The Mavs are 19-8 despite Jameer Nelson's struggles as their starting point guard. Does dealing for Rondo make Dallas a legitimate title contender?
“Yeah, probably,” Bryant said. “I would say something nice, but I’ll refrain from saying something nice because of Mark Cuban. So I’ll bite my tongue."
The Spurs, who lost in triple overtime to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, announced that several key players would sit out Saturday's game in Dallas.
Power forward Tim Duncan (rest), shooting guard Manu Ginobili (rest), small forward Kawhi Leonard (bruised right hand) and point guard Tony Parker (hamstring) are out against the Mavs. Reserve point guard Patty Mills has been out all season due to right shoulder surgery.
"The bottom line is, whoever they put out there, you've got to be ready to compete at a super high level for the entire game or you get embarrassed," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "That's just the way it is."
Carlisle said all the players involved in the blockbuster deal that sent Rondo from Boston to Dallas have passed their physicals, so Rondo is cleared to play against the Spurs.
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks need Rajon Rondo to be a star role player, a point guard version of center Tyson Chandler.
The Mavs are really asking Rondo to return to his NBA roots. His best years with the Boston Celtics came when he served as a box-score-stuffing complementary piece to the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
It appears to be a role Rondo relishes after being the focal point of a rebuilding franchise for the last season and change with the Celtics.
Running the show does not mean Rondo, who is expected to make his Mavs debut Saturday night against the San Antonio Spurs, dominates the ball. The Mavs, who lead the league in scoring, definitely do not need the league’s assists leader to be responsible for creating the lion’s share of the offense.
The Mavs will tweak some things to suit Rondo’s strengths. But Monta Ellis, who leads the Mavs in scoring (20.6 points per game) and assists (4.7), will continue to be the primary pick-and-roll ball handler, whether Dirk Nowitzki is popping or Chandler is rolling. Chandler Parsons, who has been lighting it up all month, needs to continue being given plenty of playmaking opportunities.
The best way Rondo can help the Mavs’ offense is to get them running as much as possible and make sure they get in their halfcourt sets quickly when they don’t have transition opportunities. Despite the upgrade in weapons around him, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Rondo’s assists totals dip significantly, because he won’t have the ball in his hands nearly as often as he did in Boston.
Rondo, whose basketball brain is as freakishly big as his outfielder-glove-sized hands, indicated that he has a firm understanding of how he can mesh with the Mavs’ offensive machine.
“Anywhere I go, I think I’m able to help guys make it easier for themselves offensively,” Rondo said. “Just get the ball out of my hands quicker and let guys make plays.
“I know Monta is a great guy who makes plays himself, along with Chandler. I think my job here will probably make Tyson’s job a lot easier offensively going in and drawing two [defenders], and being able to play with an athlete and being able to finish and run the floor as well. I think I can help complete this team.”
Rondo’s role on the other end of the floor is simple, if not easy. Dallas needs him to get back to being a dominant defensive player.
His four-year run of being an All-Defensive selection ended when the Celtics started their rebuilding process. The belief in Dallas is that Rondo, who says he feels physically as good as ever almost two full years removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee, returns to that intense, impactful form with his competitive fire roaring while playing for a contender.
A team that ranks 29th in defensive rebounding percentage also desperately needs Rondo, who leads all guards with 7.5 rebounds per game this season, to continue crashing the boards like a power forward.
The Mavs hope Rondo can be as much of a defensive difference-maker at point guard as Chandler is at center. That is Rondo’s most important role with the Mavs, who allow the league’s highest 3-point percentage (39.2) in large part due to open shots created by dribble penetration.
The Mavs had no shot to contend with Jameer Nelson looking like a squatty traffic cone against point guards such as Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, Tony Parker, Goran Dragic, etc. Dallas needs Rondo to be a disruptive force against dominant point guards -- and occasionally defend scoring wings, too.
Welcome to the West, Rondo.
“Whatever game I’m going to have to bring it,” Rondo said. “In the Eastern Conference, it’s not like they made life soft, but it’s night and day when you compare the East to the West point guards.
“I think that’s one reason why they brought me here is to get some defensive stops, check the best opposing guards on the floor. That’s my job, and I take full responsibly and I’m looking forward to it.”
Rondo's role in Dallas: facilitate an offense that doesn't need fixing, wreak havoc for a defense that needs a whole lot of help and do whatever it takes to win.
Rondo sounds ready for the challenge.
