On Yahoo Sports Radio, Cedric Maxwell dropped a bit of a bombshell, albeit not an unexpected one: Rajon Rondo is rumored to be looking for a maximum salary in his next contract.
From WEEI’s post:
“I think it basically gives you an indicator of what the Celtics want to do,” Maxwell told Yahoo Sports Radio. “Rumor has it that Rondo has asked for a $100 million extension. You’ve got Smart, the young kid, and you’ve got Young, the other kid from Kentucky — both guards. And in the NBA system right now, the way they’re being paid, you would pay both those guys probably about $4 million for one year instead of the $100 million right now that Rondo wanted to ask for.
“So, if you’re Rondo, you might want to start calling that moving company and say, ‘Eh, come get my stuff. I don’t think I’m going to be here too long.’”
Obviously, Rondo won’t be paid $100 million in one year — Maxwell’s indication that the difference between the contracts is $100 million to $4 million isn’t totally fair. It’s also worth noting that having cheap talent like Smart and Young might actually make a big contract a little more feasible.
But Maxwell knows Rondo about as well as anyone in the Boston media, and this isn’t an idle report. If Rondo is seeking a maximum deal (and, from a personal standpoint, he should; this next contract will likely be the biggest one of his career), there is likely a team willing to offer one. But that team probably shouldn’t be the Celtics, whose championship window doesn’t line up very well with Rondo’s career timetable.
It’s also worth noting that if Rondo wants a max deal, he will have to wait to sign it until after his current deal expires. As noted by NESN’s Ben Watanabe:
Rondo cannot sign an extension for $100 million. The longest extension any player can sign is four years, including any years left on his existing contract, so the biggest deal Rondo could sign right now is three more years at less than $45 million.
In other words, Rondo would be foolish to sign an extension this year, leaving guaranteed money on the table as a 28-year old who will turn 29 in February. He is likely headed for unrestricted free agency no matter what, and given how often Boston has allegedly dangled him in trade rumors, it would be understandable if he didn’t want to give the Celtics a hometown discount.
But as a team unlikely to make the playoffs sans a Kevin Love trade that we don’t see coming, the Celtics don’t want to be giving out max contracts, and when they brought in Smart, they gave themselves an out. Further, they gave themselves an option if Rondo is indeed planning to demand a max: Trade their star while he is still a valuable asset. Rondo performed well enough last season to reassure teams that his surgically repaired knee will be good to go next season, and his jumper looked improved. If a team is reasonably confident he will re-sign, there will certainly be suitors.
The Celtics aren’t going to give away their best player for nothing. But given his age and the team’s rebuilding window, Boston can’t afford to be tossing around maximum money. If Rondo wants four years and $100 million, his time in Boston may be over.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.