Monday, December 29, 2014

Rajon Rondo Trade Part 2: Dallas Mavericks Perspective

This guy is in the business of winning championships.

As I said in the Boston Celtics perspective of the Rajon Rondo trade, Danny Ainge did what he had to do. 
The Celtics are in rebuilding mode and their best player is on an expiring contract and not necessarily playing in the team's best interest. Despite many disagreements, Danny Ainge did what is best for the franchise.
Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson did what was best for his franchise as he added a piece to a team looking to win another championship. While Rondo may not be the easiest player to deal with on the court and off the court, Dallas Mavericks are in a win-now situation and adding one of the better point guards in the NBA was a necessary move for a team who is playing in the toughest conference in the league.

How well is Rondo fitting with the Mavs
The Dallas Mavericks have been 3-2 since acquiring Rajon Rondo. Over the course of those four games, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has been experimenting how to use the former Celtic point guard. During those five games, Rondo has averaged 13.6 points per game 6.2 rebounds and 8.4 assists. His best game came most recently December 26th against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rondo scored 21 points on 59 percent shooting, dished out 7 assists and grabbed 8 boards. Like I said, Rajon Rondo is a ball dominant point guard, in order to play his best he needs the ball in his hands to operate. At least that is just common thought as Rick Carlisle had Rondo running off screens, cutting inside and operating from mid range while other ball dominant guard Monta Ellis had the ball in his hands. 
At first when Rondo got traded to the Dallas Mavericks, my first thought is that Monta Ellis would have to be relegated to sixth man to get most of his effectiveness. Monta Ellis is a flat out scorer but not like the prototypical two guard who constantly runs off screens. Monta Ellis scores by operating as the primary ball handler, which clashes with Rondo as the primary ball handler. 
Rick Carlisle played around with the rotations pairing Ellis with a lower usage point in Devin Harris and Rajon Rondo with a point guard comfortable playing off ball in JJ Barea. It proved effective for Carlisle as it gave the Mavericks an extra dimension as both guards excelled in the rotations.
Against Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday, Rick Carlisle elected to use a small lineup of Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, JJ Barea, Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki all on the court at the same time! What resulted was 22 points in the first five minutes of play as the Mavericks offense were playing at a tempo Jeff Hornacek and the Phoenix Suns would be proud about.  
What Dallas has is five different guards in Rondo, Ellis, Barea, Harris and Felton that can be interchanged and have different skill-sets making the Dallas Mavericks a faster team.
 While Rajon Rondo may have not been good for the young rebuilding Celtics team at this stage of his career, he is a positive addition for the Dallas Mavericks. 
While consistently working with Monta Ellis may take some time to get used to, the pick and roll between Rondo and the Big men Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler is nearly unguardable. 
Rondo and Dirk gives the Mavs a pacy point guard driving to the lane with  one of the best shooting bigman of all time popping out for a jumper. 
Think of the days when Tyson Chandler had Chris Paul at point guard for the New Orleans Hornets, that spike in offensive production for Tyson will have a similar effect with Rondo at the helm.

Dwight Powell may be a forgotten member in the trade but could play a role for the Mavs.
Enter Dwight Powell
Speaking of small lineups, Tyson Chandler did not play that game against the Thunder due to back spasms. After Dallas traded Brandan Wright, they are lacking depth behind the center position. Mark Cuban even said that his Dallas Mavericks have been looking at the 36 year old Jermaine O'Neal. As I said in Part 1, Brandan Wright is a rim protector and to have that as a backup is a valuable asset.

Although the Dallas Mavericks may have found a gem in the acquisition of big man Dwight Powell. The Canadian tore it up playing for Dallas Mavericks' D-League affilate Texas Legends Saturday Night. Dwight Powell was a player that the Mavericks wanted in the trade and would accept the deal without him. Powell is a 6'11 240 pound big man with a 7'0 wingspan and like Brandan Wright can provide length and may be the replacement Dallas is looking for. 

While losing a key member in the squad losing Brandan Wright, Donnie Nelson and the Mavericks brass did what was best for business and now makes the Western Conference even more competitive than what it already was, Although their backup big man issue needs to be figured out if they want to go far as they can not get away using a three guard set on a consistent basis. 
One has to wonder, with all the talented point guards in the Western Conference, can Rondo ever make the All-Star team again granted if he stays? Despite that, the Dallas Mavericks will be a fun team to watch.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Rajon Rondo Trade Part 1: Boston Celtics Perspective

Did Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics do what was necessary trading Rajon Rondo.

Over this past week was the blockbuster trade of Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo after months of speculation. Originally I was going to grade both teams on who got the better end of the deal, but since both clubs were about even in the trade (I'll explain below) I will give a two part recap on what impact it will have on both the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks.

