Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, better known as Trader Danny, has already traded the team’s head coach, emotional leader and second all time leading scorer, since last season ended. With the loss of Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce the Celtics are clearly in rebuilding mode.
And when you rebuild, you might as well go all the way. The worst place you can be in sports is kinda good with no future potential. All that means is that you won’t do anything special right now and you’re not getting the draft picks it takes to build for the future. Better to totally bottom out.
And that’s why it’s fair to assume that Rajon Rondo, the last All Star caliber player left in Boston, is on the trading block.
The problem is which teams are going to be interested in the mercurial playmaker, especially since he will start the season on the bench as he comes back from a torn ACL.
You can take out any of the other rebuilding teams, they won’t want Rondo on their roster for the same reason the Celtics don’t. But a contending team, one without a top tier point guard, could see value in him.
But how much value? If that particular team gives up a player, or collection of players, that are as good as Rondo then they could be treading water, not getting any better by the addition of Rondo because of what they would have to give up.
That means a contending team would most likely only give up a draft pick to get him, and if that team then lives up to potential all the Celtics will get in return for an All Star player is a very late first round pick, not very valuable in the NBA.
That leaves a few teams that make sense for Rondo. The Houston Rockets are the front runner right now. After the Dwight Howard signing everything pointed to them going after Josh Smith to complete a big three with James Harden. But when Smith signed with the Detroit Pistons that option was off the table. Houston is going all in this year, and Rondo could be the difference between a championship and a second round playoff exit.
Another possibility is those very Detroit Pistons. A rebuilding team just a year ago, the signing of Smith to a four year, $56 million dollar deal sends a clear message that they think they can contend right now. If they add Rondo for a pick they could actually be right. Probably not, but when you’ve been irrelevant for as long as the Pistons have you start talking yourself into moves like that.
Also, don’t sleep on the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks or the Miami Heat finding a way to land Rondo. The Knicks and the Heat would have salary cap issues, but that can usually be worked out, and both want to win now. The Mavericks are rebuilding, but have been spurned in previous attempts to acquire an All Star via free agency and need to make a splash to keep their fans from getting too restless.
Chances are if the Celtics do get rid of Rondo they won’t get much in return, but that’s alright. What they’re really getting if they trade Rondo is a fresh start. He’s the last remaining player from the starting five that won them a championship and took them to another Finals appearance.
It’s addition by subtraction. They have a new coach and an overhauled roster heading into next season. Getting rid of Rondo will allow the young players on the roster, the ones the team needs to count on for their rebuilding process, to build their own identity.
The Boston Celtics are most certainly shopping Rondo around right now, and there are a few teams that make sense if Danny Ainge is willing to take what Rondo is actually worth on the open market.