Despite drawbacks, Mavs now contenders after Rondo trade
By MARQUEL INGRAM
College Contributor Network
Talk about an explosive move by owner Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks' franchise.
In an effort to maximize the chances that all-star power forward Dirk Nowitzki wins another championship before his Hall-of-Fame career comes to a close, the front office acquired Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
In exchange, the Mavericks relinquished starting Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder and two future draft picks.
The trade was one of tremendous sensibility from the perspective of the Mavericks' front office: The team, while having formidable depth at the position, needed an upgrade at point guard and Rondo's career numbers against his new squadron are all superior to that of his career against the rest of the league.
Now the Mavericks will bring against opposing NBA defenses a starting five consisting of Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis and the newly acquired Rondo.
Already having the NBA's top-ranked offense, I can only imagine the migraines coaches will get in plotting ways to stop a team with Rondo, who currently leads the league with 10.8 apg, along with splits of 8.3 points a night and 7.5 boards a contest.
I really feel for the rest of the league.
But before you Mavericks fans crack open the chilled champagne bottles and plan out the ticker tape parade in the city of Dallas, there are some drawbacks to this deal.
Rondo's fit in the offense
Rondo, for all of the superlatives and positive takes on his overall game, will have to learn to play as more of an integral piece to the puzzle than as the piece under head coach Rick Carlisle's system.
In his offense, Carlisle likes for his players to move the ball around the perimeter, which is contrary to what the former Wildcats star has been known to do -- in his eight-plus seasons, Rondo would almost exclusively handle the ball in half-court sets and create shots for the rest of his teammates.
"If Rondo plays off the ball often, the Mavs are inviting major spacing problems," said ESPN Dallas beat writer Tim MacMahon. "Defenses do not have to respect the jump shot of a guy who shoots 25 percent from 3-point range."
In other words, it will take time for the 6-foot-1 player to mesh with the rest of the starters.
But what should not go unnoticed is the fact that he has already under his belt an NBA championship, buffered by multiple All-Star Game appearances, so making an adjustment should not be a problem.
Not to mention his superb overall game in terms of his rebounding, defensive ability and his (occasional) knack to score (some) points.
Mavericks need to address front-court depth
On the surface, Dallas gave up next to nada for Rondo to take his talents to the state of Texas.
Nelson was under-achieving as the starting point guard in recent weeks (including a zero-point, zero-assist effort against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday), Crowder was getting inconsistent, borderline non-existent minutes off the bench, and it's next to a lock the draft picks the Mavericks gave up -- a future first and second rounder -- will not have much impact on any team, let alone the Celtics.
But the one loss that could have an impact on the team is that of F/C Brandan Wright.
Wright was having a career year as a role player off the bench, averaging 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg and a Player Efficiency Rating of 26.19, per ESPN.
The Mavericks already lacked depth at the front court, but Wright being traded east of the Mississippi River further magnifies the glaring need.
Behind Chandler is C Greg Smith, who is only receiving mop-up minutes at this point in the still-young season.
Either the Mavericks have to address this problem, or the team better hope their strengths can mitigate its weaknesses.
What will Rondo do beyond this season?
What will he do, indeed?
Rondo is set to make more than $12 million for this season, his final year under contract.
He is expected to test his luck in free agency during the offseason, where his market value would be best described as an enormous mystery.
Yes, he is a very talented player, but with the surplus of talented point guards in the league right now, it may not be a need for a lot of teams.
If what the Mavericks gave away to Boston is the precursor, then Rondo may not nearly command the money he received from his current contract (he would turn 30 in the middle of the 2015-16 season).
Though this is not a dilemma that has to immediately be dealt with, it is something to pay close attention to after June.
Despite the issues surrounding the trade, the fact is the Mavericks got the guy they have coveted for some time now, a player that elevates their chances of winning the second title in their history.
Rondo is arguably the best floor general in the NBA in terms of all-around ability and knows how to get the best out of his teammates.
He's an all-star, he's a champion and he knows what it takes to win.
Be proud, Cuban and the Mavericks franchise -- your chances of winning it all increased dramatically.
Marquel Ingram is an aspiring sports writer from Rutgers University. He loves the Colts, Yankees and the Mavericks. Follow him on Twitter: @marquel_ingram