DALLAS – The long, winding path to find a worthy successor for Jason Kidd took several painful twists for the Dallas Mavericks over the past 2½ years. It's finally over.
Welcome to Dallas, Rajon Rondo.
It’s not a coincidence that Rondo reminds the Mavs' brass an awful lot of Kidd in style, substance and circumstance of their arrival.
"We're kind of taking a page out of the championship run," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told ESPNDallas.com after putting the finishing touches on the trade to get Rondo, which required the Mavs to give up center Brandan Wright, small forward Jae Crowder, point guard Jameer Nelson, a protected first-round pick and a second-round pick.
"This is a true pass-first point guard that guards and rebounds. The closest thing that we've had to that is J-Kidd, and that worked out OK."
But there's good reason that Rondo has been frequently compared to Kidd since he broke into the league, including by Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge, who coached Kidd in Phoenix. The similarities between Kidd and Rondo, two triple-double threats every time they put on a uniform, are remarkable.
Kidd was, without question, one of the premier passers in NBA history, ranking second all time with 12,091 dimes. Rondo is putting together that kind of résumé, ranking among the league’s top two in assists per game for the fifth consecutive season.
"Guards like that -- I played with Steve [Nash], J-Kidd and now Rondo -- they almost thrive more from getting another guy an open shot at the basket than scoring themselves," said Dirk Nowitzki, the future Hall of Fame power forward and longtime face of the Mavs franchise. "That's how they think in their head. It should be fun for all of us. We got to keep moving and get used to probably some crazy passes that we haven't seen around here in a while."
They are rare breeds as point guards who rebound like power forwards. The 6-foot-4 Kidd wouldn't have 107 career triple-doubles unless he consistently crashed the boards and chased down long rebounds. The 6-foot-1 Rondo leads all NBA guards in rebounding this season with 7.5 per game.
They're also crafty defenders with strong, quick hands. (Kidd ranks second all time in steals; Rondo is among the league leaders in that category on an annual basis.) They're also point guards who are willing and able to put up a defensive fight against much bigger foes, which is especially important when paired with a smaller shooting guard, whether it's Jason Terry with Kidd or Monta Ellis with Rondo.
Tyson Chandler, another title teammate of Kidd's. "Rondo displays it differently than Kidd did, but Kidd is one of the fiercest competitors that I've ever been around in my life."
Maybe most importantly to the Mavs, Kidd and Rondo are born winners, the kind of guys whose competitive fires roar after leaving rebuilding franchises to play for a legitimate contender.
"J-Kidd was a competitor," Rondo said. "He wanted to win. He did a lot of intangibles on the court to make his teammates and his team win games, so I would say I compare to that. I love to compete. I love to win."
Realistically, like Kidd's later years in New Jersey, Rondo didn't have a chance to win on a consistent basis since the Celtics stripped down the team around him in the summer of 2013.
The Mavs believe the circumstances, and not the right knee Rondo had surgically repaired after tearing his ACL in January 2013, is the primary reason the four-time All-Star point guard hasn't consistently seemed to have the same type of intensity during the Celtics' rebuilding process as he did while Boston was battling for titles.
"When you taste a championship, you want more," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. "When you're not in that circumstance, it can be deflating at times. Rajon rose above it and competed every night, but great players are better with great players around them. As coach [Rick Carlisle] mentioned, the best is yet to come."
The Mavs believe Rondo, like Kidd, is at his best in the moments that matter most. That is supported by the fact that Rondo's career postseason statistics (14.5 points, 9.2 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game) are better across the board than his career averages.
The Mavs also see in Rondo the same kind of innate ability to make all kinds of crunch-time impact that Kidd had. Carlisle refers to it as resourcefulness, a knack for finding a way to win.
"He's one of those guys that in the last two minutes of a close game, he can make amazing things happen," Cuban said. "So that's his greatest similarity to J-Kidd."
That's something the Mavs have been missing since a graying Kidd decided to leave Dallas to spend his final NBA season with the New York Knicks. It wasn't for a lack of effort.
Dallas got turned down by Deron Williams despite offering a maximum deal. The Mavs never even got a chance to make a max-salary recruiting pitch to Chris Paul.
A long list of point guards -- Darren Collison, Derek Fisher, Mike James, Jose Calderon, Nelson -- auditioned as Dallas' starter. None were more than a temporary plug at the position for the Mavs.
The revolving door stops with Rondo.
