Every few weeks, a new Rajon Rondo trade rumor pokes its head up like a zit that needs to be popped, gushing disgusting rhetoric about how he is “tough to coach” and “unpopular among players” all over Twitter (that metaphor ends here, I promise).
This week, as is so often the case, the Kings are involved. Sacramento is allegedly looking into acquiring Josh Smith, a move that might make the Kings more attractive to their long-time target Rondo. This makes some sense: In Sacramento, Smith would play power forward next to Cousins — a much more natural position for his skillset. There would be spacing issues since neither Cousins nor Smith should be shooting 3-pointers, but at least Smith would be a power forward again.
What doesn’t make sense is exactly how Sacramento would go about acquiring Rondo in this scenario. The Kings can’t give up any picks, and Detroit allegedly wants value for Josh Smith apart from simply shedding his monstrous contract. Whatever value the Pistons acquire would likely take the Kings out of any realistic push for Rondo. Perhaps the Kings believe they can use Smith — Rondo’s longtime friend — as a convincing attraction for Rondo to come to Sacramento in free agency, but it’s hard to imagine him leaving a big market and his only NBA team in Boston for a chaotic, unpredictable environment like Sacramento just because Smith is there. Maybe I’m wrong.
That being said…
Sacramento’s top star certainly wouldn’t complain if the Kings got Rondo. Cousins told Bill Simmons on the latest B.S. Report podcast (an absolute must-listen, by the way) that he believes Rondo is the best point guard in the league.
Simmons: So you think Rondo is the best point guard in the league?
Simmons: How much of that has to do with the fact that you and Chris Paul don’t like each other?
Cousins: Nothing at all.
There’s some other interesting Rondo talk, but the best parts of the podcast are in the last 20 minutes or so when Cousins gets very comfortable and candid. It’s a fascinating interview, especially given Cousins’ reputation around the league and Simmons’ tendency to ask somewhat sensitive questions, but Cousins gives thoughtful, interesting answers and seems to enjoy himself. I highly recommend it.
We saw Boston put Paul Pierce’s trade exception (TPE) to creative use a little over a week ago in a deal that brought yet another first-round pick, Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton to Boston. Now, Danny Ainge acquired another, albeit much smaller, TPE from the Wizards: $4.3 million as part of a sign-and-trade that sent Kris Humphries to Washington.
The other part of the S&T? A second-round pick that’s so heavily protected, Boston probably won’t ever actually get to use it. Our own Brian Robb has more over on Boston.com:
First, it’s important to understand both sides of the deal. The Wizards wanted to sign Humphries but were over the salary cap. They also already used their mid-level exception (worth roughly $5.5 million per year) on Paul Pierce, meaning a sign-and-trade with Boston was the only way for Washington to give Humphries the salary (reportedly $4.3 million per year) he wanted to go there.
In the pending swap, the Celtics will reportedly not be receiving any players in the deal for Humphries. Instead, they will likely receive a protected second round pick that serves as the minimal amount of compensation the Wizards are required to send in any NBA trade. In essence, it’s likely to become nothing, but you aren’t allowed to trade “nothing” in the NBA.
As Brian points out later in the article, part of the Celtics’ plan here is to send Humphries to a contender. In other words, they are facilitating a deal, getting a minimal amount of value back and helping a player — who played very hard for a bad team without complaining all season — get where he wants to go. None of this is going to be franchise changing, but it’s smart for two reasons.
1. Danny Ainge is smart, and he understands how to use the CBA to his advantage. That $4.3 million TPE isn’t going to be a game-changer, but it could prove useful.
2. This type of deal shows other players that the Celtics are willing to help their former players out. Again, it’s not going to convince Kevin Durant to come to Boston in free agency by any means, but it’s a nice little beacon to put out there that the Celtics take care of their guys.
The writers at Nylon Calculus have put together a fantastic shotchart tool, and they have been using it in various pieces this week. Today, Ian Levy has a nice post on Avery Bradley’s unique development thus far.
The amazing thing is how many long two-pointers he took, from right inside the top of the arc. While Bradley shot well above the league average from most of those locations, the league average itself makes those shots fairly inefficient. Over the past decade or so the league average on mid-range jumpers has been about 39%, which equates to a three-point percentage of about 26%. So although he’s been making those shots at a very good rate, the fact that he’s taking so many of them is dragging down the value of his offensive contributions. If he were to move some of those shots behind the arc, even if he made them at a slightly lower rate, the Celtics would be better off because he’d be getting three points for every make instead of two. Having shown he can make three-pointers, it seems like it would be in his best interest to make altering his shot pattern a big priority next season.
Levy goes on to point out that Bradley’s development is extremely unique, especially given his age. Compared to other shooting guards, Bradley’s statistical development is behind schedule. He would need development equal to last year’s to even approach the average threshold for a player his age. Levy points out why expecting that kind of development might not be ridiculous, while also noting that Bradley probably won’t hit his top production until the end of his four-year contract.
There’s a lot to unpack, but it’s definitely worth read.
— Scott Isaacs (@ScottIsaacs) July 17, 2014
Yikes. Be well, Mr. Russell. We obviously wish him a quick recovery.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.