you can extend that to the history of the game. He’s really done a lot of good things.”
Through 22 games this season, Rondo is leading the league in assists (10.8). He also is averaging a career-high 7.5 rebounds. He has also put up three triple-doubles. He has averaged 11 assists per game in four out of the last five seasons. He’s only 28 years old, so he is still in the prime of his basketball career.
“The last two years he was playing like a guy who didn’t want to get hurt,” said Grantland editor Bill Simmons, a longtime Celtics fan. “He’s gonna go to Dallas and he’s gonna be awesome. He always rose to the occasion. Now that he’s on this [Dallas] team, that’s perfect for him.”
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.