Column: Mistake by Rockets to pass on Rondo trade
The Houston Rockets passed up on the opportunity of receiving an elite point guard in Rajon Rondo because they refused to give up their sharpshooter Chandler Parsons to the Boston Celtics this past week.
The Celtics' general manager, Danny Ainge, wanted Parsons to be included in a deal with two first round draft picks. The potential blockbuster deal ended up being a bust because the Rockets' general manager, Daryl Morey, refused to give up his young prospect.
Morey's decision was based on the fact that Parsons is the third-best player on the Rockets and that Parsons is still under his rookie (second-round draft pick) contract.
Parsons is shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc this year, which has allowed him to spread the floor for James Harden on isolation plays. Parsons has also almost doubled his scoring average in the last two years with the Rockets. He averaged 9.5 ppg. as a rookie but is averaging 17 ppg. this season.
These statistics are impressive but were they enough to turn away Boston's Rajon Rondo? The answer is no, for several reasons.
The Rockets are a playoff contender with or without Rondo. However, that does not mean they are a championship contender. The reason why they are not a championship contender is because they have a lot of weaknesses.
The Rockets are vulnerable in several facets of the game. The first, is ball distribution. The Rockets rank at No. 23 in the league in assists per game because they rely way too much on Harden's isolation offense. The Rockets resemble the Knicks' offense in the regard that both teams rely too much on isolation plays. The Rockets lack ball movement, which is where is where Rondo would have come into play. Rondo is a magician with the ball. He is so unselfish with the basketball that he makes his assist stats look selfish, if that is even possible. Rondo averaged over 11 assists in three of his last four seasons. He would have really helped the lack of ball movement in Houston.
Another weakness of the Rockets is that they do not play perimeter defense. They have a three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Dwight Howard, and yet the Rockets still give up 101 points per game. This is because the guards do not play defense. Defending starts with the leader of the team and unfortunately the leader, James Harden, hates to play defense. Harden is an awful defender and he sets a bad example for the rest of the team. Rondo could have redefined the perimeter defense like Kevin Garnett did in Boston. Rondo is a pesky defender who is always around the ball. Perimeter shooters like Parsons are a dime a dozen in the NBA but there are very few players that affect games like Rondo.
Morey made a huge mistake not only because Rondo would have filled some holes in his team but because Rondo is the definition of a game-changer. Rondo always seems to make the big play, whether that be a pass, jump ball or steal when you need it most. He is a winner that provides the last thing that Houston is missing: experience. Houston does not have a lot of veteran experience. Rondo has had a lot of success in the playoffs and he could have helped guide Howard and Harden, who both have come up short in the past.
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