“We’ll have an opportunity to sit down with Rajon and get something done,” Ainge said before the Shamrock golf tournament at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord. “Those conversations won’t take a long time, I don’t think. Rajon is in a situation where we certainly want him and consider him a big part of our future. This time of year, it’s one of those circumstances where we would want a deal that’s good for us and gives us security and he wants a deal that’s good for him. I think we’ll know after a few conversations if we are close and whether we can get a deal done or not. I haven’t had a conversation with him. I don’t think they know where I stand and I don’t know where they stand, so, at some point we’ll get together and have that discussion.”
Like Zach mentioned earlier this week, I think opening the opening the lines of communications is a smart move here by Ainge. After a tumultuous offseason for the point guard, putting in a good faith negotiation session to throw some numbers out there will serve the C’s interest in trying to lock up Rondo long term, even if it doesn’t happen before the season begins.
Personally, I see a very slim likelihood that this extension gets done before the season begins. Rondo will be looking for his first big payday, yet the Celtics, similar to the Big Baby situation will be holding all of the leverage given that Rondo will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. In cases like this, Danny picks a number that he feels Rondo will be worth. That number may be fair, but is unlikely to satisfy Rondo and his agent at the onset of these negotiations. That realization will likely lead to a stalemate between both sides and the point guard playing out the season.
Given the option of this compared to the C’s overpaying now in an extension for Rondo, I am a proponent of the wait and see mentality. A few reasons why, after the jump:
1) Rondo will be a restricted free agent.
Charlie Villanueva and Marcin Gortat. Out of all the restricted free agents out there this year, only these two were able to hit the jackpot early in the free agent period and score themselves long term deals that resulted in both players being overpaid according to many NBA experts. Even the big deal Paul Millsap signed could be a deemed as fair market value for a player of his stature. Given the pretty stacked list of restricted free agents this offseason that have come up short in that department, you have to feel pretty good about the C’s chances of retaining Rondo at a reasonable number next offseason.
Guys like Ramon Sessions, David Lee, Nate Robinson, Raymond Felton, and Big Baby all were stuck in no man’s land in their negotiations (some still remain there). NBA teams showed the refusal tie up big money in offering a restricted free agent money that a restricted free agent’s original team would likely match anyway at the end of the day. This leads to a game of chicken between the player and its original team, a game the team will win nearly every time since they are holding all the leverage.
In the case of Rondo, there will be a plethora of top notch unrestricted free agents out there next year for the taking. Do you think a team will risk tying up their cap space on Rondo in the early going with an offer that may very well be matched when other stellar unrestricted free agents are available? If this past offseason was any indication, the answer will likely be no.
The salary cap figure went down this year and is likely to do so again next year. This drop as it did this offseason will cause a domino effect in salaries of players in what will be a very crowded field for 2010 free agency. The likelihood the C’s will have to overpay drastically will diminish every time a signing is made and a piece of the finite cap is taken up. Teams will have less money to spend than anticipated as is, and the money will likely just not be there for a player like Rondo, a few weeks into the free agent period.
If a team is given a choice of throwing all their cap space at what may or not be a max contract player in a guy like Rondo or fill more needs with signing other players to more reasonable deals, it makes sense for most squads to go with the former. I don’t see teams overpaying for anything unless he is a sure thing. Rondo has yet to prove that.
Ainge and Doc Rivers got on Rondo this offseason for off the court stuff such as arriving late to practice. If Rondo were to get an extension now, what do you think are the chances of Rondo improving upon this kind of behavior? I feel like they would only diminish with the long term security. If Rondo wants a big contract from the C’s he is going to have to earn it with his actions both on and off the floor.
I have heard many fans worrying about Rondo entering a contract year, trying to up big numbers for himself. This kind of worrying is foolish to me. The Celtics are all about accountability. If Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and company even get a whiff that Rondo is out for himself at any juncture, there is no way they will allow that. On the contrary, Danny Ainge this offseason has put the pieces in place that will allow Rondo to excel in his role as distributor with a multitude of shooters to surround him. The motivation of winning a 2nd Championship which in turn will make the C’s more likely to give Rondo a big payday should be enough for the point guard out of Kentucky.
The fact remains that the C’s will be in the best situation to give Rondo what he ultimately wants in a long term contract, whether it be now or during next offseason. The sides will talk, and if an extension is reached now, I would have no problem with it. I just don’t see it happening and for the reasons I described, and I am okay with that too. The C’s have too many chips in their favor to mess this one up if they go the wait and see route. My question I guess is whether I’m alone on this. Do you feel comfortable going into this next season with Rondo if contract negotiations stall or will his looming free agency pose too much of a distraction?