Cuban made it clear that Rondo, who like Kidd was traded to Dallas in the final season of his deal, is definitely not a "rent-a-player." The point guard is the final piece to a starting five that stacks up well against any in the league, a group the Mavs intend to keep together at least as long as the 36-year-old Nowitzki keeps knocking down jumpers.
That all sounds good to Rondo, who wants to be part of another championship parade and truly believes that is possible with the Mavs.
Rondo has developed a bit of a reputation for surliness, but he was all smiles after landing in Dallas on Cuban's private jet Friday afternoon, going through a 2˝-hour physical exam and meeting with the media.
At this point, Rondo is kind of like a Kidd in an NBA candy store.
BOSTON -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said lingering uncertainty about Rajon Rondo's future in Boston, along with the team's inability to immediately surround him with impact players, contributed to his decision to trade him to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Celtics shipped the four-time All-Star point guard and rookie power forward Dwight Powell to Dallas on Thursday night for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, two future draft picks and a $12.9 million trade exception. And while Ainge admitted that giving up the best player in the deal ran counter to the team's typical philosophy with swaps, he believed it was the right move for the Celtics moving forward.
The Mavericks had called Boston to inquire about Rondo's availability in the years since former point guard Jason Kidd's departure, while the Celtics had asked about Wright and Crowder in recent seasons. A deal came together quickly in recent days when both sides revisited those talks, even as attempts to add a third team fizzled.
"There was definitely uncertainty into what might happen [with Rondo as a free agent] this summer," Ainge said Friday night while addressing reporters for the first time since the swap. "That was a big factor. We liked the players that we got in the trade. But, listen, with his impending free agency, and the uncertainty of what might happen this summer, I think that gave us the impetus of wanting to do a deal."
Encouraged in part by Rondo's desire to be part of a contending team, the Celtics explored adding impact players this offseason -- Kevin Love
Sources told ESPN.com that O'Neal, who opted to spend the start of this season with family and focusing on business interests while deciding whether to come back for what would be his 19th season, is "highly intrigued" by the idea of joining the Mavericks as a free agent in the wake of the Rondo deal.
The deal not only theoretically elevated Dallas' stock as a Western Conference contender but also left it with a need on the front line after the exit of highly regarded reserve center Brandan Wright in the trade to the Celtics.
ESPN.com reported last week that O'Neal -- a six-time All-Star who played two seasons alongside Rondo in Boston -- intends to make a definitive declaration about his playing future early in 2015. But sources said Friday that timetable might be moved up, since O'Neal would naturally need some time to work his way into game shape.
A sampling of ticket prices on the Celtics' Ticketmaster site taken Thursday night versus the prices in the same areas Friday afternoon reflected increases of 15 to 25 percent.
"We dynamically price individual tickets based on demand and adjustments are made daily and weekly throughout the season," said Shawn Sullivan, the team's chief marketing officer.
Ticket-broker Jeff McGuinness of Indianapolis-based 317 Tickets bought tickets Thursday night anticipating that they might go up for Rondo's return.
"If I were in the Celtics' position, I'd probably do the same thing," McGuinness said. "They need to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves. Dynamic pricing is here to stay."
For years, teams used variable pricing, where the prices of games would be dependent on the quality of the opponent, but as the secondary market got more robust, dynamic pricing -- where teams change the prices constantly based on a variety of market factors -- has become more prevalent.
One market factor? A chance to see a familiar player playing for the other team.
"There's one goal that you have in mind, and I'm dying to get another ring again," Rondo said in his introductory news conference after joining the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster trade. "I want another parade."
The Mavs acquired Rondo along with rookie power forward Dwight Powell from the Celtics in exchange for center Brandan Wright, point guard Jameer Nelson, small forward Jae Crowder, a protected first-round pick, a second-round pick and a $12.9 million trade exception in a deal finalized Thursday night.
Rondo played in two NBA Finals and won one championship during his eight-plus seasons in Boston. But the Celtics have been rebuilding since trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the summer of 2013, going 25-57 last season and getting off to a 10-14 start this season.
Rondo attempted to approach the situation with professionalism, but the Mavs anticipate getting a much more motivated version of the four-time All-Star point guard, who says he physically feels "closer to where I used to be, if not better" after battling back from a torn ACL in his right knee suffered in January 2013.
It was established prior to the start of their season that the Texas Legends were being built in the likeness of the Dallas Mavericks. There was talk of Petri dishes and other forms of experimentation. When you look at the D-League, it’s the perfect stage to test things out.
