With news emerging recently that the seemingly endless trade talk surrounding the Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo were never serious, many Celtics fans are surprised.
Rondo has been known to be something of a head case, despite his level of talent. It doesn’t really matter how many triple doubles he racks up, how many assists he can dish or what record he can break. As a player, if Rondo is going to act out, it can’t be a shock when he is mentioned in trades.
After all, this is the same guy some credit with the dispatching of Ray Allen as well as having a rough relationship with long-time head Coach Doc Rivers. He has even had brief spurts of poor play that allegedly were the result of his mental situation. After his time with the Celtics, Shaquille O’Neal reflected back on the day when President Obama made fun of Rondo’s jump shot, an event that Shaq says, “killed him.” O’Neal then went on to recount how Rondo was less likely to shoot the following game and how an offhanded comment from someone who knows nothing about professional basketball affected his game.
So with instances like the one aforementioned, shouldn’t fans be surprised the talks weren’t serious?
In a word: no.
Rondo’s incredible long-term value most likely became apparent to Celtics GM Danny Ainge during the Celtics 2009 playoff run. While Rondo will not be remembered for any vast, heroic games during that span, it was the first time fans really saw the weakness in the new “Big 3”. Kevin Garnett was sidelined with a back injury. Since that day that shall live eternally in infamy, the Celtics could never capture the sought after “Banner 18”.
Devastating as it was, Garnett’s back reminded the world that the Boston Big 3 would not last forever, and there would be a time when the Celtics would be without them. That time, of course, is now.
Rondo is an obvious Superstar with tremendous upside. He can make any player around him better, yet can still occasionally take over the game in a Paul Pierce fashion.
He plays a modern game highlighted by his speed and developing ability to score from anywhere, with hints of the old school highlighted by his ball handling ability and surprising ability to get inside and rebound using moves.
Hindsight really is 20/20 in the NBA, and we can now see it takes a very certain core to surround the Big 3 to produce any success. While Rondo can’t be compared to three different veterans, he doesn’t present the problem they exemplified, or that put for by the modern superstar.
Put almost any other star in the league with Rondo and you instantly have a deadly duo. The Celtics PG isn’t some sort of “just-add-players-superteam”, but building around him with the hopes of creating a competitive team gives Ainge a larger margin for error and an all around easier job.
While one player can’t make a team, Rondo comes pretty close. That is why the Celtics organization never seriously considered trading Rondo: He is a good corner stone for almost any sort of team Ainge could build.
Rondo is going to be in Boston for a long time, and that shouldn’t be news to anyone.