Quick, who would you rather have on your team right now, Jae Crowder or Rajon Rondo?
The former was one of the most important cogs in the Boston Celtics’ sprint to the playoffs, a bulldog on the defensive end who could nail a few big shots to boot.
The latter? Well, his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
The Rondo era in Big D hit rock bottom Tuesday night, when the mercurial point guard played a playoff career-low 10 minutes in the Mavs’ Game 2 loss to the Houston Rockets.
And that was even with his primary backup, Devin Harris, sidelined with a toe injury. In arguably Dallas’ most important game of the season — one it ultimately dropped 111-99 to fall into a 2-0 hole in the first-round playoff series — coach Rick Carlisle felt more comfortable with Raymond Felton and the pride of Northeastern, J.J. Barea, running his offense than he did a four-time All-Star who’s openly stated he deserves a max contract.
Rondo finished with as many fouls during his cameo appearance (four) as points. He dished out just one assist and posted a minus-11 rating, dropping him to a minus-36 overall in the series. Then, of course, there was this:
[tweet https://twitter.com/fishsports/status/590849498949099520 align=’center’]
Capping it off was a Yahoo! Sports report Wednesday that Rondo, who is set to hit free agency this summer, will not re-sign “as long as the coach is back.” Carlisle has coached the Mavs since 2008, leading them to six playoff berths and an NBA title. If you were Mark Cuban, who would you choose?
Not that we promote basking in others’ misery, but if Dallas suffers the first-round exit it appears headed for and loses Rondo for nothing, nobody should be happier about it than Boston Celtics fans.
Yes, one can argue that Danny Ainge’s decision to wait until December rather than shipping Rondo out last summer might have hurt Rondo’s trade value, but pulling the trigger when he did rather than waiting until February’s trade deadline has looked like a brilliant move.
By February, Rondo already was having his first public blowout with Carlisle. And while two pieces of the Rondo return (Jameer Nelson and Brandan Wright) left Boston rather quickly, Crowder has looked like a guy who can play a major role on this Celtics team for years to come. There’s also the non-lottery protected first-round draft pick this season (which the Celtics won’t get, due to the Mavs making the playoffs; it’s also top-seven protected through 2020) and the second-rounder in 2016 that Ainge added to his war chest as part of the trade.
Plus, there’s the simple fact the Celtics have as many wins since trading Rondo (31) as the Mavericks do since acquiring him. The trade of a point guard whom most believed to be among the best in the NBA somehow hurt his new team more than his former team.
Score one more for Trader Danny.
Thumbnail photo via Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports Images