The Boston Celtics enter this trade deadline week as a team that seemingly needs to make some major moves. They've got expiring contracts such as Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. They're not a top contender nor will they emerge from the Eastern Conference and make the finals.
The team has played mediocre basketball for much of the season. They win some and they lose some. If that sounds like a team that's around .500, that's because that's what they are. They're a 21-19 team.
The Celtics also have another very tradable player on their roster. The point guard, Rajon Rondo. Rondo has been one of the most talked about players as the trade deadline approaches.
As rumors continue to swirl the messages have been mixed. The Celtics claim he's not going anywhere.
"He's our best player, he's the most important part of our future," said Ainge. "There's no way we're actively trying to trade Rondo. That make no sense, no logical sense." - ESPN Boston 3/1/12
There is of course ample evidence to suggest that Rondo could be dealt.
"With Rajon, it's a lot of personality conflict," Broussard says in the video above. "He's kind of introverted. 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. They know he's a great player. They're not going to just give him away. But they feel like they probably can't rebuild around him because of the problems they do have with clashing with his personality." Chris Broussard 3/1/12
The Celtics won't get fair value for Rondo. He isn't just one of the league's better point guards. He isn't just a young point guard either.
Those two factors combined would already make him one of the league's more valuable trade chips. Rondo is one of the very best values in the entire league.
Signed through the end of the 2014-15 season, Rondo will make a total of $36 million in the next three seasons. Derrick Rose will make approximately $19 million a year for the next five years. Deron Williams and Chris Paul are both approaching free agency and will in all likelihood sign deals very similar to the one Rose has.
That low cost coupled with is high level of production makes Rondo one of the better values in the entire league. The manner in which the NBA salary cap works means that most trades involved dealing pieces with similar salaries.
That limits who the Celtics can ask for in return for Rondo not because the player in question is better or worse, but because his salary, whether higher or lower, may make the deal unworkable for either the Celtics or whichever team they're negotiating with.
There's more, though. Within that above quotation lies another reason the Celtics won't get fair value. It's actually the same reason being referenced as to why they will deal him: his personality.
When other teams know or think they know that a player is not liked by the team they currently play for, they'll try and low-ball that team on their offer.
After all, if Doc Rivers really doesn't like having Rondo around and that's the reason they're dealing him then clearly they don't feel like his basketball skills outweigh his personality traits. So why would a team give the Celtics fair value on a player who's value the Celtics are already undercutting by putting him on the market in the first place?
This current situation is one in which the Celtics are either going to deal Rondo from a position in which their leverage is compromised by the rumors surrounding Rondo's internal conflicts with his coach or they're not going to deal him at all.
If that's the case then they shouldn't deal him at all.