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Houston Rockets: Why Acquiring Celtics’ Rajon Rondo Is a Bad Idea

By Brett David Roberts
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Nov 7, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives to the hoop against Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland (left) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a buzz for the last two plus seasons regarding the fate of Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo, while one of the best distributors in the NBA, would not make a good fit for the Houston Rockets.

There are a few reasons why, but the last and most glaring issue is one that would give the Rockets a crippling disadvantage late in games.

Reason One: Rajon Rondo Would Take the Ball Out of James Harden’s Hands

James Harden has shown a great need for the ball in order to succeed. And that’s fine. He’s playing in the model of many dominant 2-guards by having a point guard who’s hardly a threat offensively. All that is required of Patrick Beverley is solid spot up shooting and suffocating defense.

But Rajon Rondo would change that. While No. 9 is still a tough defender, he needs the ball in his hands to create. That would require an adjustment on Harden’s part, but it’s hard to imagine James using his bread and butter plays to get to the free throw line.

James Harden had the 11th highest usage rate in the NBA last season, and with the ball out of his hands, he’d have to find different ways to thrive. Harden did this to an extent on Oklahoma City, but he had a different role on a different team. With a premier shooting guard, it’s not necessary to have a ball-dominant point.

Jan 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) takes a shot against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Reason Two: Rajon Rondo is not a Good Three-Point Shooter

Rajon Rondo is not a good shooter, and the Rockets need guys that can launch the triple since Harden and Dwight Howard command so many double teams. Rondo’s career high from three-point range is 25.7 percent.

The passable mark is 32 percent, and 36 is really what a guard should shoot from behind the arc.

Rondo isn’t much better from mid-range.

Rondo hit 40 percent from 10-to-16 feet in 30 games in 2013-14, while also shooting just 40 percent from 16-22 feet.

Without a guard whose jump shot can be respected, it tightens the defense in the half court and gives the opposing team a floater to throw at Howard or Harden.

Reason Three: Rajon Rondo is Horrendous at the Line

Rajon Rondo is a career 61.9 percent free throw shooter who has shot under 60 percent for two seasons in his career. When the game is on the line, the ball would be in Harden’s hands. But Rondo would have to be on the court, and that is a huge liability since Dwight Howard is also a terrible shooter at the stripe.

With two players that shoot 60 percent or worse from the line, the Rockets would be playing 3-on-5.

It’s almost a given that one would have to sit late in games, because it’s not feasible to send out a unit of five that only has three capable free throw shooters.

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