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What Does Avery Bradley Re-Signing Mean For Rajon Rondo?

Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo have been a fun backcourt pairing for years in Boston.

You may recall that Bradley played so well with Rondo (cutting hard backdoor behind unsuspecting defenders, spotting up from the perimeter and making Boston’s backcourt an aggressive nightmare for opponents on defense), he essentially punched Ray Allen’s ticket out of Boston, replacing the future Hall of Famer in Boston’s starting lineup as the 2011-12 season rolled toward the playoffs. Bradley was a key cog on a team that had the future champion Miami Heat shook like a halfway crook in the playoffs.

Bradley got his contract first, a four year/$32 million deal that caused quite the Twitter uproar but is probably in line with the shooting guard market. We covered the basics already, but the question everyone wants to ask now is a pretty logical follow-up: What does Bradley’s deal mean for Rondo?

The short answer?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The long answer? Nobody knows, but Boston now has a plethora of attractive options in the backcourt. Let’s break this thing down.

What if Rondo stays?

In this scenario, Bradley is likely the team’s sixth man behind Smart and Rondo — a 3-point shooting energy player who can throw himself at the opposing team defensively with as much abandon as he wants, since he doesn’t have to worry about foul trouble in such a deep backcourt. Bradley’s only job offensively is shooting shots he’s comfortable with, and as his shot continues to improve after his shoulder surgeries, he could prove very effective in this role. Meanwhile, Rondo and Smart give the Celtics a pair of players who can both bring the ball up the floor and distribute. Boston doesn’t seem to think Smart’s shot is as broken as some, so this might not be as much of a spacing disaster as one would think. If it is, all three players have trade value, and at this point, the Celtics aren’t locked into any combination that doesn’t work.

What if Rondo is traded?

Again, this is a real possibility. If the Celtics look to move Rondo, they have a plethora of trade options. They could offer him up for size and rim protection, or they could try to get more shooting. In either case, Rondo would at the very least bring back a worthwhile piece and — conceivably — a low draft pick or two. Alternatively, Boston could make draft picks the main part of Rondo’s deal, gambling that rim protection or some other position of need would be available in the draft.

In this scenario, Bradley is likely Boston’s starting shooting guard — right back where we started. The NBA has very few truly talented shooting guards at this point, and he could play a similar offensive role with Smart to the one he played with Rondo. Rondo liked to pick and probe the defense, creating openings and getting players open. Smart will bully his way to the basket, collapsing the defense in on himself. Either way, it boils down to the same thing for Bradley in a successful offensive system: Good looks from 3-point range and not a lot of ball-handling responsibilities.

Defensively, Bradley would have to save himself a little more as the defensive aggressor, but 30-35 minutes of Smart plus Bradley per game would be an uncomfortable prospect for opponents.

What if Rondo stays, then signs elsewhere?

This is less than ideal, of course. If a team is going to lose a player of Rondo’s caliber, it hurts to lose him without bringing anything back.

But this is why Boston’s maneuvering is so smart: The roster flexibility would still remain. Smart and Bradley still appear to be a good combination. There would still be a lot of potential and young talent on the team. Rondo’s departure would do little tangible damage other than putting the rebuild into hyperdrive.

Oh, and remember James Young? The 17th pick in this year’s draft? He has the size to replace Jeff Green at small forward, but he could also be slotted next to Marcus Smart if Boston would rather bring Bradley off the bench. Boston’s entire backcourt (including this scenario’s likely backup PG Phil Pressey) would be 23 or younger and on a relatively affordable contract.

Boston doesn’t have much room available to sign any more free agents this offseason, but the Celtics were never likely to get anyone of note anyway, and trades are still possible. Options still abound. Boston will still lose a lot of games while developing young talent next season and will likely still be in the lottery in 2015.

Whether or not Rajon Rondo is still in Boston, Danny Ainge still has an entire deck of cards to play while keeping Avery Bradley with the team. That’s probably all he wanted anyway.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • hax

    Bradley >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Smart as a starting SG.

    • dr. millionaire

      yeah the idea of Bradley as a 6th man over Smart is a bit perplexing, considering Smart’s combo guard skill set.

      I think our best bet is trade Rondo now, with the Kings being a logical trade partner. Rondo for Thomas+Stauskas would be ideal to me, but we may have to throw in the LAC or PHI pick to make that happen.

