Dallas Mavericks Trade Desk: Remember the lesson Rajon Rondo taught us

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

After a lackluster offseason in which the Dallas Mavericks once again failed to lure any top free agent targets to the city of Dallas, the pressure is on the Mavs to upgrade midseason at the fast approaching NBA Trade Deadline.

Name like Myles Turner, Caris LeVert, John Collins, Jerami Grant, and Dennis Schroder are all reported to be on the market and the Dallas Mavericks are said to the mix for most of them. Without an arsenal of first round picks at their disposal, the Dallas Mavericks will have to use players as currency in any potential transaction.

It’s clear the Dallas Mavericks would only consummate such a trade if they felt like it upgraded their roster. They wouldn’t want to trade away more than what they were getting back, obviously. But with Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith as the most tradeable assets on the Mavs roster right now, the risk of being on the wrong end of a trade is quite real.

One needs only look back at the Rajon Rondo trade to see how the Dallas Mavericks can lose in a player-for-player deal.

Since the lessons we forget we’re doomed to repeat, let’s look back a tough lesson we learned roughly eight years ago. In the 2014-15 season, the Dallas Mavericks were standing 19-8, one game away from the fourth seed in the West, and operating at near peak efficiency. They had a fairly deep bench, they had the best offense in the NBA, and they had a healthy mix of young and veteran talent.

But they could be better.

the player, Rajon Rondo, was a clear upgrade, but his fit with the team was a complete disaster.

While the Dallas Mavericks were certifiably really good, they were not great. So when the chance to be great arose, Donnie Nelson and the Mavs did not hesitate. They packaged some players and made their biggest mistake of the decade. They traded for Rajon Rondo.

The Rajon Rondo trade was a no-brainer. The All-Star point guard was arguably the best distributer in the game. Over the previous three seasons he was averaging over 11 assists/game while putting up over 10 points/game and nearly 2 steals/game. He facilitated the offense and his long frame and tenacity made him an asset on defense.

National analysts were calling the Mavs “favorites” in the West because of the trade. And all it took was a package of Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder and a couple conditional picks.

Instead it destroyed Dirk Nowitzki’s last shot at another title run and set the Mavs on a downward course they have never truly corrected. Rondo would clash so spectacularly with his new team, he was essentially kicked off midgame in the playoffs.  So while the player, Rajon Rondo, was a clear upgrade, his time with the team was a complete disaster.

The cost

With Jameer Nelson, the offense flowed fast and efficiently. Nelson didn’t demand involvement and that kept the NBA’s top offense humming. When Rondo came in, he slowed it down to a crawl. All traffic had to run through him. The offense was neither fast nor efficient anymore.

There was also the loss of Brandan Wright. Wright wasn’t one of the top scorers or anything, but he played a hefty role on the Mavs. Wright was one of the best pick-and-roll men on the team and he was also a top shot-blocker and rim protector. His loss was significant.

Then there’s Jae Crowder. He wasn’t much at the time but a case could be made for him being the best player of the bunch in the years after the trade. Crowder has now developed into a strong 3-and-D player – the same type of player the Dallas Mavericks have been looking for seemingly every offseason since.

The similarities

Today the Dallas Mavericks find themselves in a similar situation as 2014. They have a highly efficient squad with Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith playing key roles. Brunson is the spark that makes the offense hum while DFS is the 3-and-D that makes everything fit together.

The Dallas Mavericks team itself is in a similar position. They are less than one-game out of fourth place in the West, they have extremely cohesive team bought into their coach and his direction. They have a top-ranked defense that thrives on buy-in and effort, and they are trending upward, coming off one of their most successful months in franchise history.

They could better.

But, they could be a hell-of-a-lot worse too.

Both of those realities should be acknowledged because the potential for both is staring us right in the face. We need to learn from the Rajon Rondo trade of yesteryear because the similarities between then and now are striking.

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Should Dallas stand pat at the trade deadline? I’m not saying that. If the opportunity to upgrade is there, then you seriously consider it. What I’m saying is we need to also consider the bad that can come of it because Rajon Rondo taught us even a no-brainer trade has the potential for catastrophe when you trade away key players on a team that thrives on efficiency and teamwork.

  • Published on 02/02/2022 at 17:01 PM
  • Last updated at 02/02/2022 at 14:58 PM