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Bond formed on ‘86 Celtics helped form potential coup by the Mavs

With the Celtics, Rajon Rondo was a four-time All-Star
With the Celtics, Rajon Rondo was a four-time All-Star AP

The NBA is a cut throat world where results trump all else, but like any job relationships still matter. The bond formed between teammates on the 1986 Boston Celtics helped build a title winner decades later, and could again with the Dallas Mavericks.

On Thursday night, the Mavs announced the acquisition of point guard Rajon Rondo. The GM of the Celtics is Danny Ainge, who played with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle on that ‘86 Celtics team.

Ainge was once the beneficiary of a stupid one-sided trade via an old teammate, so now he is returning the favor. In 2007, then Minnesota Timberwolves and former Celts’ teammate GM Kevin McHale sent forward Kevin Garnett to Ainge and the Celtics for a bunch of players who made virtually no impact with the Wolves. The move saved Ainge’s job as it led to a title winner in Boston.

“I played three years with him,” Carlisle told me when I asked if he and Ainge are still tight. “He’s a close friend.”

Ainge may not have consciously dealt Rondo to the Mavs to help out a buddy, but ... it helps.

Rajon Rondo to the Mavs is not a guaranteed winner - click here for a great read on Grantland.com that breaks down the pros and cons of this deal. This trade could be a major brick, and just because Rondo’s game is similar to that of former Mavs guard Jason Kidd the results may not be the same.

The NBA’s Western Conference is stupid stacked, but gives this team the point guard it desperately needs. The loss of center Brandan Wright as part of this deal hurts, but his value has peaked. The Mavs are acquiring a nightly triple-double threat and a four-time All-Star, but this is a gamble. Given Dirk Nowitzki’s age (36), the Mavs had to take it.

“I don’t have time to wait another two or three years,” Dirk said Friday after practice. “We want to go for it these last couple of years of my career. It gives us a chance and to bring a fierce competitor in here should only be good for us. ... I think Boston was ready to trade him and it’s a heck of a find by (GM) Donnie Nelson and Mark (Cuban). Any trade in a middle of a season there is always a little bit of a gamble, but if you can bring in a talent of that caliber you have to do it.”

This move, while it creates a huge hole at backup center, gives the Mavs a starting five that should contend for the top spot in the West. They still need a backup center - Jermaine O’Neal is a good bet - and one more bench piece would not hurt. But they do not need a point guard.

Rondo is a pass-first guard who can defend multiple positions and rebound as well as some small forward. He is, however, a terrible shooter (about 40% in each of last two seasons).

“He knows that. You know that, but you can’t keep him away from the rim,” Tyson Chandler said. “He didn’t just become not a good shooter.”

As long as Rondo finds the right guy at the right time, and defends the perimeter, this deal is worth it. Rondo has a reputation of being a bit of an odd guy who may have checked out in the last couple of years because the Celtics stink. If you think he will be able to disrupt a room of vets led by Dirk and Tyson Chandler, it’s going to be hard.

RED FLAG: Always be leery of a team that has trying to unload a guy for years - they didn’t offer him a monster contract for a reason, despite the fact he is not 30. According to this report by Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, former Celtics teammate Kendrick Perkins of Oklahoma City said Rondo had wanted out of Boston for years. Yes, it should be noted Perkins is not a Rhodes Scholar, but he is likely not lying on this one.

Rondo is in the final year of his contract, the Mavs are contenders, and there will never be reason to care as much as right now.

“You make a major trade and the dynamics are going to change,” Carlisle said. “I view Rondo as a resourceful guy with a lot of ability. He is a guy that loves winning. We’ll figure it out. I’d rather be charged with the task of figuring it out with guys of that competiveness and ability level. We believe the trade helped us, so our goal is to move in that direction (of a championship).”

The Mavs lead the NBA in scoring at 110.1 points per game, but their defense ranks 24th and their rebounding is 17th. They clearly banked heavily on the return of Chandler to clean up the perimeter messes made by Dirk and the point guard, but that has not happened. They have not defeated a team ahead of them in the West for a reason - their defense can’t keep up with their offense.

On paper, Rondo helps both the perimeter defense, rebounding and should close the gap between the Mavs and Spurs, Blazerz, Warriors, Grizzlies, etc.

On paper, this is a coup by the Mavs made possible by the ‘86 Celtics.

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