      Then I say we use our extra picks, TPE & MLE to pursue both Ed Davis & Jordan Hill to be our two centers. We would have 4-7 years to develop this young roster:

      Davis – Hill – Iverson
      Sully – Olynyk – Fav
      Green – Young
      Bradley – Stauskas
      Smart – Thomas

      • check12check

        I agree on the Rondo trade. I would love to see us get Stauskas as part of the deal. He’s a player that really interests me. I don’t see him becoming a star, but I see him becoming a solid shooter who can hopefully learn how to play D.

  • spotter

    Keeping Bradley was a nice move, just wish it was cheaper move.

  • CoachAJ

    We had Rondo, Bayless, Pressey, Bradley, Babb, Bogans at guard last season. Six guys at guard.
    Rondo played 30 games
    Bradley played 60 games
    Bayless played 41 games
    Bogans played 6 games
    Babb played 14 games
    Pressey played 75 games
    Now we subtract Bayless and add Smart, subtract Bogans and add Young and we finally have some depth at guard. Real depth. Sending away the best guard we have doesn’t make sense. I am one of those that sees a solid three guard rotation, with Pressey and Young, and Babb filling out the depth.

  • Jig Saw

    Brad would not start a rookie over a vet in AB. That’s just stupid and honestly, Tombo, you should know better. Smart will have to earn his minutes. You don’t ever play a rookie over a vet unless that rookie fills a void at that position.

  • dasein

    It’s looking more and more likely Rondo is gone I’m afraid.

    8M/yr isn’t 3rd guard money…that’s starter money. If Danny plans on keeping him, then he’s almost certainly the starting SG. Smart can start this year as the 3rd guard, but obviously you have higher long-term expectations for a guy you draft at 6.

    I seem to remember one of Smart’s strengths is the drive and kick, so if he can tighten his handle well enough to be an NBA caliber lead ball handler, he should make a nice back court with AB. Like others have said, they’ll be terrifying on D if nothing else.

    • hax

      Rondo & Green for Brook Lopez? (with random filler for money balance)


      Not contending now but if their ceilings become reality in a few years, that line-up could be nasty with good chemistry.
      Lopez being an example of a top notch Center currently, there are others(Drummond! Cousins!)

      • dasein

        Why would BKN do that with all the money they have tied up in Deron and Johnson?

        If you want to trade for a center, Sanders is probably the best bet. Mil could use a PG too but I dunno..that guy scares me.

        • hax

          Nets used Livingston-Williams-Johnson on the floor at once a lot last year. Rondo could be their true PG while Deron continues to become average as a SG. Lopez averaged 20ppg on a stacked team, just sayng. :p

          Bucks would have to give us Parker(for Rondo & Green) along with the risky Sanders. Kind of doubt they’d do it, but maybe.

  • skeeds

    disappointing to see the offseason kick off with what seems to be the C’s trying to insure themselves against Rondo bailing, rather than attempting to built a roster that would make him want to stick around.
    If what is reported out there is accurate, it’s clear we’re not looking to get better. Ainge didn’t go after Livingston, Asik, Deng, Gasol and a bunch of “lesser” stars that could really help right now. Looks like we’re either looking at getting a Kevin Love, or we’re prepared to suck for quite a while…

    • dasein

      With the exception of Asik (who isn’t that young either) those guys you mentioned are all old. They make sense for a contender who is one piece away, but wouldn’t move the needle much for this Celtics team. They are also free agents who want to win and can choose where they go, and again Boston is not going to give them that. Also-also the Celtic’s didn’t have any meaningful cap space to speak of anyway, so signing a free agent star- even a 2nd tier one- wasn’t really an option.

      But you’re right. The plan looks like Love or youth.

      • skeeds

        Actually with the exception of Gasol none of those guys are either old or looking specifically to go to a 1st class contender. But the names are irrelevant. In the big picture, Boston hasn’t been linked to any significant trade talks or free agent negotiations other than a pitch at the Wolves a month ago….

        • Ping

          Who would you have them pursue? They reportedly contacted 30 different players at the onset of free agency.

    • Ping

      Not a really fair criticism. What would you have Danny do to convince Rondo to stay? I’m giving DA the benefit of the doubt that he has done due diligence on Kevin Love. Outside of that trade, what All-Star players are there to be had? Melo and LeBron are less than zero chances.

