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Trade Scenarios For Our Beloved Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is my favorite basketball player, and has been for the past five or six years. (Previous personal favorites include Avery Johnson and Tyrone Hill. I was due for a good one.)

I love hearing Rondo chirp for the ball moments after a teammate grabs a defensive rebound. I love the way he momentarily disjoints his limbs trying to maneuver around defenders beneath the rim. I love how he’s become predictably unpredictable, whether that be letting his man by on defense only to poke the ball loose with his tree branch arms, or throwing an unnecessary, dead-eye, one-handed scoop pass across the court in transition. I love his fearlessness. I love his fight.

Things I do not love: bogus trade rumors involving Rajon Rondo. They’re annoying and silly. But two days ago, I was sprawled on my couch, mindlessly refreshing Twitter when I received an e-mail from an NBA person I trust. It said Rondo and Chandler Parsons could be centerpieces in a rumored blockbuster. I brushed it aside and went back to Twitter. Moments later I was flattened by an unseen one-two combination by Sam Smith and Marc Spears.

Instead of dismissing these reports, I began to stew. Not because they were extra annoying, but because they fundamentally made some sense. (Fundamentally meaning: Sacramento is unable to trade a first-round pick until 2019, so that whole “two picks” thing is far fetched, but the idea around it was interesting.)

After taking a few deep breaths and pretending I wasn’t on the verge of a massive panic attack, a revelation hit me: Rondo trade rumors aren’t fun at all…unless I’m the one behind them! So I ran to my desk, cued up ESPN’s trusty trade machine and got to “work.”

In my one bedroom apartment, the trade deadline is treated like the national holiday it should be. Despite my love for Rondo—and the objective belief that Boston won’t actually trade its 27-year-old franchise player when they already have a billion trade assets to work with—ideas started to flow. This blog post was born soon after. Here are three conceivable offers the Celtics could be given over the next 36 hours, and any one of them would make Danny Ainge say “I’ll call you right back!” instead of “Thanks for calling Steve, but I’m hanging up now.”

All three offers are specific bundles for Rondo. No other Celtics are included.

Deal #1: Houston Rockets

Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, Houston’s unprotected first-round pick in 2014.

Why Does This Make Sense For Boston?

Okay, where to begin. Do you think Jeff Green is a solid basketball player? Chandler Parsons is twice as good, and has shown drastic improvement every year he’s been in the league (for those keeping score at home, that’s three years). He can shoot threes, create plays for others off the dribble, run a pick-and-roll, and score in traffic. He’s hyper-efficient and will cost under $1 million next season if whichever team has his contract chooses to pick up its team option. Defense and rebounding are legitimate concerns, but (segue alert!) that’s where Omer Asik comes in.

The big guy is one year removed from deserving a Defensive Player of the Year trophy. He also grabbed more rebounds than anyone in basketball last season. Asik is a force, and his contract issue is nobody’s problem except the people who own the team. (His cap hit next year is $8.3 million, a criminal underpay. Then it expires.) The draft pick would be low, yes, but the Celtics will have three picks in the most loaded draft ever. I’ll go on a limb and say chances are at least one of those hit (or all three are instantly sent to Minnesota for Kevin Love.)

Scale of 1-10, Would Houston Ever Offer It?

Seven. This package is weighty, but a Rajon Rondo, James Harden, Dwight Howard  triumvirate could be the backbone of a champion in 2015. The Rockets should be serious about getting him if they’re close.

Deal #2: Toronto Raptors

Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson, and Toronto’s unprotected first-round pick in 2014.

Why Does This Make Sense For Boston?

The absolute worst part about this offer compared to Houston’s is location. Toronto is an up-and-comer in the Atlantic Division, and it wouldn’t be very fun to face an angry Rondo four times a year.

Anyway, Kyle Lowry is younger (by 31 days), cheaper, a better shooter, and better defender. Generally speaking, he’s a very good basketball player. Attitude issues aside (how can anyone not get along with the ever-sensible Brad Stevens?), Lowry becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, so there are no assurances he stays in Boston beyond a couple months. Amir Johnson’s tapered off since his scorching December, when he melted snow just by looking at it (14 points, eight rebounds, 67% from the field), but he’s still a quality frontcourt player. Only $5 million on his contract is guaranteed next season. Similar to Houston, Toronto’s draft pick would give Boston three first-rounders in this year’s wonderful draft. Spicy.

Scale of 1-10, Would Toronto Offer It?

Eight. Lowry and Johnson may be out the door once this season’s over anyway, why not get a franchise point guard out of it? Losing the draft pick definitely hurts, though.

Deal #3: Atlanta Hawks

Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, Atlanta’s unprotected first-round pick in 2015 (which includes the right to swap with Brooklyn), and Atlanta’s lottery protected first-round pick in 2017.

Why Does This Make Sense For Boston?

Jeff Teague is a point guard, albeit one with several flaws in the midst of a disappointing season. Acquiring him for Rondo makes sense on paper. Lou Williams has been atrocious since returning from his ACL injury, and his contract may be Atlanta’s least attractive. The unprotected draft pick in 2015 would clearly be the most attractive chip, especially if Jason Kidd remains the head coach. On top of that, Boston would also receive another chip in 2017, assuring them at least two first-round picks every year until 2018 (assuming Atlanta makes the playoffs).

