The Dallas Mavericks took a major step Thursday toward winning another NBA title when they acquired Rajon Rondo in a trade with the Boston Celtics.
Saddled by suspect play from starting point guard Jameer Nelson this season, the Mavericks acquired Rondo and rookie forward Dwight Powell from Boston for center Brandan Wright, forward Jae Crowder, Nelson, a 2015 first-round draft pick, a 2016 second-round draft pick and a $12.9 million trade exception, which the Celtics have a year to use.
The first-round pick is lottery protected through the first seven picks.
The Mavericks were off Thursday after winning back-to-back road games Tuesday against the New York Knicks and Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons. But in an interview on ESPN 103.3 FM, forward Chandler Parsons was thrilled the Mavericks were able to acquire an impact player.
“To be able to get a guy like Rondo, it’s unbelievable,” Parsons said. “It’s not every day that a point guard of his stature, and the way he can pass the ball, he’s a difference-maker.
“To be able to have that with the combination with what we already have, with our system, and the players we put around him, it’s special and it’s definitely exciting.”
Owner Mark Cuban expressed his excitement via the social media app, Cyber Dust, saying: “Welcome to Rajon Rondo the newest member of the Dallas Mavericks.”
A league source applauded the deal from the Mavericks’ perspective.
“This is a 28-year-old, four-time All-Star that’s at the top of his game,” the source said. “I think Rondo is the kind of guy that the better the players around him, the more he really stands out. When he’s on his game and when the chips are on the line is when he seems to play his best.
“He’s got an NBA ring, he knows what it takes to win at that level come playoff time, and he’s got a real toughness about him.”
Part of the reason the Mavericks are allowing 102.7 points per game this season is because of poor perimeter defense. A barracuda on defense that is 11th in the league in steals with 1.68 per game, Rondo should definitely assist in that department.
Plus, since Rondo is a pass-first point guard, his presence would serve as an added bonus for shooters such as Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki and Parsons.
In 22 games this season, Rondo has registered 10 or more assists 13 times, and nine assists in two other games, while Nelson’s high-assist game was eight. J.J. Barea, who had 11 assists in a Nov. 13 game against Philadelphia, is the only Mavericks point guard with a 10 or more assist game this season.
Rondo, who helped the Celtics win the 2008 NBA title, also has a league-high nine triple-doubles over the past two-plus seasons despite missing 96 games after he underwent anterior cruciate ligament surgery in February 2013.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks envision Rondo in the same role that they viewed former point guard Jason Kidd. And that is a big, rugged, pass-first playmaker who is strong on the defensive end of the floor.
“He’s a guy that’s a multi-dimensional top-10 point guard in the league — a pass-first guy who rebounds and guards,” the source said. “When you have an opportunity to get a guy that’s a top 10 category guy for support players, you’ve got to work really hard at it.
“The draft pick, that’s something that obviously to get a great player you’ve got to give up something.”
In giving up Wright, the Mavericks lose their main backup to Chandler and a player who led the NBA in field-goal shooting at 74.8 percent. Also, Crowder was having a strong season as a backup at shooting guard and small forward, while Nelson struggled with averages of 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 37.4 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from 3-point range.
The Mavericks are hopeful that Rondo (6-foot-1, 186 pounds) will be able to play his first game Saturday when they host the world champion San Antonio Spurs. They also hope to re-sign the eight-year veteran when he becomes a free agent next summer.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
Mavericks get: PG Rajon Rondo and F Dwight Powell. Rondo, a nine-year veteran, gives Dallas an elite point guard. He is an excellent passer and rebounder, and provides lock-down perimeter defense. Dallas believes he could be the missing piece for a run at an NBA title.
Mavericks give up: PF Brandan Wright, PG Jameer Nelson, SF Jae Crowder, 1st-round pick (2015), 2nd-round pick (’16). The price is steep. Wright is among the league leaders in FG shooting (74.8) and a force inside. But Nelson has struggled and had fallen out of favor.