      So what do Deng and Gasol bring? A playoff birth as a 7 seed? Boston doesn’t have the cap space for such filler, and I find it hard to believe a year or two of Pau Gasol gets Rondo to re-up.

      I’m all for keeping Rondo if we can build a real team around him, but it’s becoming more and more likely he’s dealt.

  • Ping

    My thoughts on Avery’s new deal: Seems like every message board and radio talking head is throwing a fit over Avery’s re-signing, but I think it’s largely misguided. Everyone and their mother dislikes the $$/year and the timing.

    Let’s start with the dollar amount. I think anyone who believes Boston could have resigned Bradley for any less than $8 mil per is delusions. Jodie Meeks just had a career year for a terrible team, posting a below league average PER while shooting a shade over 40% from 3. He also just set the market for 2 guards at $6.5 mil per year. 6.5 for Jodie Meeks. And we here in boston think Bradley’s 39.5 3P% and stellar perimeter D is somehow worth less than 8? Even if we got him for 7 a year, are we that upset over $4 mil total?

    It definitely seems to me most people are stuck in the old CBA where 8 or 9 mil seems like a lot of money. Truth is, that’s a standard rate for a starter, and the cap is only projected to keep rising by several million each season. Before you complain about 8 for Bradley or even 9 for Jeff Green, look at Wallace’s 10 (signed the same offseason as Green) or Gordon Hayward (career 15.3 PER) reportedly receiving a $15 mil (!!) offer from Cleveland.

    The other drum we all keep beating is the Celtics’ jumping too early on a new deal. People feel as though Danny should have waited and seen how Bradley’s market developed. That’s fair, but what if he was offered 8.5, 9, or 10? Either Boston matches for more money than they actually signed him for, or you lose Bradley. He’s no Hall of Famer, but Bradley is still just 23 (crazy, right?) and the dearth of quality SGs in the NBA is stunning right now. Add in the potential of Rondo leaving next year, and the C’s might be further in the hole had they not signed Bradley.

    Long point short, Bradley is a young asset who can still improve, and is a solid future piece next to Smart. I’m not going to be the one to slam Danny for this deal.

    p.s. OJ Mayo made $8 mil last year. He’s 26 and that salary will tie with Bradley for approx 80th overall in the NBA in 2014-15.

    • dasein

      Yeah, I think you’re on the money. 8M seemed like a lot on first glance, but that is because it was in the old CBA. In this brave new world with rising cap, it’s probably fine, especially when compared to other recent signings.

      • Ping

        Right. It’s kind of substantial in that $8 mil is much harder to move than 4 or 5, but that’s really the crux of the signing. If you were willing to let the market develop and decline to match if Bradley got a 10/year offer, that’s a different argument.

        No way Bradley stays at anything much less than 8, so it’s really an argument over keeping Bradley at all. I think Bradley is worth developing given the SG landscape, but I can understand if others are down on him. His injuries and inconsistency are question marks, but I trust DA’s assessment.

  • hax

    Pacers-Rondo rumors spawned. Most likely its just BS coming from the Dragic-Pacers trade rumors.

    They don’t have much interesting stuff, so they’d HAVE to take Wallace back to make it even worth our time.

    Something like

    Rondo-Wallace($23.1 million)


    Hibbert, Copeland, Watson, Sloan($20.9 million – latter three would be 6 million gone after this season, all expirings) and 2016 1st round pick.

    And even then, I’m sure plenty of Celtics fans wouldn’t like that trade.

    • Ping

      I think it’s all bull coming from Marc Stein and his “sources.” Two separate tweets seemed to indicate that Indy was trying to acquire Dragic, using Rondo as a means to give Phoenix an adequate return. But then the reasons given for Dragic being traded were Phoenix’s inability to pay both Dragic and Bledsoe long term. So why exactly would Phoenix take on Rondo’s impending new deal?

      Rumor doesn’t make much sense. Most likely, someone informed Stein that Indy is calling around the league inquiring about top PGs and he conjured a rumor. Really only makes sense if it’s Rondo going to Indy, Dragic coming to Boston, and cheaper assets going to Phoenix.

      I would do that trade instantly because, though it’s probably an unpopular opinion, I think Dragic is better than Rondo. But this rumor is probably just that, a rumor.