Our roundtable moves onto question two of seven, tackling Rajon Rondo and the front office's role in bringing him. Should they have known it was going to be a disaster? Could they have sat on their cards and hoped for a better option closer to the trade deadline? Let's talk about it.
How much fault -- perhaps use a percentage -- lies with the Mavericks front office in pulling the trigger on the Rajon Rondo trade?
Bailey Rogers (@BRogers789): 60 percent. So disclaimers first: (1) I was initially in favor of this trade, before souring quickly on it and (2) I completely understand the rationale for making a trade. The front office (and basically everyone else) felt confident that Dallas wasn't going to have playoff success with Jameer Nelson as the point guard. Defense wins championships, and Jameer-Monta was even worse than Jose-Monta was. So yes, there was sound logic in trading for a defensive upgrade at point guard.
However, after much thought, it really should have been clear that this wasn't the right trade. Even if Rondo was everything you expected in terms of defense, and came without any of the behavioral issues (which, let's not pretend there wasn't ample evidence of such issues before the trade), Rondo clearly wasn't a fit for the offense and was never going to be. It wasn't just that he was bad; he made the entire system basically unworkable. It sounds like Rick knew this all along, and the front office just seemed to shrug it off. Whatever improvements you got on defense were never going to be worth completely destroying the offense. Trading for a different point guard, or even just using Harris, Barea, or even Felton would have been (overall) a better move to try to make address the defensive issues.
Jonathan Tjarks (@JonathanTjarks): I'm in a pretty unique position with the Rondo trade because I supported it even though I was pretty sure it wasn't going to "work" this season. I just had no faith in the team as it had been constructed to make any real noise in the playoffs and I thought the addition of a defensive-minded PG like Rondo could have been a good building block in terms of how to build a team over the next few seasons. If you have Rondo and Parsons at the 1 and 3, you could have theoretically pursued a 3-and-D SG at the 2 and you would have a defensive-minded roster with guys still near the prime of their careers. It obviously didn't work out but I would have liked them to look at the move as the first in a three or four step process. The idea that Rondo at this point in his career was going to magically win them 1-2 playoff series was always far-fetched. The biggest mistake they made I think was only getting a Top 7 protection on that first round pick they gave up in 2016. I'm probably overreacting and being needlessly pessimistic but that's where I am now with this team.
Kirk Henderson (@KirkSeriousFace): 100 percent. The front office has made every reactionary move since the championship season as a means to force the window for contending open just a little bit wider. We got to the need for Rondo with a complete inability to draft for years. There's no other way around it.
Andrew Kreighbaum (@kreighbaum): 100 percent--it's not like Danny Ainge was holding a gun to their heads, right? Rick Carlisle and Rondo certainly have to bear some blame for how badly it failed. But most of their issues went back to how poorly he fit in the first place.
I was optimistic it would work out and it made sense because of the team's perimeter defense issues. The front office's biggest mistake might have been the protections on the first round pick it gave up. It would have been better to give it up this offseason than after next year, when Dallas might be worse. There's little incentive to do anything but compete for the playoffs when Boston owns that pick.
Tim Cato (@tim_cato): 75 percent. On one hand, I honestly don't think it was some massive gamble. They gave up the following: a) a season that was fun to watch but going nowhere with Jameer Nelson at point guard, b) two limited role players, both of which they could try to reacquire this summer if they were so inclined (and they likely won't, which says something about the players, right?), c) a first round pick that would probably be better served in Boston's hands this year than next, but a pick they rarely value anywhere and d) a chance at trading for a point guard later in the offseason.
From a fan's perspective, that's a lot. If you're only trying to win a championship using a very specific strategy of acquiring veteran talent that's immediately ready to make an impact, that really isn't much. We can (and recently did) fault the Mavericks' team-building approach, but trading for players like Rondo is exactly their modus operandi. It didn't work and given Rondo's warts, given his history of several years, they should have realized that. He also -- not based on stats or analysis, just an understanding of who Rondo once was as a player -- shouldn't have been that bad. Given the way the Mavericks operate, it was a trade you had to make. The real problem is that there are better ways to operate.
Hal Brown (@HalBrownNBA): A lot. Like, maybe 95 percent? I'm really tired of the "the front office could never have seen this coming, who knew Rondo would be bad?" thing. No one knew he would give up in the middle of the playoffs, sure, but lots of smart basketball people were skeptical at best about the trade; Rondo hadn't helped a basketball team in 4 seasons, and as much as people like to say otherwise I don't think there was a lot of reason to think that would suddenly change in Dallas. It didn't take a lot of digging to realize that he didn't fit not just on this team but in the modern NBA.
The Mavs did their research I'm sure, they had all the information we did and probably more. They decided that, despite a ton of evidence otherwise, Rondo would be worth more than what they gave up (I mean, Christ, his defensive impact was actually much larger than any of the data would have suggested before and he was still an abject disaster, that's how unfavorable the data was!). I realize they were making a gamble on having a higher playoff ceiling, but that's like gambling on a 200-to-1 horse because the payoff is higher. Gambling on success doesn't predicate that they had to gamble on a player who all evidence suggested would just be bad.