By trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets last summer, the Boston Celtics entered a necessary rebuilding phase. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge still has a star to build around in Rajon Rondo, but will the perplexing point guard be able to lure fresh talent to Boston?
Despite swirling trade rumors, Rondo said he wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of staying in Beantown.
“I like to stick to the script,” he said, per Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe. “I don’t like change much. I wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of my career.
“Things don’t always seem to go that way, but like I said before, it’s just a business. I wouldn’t mind extending another 10 years in Boston.”
Over the years, the Celtics haven’t been a major player in NBA free agency. The northeastern climate and smaller market compared to New York, Los Angeles and Miami has forced the organization to do its damage via trades and draft picks. KG, Ray Allen and even Rondo were all acquired through trades that built up the roster that won a championship in 2007-08.
This Celtics team, however, doesn’t possess many tradable assets aside from Rondo and Jeff Green. As a result, the franchise will have to build through free agency and the draft to become a contender once again.
But can Rondo—a misunderstood talent with a history of brash actions—interest other NBA stars with the thought of playing alongside him in Boston?
On top of that, Rondo frequently butted heads with former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. And according to Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, that was part of the reason why Rivers left to join the Los Angeles Clippers:
“It isn’t just that he doesn’t want to be a part of a rebuilding situation; it is because he has an intense dislike for point guard Rajon Rondo,” Sheridan wrote.
While those are certainly some harsh words, it’s evident that one of Rondo’s former teammates will vouch for him no matter what.
“That’s my little brother, man,” Garnett said earlier this month, according to the New York Post’s Tim Bontemps. “We all grew together. When we grew, it wasn’t something we did minimally. We all gave all of ourselves to each other, and we grew in that.”
The Big Ticket added, “I would do anything for him.”
Obviously winning a title with Rondo and going through a variety of ups and downs with him over the years created a tight bond between KG and the 27-year-old floor general. So while the former Kentucky Wildcat has had a few rifts as a pro, one of the best players of all time took it upon himself to sing Rondo’s praises.
At the very least, possible suitors can be comforted by the fact that Rondo will share the ball, because he’s a pass-first point guard in every sense of the term.
|Rajon Rondo's Assist Total By Year:|
|Year||Assists Per Game||NBA Rank|
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2007-08, Rondo has been at or near the top of the league in assists.
He’s a flashy passer who loves to set up teammates for scores, which is a good thing because his outside shooting is still a work in progress.
Score-first stars around the NBA would probably rather play with a distributor like Rondo over selfish ball-hogs regardless of the baggage he carries with him. He's a proven champion who has played (and learned from) some of the best to ever lace up the sneakers, but there should be concerns about the 27-year-old's health moving forward.
The Celtics 15th captain in franchise history suffered a torn ACL in January 2013. He made his return on Jan. 17 against the Los Angeles Lakers, but Rondo is still trying to knock off the rust after not playing in an NBA game for nearly an entire calendar year.
Before free-agent stars around the league consider playing with someone like Rondo—who has to prove himself as a franchise-leader and captain—he’ll have to show he can still play at an All-Star-caliber level first.
He needs to be the engine that makes the Celtics run before additional pieces can successfully fall into place for a playoff contender.
The Celtics are in a good position in terms of having young assets and draft picks, but they won’t compete for more championships without legitimate star power.