Disastrous Acquisition of Rajon Rondo Was Still Worth the Risk


When the Dallas Mavericks traded for Rajon Rondo back in December the city had visions of championship parades and Dirk Nowitzki hoisting another trophy or two high above his big, German head. There were concerns, of course: The ACL injury, the history of clashes with coaches, his penchant for pouting, and his fit within the Mavericks’ flowing, high scoring offense.

But the four-time All-Star brought toughness, championship pedigree, and a defensive presence on the perimeter that the roster sorely needed. Or so we thought.

Turns out the concerns were spot on. Rondo was detrimental to the team’s spacing, wanted complete control of the offense, and allowed his ego to affect his play when Rick Carlisle resisted handing him the reigns. (Note: I do think Carlisle deserves some criticism in regards to how he handled his new point guard’s duties.)

I also think, and the numbers show it, that Rondo did make a positive impact on the defensive end. But his play still wasn’t as advertised and red flags were raised, at least for me, when he proudly proclaimed that he hadn’t played defense in years. Rondo made that statement as a preface to the notion that he would start focusing on that end again in Dallas, but it never really happened and “Playoff Rondo” turned out to be a thing of the past.

But while it hurts right now, sitting down 2-0 to those damned Houston Rockets with Rondo away from the team, never to return again, the trade still had to be made. It was an experiment, and it failed miserably, but it was still a necessary gamble.

Because face it, though the Mavericks were a lot more fun before landing Rondo, they weren’t winning it all with Jameer Nelson at the helm. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting Dirk another ring? Rondo was their best shot at winning this season and Dallas hasn’t had a whole lot of luck landing big name free agents. The thought was that some postseason success would translate into Rondo resigning and the creation of a two-year title window.

And what Dallas lost in the transaction wasn’t all that bad. Jae Crowder? A solid role player, but replaceable. Brandan Wright? He was going to have to be replaceable this offseason anyways. He’s due for a raise. Dallas parted ways with a first round pick, but it won’t happen until the summer of 2016 at the earliest. Even then it’s Top-7 protected until 2020 at which point it becomes a second round pick.

And not to sound gloomy, but the near future might not be so bright for the Mavericks. Dirk’s end is looming. Tyson will be 33 at the start of next season. Rondo’s gone (though that’s an addition by subtraction at this point) and Monta might be too. That Top-7 protected thing might come into play more than we’d like. Anyone feel good about Chandler Parsons being the face of the franchise? Heck, even he can opt out after next season when the salary cap explodes.

So as our beloved Mavericks stare down the barrel of a series sweep and the prospect of roster overhaul this summer Rondo is an easy target, and for good reason. But it’s important to remember that though the calculated risk of procuring the pouty point guard didn’t pan out, or anything close to it, hindsight is 20/20 and the deal had to be made.

Change is coming to Dallas like winter to Westeros and Rondo won’t be part of the new regime. He was a bad fit and committed the ultimate sports sin by quitting on his teammates. But don’t blame the Mavericks’ fate this season entirely on him or the guys who got him here from Boston. Was it a good move? No. Was it necessary to have a puncher’s chance at the title this year? Absolutely.

It didn’t work out, but I can live with it.

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