If Danny Ainge's comments in a recent AP article (via USA Today) are to be believed, that's exactly what the Celtics plan on doing. In the wake of the team's moves to rid themselves of Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Ainge admitted that they have received plenty of calls about Rondo and just about everyone else on the roster, but they have no interest in dealing at this time:
"Maybe the assumption is that we'll give away any of our players," Ainge said on Monday, listing not just Rondo but Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk as players who have attracted interest. "There's been calls for all those guys. And maybe the assumption is we are just changing everybody, but we're not.
"We're starting to get younger."
The sentiment that the Celtics should deal Rondo now is understandable. As a pass-first point guard, Rondo is the type of player that needs to have weapons around him to succeed, and the Celtics' top two scorers last season—Pierce and Garnett—are out the door.
Then there's the personality factor. Rondo isn't known as the most amiable character in the NBA. The Celtics' hiring of former Butler head coach Bradley Stevens (per the team's website) may not be the best pairing, as Jeff Goodman of ESPN speculates:
However, dealing the point guard based on the fact that the 35-year-old Pierce and 37-year-old Garnett will be replaced by a 36-year-old coach could prove to be a huge mistake for several reasons.
He's a Proven Commodity
In dealing Rivers, Pierce and Garnett, the Celtics have garnered four additional first-round picks, a great asset to have for any rebuilding effort.
The problem with that is there isn't any guarantee that all (or any) of them will work out. Same goes for 2013 first- and second-round draft picks Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson.
In short, the Celtics have many questions. Which is good for a rebuilding team. Unfortunately, rebuilding in the NBA means taking a lot of losing in hopes of landing that one difference maker in the draft that can turn around the franchise.
However, the Celtics have an advantage with Rondo. He's already a proven star. The 27-year-old has already led the league in assists per game in two seasons and is one of the most unique talents in the league.
While many high-impact rookies are left to toil on bad teams, like LeBron James' and Kyrie Irving's early years in Cleveland, Rondo would create an atmosphere in which those first-round picks could thrive.
He Makes Everyone Around Him Better
If Rondo were the type of player that needed the lion's share of the shots to be an effective player, then it would be time for him to get out of Boston.
As the younger players develop, they're going to need touches to succeed. That's not a need that Rondo will interfere with—his 12.2 field-goal attempts per game in his injury-shortened campaign were a career high for the point guard, but still ranked him at No. 13 in the NBA in the category.
Throw in the fact that Rondo was on pace to lead the league in assists once again, and it's clear to see that he's the type of player that will help the Celtics' young core improve its offensive game. Having a player who can bring along prospects is a vital element in a rebuild.
The pass-happy Rondo can fill that role.
Dealing Him Now Would Be Selling Low
If the Celtics ultimately decide that the rebuild can't be completed with Rondo on the roster, now is certainly not the time to trade the 27-year-old.
As Ainge said in the report from the AP, there's a possibility that NBA teams will assume that the Celtics are willing to simply give away players. After giving up Pierce, Garnett and Rivers for nothing more than picks and cash, teams won't be chomping at the bit to offer up real value for Rondo.
Coming off of a season-ending ACL injury that still leaves his return date in question, according to Jay King of MassLive.com, Rondo will have the opportunity to raise his stock even higher when he does step on the court.
If Rondo can return to the Celtics at the beginning of the 2013 season and show that he can still put up numbers without Garnett and Pierce flanking him in the lineup, he'll be an even bigger commodity on the trade market.
Maximizing his value will be key if dealing Rondo is truly going to help the Celtics become a better team moving forward.