5 Teams That Are Ideal Partners for Rajon Rondo Trade
The list of suitors is limited, though, with all the talent available in his spot. While the most likely course of action is that he finishes out his current contract in Boston, there are some teams who should be ringing Danny Ainge's phone and scrambling to gift-wrap assets in an effort to land the four-time All-Star.
The Celtics fell out of where they had hoped the draft lottery would put them and have just the No. 6 pick in June's draft. That isn't going to be enough to continue this rebuild, so if Ainge wants to continue acquiring future assets, Rondo will become that biggest magnet.
His name has been bandied about in trade rumors for years, with nothing to show for it. This summer may lead to the same thing. No one is ever willing to part with the steep asking price Ainge comes up with. However, another year is about to be in the books and certain teams haven't gotten where they wanted to, or where they promised fans they would be.
Out of that desperation could emerge of serious offers worthy of Rondo trade consideration.
The Indiana Pacers are a very good basketball team. However, even when you are very good, one must be constantly trying to get better. Especially when you aren't yet the best.
The Pacers' late-season collapse was alleviated somewhat by winning two rounds in the postseason. Still, they are out now, shy of a trip to the NBA finals, which was their ultimate goal.
When looking at ways to improve, a spot to look at is point guard. George Hill had an average season and similar postseason. In their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat, though, he averaged just 1.8 assists in 35.8 minutes per game.
Without a game-changing point guard, Indiana is left relying too much on other things. An improvement to a playoff-tested Rondo would elevate them to place they can't get to right now.
Getting him to Indiana wouldn't be that easy. The Pacers dealt their 2014 first-rounder in the Luis Scola trade, but they do have all of their own future picks. There is some intrigue in Lance Stephenson as an extend-and-trade candidate and he would obviously be packaged with Hill or some future picks.
It is unlikely, since Indiana's picks aren't expected to be good for a while but something the Pacers should definitely look into and consider.
In the postseason, the Houston Rockets averaged a third-worst 18.3 assists per game. Playing mostly Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin at point guard wasn't good enough for them to get out of the first round.
The Rockets want to run, they want to score and they want a third big name to put with James Harden and Dwight Howard. The name Rajon Rondo fits all three of those categories this summer. With Rondo, the question of offensive system and where the ball starts in the half court is erased. When a point guard of his distribution ability is on the floor, all trust goes there. He will decide where the ball goes and when. That is something the Rockets could benefit from.
As an overall upgrade from Lin and Beverley, Rondo is an obvious choice. He has the All-Defensive Team nods in his trophy case, as well as an NBA championship ring to prove it.
The Rockets have all of their own picks in upcoming drafts, as well as a handful of other teams' second-rounders from minor trades. This year they will pick No. 25 and 42. While none of those picks will likely fall into lottery territory, or at least good lottery territory, there are other things Houston can offer as Rondo compensation.
The first items that come to mind are the expiring contracts of Omer Asik and Lin. Both will make $8.37 million next year on the books, in the final year of their contracts. However, both players' cap holds balloon by about $4 million for 2015, per Basketball Insiders. Both are also capable NBA players, and Asik could be more than that given his height and strength.
The Rockets would also be capable of offering Beverley or perhaps Chandler Parsons, though neither is currently under guaranteed contracts and both are well-liked within the organization.
Los Angeles Lakers
Seeing Rajon Rondo play in purple and gold would certainly be an interesting sight and a painful one for Boston Celtics fans.
The Los Angeles Lakers are in a bit of a no-man's land right now, with just three players under guaranteed contracts for next year. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash should be back, but that has to be very tentative given the recent injury history of both older players. Young backup center Robert Sacre is the only other for-sure returner.
The Lakers have to start thinking big to rebuild their franchise, and Rajon Rondo is a big name. While not a star on the level of a Kevin Durant or even Kevin Love, Rondo would be a good starting point (no pun intended) for Los Angeles to begin building back up.
The Lakers do have pieces, despite not having many readily available players. The No. 7 pick in June's draft is certainly appealing. Especially to the team that holds pick No. 6 already.
The Lakers do already owe top-five protected first-rounders to the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic in 2015 and 2017, respectively. However, there are other picks around. If the Lakers could come up with a package around their upcoming lottery selection, it would be an intriguing offer for Danny Ainge and the Celtics to consider.
New York Knicks
With no picks in the upcoming NBA draft, the New York Knicks are in a bind. Their ability to go out and get a player like Rajon Rondo has been severely diminished by past decisions.
The Knicks do have their own first-rounders in 2015 and 2017, but they have little else to offer. There are mammoth expiring contracts like Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, but the Celtics may be moving past the time of their rebuild when they are looking to acquire that type of asset.
Other avenues that would have to be considered, if the ultimate goal is pairing Rondo with Carmelo Anthony, would be quality youngsters Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert.
The Celtics likely wouldn't trade Rondo to a divisional opponent, unless it was for a king's ransom. They proved willing to do so last summer with the Brooklyn Nets, but they got a boat load of assets from that deal. That level of smorgasbord probably isn't feasible for New York, but Anthony and Rondo is a playoff-caliber core and a contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks may not have enough of the right pieces to get a deal done but at this point it is worth the old college try.
The Orlando Magic appear to be on the verge of breaking out, but they seem to be missing one piece.
That piece could be the ultimate ball-distributing point guard in Rajon Rondo. The Magic have all these interesting young pieces that just don't yet fit together. With Rondo, could they all magically slide into place, forgive the pun.
The obvious first question would be whether you could get away with starting Rondo, Victor Oladipo and Arron Afflalo in the backcourt. Oladipo has size and outrageous strength, but is that enough to guard NBA small forwards on a daily basis? Could the slightly taller Afflalo handle it?
Of course, the real first question is what would it take to get Rondo to Florida and would Afflalo have to be sacrificed? Afflalo had a great season, but if the possibility is there to have Oladipo and Rondo as your starting backcourt long-term, he may become slightly more expendable.
Having two lottery picks in June's draft certainly is a good starting point. The Magic are set to pick fourth and 12th later this month. They are also owed additional first-rounders in 2015 (lottery protected) and 2017 (top-five protected). Any of those picks would certainly sweeten the deal for a Boston Celtics franchise that was awarded the No. 6 pick this summer.
Jameer Nelson has a non-guaranteed contract worth $8 million next season that could help even out salaries if needed.
The Magic have what it takes to make a very attractive offer to Boston, probably the best chance in the league at prying the starting point guard from Danny Ainge's grasp.