So it finally happened, the final member of the 2008 foursome that beat the league into a championship has left the ship. The West gets more West and the East plummets further down. It almost seems unfair… but I am getting ahead of myself here. Really. Just let me and Alex weight-in on what just happened and how this shuffles everything you know about the NBA.
The Deal: Boston will send Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell to Dallas for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, 2015 first-round and future second.
Protections: on the 2015 first-round pick Dallas sent Boston: Protected 1-3 and 15-30 in 2015; 2016-2020 protected to No. 7.
Alex: I think Dallas obviously won the deal, they made a great trade. This is the idea Dallas had in their heads in 2011 when they let the championship roster go.
Boston made their mistake when Ainge didn’t attempt to move Rondo last year, he left himself with an asset that only depreciated in value due to injury, poor play and an expiring contract. An underrated piece being moved in this deal is Dallas losing Brandon Wright, Wright did a tremendous amount of work in 25 mpg as a rim protector and interior finisher off the bench. Dallas is going to have to look for both bench scoring and an interior defender not named Tyson Chandler, but with a roster like they have I wouldn’t be shocked to see vets looking In their direction (Hello Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal).
We know that Monta Ellis is at his most effective for this Dallas squad as the ball handler in a pick and roll but with Rondo in the picture he’s obviously going to be expected to dominate the ball. Carlisle is going to have to reroute his offense (which was an all-time high level for the NBA before the deal) to handle both Monta and Rondo but he’s such a talented coach I don’t perceive that being a problem. Any deal in which you go from Jameer Nelson as your starting PG to Rajon Rondo it means you ran away with the trade.
If you don’t think this trade is a playoff game changer think back to Rondo’s Mother’s Day Showdown with Lebron James circa 2010. In that game Rondo became the third player in history to have at least 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in a playoff game, according to Elias Sports. Who are the others? Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain.
Was that 5 years and an ACL surgery ago? Absolutely, but injury has less to do with Rajon’s decline since his return than his own attitude. Always known as a spark plug, Rondo has endured a Celtics roster devoid of talent which led to (pardon the language) a massive decrease in Rondo’s “fucks to give”. This deal very well may not work, the loss of depth for Dallas may not be overcome, the ball dominance of Rondo and Monta Ellis may be too much, or Rondo might just be too much of an asshole to last in Dallas (ask Ray Allen) but regardless this is going to be real entertaining to watch play out.
Lastly, Boston is about to unleash Marcus Smart, the PG version of JJ Watt on opposing guards. Be excited to watch this 6’4 225lb PG ( Kobe is about 205) beat on any guard he can find. He’s going to take some time to develop offensively but Smart is absolutely the real deal. Brad Stevens loves him, hes massive, strong, mean and argueably the best defender of the draft not named Andrew Wiggins. We should all be excited to watch him develop in the NBA.
Serge: First, I’m just going to leave this here.
Yeah, that’s in Dallas now. He averages 10.8 assists this year, and that’s throwing passes to Evan Turner and Kelly Olynyk. No offence to either of them (except for Evan Turner), but they are not nearly Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. The few times I watched Rondo play, I thought to myself he could average 15 per game if he played with a quality team. Now we get to find out. Oh, and he is also rebounding 7.5 per. For a PG.
I will have to disagree with Alex regarding Monta Ellis/Rajon Rondo fit. I think Rondo is perfect for this team. He is a point guard who couldn’t give less of a s#!t about scoring even if he wanted to. Now he is surrounded with scorers the likes of Nowitzki, Ellis and Chandler. That’s a pretty flush upgrade from Boston. He also has the ideal alley-oop catcher in Tyson Chandler. All of their numbers will benefit due to Rondo. And it also means Ellis will be fresher down the stretch, when he needs to score of the dribble. The best part is that Rick Carlisle now has one of the scariest starting fives to mess around with. I mean, Rick is the closest anyone ever has or will come to the great Gregg Popovich. He will love this.
There is a downside to giving up Brandon Wright, but when you can get Rondo you do it and figure it out later. Mavs will have to figure out their bench rotation now, but guys like Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor and Jermaine O’Neal have probably already received a call. Also, we are about to hit that point of the season where teams shed salary, let some guys go and use their exceptions to lean out the rosters financially. Odds are, the right pieces will fall in place just in time for the playoffs.
On the Boston side? Oh boy, where do I even start. They now have Jameer Nelson as their starting PG (although, it should probably be Marcus Smart from this point on). They got the lowest possible return for Rondo and it seems as if they haven’t even tried that hard. I think more than anything they got pieces that can shift in for now and possibly move after the All-Star break (they squeezed that trade just before the deadline). If I had to bet, I’d say Jameer Nelson doesn’t finish the season in the Boston green. The best thing they got out of this was Brandon Wright, who will now get more responsibility and will have to prove that his per 23 minute impact can carry over with increased PT.
All in all, Boston was stuck in limbo. They didn’t trade Rondo last year, with his value at a high, and now they either had to get something for him or watch him leave for free (while possibly also incurring some other shower related injuries in the mean time). While this is a middle ground for them, they get so little in this trade you have to wonder how bad the Houston offer was.