The risks and rewards of Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo, the subject of trade discussions between the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics, is a premier point guard in his prime.

However, Rondo would come with significant risks, particularly as a midseason addition who would have to get to know his new teammates on the fly.

A look at the pros and cons of the Mavs potentially trading for Rondo:


Upgrade extraordinaire: As of now, the Mavs arguably have the worst starting point guard in the Western Conference in Jameer Nelson, who is averaging 7.3 points and 4.1 assists after Wednesday's zero-point, zero-assist outing. Rondo, a four-time All-Star and starter on two Finals teams, is without question one of the league's best at the position.

The Mavs hoped that Nelson, who signed for the cap-room exception of $2.7 million, would be a bargain stopgap. It is clear, however, that the Mavs must upgrade their most glaring weakness to give themselves a legitimate chance to contend in a West loaded with dominant point guards.

Defense: The Mavs' perimeter defense is awful, and that's putting it politely. They consistently get killed on dribble penetration, a big part of the reason the Mavs allow opponents to shoot a league-high 39.2 percent from 3-point range.

Rondo, when motivated, is an excellent defender. There are precious few point guards who have his combination of athleticism, length and intelligence. He's only 6-foot-1, but his long arms allow him to defend shooting guards, which would give the Mavs the luxury of putting Monta Ellis on point guards and avoid mismatches on the better scoring 2 guards.

Rebounding: The Mavs are a subpar rebounding team despite center Tyson Chandler ranking among the league leaders. Rondo immediately would be the Mavs' second-best rebounder.

Rondo leads all guards in rebounding this season, grabbing 7.5 per game. That's more than the combined averages of Nelson, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea.


Offensive fit: Rondo is tied for the league lead in assists with 10.6 per game, but that doesn't necessarily mean he makes his teammates better, particularly if he joins the Mavs.

Would the NBA's best offense benefit or be harmed by adding a point guard who dominates the ball? Does that mean Ellis would have the ball in his hands less often? How about Chandler Parsons, who has found his rhythm after a rough first month?

If Rondo plays off the ball often, the Mavs are inviting major spacing problems. Defenses do not have to respect the jump shot of a guy who shoots 25 percent from 3-point range.

Maybe offensive genius Rick Carlisle could find a way to make this work, but it's a poor fit on paper.

Chemistry concerns: Ellis wasn't happy playing with guards who needed the ball in their hands a lot in Golden State (Stephen Curry) and Milwaukee (Brandon Jennings). How would he mesh with Rondo, who has a reputation for being moody? Plus, Parsons has already quietly made it clear he'd prefer to have more playmaking opportunities.

Perhaps winning solves everything, but what if Rondo has a rocky transition after the trade?

It's also worth wondering how Rondo would get along with Carlisle, who tends to be especially tough on point guards.

Price: Brandan Wright, other expiring contracts and a first-round pick or two? That doesn't sound too steep for a perennial All-Star point guard.

But dealing the high-flying Wright, one of the league's most efficient reserves, would create a huge hole in Dallas' second unit. It's not as simple as persuading veteran Jermaine O'Neal to get off his couch in Southlake, the Dallas suburb where he lives. He's not catching lobs at 36 years old.

The loss of Wright would eliminate a major weapon from the Mavs' bench and a critical element of the second unit's offensive spacing. Giving up the pick(s) could prevent the Mavs from being able to pull off future deals.

These are risks the Mavs apparently believe are worth taking to acquire Rondo, assuming they could convince him to stay well after his contract expires this summer. On that end, it's at least worth mentioning that he's represented by Bill Duffy, the agent who was the target of Mark Cuban's angst after Steve Nash's departure from Dallas.