Rondo is still recovering from an ACL tear and has yet to play this season, but he should be able to restore much of his trade value in due time.
While Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has denied any deals being offered for Rondo, it's a safe bet that his star point guard will be one of the more popular trade targets around the league in the near future.
After detailing what the Celtics would want in a trade for Rondo, it's time to look at a few trades that could work for all parties involved. There are many variables at play, with Rondo's health and happiness at the forefront of the list, but here are a few potential suitors for Rondo's services down the line.
The Bucks are one of the only teams in the league without a sure-thing at point guard, so they're one of only a few natural trading partners for the Boston Celtics. Here's the trade:
Boston Celtics Receive: Caron Butler (1 year/$8 million), John Henson (3 years/$6.7 million), Ekpe Udoh (1 year/$4.4 million) and Luke Ridnour (1 year/$4.4 million) and a 2015 top-3 protected first-round pick.
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Rajon Rondo (2 years/$24.9 million), Brandon Bass (2 years/$13,3 million) and Courtney Lee (3 years/$16.3 million).
Why Milwaukee Does It: As we know, the Bucks have no interest in fully rebuilding. This is a team that loves gunning for the 8-seed, and because of that, assets that can't help right away (draft picks, expiring salary, young players) aren't valued as much as they probably should be.
Acquiring a star point guard in Rondo to pair with O.J. Mayo, Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova is a nice little core, and you have to wonder if the Bucks really could lure a player better than Rondo in free agency if they decided to hang on to the expiring deals of Butler, Udoh and Ridnour.
Dealing Henson is the big blow, but Bass is an underrated player and a good mid-range shooter who would fit well next to Sanders or Zaza Pachulia up front. If Rondo is right, it's hard to imagine the Bucks missing the playoffs with this group.
Why Boston Does It: The big thing here is cap relief. The Celtics would clear roughly $22 million in salary for next season in addition to getting Lee's longer deal off the books. Henson is one of the most enticing young big men in the game, and he's the type of shot-blocker that will fit well next to more ground-bound players like Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger.
The 2015 draft pick is the big pull here, as betting on the instability of a team led by Rondo, Mayo and Sanders might not be the worst idea. This move would obviously signal a full-blown rebuild, but it should also satisfy all the things Boston would look for in a Rondo trade.
The Toronto Raptors are another team with a hole at point guard going forward, as Kyle Lowry is on an expiring deal and probably isn't the long-term solution at that spot.
The problem is, Toronto may be blowing it up and rebuilding just like Boston is. A straight-up deal between these two teams is hard to find, but if Toronto could shed future salary elsewhere while still obtaining Rondo, it may work. That's where the Sacramento Kings come in. Here's the trade:
Boston Celtics Receive: Kyle Lowry (1 year/$6.2 million), Aaron Gray (1 year/$2.7 million), Marcus Thornton (2 years/$16.5 million), John Salmons (2 years/$15.5 million), Jimmer Fredette (1 year/$2.4 million), a top-10 protected 2015 first-round pick via Toronto and a top-10 protected 2016 first-round pick via Sacramento.
Toronto Raptors Receive: Rajon Rondo (2 years/$24.9 million), Courtney Lee (3 years/$16.3 million) and Marshon Brooks (1 year/$1.2 million).
Sacramento Kings Receive: DeMar DeRozan (4 years/$38 million) and Jeff Green (3 years/$27.1 million)
Why Toronto Does It: Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo have always wanted to play with each other, and this gives them that chance. Shedding DeRozan's long-term deal and giving Gay and Jonas Valanciunas a distributing point guard could drastically improve the offense while opening up a spot (and the floor) for emerging swingman Terrence Ross.
Dealing a pick for what could turn out to be a rental might be tough, but this move likely makes Toronto a playoff team next year in addition to creating room for two max contracts in the 2015 offseason.
Why Sacramento Does It: This is a pure-talent upgrade, even if it requires some long-term investments. DeRozan is a talent worth taking a chance on, particularly if he ever expands his range.
Green is ideally a sixth man who can play either forward spot, and his versatility would come in handy with the wing pairing of DeRozan and Ben McLemore.
This is a "win-now" move for Sacramento, but Green and DeRozan are still young enough to grow along with DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings aren't slated to have much cap space next year anyhow, so a deal like this may be their best chance at acquiring proven talent if they don't want to wait until the 2015-16 offseason.
Why Boston Does It: While the lack of young talent coming back could be an issue, the Celtics shed the contracts of Lee and Green, which clears nearly $15 million in salary commitments for the 2015-16 season.
Because Salmons' deal is guaranteed for only $1 million next season, the only non-expiring salary would be Thornton's, who should have decent value on the trade market next year.
Unless Boston decided to keep Lowry or Fredette around, this trade would clear $19 million in salary for this offseason.
The big prize, of course, is the two future first-round picks from perennially middling teams. This would be a fire-sale move, but the Celtics would be set with draft picks and cap space for the next few years because of it.
It should also be noted that in this scenario, both the Raptors and Celtics remain under the luxury tax for this season, which is almost certainly a requirement in any deal between those teams.
Maybe there's no need for the Utah Jazz to rush into a trade. There's a young core in place with a prospect at every position, and there's a very good chance the Jazz will nab a top-3 pick in this year's draft.
From the other side of the coin, Utah is in a prime position to make a major move thanks to the expiring contracts acquired in a trade with the Golden State Warriors this offseason. Here's the trade:
Boston Celtics receive: Richard Jefferson (1 year/$11 million), Andris Biedrins (1 year/$9 million), Trey Burke (4 years/$12.8 million) and a 2017 first-round pick (via Golden State).
Utah Jazz receive: Rajon Rondo (2 years/$24.9 million), Brandon Bass (2 years/$13.3 million) and Courtney Lee (3 years/$16.3 million).
Why Utah Does It: It's unclear whether Rondo would want to spend his career in Utah, which makes trading for him a sticky situation. It may be worth the risk for Utah though, particularly if they don't have intentions of using their cap space this year anyhow. If Rondo does leave after next season, the Jazz will only be stuck with one extra year of Courtney Lee, who is a decent role player anyway.
It's a gamble, but it could pay off. Adding Rondo to the core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and whatever stud the Jazz get in the draft could make Utah a scary young playoff team. Losing Golden State's unprotected pick and Burke would be difficult, but one in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Why Boston Does It: Getting a young point guard with plenty of time left on his rookie-deal is going to be tough in a Rondo trade, but Burke could be a great guy to target. Golden State should still be very good by 2017, but you have to like any first-round pick that has no restrictions on it whatsoever, especially given the shaky injury histories of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut.
This deal would also clear a whopping $21 million off the books next year, which could give Ainge the flexibility he needs to really pull off something special.
The Obstacles For Any Deal
Which of these deals do you like the best for Boston?
The biggest hurdle in any Rondo trade is finding a team that believes they can retain him for the future. The majority of teams in need of a point guard (save for maybe the Houston Rockets, where Rondo isn't a great fit) aren't looking for a rental, they're looking for a long-term piece.
And again, Rondo first has to prove he's healthy enough to produce at high levels to demand a large trade market.
Rondo is a huge risk to acquire for multiple reasons, which is why there's a good chance that if Boston does decide to move him, they'll have to be willing to accept lesser talent and focus more on clearing cap space and grabbing draft picks in return.