The Boston Celtics are in a terrible state of disarray right now. They have lost seven of their last 10 games, resulting in a disappointing 17-17 record. And now as their season continues to unravel, they now are faced with the decision of whether or not to keep Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is still the Celtics' best player and it's obvious that his young career still has a bright future. But the Celtics need to cut their ties with Rondo and get a head start on what looks like an imminent rebuilding effort.
The reason why Rondo needs to be traded has a lot to do with personality issues. According to ESPN NBA Insider Chris Broussard, "With Rondo, it's a lot of personality conflict...He's stubborn which can be a strength but can also be a weakness. He has trouble taking constructive criticism and he does clash a lot with Doc Rivers."
These may sound like harsh words to describe Rondo. The report says Rondo is "too high-maintenance" and that his clashes with coach Doc Rivers is too much of a distraction.
It's come to a point where the Celtics have to weigh Rondo's point guard prowess versus the headaches he brings. As little as a year ago or even two years ago, it would have been worth it—back then the Celtics were among the East's elite and they could deal with Rondo's behavior since they were winning.
Winning really does change a lot of things. The Celtics are still relatively decent for an NBA team with their .500 record. They are tied for second in the Atlantic division with the New York Knicks and could still even beat the inconsistent Philadelphia 76ers, who are only three games ahead.
But even if the Celtics do win the division or limp into the playoffs as a lower seed, the optimism that they could win a title this year is all but gone. They would do well to beat an Orlando Magic or an Atlanta Hawks team in a best-of-seven series. But going against the Chicago Bulls or the Miami Heat, that would spell certain defeat for the Celtics.
So where will Rondo go and when will it happen? There are tons of rumors being circulated, some of which have substance while others are likely just speculation.
One of the most likely trades involves the Golden State Warriors. The trade would be giving Rondo straight up for Warriors guard Stephen Curry. Both teams have reportedly expressed interest in the trade, according to Broussard.
A major factor working against this trade would be Curry's tendency to get injured. He has had several ankle injuries during his brief career and they have been problematic to his development as a player. Another factor that must be considered is that other players would likely have to be thrown in to make the trade work financially.
Supposedly the Los Angeles Lakers have also shown interest in Rondo, according to Hoopsworld. It must be stressed that there is little out there about this potential trade, as right now it's little more than a rumor. However, it would likely be a good move that would make sense for the Lakers.
As crazy as it might sound, Rondo could be a good fit alongside Kobe Bryant. Like Bryant, Rondo also has an insatiable desire to win at whatever costs. Rondo would also bring in some defensive tenacity for a team that is in need of it.
It remains to be seen what the Celtics would want in exchange for Rondo. There's talk that Pau Gasol could be on his way to Boston. It's also possible that Andrew Bynum could be traded for Rondo instead, which would be a great pickup for a Celtics team in need of a new center.
Another more speculative trade is the idea of Rondo going to the New Jersey Nets. Peter May of ESPNBoston.com has suggested that Rondo could be traded for Deron Williams. This move would work out well for the Nets who are looking for some sort of superstar to play there in the event that Dwight Howard decides not to.
The Celtics, meanwhile, would stand to gain immensely from having a guard of the caliber of Williams. Yes, he would likely be expensive but it could be a good start for the Celtics' rebuilding effort.
Something else that's also worth noting is the fact that other Celtics could be out the door. Both Kevin Garnett's and Ray Allen's contracts expire after the season so maybe they could be gone before then. To show that no Celtic player is entirely safe right now, there are even rumors that team captain Paul Pierce could be traded.
All this talk goes to say that changes are coming for the Boston Celtics. Whether it's a member of the Big Three or Rondo, someone will likely be headed out of town. The Celtics, meanwhile, can ultimately win by getting new players and/or the high draft picks needed to rebuild.