While there isn’t a Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler or Chandler Parsons to be found on the Legends’ roster, they’re operating on the floor much like the Mavs do. Donnie Nelson – president of basketball operations for the Mavs and co-owner of the Legends – certainly believes that.
“Ever year it’s gotten closer and closer,” Nelson said on the framework of the Legends compared to the Mavs. “With the players that come to play with the Legends, we want it to be as congruent as possible with the Mavericks.”
There are experiments happening all of the time in the D-League. Look no further than the Rio Grande Vipers and Reno Bighorns. Those two teams aren’t shy when it comes to taking shots from the perimeter as the two lead the league in 3-point attempts. The Bighorns take the top spot by averaging 51.0 attempts from 3-point range. The Vipers come in second with an average of 41.5 attempts from 3-point range.
Reno is the affiliate for the Sacramento Kings and Rio Grande Valley is the affiliate for the Houston Rockets. While the congruency makes sense for Houston as they lead the league in 3-point attempts, it falters with Sacramento as they rank 29th in the league in 3-point attempts.
Much like the Mavs, the Legends seem to be operating more and more in the restricted area and the mid-range. Both are starting to develop more consistency from striking from the corners for their 3-point attempts, but they both take a vast majority of their long-range shots from above the break. While they could easily follow the growing trend of striking from the perimeter, the Legends continue to work in Dallas’ likeness.
“Congruency matters for us with the Legends,” Nelson said.
While the players may not be the same as the Mavs, the style of attack on both ends of the floor during a Legends game may look very familiar.
Mark your calendars
After eight days off, the Legends get back on the floor for some game action Friday against the Delaware 87ers. They will host the 87ers and then host the Sioux Falls Skyforce on that following Saturday. Both games will be played at Dr. Pepper Arena and will start at 7 p.m. With a three-game homestand ahead, the Legends have a chance to work on protecting their home floor. While they’re a league-best 5-1 on the road, they’re only 2-3 at home.
Each game can be seen live on the D-League's YouTube Channel.
But not least …
Friday’s game against the Delaware 87ers will be Make-A-Wish North Texas Night. Zach Steger, a 16-year-old from Richardson, Texas, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite that, Steger has been a member of the Dallas Junior Wheelchair Mavericks for eight years. Steger and his teammates will be presented with brand new, authentic NBA caliber jerseys during halftime of the game. He will also be designated as the “General Manager” during Friday’s game.
DALLAS -- Rajon Rondo will be no rental for the Dallas Mavericks after they acquired the four-time All-Star point guard in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics.
The Mavs are “as confident as we can be” that they will sign Rondo to a long-term deal when his contract expires in the summer of 2015, a high-ranking team source told ESPNDallas.com.
If the Mavs didn’t make this type of trade, upgrading the point guard position would have been their top priority next summer, when Rondo and Goran Dragic can test the market. By acquiring Rondo now, it makes it much less complicated for the Mavs to keep what they believe is a championship core intact.
The Mavs own Bird rights on Rondo and center Tyson Chandler, who ended up being a one-year rental for Dallas’ 2010-11 title team. He returned to Dallas in a June trade with the New York Knicks, allowing the Mavs to exceed the cap to re-sign both players. They would own early Bird rights on Monta Ellis if he opts out of the final season of his three-year, $25 million contract, meaning they can sign their leading scorer to a deal starting with a salary up to 175 percent of the $8.36 million he is making this season.
The Mavs’ cap space next summer would have depended on several factors, most importantly whether Ellis decided to take his well-deserved raise now or to wait a year for the projected spike of the salary cap to occur.
It could have been difficult for Dallas to successfully recruit a premier point guard and pay Chandler market value. The Dallas decision-makers do not anticipate having that problem now that Rondo is already on the roster, with the assumption he’ll mesh well with the Mavs and want to continue playing for a contender with a proven championship culture.
The Mavs already have starting forwards Dirk Nowitzki, whose hometown-discount deal made much of the roster remodeling since last season possible, and Chandler Parsons locked up at least through next season. Sixth man Devin Harris, whose deal has two more fully guaranteed seasons, is another core piece locked into a contract with the Mavs.
This isn’t like 2011, when owner Mark Cuban opted for cap space over keeping the aging core of a title team together. The Mavs firmly believe they have a core capable of contending for the next few years with the 28-year-old Rondo, 29-year-old Ellis and 26-year-old Parsons in their prime.
Cuban plans to pay to keep this core together. Dealing for Rondo makes that process much less difficult.