Has any player been rumored as a potential trade piece more times than Rajon Rondo? Perpetually ‘on the block,’ the 28-year-old point guard once again became the centerpiece of trade talks that had intensified as the unlikelihood of him re-signing with Boston became clearer.
Alas, a deal is reportedly complete according ESPN’s Marc Stein, and Rondo will finally don another jersey other than Celtic green. The Dallas Mavericks will receive Rondo in exchange for Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, next year’s first round draft pick, and a 2016 second-round draft pick. The first-round pick is reportedly protected, as well.
The message is clear for Dallas: the window is closing.
Dallas has been fortunate enough to enjoy an unprecedented seventeen seasons — and counting — with future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. Thirteen of these seasons even included a playoff berth and, most importantly, 2010-2011 brought an NBA Championship to the franchise.
But time is running out.
The trade is reminiscent of nearly every ‘deadline deal’ made in baseball as the official Trade Deadline approaches — one major difference between the two sports is that basketball features what is more accurately considered a ‘trade window.’ Rondo, soon to be a free agent, was not going to sign an extension with the Celtics and, with the team preparing to rebuild, needed to maximize his value. The Mavericks, essentially renting a player, are pushing their proverbial chips to the center of the poker table.
With the precipitous drops we’ve seen when teams get stale — Lakers, anyone? — why shouldn’t Dallas have pulled the trigger? After all, this was the year Rondo was actually going to be dealt. Why let another contender have him?
‘Contender’ is, therefore, the word. Rondo now joins Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, besides, of course, Nowitzki, to form one of the most complete starting five in the game. In fact, Dallas was solid enough that Rondo’s presence may not even be completely necessary for the remainder of the season. Instead, he will be most valuable as the Mavericks attempt another deep playoff run.
Averaging 14.5 points, 9.2 assists and two steals over 92 career playoff game, Rondo — despite his relative youth — is a seasoned playoff veteran.
With a Mavericks team previously on the fringe of the Western Conference playoff hopefuls, a deal that brings in one of the most dynamic and impactful players — especially in big moments — is exactly what was needed.
It wasn’t just that Dallas acquired Rondo.
They won him.