I didn’t see this one coming, given all the trade rumours over the past few years surrounding the dude. Heck, I didn’t expect him to move at all, let alone to the Mavs with their limited assets, before the end of the season. But here we are, short Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, and a couple of draft picks we were probably going to squander anyway, welcoming perhaps the best PG we’ve had since Kidd.
We didn’t give up a whole bunch either. Losing Wright hurts, it really does. He’s been the source of many a joyful welp with his alley-oop finishes and long-armed blocks. The Mavs broadcast team call him The Helicopter, and it’s the perfect nickname. I hope we can somehow re-sign him in the offseason when he’s a free agent. But other than him? We didn’t lose much.
I was an advocate for signing Jameer before the season started, and I had a good reason to. Solid, level-headed vet who could shoot and, while not an all-world passer, could move the ball along well enough. For some reason though, instead of sticking to spot-up jumpers and moving the ball around, he’s tried to create off the dribble a little too much for my liking. Maybe it was a coaching decision; I don’t think he would be playing much if he was directly going against Carlisle’s orders that much. But he’s not that great at it and several possessions were wasted with his forays into the paint. He’s a good dude and I hope he catches onto a good situation somewhere, but I’m not torn up over sending him away.
Ditto for Jae. A hard worker, a decent defender and another all-round good guy, he’s probably our biggest draft success of recent years (which says more about our drafting than him, but still). Anytime a decent dude goes, I feel it, but he’s more likely to get time to shine on a rebuilding team like the Celtics than on the Mavs. He may never amount to anything more than being the 9th or 10th man on a contending team, but he certainly looks like someone who can carve out a 10-year career in the NBA.
And of course, I’ll miss him helping us win while doing nothing tangible on the court. Godspeed, Jae.
Back to Rondo. Despite him having an indifferent year by his standards, and the slow decline of his play in general since losing his Hall Of Fame teammates, I don’t think I’m being over-optimistic in attributing that to disinterest rather than a real decline. He seems the temperamental sort, and I don’t blame him too much for tuning out. Heck, I would if I were him.
Keep in mind a tuned-out Rondo can still lead the league in assists and he’s averaging 10.8/game this season with the likes of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk surrounding him. Imagine what he could accomplish with Dirk and Monta and Parsons, not to mention all the lobs to Tyson. His defense will be key too. Ever since losing Kidd, we haven’t had a point who could defend a lick. Having a former All-Defensive Team guy on the perimeter should shore things up a bunch and give Tyson some help on that end.
The concerns are about his shooting, and that was a bit of a sticking point for me when these rumours first surfaced. But then I thought about how Jameer hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire with his 3-pointers, and that worry sort of resolved itself. There’s an argument to be made about spacing, and how opponents are likely to feel more comfortable leaving Rondo alone on the perimeter than they would Jameer, but the tradeoff (defense plus otherwordly passing) seems well worth it to me.
This trade is big. The Mavs had to do it, because PG is such a stacked position in the league and definitely in the harsh West. Losing an ultra-efficient big man in Wright hurts, but if the Mavs are going to contend in any way in the last few years of Dirk’s career, they need moves like these. I can’t wait for the new starting five to show us what they’ve got.
UPDATE: The trade looks even better with these protections:
Sources: Protections on the 2015 first-round pick Dallas sent Boston: Protected 1-3 and 15-30 in 2015; 2016-2020 protected to No. 7.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 19, 2014