Should Boston Celtics Build Around Rajon Rondo?

By Michael LeDuc
Rajon Rondo
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

I have always been a huge advocate of the Boston Celtics trading Rajon Rondo. The four-time All-Star and reigning assist leader can bring back the most value in a trade than anyone else on Boston’s current roster. Especially in a re-building phase, the Celtics should be gathering as many young talents and draft picks as possible. And at age 27 going on 28 in February, it doesn’t seem like Rondo would be a vital part of the future. However, there is a case to keep Rondo and make him the franchise cornerstone of the Celtics.

First of all, Rondo has shown his leadership on this team. While rehabbing his torn ACL, he has attended every game, pushed his teammates and has been a vocal leader off the court. At one time, Rondo was a critically acclaimed a “punk.” He was thought to be a selfish player that was only good for butting heads with his coach. So far, all indications reveal that he and Brad Stevens have a solid relationship. And most important of all, as far as we know, Rondo never tried to bolt nor demand to be traded after Boston parted ways with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Instead, he was ready to be the leader of the young Celtic team. Rondo has done everything a leader is expected to do and should be rewarded for it.

Rondo is turning 28-years-old which is far too old for some, and the Celtics should consider moving on. Well, it just so happens that former Celtic great Paul Pierce was 29-years-old when Danny Ainge finally surrounded him with star players. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were traded to Boston to form “The Big Three,” and the Celtics won a championship and had opportunities to win multiple. In many ways Pierce and Rondo are alike. Both were essentially “head cases” at one point in their caree, but eventually grew up and matured. In fact, Rondo has shown more growth than Pierce did when he was at Rondo’s point in his career.

In order to make Rondo the franchise cornerstone, Ainge will have to reach into his magic hat and pull out something good to place around Rondo. He just so happens to have expendable guys like Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and more future draft picks than I count on my hands. These assets could either be packaged to bring back another star-caliber player or be pieces of the next championship. Also, Ainge will most likely have a lottery pick this season that could also be traded or used on a future star.  Think back to 2007 when the Celtics had Pierce, the cornerstone, plus a plethora of young talent like Al Jefferson, Delonte West, Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes who were used in major trades. Plus, they owned a high-lottery pick that was an important asset to acquire Ray Allen. If the Celtics can get into the lottery this season, it’ll be a very similar situation to the 2007 season. Even with Rondo’s return, the Celtics have a long road to make the playoffs and will probably have a few ping-pong balls in this year’s lottery.

The Celtics should build around Rondo because he is such a unique player. He’s one of the only point guards in the league that an opponent has to game plan for. In the playoffs, he becomes lethal. Rondo filled up the stat sheet in the Celtics’ title year, and he nearly averaged a triple-double in a playoff series against Derrick Rose. After suffering a dislocated elbow, he played through it against the Miami Heat. And in the 2012 Conference Finals against Miami, he had a 44-point effort. The guy is a triple-double machine (27 in his career) and a true star. Of course, Rondo is much more effective when there is talent surrounding him. It is imperative that Ainge does everything he can to get the right players around Rondo.

Rondo is a competitor, and he loves the game of basketball. He brings intensity, he has shown to be a leader and he knows how to win. It may be wise for the Celtics to build around him rather than give him away for unknowns.

Michael LeDuc is a Boston Celtics writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, and add him on Google.

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