The Boston Celtics have finally cut the last remaining tether to their NBA Championship in 2008.
Rajon Rondo is gone.
Now in full-rebuild mode, the Celtics look for their third consecutive victory Friday night when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves, who seek their first win in Boston in almost a decade.
Rondo and forward Dwight Powell were dealt to Dallas on Thursday in exchange for Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, two draft picks and a $12.9 million trade exception.
Boston (9-14) got a first-round pick in next year’s draft and a second-rounder in 2016. The Celtics have eight first-round picks in the next four years, picking them up in trades for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and even coach Doc Rivers as they shed the pieces of the core that earned the franchise its 17th NBA title seven seasons ago.
"We would not have won Banner 17 without Rajon and will always consider him one of our most valuable Celtics," the team’s owners said in a joint statement. "We will always cherish the time he was here."
Rondo leads the NBA with 10.8 assists per contest, but his offense has steadily declined over the past two seasons from 13.7 points per game in 2012-13 to 8.3 in 2014-15.
Nelson will likely immediately slot in at point guard for the Celtics over backup Phil Pressey. The 11-year veteran averaged 7.3 points and 4.1 assists in 23 games for the Mavericks, but in a more significant role for Orlando last season, tallied 12.1 points and 7.0 assists.
Wright played about 19 minutes a game, averaging 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, while Crowder averaged 3.6 points per game for Dallas. It’s unclear whether the new additions will be available Friday.
Minnesota (5-19) may soon become sellers as well, but for now remains at the bottom of the Western Conference, mired in another losing streak. The Timberwolves have lost nine of 10 and would record their third losing streak of four or more games with a defeat Friday.
Thaddeus Young scored a season-high 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting Tuesday in a 109-95 loss at Washington.
"We’ve been pretty resilient," coach Flip Saunders said. "We fell behind and battled back. We battled back about two, three times. They just didn’t have any juice left … Our guys are making baby steps. There’s progress.
"They’re just too good for us right now. We just don’t have enough firepower."
Shabazz Muhammad stands as one of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves, who have allowed opponents to score 116.5 points and shoot 50.9 percent during a four-game road skid. He has averaged 18.9 points over his last seven games, shooting 50.0 percent from the field.
"He’s turning into one of the crowd favorites just because, especially in Minnesota, people love guys that play hard and give everything," Saunders told Minnesota’s official site. "There’s not one time I’ve had to say to him, ‘You’ve got to play harder.’"
He’ll face a Celtics defense that has allowed just 89.5 points over its past two games. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger each had 16 points and Brandon Bass added 18 off the bench in a 109-92 win over Orlando on Wednesday.
Boston has won eight straight at home against Minnesota since a 99-97 loss on March 6, 2005.