Five Reasons Why the Celtics Are Better Off Without Rajon Rondo


Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on a major trade Thursday evening. Rajon Rondo is heading to Dallas to join the Mavericks, while the Celtics are getting back a trio of players and a pair of draft picks.

The trade news was undoubtedly hard to stomach for the diehard Boston fans, but parting ways with Rondo was the right move and it had to be done. The deal leaves the Celtics with a multitude of options moving forward.

Rondo’s desire to land a max contract this offseason was a major turn off for Ainge and Boston’s front office. Known attitude issues, poor leadership skills, subpar defensive play and his dreadful shooting ability, most certainly factored into Ainge’s decision to move on from Rondo. With so many questions surrounding the 28-year-old point guard, investing over $100 million into Rondo didn’t make any sense for the team.

Center Brandan Wright, forward Jae Crowder and guard Jameer Nelson were sent over as part of the deal. Boston also recieved a first-round pick in 2015 and second-round pick in 2016 from Dallas.

The move won’t have an immediate positive impact on the the team, but it brings great promise moving forward. Here are five reasons why the Celtics walk away winner after trading away Rondo:

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1. Boston’s frontcourt significantly improved

The Celtics were seriously lacking a legitimate low-post presence prior to the trade, but Brandan Wright adds tremendous depth alongside Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller.

Wright isn’t a flashy center, but he’s extremely efficient on the offensive end. He’s shot 74.8% from the field this season. His addition will allow Kelly Olynyk to focus more on his perimeter play, which he excels at. Sullinger is another guy who’ll have more freedom to play the high post without the Celtics getting burned on the boards.

Wright is 6-foot-10. He can block shots and effectively rebound. He’ll likely slide into a starting role and serve as the team’s resident rim protector moving forward. Zeller will still likely play a key role off the bench. Wright’s still young and his ceiling is still very high.

2. Marcus Smart now has an opportunity to blossom

Ainge drafted Smart because of his hard-nosed style, desire to win and to someday be Rondo’s successor. That day may have come a bit sooner than Smart expected, but the team is now his and he’ll have a chance to shine.

In a couple of game’s this season, we’ve seen coach Brad Stevens ride Smart down the stretch over Rondo. Smart thrived in those games and he did so most recently in a double-overtime loss in Washington. The team responds well to Smart and the organization thinks very highly of the youngster.

More minutes will allow Smart to gain more experience, confidence and chemistry with the young nucleus of guys around him. Fellow guard Jameer Nelson, a longtime NBA veteran, is a guy Smart should learn a great deal from as well.

3. Draft picks=endless possibilities

After acquiring a first-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft, the Celtics now have a total of nine first-rounders and nine second-rounders between now and 2018. Boston can do two different things with those picks if they so choose to do so.

With a slew of picks at his disposal, Danny Ainge can trade up to select high-end talent in upcoming drafts. He could also flip those picks to other teams to acquire already established NBA talent.

Whatever ultimately happens, much brighter days await with an endless amount of options on the table.

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4. Rondo trade gives Celtics valuable trade exception

After trading Rondo, the Celtics generated a $12.9 million trade exception, which is the equivalent to the guard’s 2014-2015 salary. They recieved the exception because the combined salaries of Nelson, Wright and Crowder don’t exceed that of Rondo.

The exception opens the door for a potential major trade in the future. Ainge and the Celtics now have up to a year to make a trade in which they acquire more salary than they give up. Their draft picks, along with veterans such as Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace, can be packaged in future trades that would significantly improve the roster.

5. No more distractions

The Celtics can now focus on growing as a team. Stevens can now guide the team in the direction he sees fit without constantly having deal with the constant attention and questioning regarding Rondo’s future with the team. It was always as if a cloud of uncertainty was hovering over the team, secretly and silently detracting from the overall wellbeing of the team.