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Should The Celtics Trade Rajon Rondo?

 

I don’t like to think how many times that title has been used on posts around the internet, but here we are once again.

This needs some prefacing: I love Rondo. I think he’s a great point guard — certainly top-5 in the NBA when healthy — and I think he can absolutely be the point guard AND the second-best player on a championship team. He’s flawed, but he’s brilliantly useful, like a rook in chess. He can only do a few things, but he uses those few things to get just about anywhere he wants on the board. He’s incredibly talented, he’s an enigma, and he’s supremely interesting. I love having him around.

But after the Celtics whiffed on a top lottery pick, there are real questions to be asked about Rondo’s fit with the team going forward. At number six, the Celtics will frankly find it difficult to put together a package good enough to make Minnesota surrender Kevin Love. The sixth pick would yield a solid replacement (Aaron Gordon and/or Julius Randle both promise to be available), but Boston’s only real asset is Jared Sullinger, and the Wolves don’t really want a poor man’s version of what they already have, especially if the best player available at number six will ALSO be a poor man’s version of what they already have. The collection of picks looks nice, but without young assets, the Wolves might very well choose to look elsewhere.

If that happens, Boston will be looking at a lengthy rebuild, which is where Rondo’s tenuous position with the team comes into play. He is 28-years old, and he’ll turn 29 during the 2014-15 season. Assuming the Celtics are once again a lottery team and assuming Boston’s picks in the 2014 draft take a little while to mature, Rondo will likely be in his 30s before the Cs really have a chance to be good again. How does a 30-year old star fit on a rebuilding team with no real potential to be good for at least a few years?

Therein lies the tough question with Rondo, one that Ainge will likely be asking himself as Draft Night 2014 approaches. There are a few teams that could use a solid point guard, but there are also few teams who could probably coax a guarantee to re-sign out of Rondo. Despite having several talented players, it’s hard to imagine the Kings getting Rondo to guarantee his return. The Magic are in the same position as the Celtics. Who else would be a possibility?

You are going to hate me for this one.

No seriously. REALLY hate me.

The Lakers make a lot of sense here. (ducks)

I know how tough it would be to see Rondo in a Lakers uniform (seriously, please read my preface. I really really like Rajon Rondo), but if dealing him becomes a possibility, LA would be a prime destination. He would likely re-sign the second his feet touched Southern California soil, he has the respect of Kobe Bryant, and the Lakers are attracted to flashy big names. Rondo would satisfy their craving for star power more than Noah Vonleh or Marcus Smart.

Why would the Celtics do this deal? For all the reasons above, and a couple more. First, having young players who can grow together makes sense. Assuming Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley (and whoever else survives the purge) can get along with (for example) Marcus Smart and Aaron Gordon, playing them extensively together allows chemistry to build without putting immediate pressure on young players to win. Let them learn how to win together, and you may create a good culture. Meanwhile, Rondo’s extension may price him out of Boston anyway. Picking up Marcus Smart to play point guard would give the Celtics a considerably cheaper prospect while they go through the rebuilding process.

If Boston somehow landed Love, Rondo would clearly be a part of the plan. They would be a deadly, fun combo, and having two stars together may attract a third. But if the Wolves remain uninterested in the sixth pick, trading for a complete youthful rebuild might be the move to make.

Nobody would dislike it more than me, but sometimes in chess, you have to sacrifice your rook.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • Big Ticket

    so basically you are high on Aaron Gordon such you think trading Rondo is worth it? God, what is this world turning into.

    • Robert

      Gordon has no role on offense other then alley-oops and transition dunks. That’s a huge red flag in a league where the inability to shoot severely hampers a team’s ability to effectively score.

      Now, Gordon is a great athlete, a dynamic defender, and he plays with a high motor. Athlete, defender, broken jump shot. Sound like someone familiar? That’s right, Tony Allen. Now, TA definitely has value to a team. He can shut down just about any wing in the league. But on the other end? Well, there’s a reason why Memphis scored even less PPG then us despite the presence of two low-post monsters and an above average point guard in Conley.

      • Mark

        To be fair to Gordon, Griffen had no offense coming into the league other than alley-oops and dunks. He’s progressing pretty well offensively and I’d argue Gordon is further ahead of Griffen as a rebounder and defender. Not that I’m arguing for drafting Gordon.

        • hax

          Many years after, though. And even then, it’s mostly a post game you expect from every starting PF, and a mid-range jumper which is also becoming standard for PF’s in the league.

          Win now!!!

      • Big Ticket

        your right but you can’t draft that kind of player with the 6th pick nor even think of trading Rondo as per the article, so as to grow such talent.

  • VV

    “At number six, the Celtics will frankly find it difficult to put together a package good enough to make Minnesota surrender Kevin Love”

    “the Wolves don’t really want a poor man’s version of what they already have”

    So who has a better deal for the wolves?

    You do realize than having a poor man’s version of kevin love is better than having… nothing? If the wolves don’t deal, he walks away. Thats it. they get nothing. So arethey going to get 100 cents on the dollar? No. They’ll get one or 2 decents guys, save some money and get some picks.

    Rondo is not going to the Lakers. Why is it always “does rondo fit”, instead of “lets get guys that fit well with rondo?”

    • dasein

      It’s not like it’s a Celtics deal or nothing for the Wolves though. There are another 28 teams out there.

      And a main point of the article is that Rondo will be over the hill by the time the young guys are ready to compete. So, the choice is find an impact player in their prime now (Love) or move Rondo (on his last year remember) and go young. Keeping Rondo and going young is just wasting Rondo’s value.

