It’s not a new question by any means, but it’s one worth talking about. Yet again, as we get ready for the start of the 2014-15 NBA season: is it best for the Celtics if Danny Ainge deals Rondo? Here’s my look at the key factors in answering this question.
Why Rondo Should Stay
For starters, I’ll state the simplest point in the ongoing Rondo debate, which seems to be ignored more and more frequently: at his best, Rondo might be the best two-way, pure point guard in the league. He may rub people the wrong way, but the truth is he’s a brilliant passer and a tough defender. If Ainge can get him any semblance of a supporting cast, we’ll probably be glad we held onto him.
There’s also the unfortunate fact that if the plan was to trade him, the Celtics should have done it a year ago. Rondo is coming back from a significant injury, which certainly hurts his trade value. Also, in the past year, another batch of potential franchise point guards (Elfrid Payton, Dante Exum and Shabazz Napier, not to mention Marcus Smart) has entered the league, possibly lowering demand for Rondo. I’ll put it this way: in a recent preview of the 2014-15 Celtics on Grantland, the best trade writer Bill Simmons could concoct for the Celtics was Rondo and Gerald Wallace to the Knicks for Amare Stoudemire’s expiring contract, Iman Shumpert, a 2018 first round pick and a favorable pick swap. Frankly, that sounds too much like the Brooklyn deal from a year ago. At some point, you need proven players rather than building blocks. It might be best to just stick with the proven veteran.
Why Rondo Should Go
The most glaring reason for trading Rondo is probably that Marcus Smart counts among that group of potential future starting point guards I mentioned. He’s a very different player than Rondo, but Smart is tough as nails, could conceivably develop a jump shot (whereas with Rondo that ship has sailed), and has the kind of heart and competitive spirit that Boston will embrace. Not to mention a backcourt of Smart and Avery Bradley will make for one of the most suffocating defensive duos in the league, which isn’t a bad foundation.
But there’s also the fact that, at this point, it’s just hard to imagine Rondo and the Celtics having a good relationship. Trade rumors can only go on so long before one or both parties are fed up. Many bloggers have pointed out that, in addition to indicating discussions between the GMs, the trade winds may indicate that Rondo doesn’t want to be a part of the rebuild. That may make him little short of dangerous to hold onto, in addition to the fact he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
It’s not the most popular opinion in Boston, but I believe an effort should be made to re-sign Rondo. If this can be done, it shows willingness on Rondo’s part to be involved in the rebuild. It also saves the Celtics from having to accept the 70 cents on the dollar sort of deal they’re likely to get for him at this point while keeping an all star in town. Frankly, Rondo is probably going to be fine, modern medicine being what it is, but the slight uncertainty may hurt his trade value more than his actual game. This gives the team a flexible asset in Marcus Smart, whose solid preseason showing likely enhanced his trade value. He could be dealt, held and showcased as a sixth man, or eventually paired with Rondo in the starting lineup.
This is an article by freelance writer Jared Harris. While he enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, lately his focus has been on sports (namely the NBA). When he’s not writing, Jared can be found scrolling through his Netflix queue and tweeting.by