As the NBA trade deadline approaches at 3:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey should be giving his friend, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, a call to finalize a deal to acquire Rajon Rondo.
The Rockets’ interest in Rondo has been known for a while and it once again came to fruition yesterday when ESPN, along with several other outlets, reported that the Rockets and Celtics have been in talks about a potential deal for a while now. According to Marc Stein, the Rockets do not want to give up Chandler Parsons in the deal and in that same article on Red94.net, Mitchell Felker inquires that the parameters of the deal may be based around Omer Asik and the two teams potentially exchanging draft picks.
Championship teams have elite players that can make their teammates better. These are the type of players that understand when to be selfish, when they should help create opportunities for their teammates and when they should simply defer to their teammates altogether. These guys can also do so many more things than just score points and Rondo is that type of elite player.
He is smart, always plays hard and has never been a great scorer but has shown a knack for big-time playoff performances. In Game 2 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, he scored 44 points to go along with 10 assists and eight rebounds in a tough 115-111 overtime loss. He is simply the type of player that never quits and will do whatever it takes to try and lead his team to victory.
Obviously, the biggest concern with Rondo is his health — he tore his ACL last January and returned just a few weeks ago and has without question gotten off to a slow start. Through 11 games this season, he is averaging 10.5 points per game, 7.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds along with a career-worst 40.5% field goal percentage. There are a couple of reasons his shooting percentage has gone down: He’s is still trying to find his rhythm on the court after missing the last year and this is the first season in which he is the main focus of every team’s defense. In the past, he’s had teammates like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to defer to, but that’s not the case anymore. Rondo now has plenty of new teammates with whom he is not yet used to playing. If he stays with Boston past the trade deadline, you can expect Rondo’s assist totals to go up once he is more acclimated with his teammates.
If Rondo is to be traded to Houston, his assists and shooting percentage can be expected to at some point be back up to his normal standards. With James Harden and Dwight Howard already in place, Rondo would be back to being the third scoring option and his creativity would also make life easier on Harden and Howard on the offensive side of the ball. He has the type of ability to set up Harden for easier looks on the perimeter and get Howard excellent opportunities on the inside with his dribble-drive penetration.
An additional factor to Rondo’s game is his defensive ability as he can be a hound on the defensive end with his length and athleticism. Opponents often get frustrated as Rondo can be relentless on that end of the floor.
Asik and Parsons are two other players the Rockets could trade as the former already voiced his displeasure with Houston earlier this season as he is not happy with playing the backup role to Howard. He is an excellent big man but he is expendable if a deal comes up to acquire an elite player like Rondo. Parsons, on the other hand, is slightly more difficult to get rid of. At just 25 years old, Parsons should be considered among the top 10 small forwards in the NBA.
While Parsons is still a player on the rise, he does not compare to Rondo’s ability. When at the top of his game, Rondo is among the best players in the NBA.
On the flip side, acquiring Rondo would be a big risk due to his knee issues and it could very well be a risk worth taking, although it could backfire in a tremendous way. With that being said, the Rockets should absolutely trade for Rondo if they want to increase their chances of winning a championship in the next couple of seasons.