While Rajon Rondo will be one of the NBA’s most sought-after free agents next summer, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.
Cuban let it known at a Friday afternoon press conference that he was not in the business of renting Rondo for about five months, then allowing him to depart via free agency. The Mavs own the Bird Rights for Rondo and can sign him on a long-term deal while also exceeding the salary cap.
It’s a move the Mavs are more inclined to make since they covet Rondo and his talents.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t give up picks if we didn’t think it was long term,” Cuban said. “We’re past the days of rent-a-player.
“We want him to be here for a long time and we want to earn his desire to stay here. We have to convince him that he wants to be here because we know we’ll want him.”
The Mavs traded Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a 2015 first-round draft pick, a 2016 second-round draft pick and a $12.9 million trade exception on Thursday for Dwight Powell and Rondo. While Rondo can’t give any guarantees that he’ll be with the Mavs beyond this season, Cuban definitely has high praise for the 28-year old eight-year veteran.
“If he’s not the definition of a cornerstone, I don’t know what is,” Cuban said. “But let me qualify that.
“With him side by side with Monta (Ellis) and (Tyson) Chandler, there’s no one guy who will be the cornerstone of the team. So having a good young nucleus — for us the young nucleus used to be 35 — to get that number down to 28 or 29 is something we want to keep together.”
It’s no secret that with players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Ellis and Chandler as his teammates, the Mavs have gotten Rondo’s attention in that they’re trying to build a championship contender for many years to come.
“I’m definitely excited and optimistic about the situation here,” said Rondo, who’ll make $12.9 million this season. “And like Mark was saying, being alongside a guy like Monta and they just re-signed Chandler, the future seems bright and I’m just looking forward to winning a championship as fast as possible and hopefully we can keep this team together.”
Rondo, who could receive a five-year, $107 million max contract from the Mavs next summer, leads the league in assists at 10.8 per game. And with the Mavs averaging an NBA-high 110.1 points per game, he probably could easily get that number approaching 12 assists per outing.
“With this team in particular, leading the league in scoring, every night you have a chance to win the game,” Rondo said. “You definitely can’t take any games for granted.
“To be a contender right away, there’s one goal that you have in mind, and I’m dying to get a ring again. I want another parade.”
Cuban probably would like not one, not two, but many more parades. That’s why he’ll likely do whatever it takes to retain Rondo beyond this season.
“He’s one of the youngest guys on the team,” Cuban said. “We’re going to do everything possible to keep him here forever.”