The rumors of a possible deal sending Detroit’s young guard, Brandon Knight, to Boston in exchange for Rajon Rondo, are premature, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. But lets look at the possible trade that hasn’t happened, and likely won’t, because it could have been terrifying for both teams.
The likeliest scenario for Rondo heading to Motown involves a Celtics swap for Greg Monroe, who the Pistons have been loathe to part with so far. But the original rumors had Rondo and Brandon Knight, the Kentucky guard who just finished his second year with the Pistons and who has flitted in and out of the Pistons’ lineup as a point- and off-guard.
If the purported Rondo-Knight trade had come to fruition, it would have made a mess for Detroit’s GM Joe Dumars. The Josh Smith signing has already come under some scrutiny because it overloads the Pistons’ front court with Andre Drummond at center, Monroe at power forward and Smith at the small forward spot. None of the three can open up space with their shooting.
Zach Lowe at Grantland has already detailed how these three, without Rondo, would limit the Pistons’ abilities to open up the lane for easy buckets.
Drummond and Monroe are both limited in their abilities outside the restricted area. Monroe is young and hasn’t found a touch outside of five feet, and Drummond is even younger and more raw, with very little outside the monstrous dunks that have made him a favorite among Detroit’s faithful. That doesn’t mean they’re bad players, just growing and developing. But that can present some problems with a franchise that’s in win-now mode after the signing of Smith.
Smith will potentially augment the Pistons’ crowded paint presence. He is not a good shooter, converting just 30 percent from deep and sporting a less-than-stellar 38.7 effective field goal percentage from beyond the arc (per hoopdata.com) last season. That 30 percent mark from beyond the arc is also the third highest of Smith’s career and he’s never shot better than 33.1 percent from three ever.
But the worst part is Smith doesn’t really know he’s a bad shooter, and teams will give him a 15-footer if it means not having to deal with him in the post. Smith will take that shot, even if it’s not an efficient decision. Yes, J Smoove can take advantage of undersized small forwards, but if Drummond and Monroe are already on the block, how is he going to have any room to maneuver? He won’t.
As Lowe explains, Dumars might not have signed Smith with the intention of making the Drummond-Monroe-Smith triumvirate the front court of the future. Instead, Dumars just grabbed the best player for a smart contract for future flexibility—including the dealing of Monroe. Smith was arguably the best player available in free agency after Dwight Howard and Chris Paul signed max deals in Houston and LA. Signing Smith was better than overpaying Tyreke Evans, but again, we have to come back to the dearth of shooting in Detroit’s front-court.
Enter Rajon Rondo, one of the top five best point guards in the league, but also someone that struggles shooting the ball.