Will the trade for Rondo be one of  the NBA’s best mid-season trades?

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column-rick olivaresWHY are you acting so surprised? I am kind of surprised that the Boston Celtics did not trade Rajon Rondo much earlier. They dispatched their veterans but kept their moody young point guard. And now there is no one left from their 2008 title team. But they still do not take the cake for a team so quick to dismantle a championship squad. The honor belongs to the Jerrys (the dumpkopfs Krause and Reinsdorf) who, since 1998, are still looking for that elusive seventh National Basketball Association (NBA) championship).

How huge is this for the Dallas Mavericks who are looking for one realistic last shot at a second NBA title as the clock winds down on Dirk Nowitzki’s incredible NBA career?

Massive. Consider their starting rotation—Rondo and Monta Ellis at the backcourt with Chandler Parsons, Nowitzki and Chandler in the frontcourt. I don’t expect this team to go to the track meet but still…. Rondo gives the Mavericks a two-way player and a feisty one at that for the right reasons, I would surmise though.

Will Boston General Manager Danny Ainge’s assist to former Celtics teammate Rick Carlisle pay off? After all, Kevin McHale threw him a lifeline of an assist when he traded Kevin Garnett to him in 2008. Time to pay it back and hope that good karma returns in the players they got, as well as the draft picks.

We will find out how good a trade this was by season’s end. Now there have been a lot of very good mid-season trades; some of which rejuvenated clubs. However, few resulted in a finals berth or even with a championship.

Here are some of the best mid-season trades in NBA history that resulted in an NBA Finals berth and/or a championship.

In January 15, 1965 the San Francisco (SF) Warriors sent Wilt Chamberlain to the Philadelphia 76ers for Connie Dierking, Lee Shaffer, Paul Neumann, and cash considerations. Philadelphia didn’t get past Boston in the Eastern Conference that year and the next. But for the 1966-1967 NBA title, Chamberlain and the Sixers faced off against his old SF Warriors team. You know what they say about payback as Philly won in six.

On February 15, 1995 there was a reunion in Houston as Clyde Drexler, who played his college with the University of Houston, rejoined Hakeem Olajuwon with the NBA Rockets. Drexler and Tracy Murray were sent by the Portland Trailblazers to the Rockets for Otis Thorpe, draft rights to Marcelo Nicola and a first-round draft pick. Drexler, who led Portland to two NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, nabbed his one and only championship ring that season when Houston dispatched the youthful Orlando Magic in four straight.

On February 22, 2001 the Atlanta Hawks traded their longtime center Dikembe Mutombo and Roshown McLeod to the Philadelphia 76ers for Theo Ratliff, Nazr Mohammed, Toni Kukoc and Pepe Sanchez. Mutombo provided the rim protector Philly needed while Allen Iverson, Eric Snow and Aaron McKie took care of the scoring. They made it to the NBA Finals where they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One. But that was it for Larry Brown’s gritty Sixers who lost the next four matches.

On February 19, 2004 a three-team sent mercurial Rasheed Wallace and Mike James to the Detroit Pistons, while Chucky Atkins and Lindsey Hunter went from Motown to Beantown, while Bobby Sura, Zeljko Rebraca and Chris Mills got shipped to the Atlanta Hawks. The curious thing here is, Boston waived Hunter who was immediately reacquired by Detroit and he went on to help win the NBA title four months later.

On February 1, 2008 Pau Gasol was traded by Memphis along with a second-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and the draft rights to Marc Gasol and two first-round draft picks. The Lakers made the NBA Finals that year only to fall to Rondo’s Celtics. But they did win two in a row after that.

Fast forward to today. Rondo is in his ninth year and the sad plight of the Celtics in the past years has made him hungry for another title. It could be the last ride for these Mavericks as Nowitski and Chandler are on their last legs. The Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban believes he can re-sign Rondo to a multiyear contract. I’d say that it depends on how this season finishes.

For the sake of argument, what makes a trade a “good one”? I’d say one that leads to a title run and a bunch of titles. Making the conference finals for a couple of years is good too, but you want to stack that against what they gave up in return for that trade. Who came out better in that deal? At least, that is how I see it.

As for Rondo and the Mavs—it’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out.