The first blockbuster trade of the NBA season hit us like a ton of bricks last night. And, Mavericks fans should be smiling that it came at the hands of Mark Cuban.
Flash back to June 2011, and there I was, sprawled out on a hotel room floor, staring through the crack of a chair, mouth open, one eye closed, teeth grinding, watching the waning seconds tick away and the Mavericks finally wining a championship. Rewind 6 months before that, and I was making my way through a circus of people to place a Mavericks Championship sports bet, just weeks after Caron Butler went down with a season-ending injury. What a full-circle experience!
As the feeling began to wear off and the Mavericks reverted to mediocrity over the next two years, things looked bleaker than Vanilla Ice's comeback attempt as a rocker. But, then it happened! Landing Rajon Rondo sends a jolt up my body for the first time since those two moments of sacrifice and out-of-body joy I felt in 2011.
Without further ado, here are 5 reasons I love the Rajon Rondo deal:
Keeping Up with the West
We are just over 1/4 of the season in, and the Western Conference is as hot as Vanilla Ice's one hit of his career. But, unlike his album, the NBA West is filled with tons of hits.
Off to franchise-record starts, the Warriors are 22-3 and the Grizzlies are 21-4. Throw on top of that the daunted Spurs, an under-the-radar 20-6 start by the Trailblazers, and the Clippers and Rockets at 18 and 19 wins, respectively, and the West is shaping to be a battle at the old corral.
So, now is as good a time as any for the Mavericks to pounce on a top-flight free agent and put themselves in the mix for contention. They have 19 wins, but few felt they were a championship-caliber team until Rondo came on board.
Striking Out to Scoring Gold
If you read or listened to any Dallas sports news or talk over the last few years, you'd know that the Mavericks missed out on stars like Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, and that many people were calling Mark Cuban merely "content" and "complacent" with one title and a complete failure post-title.
Well, that's all changed lately! After getting Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, and now, Rondo, Cuban is back to his wheeling and dealing reputation, something Dallas fans have come to appreciate and long for.
Filling the Void
When you watch this team, their biggest positional weakness is point guard, and their biggest weakness to contend is defense. Both gaps are filled with Rondo. Sure, it's been 6 years since he led the Celtics to a title, and there are people out there that think he is injury prone or not a good defender. But, I disagree with both! The man is only 28, he's just missed one season from an injury he healed from rather quickly and he has been irrelevant in Boston lately.
Give him the platform in Dallas, and he will get back to his old ways on a grander stage. You watch!
Triple Double Machine
Throw away the shooting knock for a minute. The old school point guards didn't need to score, and with guys like Monta and Dirk around, Rondo's services are just what the doctor ordered. Oh, and he's also a walking triple double!
Nelson wasn't giving the squad much scoring as it was, and he was off and on with aging injuries. Rondo, for my money, is the best passer in the league (Nash is effectively done), very solid at defense, a terrific rebounding guard and the floor general this team needed.
What Was Given Up
Some fans are hung up on Brandan Wright's departure, and, while I loved Wright's attitude and effort, he's merely a backup. The same goes for Crowder, who, quite frankly, has been a disappointment in the overall big picture. Nelson was a nice piece, but nothing too special at this stage in his career. But, as for Rondo, he's a game-changer in his prime!
The biggest question mark is whether he will sign a deal past this season. Even if he doesn't, I like the risk/reward of the move. What the team lost is replaceable, and the first round pick is protected. If he stays, it's a slam dunk! And, who knows? Maybe his presence brings other guys in a domino effect that seemed possible when the club pursued D Will.
Cuban is a trading extraordinaire, but if the club can strike gold in free agency, that would put it over the top! As the Spurs window and Dirk's window closes, Mavs fans can only hope this move puts them back in contention with their rivals.