DALLAS — Rajon Rondo wants another NBA championship ring and another parade, and he knew it probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon with the rebuilding Boston Celtics.
When Rondo was on his way to Dallas with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as the centerpiece of a five-player trade, championship talk dominated the conversation.
The deal sends the four-time All-Star point guard from the fringe of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference with the Celtics to solidly in the mix in the tougher West, where the Mavericks were showing signs of returning to title contention but looking like they might be missing a piece. In their view, that piece comes in the form of the NBA’s assists leader, with a reputation as a solid defender and rebounder. In other words, one of the league’s few triple-double threats.
“To be a contender right away, there’s a goal that you have in mind, and I’m dying to get a ring again,” Rondo said at his introductory news conference Friday. “I want another parade.”
The ninth-year pro grabbed his first with the Celtics in 2008, and now Rondo is joining 2011 champs Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler as part of the nucleus of a Dallas team that’s trying to win another title.
News of the trade came in a phone call from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, a former teammate of Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. Rondo said they talked for about 45 minutes after the deal was settled and “it was no hard feelings.”
“I believe it’s a great legacy I leave behind,” said Rondo, who was the 21st overall pick out of Kentucky by the Phoenix Suns in 2006 and shipped to the Celtics in a draft-day deal. “I can’t remember one bad time I had in Boston as far as where I got negative feedback from fans, no matter the first year we lost 18 straight or the following year we won a championship.”
The biggest question is how Rondo will mesh with new backcourt mate Monta Ellis, who has flourished as a playmaker with the ball in his hands but now has someone next to him with a similar style.
“At times, I’m going to have the ball,” Rondo said. “At times, he’s going to have the ball, and I have to learn how to play alongside Monta. I’ll pick up his game really fast.”
Cuban envisions them playing together a long time. While Ainge was in Boston saying he traded Rondo because he didn’t want to risk losing him for nothing in free agency this summer, Cuban said he intended to keep what he called a young core of Rondo, Ellis and Chandler Parsons.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t give up picks if we didn’t think it was long term,” Cuban said. “We’re past the days of rent-a-player. We want him to be here for a long time and we want to earn his desire to stay here.”
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@dallasmavs