The Boston Celtics shipped out their final piece of a golden era on Thursday evening as Rajon Rondo seems to be headed to Dallas to join the Mavericks.
The deal is not yet completed, but it appears both sides are close with just the final pieces being discussed. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics will send Rondo and Dwight Powell to the Mavericks for point guard Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, a 2015 first-round pick, and a future second-rounder.
Rondo delighted Celtics fans for the past eight-plus seasons with his precision passes. The mercurial point guard reportedly clashed with former coach Doc Rivers. He is the final member of the 2008 championship team. Rondo said that he was interested in testing free agency next summer.
The ninth-year veteran will join Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, and Chandler Parsons. Rondo can afford to take more chances on defense with Tyson Chandler roaming down low. The Mavericks already have two pick-and-roll guards in Ellis and Jose Juan Barea. Dallas is the best offensive team in the NBA, but they are currently sixth in the loaded Western Conference.
Nelson, who is 32 years old, has struggled in 23 games this season for the Mavericks. The six-foot guard averaged 7.3 points per game with just 4.1 assists. He is shooting just 37% from the field this season. The Celtics could trade Nelson before the deadline since Nelson has just a year and a half on his contract.
Wright is a unique talent with his size and athleticism. The seventh-year veteran had trouble finding a place with the Golden State Warriors early in his career, but he really came into his own for the Mavericks. The 6-foot-9-inch forward is shooting about 75% from the field through 27 games off the bench. Wright’s specialty is scoring off of pick-and-rolls, which would have helped if Rondo was still with the Celtics. Since Wright has an expiring contract at $5 million, the Celtics could flip Wright before the trading deadline in February.
Crowder brings energy on the defensive side of the ball and Brad Stevens could use Crowder to trap opponents. If Crowder can display the talent he showed at Marquette, Celtics fans will be pleased. Despite being undersized, Crowder can ignite the crowd with his athleticism.
The Celtics now have three first-round selections in 2015 and 2016. Although two of those picks in 2015 will come later in the opening round, Danny Ainge has a solid history with those higher picks. Players such as Kendrick Perkins (27th pick, 2003) and Tony Allen (25th, 2004) were part of the rebuilding process and they developed into valuable contributors during the Celtics’ title run in 2008. Also, the Celtics picked up a $12.9 million trade exception, which they have a year to use.
Even though this doesn’t look like a strong move for the Celtics, they added more assets to use in their rebuilding project. The Celtics were able to get something in return for a player who may not be with the team next year.