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By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor - Archive - Email
All things Rondo
Rajon Rondo The motivated Rajon Rondo who excelled around talent needs to surface.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It finally happened.

Rajon Rondo is a former Boston Celtic. The legacy of that group, a championship core led by future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, is no more.

Doc Rivers, the coach, moved on.

And, now with Rondo a Dallas Maverick, the final piece of that group is gone.

This trade is somewhat polarizing in that the popular opinion says Danny Ainge and the Celtics didn't get enough in return for a 28-year-old, four-time All- Star who leads the NBA in assists.

Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a future first-rounder, a future second-rounder and some cold, hard cash is not a massive haul. Getting a first-rounder is nice, but there are some harsh realities at play that didn't allow Ainge to get more.

First, Rondo is coming off major knee surgery a little less than two years ago. That's getting to the point of being old news, but it's still on the minds of the NBA.

Second, Rondo is a free agent this summer. Ainge waited too long to pull the trigger and Rondo's ability to leave may have scared some teams off. Dallas will have a very good chance at re-signing Rondo should that be the direction both choose, but for anyone else, Rondo could be a rental. One never pays too much for a rental.

Third, the market wasn't high for point guards, even four-time All-Star ones. A quick scan of the NBA standings shows 12 decent to really good teams. Here's a list from those dozen teams of the starting point guards, prior to Thursday - Steph Curry, Mike Conley, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Jeff Teague, Jameer Nelson and Patrick Beverley.

Clearly, those first nine have no need for upgrading. I'd say the same for Teague and the Hawks. That left Nelson and Beverley. The Rockets are now a group known for defense. Beverley is a second-team All-Defensive performer.

That left Dallas as the only contending squad in the mix, although if the Rockets exchanged calls with the Celtics, it's not surprising. The only other avenue for Rondo and Ainge would've been a non-contending team, and, according to reports, talks with the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers went nowhere.

And finally, perhaps the largest hurdle in getting a haul for Rondo is that, he's regressed a little. Rondo is no longer the elite defensive point guard he once was. That was his calling card. The assists are nice, no doubt, but his defensive tenacity was what separated him from other point guards.

If you watched the Celtics this season, it's not there from Rondo. He's the type who can get it all back when motivated and this trade should motivate him. Until now, he's not the same player, especially defensively, and that hurt his trade value maybe more than anything.

For the Celtics, it's not the worst deal in history. The picks are nice and Wright and Crowder are both active bodies. Plugging Wright into that big-man rotation with Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller will be a tight squeeze. Crowder has shown glimpses. Nelson is trade fodder for a contender who needs a dependable backup point guard.

Once the decision was made to trade Rondo, Ainge must have been underwhelmed by offers. Since the demise of the contending Celtics, my contention has been Ainge would have to be blown away to trade Rondo. This deal does not pass the blown away test, but this now officially begins the rebuilding phase with Marcus Smart at the helm.

As for the Mavericks, this deal is not the slam-dunk some think. Some times, when deals are made that are clearly upgrades, (and yes, duh, Rondo is an upgrade over Nelson), chemistry isn't paid enough mind. Nelson has only been in Dallas since the offseason, but that offense runs like an old sports car. (There should've been a flashier comparison, but I'm just not a car guy.)

Tinkering with that comes with a potential price tag. Rondo is still a great facilitator and Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons should get open jump shots. They were with Nelson and J.J. Barea and Devin Harris.

Rondo is a terrible shooter. Nelson was not, but the bottom line is, Rondo is an upgrade and a team gets the opportunity to upgrade at a reasonable price, that team should do it.

Rondo has to be worth it on the defensive end for this deal to really turn the Mavericks into a title contender. If he improves, then the front of the defense and the back of the defense are stout. If not, the Mavs sacrificed shooting and their only backup big man for very little.

The motivated Rondo who excelled around talent needs to surface. I believe it will and again, you can't underestimate the fact that Rondo is a way better basketball player, right now, than Nelson, or Raymond Felton, or Barea.

Dallas just needs to be careful. Rondo's biggest plus may be improving something that didn't need a whole lot of improving. And, that might come at a big expense.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- Think trading Lance Stephenson is not going to be easy for the Charlotte Hornets. I think he's looked at somewhat as damaged goods. I think he still has value, but it's not very high at the moment.

- A long-term injury to Andrew Bogut is a catastrophe for the Golden State Warriors. A few weeks for a blood spinning is fine.

- I like Phil Jackson calling out the critics on Twitter.

- Why doesn't Carmelo Anthony just get the knee surgery already? There's nothing to play for this season, he's clearly in immense pain when the knee is bad, so just have the surgery.

- Movie moment - In our house, it's "Christmas Vacation," "A Christmas Story," "Elf," and "Love Actually." That's it. We don't mess around with anything else come Christmas time.

- TV moment - Adieu "The Newsroom." There were storyline decisions made in the penultimate episode I think were unnecessary, but it wasn't a bad way to kill an hour six Sundays every two years.


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