Chris Paul was a better offensive point guard than Rajon Rondo in 2011, Danny Ainge believed. We know this because he said so.
Ainge made an appearance on Toucher & Rich on Tuesday and had some interesting, if not exactly new, things to say. He confirmed that Rondo will not be ready for the start of the season, he reiterated that he is not looking to trade the All-Star point guard and he alleged that there was a trade in place to swap Rondo for Chris Paul in 2011.
All of those things were previously known, or at least assumed. But Ainge also tacitly confirmed something else people have said for a long time: Paul runs an offense more effectively than Rondo. Or he used to, anyway.
When Doc Rivers was on the bench and Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were on the court, Celtics games turned into slogs late in close games. The uglier the Celtics could muck things up in the clutch, the better off they were, generally speaking, because they leaned on their defense and struggled to score in the clutch.
Ainge, who paid lip service to Rondo at the time as the best point guard in the league, apparently thought changing out Rondo for Paul would have fixed the Celtics late-game scoring issues.
“Over the last few years, our biggest weakness was scoring in the last six minutes of games,” Ainge said. “Even with Ray and Paul and KG, we couldn’t get over the hump. I thought Chris Paul could provide a lot of that. We thought his offense at the time was better than Rondo’s. We’re excited to still have Rondo. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.”
In other words, Paul was at least a bit better than Rondo in 2011. He still is. No unbiased observer could disagree with this then or now. Still, it is interesting to hear Ainge admit as much, even implicitly, and it is further evidence to take everything Ainge says with a grain of salt. He may admit somewhere down the line that he was not being entirely up front with his sentiments — not that he has to be.
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