I am going to tell you a couple of stories about the players that changed teams in today’s Rajon Rondo trade, but allow me to get right to the heart of matters first: Rondo is one of those rare players, a la Jason Kidd, who can totally dominate a game without taking a shot or scoring a point.
If you don’t think the Dallas Mavericks just became instant championship contenders, I respectfully disagree with you. This move puts them over the top. But Boston did a lot better than people are initially saying. Below, I tell you why.
I have followed Rondo since he played at Eastern HS in Louisville, and I can remember having a conversation with Louisville Coach Rick Pitino that Rondo wanted to stay local and come to Louisville, and he should take him. Pitino wanted to take a risk on Sebastian Telfair, who at the time was deciding whether to attend college or go straight to the NBA.
Remember, this was before the one-and-done age limit rule was instituted, and players could go to the NBA straight out of high school — which sure enough Telfair did. Pitino and Louisville’s loss was Coach Tubby Smith’s and Kentucky’s gain.
Rondo is a dynamic top five point guard in the NBA when’s he’s healthy and focused, with his length and his uncanny rebounding ability. He is an above-average defender and one of the best steals guys in the league. He has improved his jump shot through the years, though his free throw percentage this season (.333) is abyssmal, and is obviously one of the best assist guys on the planet to go along with possessing a championship pedigree from his time in Boston. He can affect the game in many ways, especially on the break in the open court, and ranks up there with Kyrie Irving (and Rod Strickland, for you older folks) as an off-the-charts layup maker.
The Dallas situation, with the amount of outstanding offensive players they will have around him — Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler for lob dunks, shows you that Rondo does not need to score for the Mavs.
This is an ideal scenario for him. The question is always about Rondo’s attitude. I’m sure there were times for Doc Rivers in Boston when coaching him was no walk in the park, but as I said in the summer with USA Basketball and DeMarcus Cousins, I have always felt the true challenge in coaching is getting the most out of guys like Rondo and being able to coach guys with different temperaments. That is where the best coaches earn their money. Anyone can coach the guys who drink milk and go to bed at 10 p.m, but it’s the guys like Rondo that I would love to have a chance to coach, and I have to believe a veteran, intelligent guy like Rick Carlisle will feel the same way.
Overall, a brilliant masterful move by the Mavericks.
As for Boston, the fact that Rondo’s free agency was coming up after this season, and Danny Ainge pretty much had to move him, I have to say they could not have done much better than they did. I know I am in the minority with that statement, but I know the quality of the young players that the Celtics got.
I had the chance to work with Brandan Wright coming out of high school at a Nike camp before he played at North Carolina. He is a very humble, very sharp lefty who has become one of the most productive and efficient top and underrated guys in the NBA. Did you realize he leads the league in field goal percentage at .748? As Chris Sheridan noted this morning in his MVP rankings column, that is Wilt Chamberlain material, percentage-wise.
Wright was originally taken as a lottery pick by the Golden State Warriors, leaving school early, and was so thin and slithery at first that most people thought he was overrated and a disappointment. But he has gone on to get much stronger and has a very strong post-up game around the rim, is unorthodox but has a very effective style, and will be a very good piece for the Celtics and should fit right in with coach Brad Stevens.
Next is my man Jae Crowder, who is one of my favorites having recruited him out of junior college and having coached against him in the Big East many times when he played for Marquette. In Kenneth Faried and DeMarre Carroll fashion, he is a high energy intangible guy who you want to go to war with. But the difference with Crowder as compared to those other guys as he was once player of the year in the Big East, he can really shoot the ball and has outstanding range. These two guys to go along with Marcus Smart (who I assume will start ahead of Jameer Nelson) will give the Celtics great depth and three really nice pieces to the puzzle. This, to go along with the No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks, is why I say Boston could not have done much better.
Dallas will actually miss the three guys that they had to give up, but again the chance to get a four-time All-Star in Rondo is a risk they had to take.
Very seldom in this day and age does a trade of this magnitude, where one team gives up a star, turn out to be a Win-Win for both teams. But this one actually might be. Who knows? The Celtics (ninth in the East, a half-game behind Brooklyn) might even contend for the playoffs, and Dallas has now just sent a message in the very tough Western Conference that they are ready to challenge their neighbors in San Antonio and Houston, not to mention the Golden State and Memphis, for the title.
Bobby Gonzalez, a former Division I head coach at Manhattan and Seton Hall, is a regular contributing columnist for SheridanHoops.
MORE FROM GONZO:
KNICKS, LAKERS SHOULD BE LOOKING AT TOP 10 LOTTERY PICKS
PLAYERS THE CAVS SHOULD TARGET IN TRADES
BEST UNDER THE RADAR NBA PROSPECTS AS NCAA SEASON OPENS
FIVE THINGS WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT THE NBA SO FAR
BREAKING DOWN BEST MATCHUP IN THE EAST: CLEVELAND VS. CHICAGO