5 NBA Standouts Who Would Be Great Fits for Boston Celtics in Rajon Rondo Trade
But let's pretend that they do. Just bear with me and imagine Rondo clashing with new head coach Brad Stevens before he demands a trade to a new organization.
If that becomes a reality, there are more than a few options for the C's. Plenty of teams would be interested in the Boston point guard, although his value would be tempered by his notoriety as a bad locker-room presence.
So, what could the Celtics get in return?
They might not be able to land a true superstar, as this is a situation in which they'd have to trade a dollar for a couple quarters (not necessarily pennies on the dollar), but they could certainly find some standouts who would be great fits in Beantown.
Think about players on the same level as Iman Shumpert. We're talking about emerging studs who have plenty of unrealized potential. They aren't established All-Stars, but they're certainly capable of earning selections in the future.
These five potential trades aren't ranked in the order of likelihood, but rather the order of appeal for Boston.
5. Danny Granger
The Indiana Pacers have quickly become the biggest challengers to the Miami Heat's supremacy in the Eastern Conference, but the backcourt is still the weakest part of the lineup. George Hill and Lance Stephenson may be solid contributors, but they pale in comparison to the trio of Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert.
In fact, Indiana even has some depth at small forward that could be used as a trading chip.
Danny Granger is by no means the "perfect" fit for the Boston Celtics because of his advancing age, but he could capably function as the team's primary scorer while helping to mentor Jeff Green and the other young players in Beantown.
If he served as the primary return in a trade for Rajon Rondo, Indiana would assuredly have to sweeten the deal. There aren't many intriguing young players on the Pacers roster, and the few that do exist would have to be included as well.
I'm talking about Orlando Johnson and Solomon Hill more than anyone else.
And yet, that still isn't enough.
The Pacers would need to include a number of first-round draft picks to make this worth Boston's while. Even still, a Granger-Rondo trade wouldn't ever happen unless the talented point guard demanded a trade and essentially forced his way onto a new team.
4. Trey Burke/Gordon Hayward
At some point, the Utah Jazz have to parlay their loads of young talent into an established superstar. There's a chance that Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter all blossom into premier players, but it's a less risky proposition to trade potential for actual production.
What makes this trade work is the Brad Stevens connection.
Stevens, the new head coach of the Celtics, was the man in charge when Hayward led the Butler Bulldogs into the NCAA Championship game, ultimately missing out on a title by a matter of inches. A reunion would ease the coach's transition from the collegiate level to the professional landscape, and it would give Hayward a great deal of comfort as he attempts to take that next step into stardom.
Of course, the former Bulldog isn't the only player included here. There's a Wolverine involved as well.
Trey Burke wasn't particularly impressive during summer league, but he's still a high-potential point guard who looks like a future NBA standout at the 1. Summer league just isn't conducive to success for oft-shooting guards, as it's often rife with low field-goal percentages.
The former Michigan stud still plays with confidence and truly embodies the "floor general" moniker. He's a fantastic leader and a player eerily reminiscent of Chris Paul.
Will he ever be better than Rondo is right now? Probably not, but he could become an All-Star one day, and the same applies to Hayward.
The lack of current star power coming out of Salt Lake City is the primary thing holding this deal back, but the C's could very well turn one established All-Star into two future ones.
3. Iman Shumpert
If the Celtics came calling and offered Rajon Rondo for Iman Shumpert, the New York Knicks would presumably say "yes" before Danny Ainge even finished his sentence. That's why they'd also be including a draft pick or two along with the flat-topped shooting guard.
Can you imagine what the New York lineup would look like after this move?
A Rajon Rondo, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler starting five would feature a terrifying blend of defense and offense, and the Knicks would become a very legitimate contender for the 2013-14 title.
But would the Knicks do this?
Opinions on Shumpert tend to range, but he's almost universally viewed as a future standout. He may never become an All-Star-caliber 2-guard, but his defensive presence and unique skill-set on the more glamorous end of the court lend themselves to lofty expectations.
Shumpert has a nice shot from the perimeter, he thrives at attacking the rim and he's developing as a primary ball-handler. New York briefly used him as such during summer league, and while it didn't work, that probably won't be the end of the experiment.
Acquiring Shumpert would allow Boston to boast one of the best defensive backcourts in basketball. Avery Bradley and the Georgia Tech product would be almost unfair for the rest of the league's guards.
2. Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is already an established contributor, but he's also not quite done living up to his potential.
The sharp-shooting 2-guard had one of the greatest seasons ever from the perimeter, but it completely flew under the radar because Stephen Curry overshadowed it. Thompson made 2.6 three-pointers per game, and he still managed to shoot 40.1 percent from behind the arc.
In NBA history, only 17 different players have ever managed to break 2.5 and 40 in the same season. Thompson and Curry are two of them, but it was the Davidson product who gained all the attention because his season resonated even more historically.
Additionally, Thompson is becoming one of the better perimeter defenders in the Association. His team defense still needs some work, but he's quite adept at shutting down his own man, as shown by the PERs he allowed in 2012-13.
According to 82games.com, Thompson held opposing shooting guards and small forwards to respective PERs of 13.5 and 14.1.
All of this would fit in rather nicely with the current Boston roster, especially because the 2-guard still has plenty of youth left in the tank.
As for the Golden State Warriors, they'd be able to form a completely unorthodox backcourt of Curry and Rondo. Having three players who can handle the rock quite effectively—we're accounting for Andre Iguodala as well now—would confuse defenses on a regular basis, and the three skill-sets mesh together perfectly.
1. Greg Monroe/Brandon Jennings
Near the end of Gary Washburn's article for the Boston Globe about Delonte West came the following nugget of information:
Just because the Pistons acquired Brandon Jennings in a sign-and-trade deal with the Bucks doesn’t mean they’ve lost interest in Rajon Rondo. In fact, they could eventually use Jennings as a trade chip and seek to acquire Rondo. There are going to be several interested parties in Rondo, and that number could increase when he shows he’s fully recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery
Brandon Jennings alone wouldn't be nearly enough to land Rondo. Why would the C's accept a clear downgrade at the point without landing anything else in return, even if Rondo tried to force his way out of the Boston Garden?
They wouldn't, and that's why the Pistons would have to give up another crucial piece: Greg Monroe.
The current composition of the frontcourt isn't going to work for Detroit. Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Monroe all need too many minutes and starting roles, and playing Smoove at the 3 is just an ill-fated idea. Someone is eventually going to be moved, and Monroe is the most likely candidate.
He's a talented, young center with more unrealized potential remaining, but he doesn't have the upside possessed by either of his two counterparts in the Motor City. Plus, pairing Rondo with Smith and Drummond would allow Detroit to become the new Lob City.
It's a move that makes sense for both teams, especially with restricted free agency looming for Monroe. Boston could ink him to a long-term contract and have a dominant center throughout the foreseeable future.