Trade your coach of nine seasons to the Los Angeles Clippers? Check.
Trade your franchise player? Check.
Trade the heart and soul of the team's defense in the same trade? Check.
Hire a 36-year-old coach with no former NBA coaching experience? Check.
The Boston Celtics are rebuilding! General manager Danny Ainge said goodbye to the "Big Three" era and seems ready to start a new era. It's beyond clear that the team, as constructed, cannot contend for a championship.
Another thing is clear: This team also might not be bad enough to secure a top pick in the draft. This is when teams are faced with difficult decisions. They have young guys in Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Marshon Brooks. They also have the (seemingly untradeable) three years and $30 million left on Gerald Wallace's contract.
How can the team improve from the roster they currently have and arrive at a new era sooner rather than later?
Trade Rajon Rondo.
I'm aware he's averaged double-digit assists each of the past three seasons. I'm aware he led the league in triple-doubles over the past two seasons (he has 11 and no other player has more than five). I'm also aware he's coming off an ACL injury, but how else can you dive into a new era if your Ainge?
The team as constructed is probably set to get a low lottery pick or a low playoff seed. When you're rebuilding, that's the worst position to be in—NBA purgatory, if you will. Trading one of their young assets will not get you a game-changer. Trading your 27-year-old point guard is your best bet.
New coach Brad Stevens, however, does seem very committed to Rondo. Per Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com:
"We spent quite a bit of time just alone together talking, just learning more about him. I just enjoyed spending time with him and asking him questions, not only about his time with the Celtics but time before. I found him to be really, really intelligent, really, really insightful. I thought he had great ideas. I'm really looking forward to working with him."
That's all well and dandy, but the city of Boston is about championships. Before Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen helped bring them the 2008 NBA title, the team had not held the Larry O'Brien trophy since 1986. I'm not saying if the Celtics don't trade Rondo they're in for another 22 years of futility; I am saying that making the move will put the Celtics in a better position for the immediate future.
Losing Rondo automatically brings the Celtics from a fringe playoff team to the bottom of the barrel of the Eastern Conference. Fans have to accept that you have to be really bad in order to be really good again. Just look at the Milwaukee Bucks of the past decade.
Since the 2003-04 season, the Bucks have averaged a 0.434 winning percentage. That translates to about 35 wins per season. They made the playoffs four times in that span and failed to win a playoff series. Their only big move of the decade was drafting Andrew Bogut with the first overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, and we all know how that turned out.
The Celtics cannot afford to have a decade like the Bucks. Not in Boston. They have to bottom out now and capitalize on the loaded draft class of 2014.
As strange as it sounds, trading Rondo makes their future a little brighter.
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