Scale of 1-10, Would Atlanta Offer It?

I have no clue. The Hawks are tough to read. Danny Ferry is reportedly unhappy with the contract he just gave Teague last summer. It’d be safe to say Ferry would be happy to move on from two deals he isn’t fond of. Giving up an unprotected first-round pick in 2015 is a tough call.


One more thing: The Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Pelicans were last second scratches from this list because they’re unable to trade a future unprotected first-round draft pick. Hypothetically speaking, the foundation of Charlotte’s offer would be Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson. New Orleans would give up Jrue Holiday and Austin Rivers. Again, neither team can provide what the Celtics really want, so it’s moot to further analyze either scenario. (For the record, if either team DID have a first-round pick to dangle, I’d say no to Charlotte and yes to New Orleans.)

Michael Pina’s writing can be found at CelticsHub, Red94, Sports On Earth, The Classical, Bleacher Report, and Boston Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelVPina.

  • hydrofluoric

    I absolutely hate that last one, especially since there’s no guarantee on the 2017 pick. Also, I don’t think Toronto should want to mess that much with their core which (since the Rudy Gay trade) has been winning at a 50-win rate prorated for the season.

    This might be blasphemous to say, but I’m pretty sure the incremental value of Parsons is higher to Morey than the incremental value of Rondo would be. Morey doesn’t even have a Jeff Green-quality player to fill Parsons’s shoes if he does part with him, while he does have Beverly and Lin.

  • hax

    The problem with these is Parsons and Lowry will require huge contracts to keep.
    We’d essentially be losing Rondo for nothing if that failed.

  • Jimmy

    I’m going to be honest, I sort of threw up after reading the second two trade proposals.

    Let’s just keep Rondo, tank, draft in the top 4, and get a blockbuster this summer to nab a guy like Kevin Love (not necessarily him, but in his mold).

  • Ray

    My quick take:

    1) The Houston trade: Boston would be trading a quarter for two dimes and nickel. No thanks.
    2) The Toronto trade: Better than the Houston scenario; potential All-Star in Lowry, Amir is solid, the pick is better. Would have to think long and hard about it, leaning towards no.
    3) The Atlanta trade: I like this one. If Boston is trading Rondo, that means it is a step backwards in the sense of putting together multiple stars to compete for a championship. However, the return from this trade gives them chips that could develop into stars or be traded for stars. I think I’d do it if I were Danny.

    On another note, didn’t we used to have a ‘subscribe to replies’ checkbox here? If it was removed, consider this a vote to bring it back. Otherwise I’ll just forget I posted and never think to come back for replies.

  • How about the one with the Kings that has been reportedly offered? Rondo for Thomas, Ben McLemore, and two draft picks. Would you do it? The Kings definitely would. They’d have Rondo, Rudy Gay, and DeMarcus Cousins! The Celtics would get even younger and Thomas and McLemore both have talent and potential.

    I don’t think I mind that one if the draft picks are first rounders.

    • hax

      It was thomas, mclemore and one 1st rounder. Rondo said he wouldn’t re-sign with the Kings and they ran away from the deal.

  • hax

    Rondo for Noel/Carter-Willams/Turner

    Rondo for Nelson/Harkless/2 2014 1st round picks

    Rondo/Wallace/Bogans for Butler/Udoh/Ridnour/Sanders/Antetokounmpo

    • Ping

      I think you may be a bit optimistic here.

      The Sixers are in ‘tank’ mode as much as anyone, so what good would bringing in Rondo do? Let alone your proposal would have them losing their only two foundational pieces in MCW/Noel.

      Orlando isn’t giving up their picks. They have a very specific plan in place for their future, and it very much relies on landing a stud via the draft.

      As for Milwaukee, there’s just no chance. Sanders and the Greek Freak are their future (much like the Sixers’ duo). They may part with them to get a star like Rondo, but why take back Wallace’s albatross?

  • bushkie4life

    Include Green (and/or maybe Bradley/Bass) to Houston, and forget about their 1st rounder coming back. To do this we would probably have to take back Lin. To me that’s the only way it works. Houston would not get rid of Parsons without a replacement. There is no way they are giving up Parsons and 1st rounder. Parsons is the best player out of all the ones above, a borderline All-Star still improving. Always take the deal for the best talent. You basically would need to draft a star point guard in the next two years, which is definitely possible with our warchest of picks.

    Why would we trade Rondo for Lowry? Lowry is not as good, leaving as a free agent. Amir Johnson would be PF #4 or #5; with no upside. The pick would be nice, but there is no way we would get that pick. I would be utterly shocked if any 2014 1st rounder gets traded at the deadline.

    The Atlanta deal is the pu-pu platter delux. Teague – bad player, long contract. Williams – decent scorer off the bench, is that what the Celtics need right now?

    • hax

      I agree that helping Danny Ferry fix his incompetent free agent signings is not the way to go.

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