The last remnant of the Boston Celtics Championship team from 2008 has finally been traded. Rajon Rondo was the only left from the core group that consisted of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Kendrick Perkins. Six years later, Pierce is now with the Washington Wizards, Garnett is with the Brooklyn Nets, Ray Allen is a free agent and pondering retirement, and Kendrick Perkins is with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rondo, on the other hand, had no plans of ever leaving the Boston Celtics. In fact, he was adamant on being a Celtic no matter how bad the situation was.
For Rondo, loyalty was even more important than winning. How many players in the NBA could ever even echo those words? If you know Rondo, you know that he is one of the most complex players in the game. A point guard that has an offensive rating of 113.6, yet shoots 33% from the free throw line is as polarizing as it gets. However, even beyond his metrics, Rondo is one of the more complex personalities in the game.
Rondo’s opponents dislike him. Even his coaches and teammates have a hard time understanding him. Not because Rondo is a delinquent or a misfit, but because Rondo is a paradox. Rondo is notoriously known for being a gym rat, a coach’s head coach, and someone who has always acted more like a soldier than a basketball player. While most players want their minutes reduced, despite not being 30-years-old (ahem, LeBron James) Rajon Rondo once played with a broken arm. I repeat – a broken arm. That is the type of warrior Rajon Rondo is. And that is why Bostonians have always had a soft spot for someone whose personality has always been so hard.
And yet the Celtics gutted what was left of their glory years by trading the one player that would never have stabbed them in the back. This past Thursday, the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, and Brandan Wright. The Celtics will also receive a first-round pick in 2015 and a second round pick in 2016. Why trade Rondo for 50 cents to the dollar?
Rondo’s contract was set to expire this coming summer, so rather than losing Rondo for nothing, the Celtics wanted to get some younger pieces for him, while his stock was still relatively high.
As of right now, Rondo is leading the league in assists with an average of 10.8 assists per game. Additionally, he is averaging 8.3 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. Rondo is one of the most complete players in the game with his daily flirtations with a triple-double. The only major blemish in his game is his lack of perimeter shooting, which is obvious with his 3-point percentage of 25% and his free throw percentage of 33%.
However, shooting is not what the Dallas Mavericks need. The Mavericks have the best offense in the league with an average of 110.1 points per game. What the Mavs have historically lacked is defense. So far this season, the Mavericks are 17th in rebounding with an average of 42 rebounds per game and they are 24th in defense with an average of 102.7 points per game allowed.
Here is where Rondo fits so perfectly into the puzzle. Rondo has always been one of the best rebounding point guards in the NBA. Additionally, he has always been one of the best defending point guards in the NBA. And in the Wild Wild West, where there are point guards such as Stephen Curry, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook on a nightly basis, Jameer Nelson was just not going to cut it.
And in typical Maverick fashion, they went out and got the perfect piece. Mark Cuban has always been a maverick when it comes to wheeling and dealing. There was just no way that Cuban was going to be content with a great offensive team. Cuban knows that defense wins championships. And the Mavs had a glaring hole at the point guard position. And with the additions of Rajon Rondo, Chandler Parsons, and Tyson Chandler since last season, the Mavs now have an excellent combination of perimeter defense and interior defense.
Does this mean that the Mavs are guaranteed to win now? Of course not. Chemistry takes time, especially when you have a ball dominant point guard like Rajon Rondo. But if there is any coach that can make the transition for Rondo as smooth as possible, it is a brilliant basketball mind like Rick Carlisle. Still, joining a team in the middle of the season is an obstacle for any player, regardless of IQ.
But the addition of Rajon Rondo to any team is never a minus and always a plus. So, the lack of a guaranteed championship is not a knock on Rondo or the Mavs, but a testament to the competition in the Wild Wild West, and now, an even weaker East. If you weren’t watching the Mavs before this game, it’s about time you start paying attention.
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