5 Teams That Should Go All-in on Rajon Rondo Trade

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

5 Teams That Should Go All-in on Rajon Rondo Trade

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    For a guy who supposedly isn't on the trade block, Rajon Rondo has a real knack for popping up in every rumor, report and unfounded whisper as the NBA trade deadline approaches.

    Perhaps that's not so surprising. We—and teams around the league—have learned enough over the years to know the Boston Celtics are always willing to make a move. Plus, from a logical perspective, Rondo doesn't fit well on a team at least a year or two away from serious contention.

    So perhaps we can forgive general managers for not putting too much stock in statements like this one from a source quoted by Sean Deveney of Sporting News: 

    It really is the same thing, teams call about him but the Celtics want him and he wants to be the leader of that team. It has always been his intention to establish himself in that role, to be part of the rebuilding and to stay in Boston for a long time. Nothing has changed.

    A handful of clubs have expressed interest (that we know of) thus far, even though the Celtics are committed to the steep asking price of at least two first-round draft picks, per Sam Smith of Bulls.com.

    Everything's negotiable, though. And while we can't dive into every potential landing spot for Rondo, we can run through the squads that should be offering up their firstborn sons for him.

    One last thing: Of course teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic should go all-in for Rondo. If you're a team in the early stages of rebuilding, a pass-first point guard who defends and is already an established star is the perfect addition.

    But we have to be realistic. Only teams with the assets to please Boston or at least the demonstrated interest in acquiring Rondo get a mention here.

Sacramento Kings

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    We know the Sacramento Kings took a shot at snaring Rondo, offering Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a draft pick, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Unfortunately for the Kings, Rondo balked at re-signing in Sacramento.

    But the Kings shouldn't be discouraged. Now's not the time to give up; Sacramento needs to put on the full-court press to woo Rondo.

    McLemore, Thomas and a pick is the best offer the Celtics have reportedly received to this point. So if the issue is Rondo's unwillingness to re-sign, the Kings have to get in his ear about a new arena, a new direction and the allure of playing alongside the most promising offensive big man in the league (and fellow Kentucky Wildcat), DeMarcus Cousins.

    Maybe Rondo is worried about going from one rebuilding team to another. Perhaps he has enough self-awareness to know his quirky personality could mix poorly with Cousins'. But he can't deny the value of having a dominant big at his side.

    And the Kings would benefit by adding a defensive stud who could facilitate and bring championship experience to a young roster. McLemore and Thomas are fun to watch and could develop in the future, but Rondo is a winner.

    That's what the Kings need.

    Sacramento isn't the basketball wasteland it once was. We can't be sure this ownership group and front office knows what they're doing yet. But there are real, tangible signs of progress, and a hopeful future is in sight.

    The Kings need to sell themselves to Rondo. Hard.

Toronto Raptors

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Per Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, the Toronto Raptors are now among the teams who would like to add Rondo to their roster: "Toronto is eager to up its 'star' quotient and is also enamoured with Rondo’s resume, particularly his four all-defensive team selections (two all-NBA first team). He has many backers in the organization."

    Well, yeah. Who wouldn't want a guy with those credentials?

    The mechanics would be tricky. Kyle Lowry would have to be included, and his expiring salary would have some value to the Celtics. But if Toronto wants to get a deal done, it would have to include another asset to make up the salary difference between the point guards. In addition, the Raptors have the first-round picks to meet Boston's demands.

    The Raptors have secretly been forging a defensive identity, and Rondo would fit perfectly into that environment. And as a battle-tested facilitator, he could control the kinds of shots DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross take in the offense.

    As it stands now, both wings create far too many of their own looks.

    Toronto has recently held strong in its resistance to move Lowry, but you have to think it would revisit that stance if Rondo were in the offing.

New York Knicks

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    This just in: The New York Knicks would like to shuffle up their roster by acquiring a good player.

    Breaking follow-up: They don't have the chips to sit at the table.

    If you've been on Twitter at all during the past few weeks, you've heard some variation of those related sentiments.

    New York is desperate to improve its point guard situation. Watching Raymond Felton yawn his way through games has officially gone past the point of being entertaining.

    It's not funny anymore. And it's not getting better, either.

    The Knicks need to move heaven and earth, strike deals with the man downstairs or pray to whoever it is James Dolan worships (probably Eric Clapton or the Allman Brothers). Whatever they need to do, whatever back-channel dealings have to happen, the Knicks must make every possible play they can for Rondo.

    New York needs somebody to control the offense, give a crap on defense and leave enough of the postgame spread for the rest of the team. Felton is not that somebody.

    Rondo is.

    Note that this isn't a list of teams who can easily get Rondo; it's a list of which ones should be trying to get him. The Knicks fall into that category. So if it takes Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert, a 2018 first-rounder and an agreement to forever disband Dolan's band JD and the Straight Shot, they've got to try.

Atlanta Hawks

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    David Goldman/Associated Press

    If the Atlanta Hawks are serious about moving Jeff Teague and his reasonable four-year, $32 million contract, they better be in the market for a major upgrade. You don't just shop capable, low-cost point guards like Teague unless a better option exists.

    Of course, we need to be careful about taking his availability seriously. After all, the only reports mentioning him in trade discussions smell a lot like the kinds of Knicks-generated stories we discussed on the last slide.

    At any rate, ESPN's Marc Stein says Teague is an "appealing trade target" for the Knicks. So as long as we're on the subject of a point guard shake-up, why not encourage the Hawks to upgrade with Rondo?

    Atlanta might already owe its 2014 first-round pick to Boston (depending on how the Brooklyn Nets finish), but it could also toss in a 2015 selection with Teague if that might grease the skids for a deal.

    If fully healthy, the Hawks could surround Rondo with Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver. That's not a bad group on balance. In fact, it would probably be good enough to contend for the No. 3 spot in the East for a few years.

    The Hawks have managed to stay relevant for most of the past decade. If they'd like to be more than that, adding Rondo would be a nice first step.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Al Jefferson looked like an overpay when the Charlotte Bobcats signed the veteran big man during the offseason. But that contract, which was designed to send a message that the Kitties were ready to climb out of the cellar, has worked out nicely.

    Perhaps another splashy move is in order now.

    The parameters for this move come courtesy of Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, who proposed the Bobcats surrender Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon's expiring deal and a first-rounder from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Rondo and Gerald Wallace.

    Boston would get everything it could possibly want in a Rondo deal: cheap talent, cap flexibility and a pick. Charlotte gets a bona fide star. Everybody wins.

    The Bobcats want to be taken seriously, and acquiring Rondo would give them a second big gun to aim at an Eastern Conference, which is still waiting for someone to emerge as the third-best team. And it's not like Rondo would be a purely symbolic acquisition.

    He's young enough to build around and fits perfectly into the defensive culture that Steve Clifford is building. This is a deal that needs to happen.