  • tbunny

    Calm down geez. The Celtics are going to trade Rondo to the Lakers for a pick? Why would they do that unless they knew they couldn’t sign him? I don’t hate you, I just think it’s dumb.

    People talk about how great it would be to trade Rondo for Westbrook. My belief is that Rondo has a championship mentality. Rondo will run through a brick wall to win a playoff game. Rondo was the best player on a team that came pretty close to beating the Heat. A bit closer than a team with Westbrook on it did later hmm? Rondo’s ceiling in the regular season is all-star. Maybe westbrook’s ceiling is higher there. But his ceiling in the playoffs in giant-killer. This last season was the worst possible situation for Rondo because none of their games were at all meaningful. I don’t judge him based on that.

    You give no reason to believe that a deal with Minnesota is much harder now than it was before. I have no idea how substantial it ever was. But if the Celtics can’t make a deal with Minnesota, why would they give up Rondo just like that? It makes no sense unless they’ve already decided they want to move him.

    And by the way, anyone who’s followed the Celtics for more than a year recognizes that the bi-monthly trade talk about Rondo just becomes ridiculous after awhile, and yet the local media bites EVERY TIME. To me it seems like Ainge plays the media like a guitar. As far as the media is concerned, Rondo has been on the table for the entire length of his contract.

    The Celtics have a ton of assets and Love isn’t the only target. You act like Rondo is over the hill. He’s 28. This is knee-jerk analysis.

  • hax

    Absolutely not. We have assets growing out of our ears. The Celtics can trade for plenty of star power.

    The Heat have Chris ‘Turtle’ Bosh as their only rebounder. You think they want to go up against Asik & Love, with Rondo’s heart pumping the engine behind the rest of the team, and Stevens’ well known david-vs-goliath witty coaching obliterating the ground beneath Spoelstra’s feet?

  • TMC

    What could we get back in a Lakers trade anyways? a #7 pick? They have no other attractive assets on that team right now and it would be almost impossible to make the salaries match without Boston taking back 3-4 players. Ainge would have to smoke himself stupid before making that trade

    • hax

      Actually, not even that. You can’t your own 1st round picks in consecutive years. They’ve traded 2015 & 2017. Which blocks 2014, 2016, and 2018.
      They could only offers us a 2019 1st rounder.
      Even if they through in every 2nd round pick they have left, kobe, gasol(sign’n'trade), and took back wallace, this isn’t a pretty trade.

      • dasein

        Well, the Lakers could always agree to make the pick Danny wanted and then trade that player. The rules don’t prevent that.

        • hax

          True!

  • TMC

    Besides, Kobe cap number is equivalent to two max contracts, making it next to impossible for them to signing any new top end talents.

    Free agents will look at this situation go “can I win in the West with me, Kobe, Rondo, and a steaming pile of turd?” The smart ones will say no.

    • hax

      Kobe is done.

  • Phaktor

    I saw the Celtics getting the low end of the lottery anyway; the main thing is that Ainge has done a good job of getting players, developing them and finding a way to turn them into a role players or assets for trades. That’s basically where they are now. Lets be real, even if they were able to be in position to land one of the underclass ‘Big Three’, the team would still struggle and we would still be right back here this time next year praying for the lottery balls to fall right.

    The Celtics are in between the middle and worst ends of the league and since the league has moved towards player development and analytics, the team needs to be patient and build a team that will get better every year….Cleveland will not be any better next year as it is still going to be a glorified AAU team where everybody will ball out for themselves. If anything, the Celtics may be able to pry away Dion Waiters by dumping Green’s or Bass’ salary as either player gives the Cavs a veteran for the locker room. Meanwhile the Celtics gain a recent high lottery player with NBA experience that can contribute immediately.

    As for Rondo, if I were the Celts, I’d wait for him to force my hand; the team will suck regardless for at least two more seasons and if the right deal or sign and trade comes along, then pull the trigger. There is no need to burn up the phone lines looking for a taker as the last thing a young team needs is a petulant veteran in the locker room lousing up the development process.

  • MarkoUkrainian

    Are you kidding me? I really do not understand why is everyone thinking we are going to be bad next few years… Look, we have a lot of young talent (Sully, Olynyk and, why not, Pressey), we´ll get a good player in this draft, hopefully Randle or Vonleh and/or we can get Love, and maybe even Hayward in free agency (with Green to be traded along with Bass and Bogans and future pick/s for Love if Danny makes it happen) and we are in the East!!!.. with this roster we can contend and be really good + we still have trade exceptions and future draft picks from Nets (if they won´t be traded). And I´m sure Danny and Brad want to win and not to loose for whole next season… this is just not our mentality to think about rebuilding through the draft and loosing.

  • Choko Late

    FIrst of all, this is just dumb. What do the Lakers have that would make trading Rondo worth it? Don’t even tell me Pau Gasol, or Ryan Kelly…so who? Their 7th pick? No…just no…no…NO…NO…NOOOOOO!!

  • Eisenhorn1976

    I don’t know if any of you have noticed but we went from having Zach Lowe (arguably the best NBA writer alive today) on Celticshub to Tom Westerholm…

    Just like we went from having a chance at the 1st pick… to winding up with the 6th… or like we went from winning the title in 2008… to desperately hoping Flip Saunders will grab our best offer of picks and Sullinger and/or Olynyk for Kevin Love.

    Seriously, of all the articles on Celticshub that have annoyed me over the seasons (and there weren’t many before this past season), Westerholm’s accounts for the majority of them. It’s like he knowingly trolls Celtics fans…

    • Choko Late

      I agree with this. I miss Zach and we need more BRobb, Hayes, Pina posts.

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