UPDATE (9:45 p.m.): David Aldridge confirms the WEEI story and adds the following on NBA.com:
Rondo and [agent Bill] Duffy are seeking a maximum or near-max contract that would pay him between $80 and $85 million; the Celtics are loath to put anything near that much into Rondo, given their existing expenditures for star players like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Rondo does not deserve a max deal. It’s that simple. But he has a fairly strong bargaining position—the C’s need to sure up their post-Big Three future somehow, and they can’t do it by signing a free agent another team (barring a sign-and-trade) because they are already over the projected cap for 2010-11. Toss in the LaMarcus Aldridge deal mentioned below, and Rondo has a case.
Prediction: He won’t get the max. He may get Aldridge money, though.
Rondo’s reps and the Celtics are meeting tonight to discuss a possible long-term extension, according to WEEI (citing anonymous sources).
Holy hell is there a lot of news today considering the season hasn’t even started yet. To recap: The C’s have until Oct. 31 to extend Rondo or he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Restricted is obviously the key word there. I have never been panicky about losing Rondo, because the Celtics would retain the right to match any team’s offer for him. It wouldn’t have cost the Celtics much in terms of bargaining power to allow Rondo into restricted free agency. It worked with Glen Davis despite Baby’s unexpected improvement last season.
That said, it is generally smart business to lock in an agreement now if both parties are pretty sure that a) they want to spend several more years together and b) they are not getting ripped off. There’s not much downside in getting the thing done. Doing so removes all sorts of variables. It removes the threat of New York or Miami throwing Rondo a crazy offer and forcing the C’s to match or lose him. It removes the possibility of Rondo having an absolutely monster season and establishing himself as a max contract-caliber player with a chance to actually negotiate a max contract.
And it removes the threat of Rondo pouting about the lack of an extension, though the organization seemed legitimately unconcerned about that after Rajon’s positive pre-season.
Still: There’s very little downside to getting it done now. The only one I can think of is the the 5-year, $65 million deal LaMarcus Aldridge signed with Portland last season. That’s $13M/per, which is somewhere between what I had hoped Rondo would get (maybe $10M or $11M/season) and the max.
Did the Aldridge deal set the market? Does it give Rondo increased leverage at tonight’s meeting?
The WEEI report does not include any dollar number or contract lengths. So we’ll all wait and see.
Quite an NBA Eve, huh?