Just for a little recap here is the trade for the Celtics and Mavericks

Celtics Receive:
C Brandan Wright, F Jae Crowder, G Jameer Nelson, Protected 1st Round Pick, 2016 2nd Round Pick, 12.9 Million Trade Exception

Mavericks Receive:
G Rajon Rondo, F Dwight Powell

The Boston Celtics were at the point of no return with Rajon Rondo as he was nearing the end of his contract. Rumors say that Rondo was not going to sign back with the Celtics, Even if he wanted to re-sign with the Celts, Danny Ainge would have to overpay for his services, as he is 28 on a young team that is some time away from being a contender.  Danny Ainge earned his nickname as the "The Snake" because of his lack of loyalty to long tenured players and will trade or release them when he sees fit. This might serve as a good trait for a GM because he is not hanging on to bad contracts and aging players, this can be seen from the Brooklyn Nets trade years back which now seems like the Celtics got away with robbery.

Coming off a torn ACL, Rondo's value was not as high as previous years so it was not realistic for the Celtics to get a trade similar to the Minnesota Timberwolves with Kevin Love or Denver Nuggets with Carmelo Anthony. Rondo despite his assists and rebound numbers is having a down season in terms of efficiency.

Rondo is shooting .416 in true shooting percentage. To get an idea how bad that really is, that shooting percentage is on par with Ben Wallace. Now Rajon Rondo is a good defensive player but not a four time defensive player of the year winner, you do not want your point guard shooting that bad on offensive as it allows opposing defenses to clog up the paint.
Although he is the top assist leader, Rajon Rondo is a ball-stopper. As we seen with the New York Knicks, ball-stoppers can be detrimental to the team. The Celtics were shown at times operating better as a cohesive unit when Rondo is on the bench.

Look back to the Toronto Raptors around the same time last season when they traded leading scorer Rudy Gay, Toronto if not spectacular, were doing particularly well in the Eastern Conference. Being the leading scorer, he was the highest usage player on the team while also not being an efficient player(like Rondo) and trading him opened up the offense. Rudy Gay was hindering other players on the team such as Kyle Lowry, Terrance Ross and Demar DeRozan and with the trade, the Raptors played with more cohesion and a year later is the top team in the Eastern Conference, Danny Ainge can only hope a similar effect can happen with the trade of Rajon Rondo.

Brandan Wright may be prove to be a wise acquisition for the Celtics.
What about the players Celtics got for Rondo?

Jameer Nelson
The former Orlando Magic point guard's best years are definitely behind him, and he was for the most part a throw-in player in the trade but he can be a useful role-model to the young players. Believe it or not but now the Boston Celtics are a young team and with one other player over 30 in Gerald Wallace. Jameer Nelson may not be a Celtic after the season but can play a role within the club this season as a mentor for young guards in Marcus Smart and Phil Pressey.

Brandan Wright
Brandan Wright is a 6'10 long athletic big-man which the Dallas Mavericks will definitely miss when Tyson Chandler is on the bench. The former North Carolina bigman is averaging 8.6 points per game, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 18.3 minutes. Stretch that to 36 minutes and he is averages 16.9 points per game, 7.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. With a bunch of offensive minded bigman in Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and Brandon Bass, Brandan Wright is much needed rim protector that has the potential to vastly improve the Celtics defensively. Wright is on an expiring 5 million contract this season so no guarantees he is coming back. So despite his usefulness, Celtics also can use the option of trading him for more assets.

Jae Crowder
Any NBA team can use a player who works game in and game out fighting for the 50/50 balls and playing within their role. Jae Crowder is that type of player who will hustle and work hard, he may not be as technically gifted as the other players in the NBA but he uses his strength and determination to be a menace for the opposition, It just so happens, Jae Crowder is a Brad Stevens type of player. Still on his rookie contract, Jae Crowder is a player who can very well play an integral role in the Celtics rebuild.

12.9 Million Trade Exception and Draft Picks
This part of the deal for the Celtics is the main reason Danny Ainge pulled the trigger. Let's start with the draft picks, The protected first round pick for the Celtics is the Mavericks' pick this season if they get it from 1-3 or 15-30 and in 2016 from 1-7. Unless Dallas gets in a miraculous losing streak,the Celtics will most likely have the first round pick and the second round pick in 2016. The Celtics will have four 2016 first round picks.
The best asset of this trade is the 12.9 million trade exception, this allows them to bypass the NBA contract guidelines when trading and allows the Celtics to take on any contract within a 12.9 million difference before the February trade deadline. This allows the Celtics to potentially acquire a star player from a team who is trying to offload their contract without sacrificing much of their own. Danny Ainge made magic in the past acquiring the big three, he might pull myself out of his hat before the deadline this season.

After former Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart was drafted with the 6th overall pick, it seemingly spelled the end of Rajon Rondo's tenure in Boston after making two final appearances, and winning the title once during his time with the Celtics. After many months of speculation, the rumors were true and Rajon Rondo was finally traded and is now out to the Western Conference with the Dallas Mavericks. By face value, seemingly the Celtics were the losers of the trade, but on the other side of the spectrum, the management felt it was the right move to make given Rondo's contract ends after this season. Nonetheless, the Rondo trade marks the final member of the 2007 Boston Celtic championship squad to leave the team.

Part 2: Dallas Mavericks Perspective

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