5 NBA Stars Boston Celtics Must Pair with Rajon Rondo

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2012

5 NBA Stars Boston Celtics Must Pair with Rajon Rondo

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    It's no secret that the Boston Celtics aren't getting any younger. Of their three stars, only point guard Rajon Rondo has serious tread left on his tires.

    With Paul Pierce entering the 2012-13 season at age 34, and Kevin Garnett beginning his 18th NBA season at 36 years of age, Danny Ainge and the Celtics' front office will need to start thinking about a future without either of these ageless wonders.

    Rondo is arguably the NBA's most talented point guard, and he is a great centerpiece to build around in the coming years.

    While the makeover process may not be an immediate one, here are a few big names the Celtics would be smart to look at as the summer of 2013 approaches.

Josh Smith

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    Josh Smith will enter the summer of 2013 as an unrestricted free agent, and he'll presumably command a hefty contract from one of the league's most serious contenders.

    At 6'9'' and 225 pounds, Smith has the athleticism and skill set necessary to play the small forward, but he's also long enough to slide over to power forward when necessary.

    Celtics fans are familiar with Smith, as they faced off with the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA playoffs last season.

    Although Smith and the Hawks fell to the C's, Smith was a matchup nightmare for Doc Rivers' bunch, posting 16.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

    Smith does it all, and it's evident through his impressive numbers. In addition to scoring, rebounding and passing at an excellent rate, Smith also blocks shots at a high clip (1.7 per game in 2011-12).

    Smith plays with incredible energy, and his shot-blocking ability is an invaluable skill that could help bolster the Celtics' already stout defense.

Monta Ellis

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    Monta Ellis was traded from Golden State to Milwaukee at the trade deadline last season, but his stint with the Bucks may be a relatively short one.

    Ellis has an early-termination option in his deal, and it's quite possible we could see him exercise it after the 2012-13 season.

    With Paul Pierce's career coming to a close, Ellis could be the right man to step in and take his place as the franchise's next great scoring threat.

    Ellis has a reputation as a gunner, and while he's often criticized for taking ill-advised shots, he's one of the most deadly scorers in the game today.

    With quickness reminiscent of Allen Iverson, Ellis is able to slash to the basket and free himself from defenders with relative ease.

    For his career, Ellis is a 46.4 percent shooter from the field, while he shoots a meager 32.7 percent from beyond the arc.

    Teamed up with Rajon Rondo, Ellis' numbers could quickly improve, and that's saying something.

    With a lifetime scoring average hovering around 20 points per game, Ellis could quickly enter the conversation as one of the league's leading scorers should he join forces with the best passing guard in the game today.

Tyreke Evans

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    Set to be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2013, it wouldn't be a big surprise if the Sacramento Kings declined to match an offer for guard Tyreke Evans.

    Evans burst on the scene during the 2009-10 season, one in which he won the league's Rookie of the Year Award, averaging 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

    However, since his captivating rookie campaign, Evans has failed to replicate similar success on a Kings team that's very much in a state of flux.

    Evans possesses versatility in that he can play both point and shooting guard, and at 6'6'', he could even fill in at small forward occasionally.

    A notoriously poor three-point shooter, Evans is at his best when he's operating in the 12 to 15-foot range or attacking the rim.

    Evans has all of the tools to be great—he just needs to be put in the right situation. With Doc Rivers coaching him up, Boston could be that situation.

Al Jefferson

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    As Kevin Garnett nears the end of an illustrious career, the Boston Celtics will find themselves in need of a true center.

    The combination of Brandon Bass and rookie Jared Sullinger should bode well for the Celtics at power forward, but their depth at center behind Garnett is shaky, to say the least.

    A name that Celtics fans are very familiar with, Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

    Originally drafted by the Celtics at No. 15 overall in the 2004 NBA draft, Jefferson was dealt to acquire Garnett's services, ultimately helping the Celtics return to glory.

    Jefferson improved steadily in all three seasons he was in Boston, posting his best numbers during the 2006-07 campaign, when he recorded 16 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in just under 34 minutes of work per night.

    One of the more under-appreciated centers in the game today, Jefferson could turn some heads by returning to the team that drafted him.

Paul Millsap

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    Signing a player like Paul Millsap (who's an unrestricted free agent in 2013) would undoubtedly create a logjam at power forward, but his skills are undeniable, and he could greatly benefit an aging Celtics team.

    If Millsap's teammate, Al Jefferson, is underrated, then Millsap is simply overlooked. Playing in a small market like Utah hasn't exactly helped Millsap's career, but his numbers don't lie.

    For his career, Millsap is a 52.2 percent shooter who averaged 16.6 points per game during the condensed 2011-12 season.

    Millsap also pulled down a career-high 8.8 rebounds (nearly three of which were offensive boards) last season, and like any player who steps on the floor with him, he would be significantly aided by Rajon Rondo's willing ability to distribute the rock.

    Yes, it's true that Millsap doesn't stand out as a superstar in the purest sense of the word, but his contributions to the Jazz so far have proven that he's one of the NBA's best young frontcourt talents.