According to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, the Detroit Pistons have not yet closed the book on trading for Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. Washburn reports that Detroit could potentially use Brandon Jennings as a bargaining chip if he fails to pan out with the team and Boston enters rebuild mode.
Plain and simple, the Pistons are wise to keep Rondo on the radar.
Acquiring Jennings via a relatively harmless sign-and-trade was as wise a move as Detroit could've made during the tail end of free agency. Not only does Jennings offer an upgrade over Brandon Knight, but he helps to make the Pistons a playoff team.
With that being said, this isn't the first time we've heard about Rondo-to-the-Pistons staying alive.
Like I said earlier, move doesn't stop #Pistons from seeking Rondo. More of a matter they couldn't wait around to see what happens there.— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) July 31, 2013
Upon hearing multiple reports, we generally come to the conclusion that there is some shred of truth to the rumors.
As far as the reports tells us, nothing imminent is on the horizon when it comes to Boston and Detroit striking a deal. It's likely to stay that way for the next four months, as Jennings can't be traded until Dec. 15, 2013.
Once the trade deadline rolls around, however, the possibilities are endless.
The Pistons have won three championships during their time as an NBA organization. In each of those seasons, they were led by a star point guard, with both Chauncey Billups and Isiah Thomas helping to lead the charge in the respective title seasons.
With their current core built in their usual interior-oriented manner, it's only rational for them to chase a franchise point guard.
If Jennings comes into his own during the opening months of the season, becoming the star he's expected to be, the Rondo talk will likely dissipate. Should Jennings fail to live up to his billing as a franchise player, however, Detroit has every reason to pursue Rondo.
A revered defender that rivals Tony Parker as the best postseason point guard in the NBA.
Rondo is a four-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive team selection. He's led the league in assists in two consecutive seasons, steals once and has never lost in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
In other words, the man can both play and lead.
Rondo is the type of player that Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe would thrive with as they're helped to reach their world class potential. The same could be said for Josh Smith, who has world-class upside and a history of lackluster results.
Most importantly, the Pistons have the pieces to get a deal done.
In order for a Jennings-for-Rondo swap to work, many stars would need to align. The Celtics would need to enter full tank mode, struggling to win games early in the season and thus falling out of postseason contention.
A realistic possibility, but not necessarily a probable event.
The Pistons, meanwhile, would need to be unsatisfied with Jennings' production, at least to the point where they believe Rondo would be the better fit. That's hardly unlikely, as Rondo is an All-NBA player and Jennings is a 23-year-old looking to prove his worth.
Should it all come together, Jennings has the manageable contract that Boston would be willing to accommodate.
Jennings is set to make $24,202,200 over the next three seasons, thus becoming a free agent in 2016. In his peak year, 2015-16, Jennings will make $8,414,800, which is hardly a steep price to pay for a then-to-be 26-year-old potentially reaching his star upside.
While losing Rondo may be a tough pill to swallow, if Boston were willing to part ways, rebuilding with Jennings at point with a reasonable contract sounds plausible enough.
Competing for a Title
Adding a franchise player all but explains that a team will be looking to compete for a title. With that being said, there are only a select few players in the world that can elevate a team from postseason contention to championship legitimacy.
Rondo is one of those players.
Rondo has reached the NBA Finals in two separate seasons and the Eastern Conference Finals in an additional two. In his most recent postseason campaign, he led a team of aging stars with dwindling efficiency to Game 7 of the latter, nearly defeating the almighty Miami Heat.
Would the addition of Rajon Rondo make the Detroit Pistons a title contender?
Not only did he average 17.3 points, 11.9 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals in 19 games, but he topped 20 and 10 in seven separate contests. During that time, he also tallied four triple-doubles and a 44-point, 10-assist and eight-rebound performance in a loss.
If that's not enough, Rondo had at least 13 assists in nine of those games.
Furthermore, despite playing just 38 games in 2012-13, Rondo led the NBA in triple-doubles. Rondo even shot 48.0 percent from mid-range to quiet the critics of his jump shooting.
Paired with the fact that Rondo plays versatile defense, stepping up against multiple positions, it's safe to say that he can do it all.
If the Pistons managed to add Rondo to a core of Drummond, Monroe and Smith, Detroit would instantly become a contender in the Eastern Conference. Not only is that core athletic enough to move with Rondo, but they fit his style of play to perfection.
There's no question that the Pistons would need to add depth, specifically along the perimeter. With that being said, Detroit has a strong core for the future and the addition of a superstar could push them over the edge.
Plain and simple, if the option remains on the table, the Pistons must pursue Rondo—and that's exactly why they're nothing short of wise for keeping their options open.