Post-game Reactions

rondoshootsZach Lowe reported earlier this week on the likelihood of Rajon Rondo extension talks starting up before the season begins. Danny Ainge confirmed talks would begin with Rondo’s representatives soon:

“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.

2) Economy
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.

3) Motivation
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?

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Brian Robb

Brian Robb co-founded CelticsHub in 2009 and is the currently editor-in-chief. He is a producer and reporter at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and also contributes to Boston.com and Bleacher Report among other outlets.
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  • Hunter

    I agree with what Jay said and I would add the following. This offseason, there were not too many teams that were under the cap sufficiently to offer a big time contract….and then OKC decided that this year's FA crop wasn't worth spending its money on. A lot of teams are going to be under the cap next year. After Lebron, Wade, Bosh and possibly Amare and/or Joe Johnson, Rondo will be wanted. There are a couple of teams that might even be able to land one of the big three AND make a nice offer to Rondo. I suspect the Knicks are going to try like heck to move Jeffries and/or Curry (along with Mobley's contract, paid by insurance, and cash) to buy more cap room for the offseason….and that's a team that will throw a big number at Rondo if possible. Also, some of these teams with cap room are not going to land one of those top 3 or 5 players. Some of those teams will be plenty interested in Rondo. Also, outside of possibly Felton (if he signs the team's QO), there aren't going to be other PGs worth acquiring in next year's market.

    I think Ainge is going to have to offer a contract starting at $11 mil for Rondo to consider signing an extension now (although I think Toronto messed up by offering $10 mil/year to Bargnani…I doubt it if Rondo takes less than Bargnani). If they don't reach an agreement and Rondo's jump shot looks a little more consistent this year, I suspect Boston will have to match a larger offer sheet to keep him.

    Also, Boston almost has to keep Rondo if they want to stay in contention. They don't have another legit PG on the roster; next year's PG FA class stinks beyond Rondo; and they don't really have the trade assets to land a solid PG via trade. But, I guess Luke Ridnour isn't a bad consolation prize.

  • Brian, I just wrote a piece arguing the other side. That the C’s should lock up Rondo now, before he inevitably takes another leap up the ladder of NBA stars.

    While I understand your points, I would only like to point out that none of the restricted free agents you brought up are nearly as good, or have nearly as high a ceiling, as Rondo does. Even when the economy is down, stars will be paid. I don’t want to risk that there won’t be a team willing to overpay Rondo next summer, especially when Boston’s future is largely in his hands.

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  • I don't know what the magic number danny has in mind…but I'm sure it's a conservative one. Rondo is all ready one of the top five point guards in all the NBA. He is also a project. He hasn't reached his potential nor is he close to doing so. His assist totals are going to go up every year, his scoring will also increase as the big 3 age. His defense needs to improve in a few areas such as keeping his man infront of him, and contesting jump shots. As far as I can tell there isn't a ceiling on his potential. So with that said if danny can lay a fair number out for rondo and he agrees to it great. I hope we lock him up sooner than later. But if for some reason we can't I'm ok with it because rondo will play harder and we cAn match any other teams offer. The risk in waiting is rondos play could drive his price up and it may cause an even larger rift between rondo aNd the celtics head many danny.

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