Who knows what the Boston Celtics are up to?
Rajon Rondo has been all smiles on that Boston bench, and now his return is nearing. But are the Celtics going to keep him and ultimately build around him at the point?
ESPN's Marc Stein noted earlier in the year how the Celtics have to move Rondo.
But that was before Rondo himself came out and said to ESPN's Chris Forsberg, "Me and Brad have become best friends."
It's unclear if the Celtics have any real plans to trade him or if they're just listening to offers. Either way, here are five potential trades that could work for the Celtics and one other partner.
Boston Celtics Receive: Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ben Gordon, First-Round Pick (via Detroit)
Charlotte Bobcats Receive: Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace
Why Boston Does It
In this deal, the Celtics get two young assets, a probable late lottery pick (owned by the Pistons) and Ben Gordon's expiring contract.
Walker seems to be coming into his own at the point guard position. He's no Rondo, but his improved play is translating to more than just stats in Charlotte—he's actually winning games there.
Kidd-Gilchrist, even though he's struggled, is only 20 years old. And if there was ever a time to buy low, now is it. M.K.G. was the No. 2 pick in the draft for a reason. I'd bet on a guy like Brad Stevens getting the most out of him.
And by acquiring Detroit's pick, which could be a good one, the Celtics would be loaded for the 2014 NBA draft. Already with two picks in the upcoming first round, they could put together quite the trade package as well.
Why Charlotte Does It
Rondo's presence would likely do wonders for guys like Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Taylor, Cody Zeller and Gerald Henderson, young, developing players who've yet to experience playing with such a credible leader.
This current Charlotte squad has looked promising, but Rondo ultimately takes this team to another level.
Boston Celtics Receive: Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, 2014 First-Round Pick (via Golden State)
Utah Jazz Receive: Rajon Rondo, Kelly Olynyk
Why Boston Does It
With this deal, Boston loses its star point guard but gets a young one with lots of promise. Trey Burke has been rock solid for the Jazz early on, and though he's not quite ready to lead a team, he's got the potential to do so down the road.
And how about Gordon Hayward reuniting with Brad Stevens? These two made a memorable trip to the national championship game against Duke a few years back. Hayward isn't an NBA star, but he's certainly an offensive asset with plenty of game.
Throw in the 7'2'' Rudy Gobert—Utah's 2013 first-round pick—and Golden State's late first-round pick in 2014, which Utah owns, and that's a pretty appealing package of talent right there.
Why Utah Does It
The Jazz need a premier NBA player to pair with their slowly developing core. Between Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, they've got some young guys with upside but no real game changers here.
Cue Rondo, who could be the team's first All-Star building block moving forward. His ability to take command of an offense should benefit the big men who rely on entry passes or dump offs in their sweet spots.
But don't forget the Jazz will also likely land a top-five pick in the upcoming draft. Rondo, along with a guy like Duke's Jabari Parker, Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, or Kentucky's Julius Randle could make for a serious dynamic duo.
Boston Celtics Receive: 2014 First-Round Pick (likely top-five pick), Moe Harkless, Jameer Nelson
Orlando Magic Receive: Rajon Rondo
Why Boston Does It
By taking Orlando's first-rounder, there's a good shot the Celtics could land a top-five pick in the upcoming draft. And if you ask me, it's a range where franchise-centerpiece talent is available.
Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Duke's Jabari Parker, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Kentucky's Julius Randle and Australia's Dante Exum all offer NBA All-Star ceilings. And don't forget—Boston also owns its own pick and Brooklyn's pick.
Plus, Moe Harkless is no scrub either. He's a good-looking prospect who simply needs a change of scenery, given Orlando's lack of playmakers and its crowded frontcourt.
But this is all about the top of the 2014 draft. It's probably going to be tough for teams to break into the top five via trade. And with Rondo, the Celtics might have the key.
Why Orlando Does It
With young talent like Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic, the Magic could use some veteran leadership. And an established NBA star.
Just imagine how relentless a Rondo-Oladipo backcourt would be. Rondo would also likely help speed up the development of the team's younger prospects, something I'm not sure Jameer Nelson has been fit to do.
Of course, a top-five pick in this draft is enticing, but without any established talent on Orlando's roster, this could shorten the rebuilding process.
Boston Celtics Receive: 2014 First-Round pick (potential No. 1 overall), Brandon Knight, Caron Butler
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Rajon Rondo
Why Boston Does It
The Milwaukee Bucks currently have the worst record in the NBA. Regardless of how they finish, they'll be a favorite to land a top-three pick in one of the most talented drafts in recent memory.
With this deal, the Celtics would likely get to pick and choose from guys like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid of Kansas, Jabari Parker of Duke and Julius Randle of Kentucky. These are All-Star-caliber prospects who you can potentially build a team around.
Brandon Knight has been somewhat disappointing, but the kid can still play. Even if the Bucks leave Knight out of the deal, it's still an interesting play.
This is all about gunning for a top-three pick and adding a new face to the franchise. And with Milwaukee's first-rounder, they'd be able to get one.
Why Milwaukee Does It
It's been a while since the Bucks have been relevant. They continue adding young, talented players, but it's not getting them anywhere in the standings.
By acquiring Rondo, the Bucks can have their star point guard for the future and a guy who makes others around him better. That's important for the Bucks, who have a ton of promising young players like John Henson, Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks could continue building through the draft, but too many young players on one team could ultimately backfire. Milwaukee needs a veteran floor general to make the on-court decisions and help glue its pieces together.
Whether you believe this draft class is overhyped or not will likely determine what side of the fence you sit on for this one.
Boston Celtics Receive: Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons
Houston Rockets Receive: Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Kelly Olynyk
Why Boston Does It
Omer Asik is going somewhere. Why not Boston?
With this deal, the Celtics would acquire one of the game's premier rebounders and interior defenders in Asik. Don't judge him based on his scoring numbers. He doesn't have much star appeal, but every winning team needs a guy like him in the middle.
While I'm sure Houston would probably do everything in its power to keep him, I'd imagine Parsons would have to be included in any deal for Rondo. Parsons is a terrific all-around scorer with long-term starting potential, and would likely be the No. 1 target for Boston in the deal.
And of course we have Jeremy Lin, who, despite the knee trouble, is experiencing a nice bounce-back season. Lin can thrive in the right role, and I'd like to think a guy like Brad Stevens is capable of creating one for him.
Why Houston Does It
The Rockets are currently the No. 5 seed in the West. But you just don't get the feeling this team has a real good shot at winning it.
Rondo has the ability to provide some on-court discipline in the lineup, getting the ball where it needs to go when it needs to get there.
He's a difference maker, and one who could instantly lift the team's playoff ceiling and outlook. If I'm the Rockets and I can acquire Rondo without giving up Harden or Howard, I'm all over it.