Josh Smith, who shares many things in common with Rajon Rondo (among them a high school alma mater, a curiously broken jump shot, a tendency to be mentioned in trade rumors, and some level of involvement in a Lowell nightclub incident last month), defended Rondo upon hearing that his friend is on the trading block. (NBA.com)
“Rajon didn’t talk much about it but let me do it for him,” Smith said. “It’s mind-boggling to me to see people talking about getting rid of a player who damn-near broke his arm during the playoffs last year for his team and kept playing. We’re talking about arguably the best player in the playoffs for his team energy-wise, defensively and offensively. It’s a sick joke. For anyone to talk about getting rid of him, one of the elite point guards in this league and a true point who passes first and shoots second … it just reminds me of what I already knew, that the NBA is strictly a business. They can try to make it as family oriented as they want to, but at the end of the day it’s a business. And the fact is there is no loyalty in the NBA or any other profession. It’s always business.”
That’s a pretty thorough defense of Rondo, though I would also add that he’s also one of the league’s best bargains. But here’s the counter: Chris Paul’s a better basketball player. He just is. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Celtics would have won three of the past four championships if Paul had been here instead of Rondo. Nobody could really predict that. But Paul would have given them a better chance. He’s not as flawed. Teams can’t sag off him into the paint. He’s similarly talented in most areas of basketball, but he’s a much better shooter and turns over the ball far less often.
Those are the facts. That’s why Danny Ainge would trade Rondo for Paul. There are still Paul’s injury concerns and the difference in contracts, which are elements to take into consideration. But it’s not like Ainge is trying to trade Rondo for Mike Conley or something. Chris Paul is the league’s best point guard.