Now is the toughest time of the year to keep up with all these media outlets, beat writers and blogs that spew out hourly NBA draft rumors.
Thanks to an incredibly passionate and vocal fanbase, the Boston Celtics are a franchise that can support the constant rotation of content. Unfortunately, most of what it does is confuse reading fans to the point of saturation.
With such an overload on things like Twitter, the most far-fetched rumors become plausible and then possible and then occasionally taken as gospel.
However, with a good, foundational knowledge of basketball and where Boston stands, it is possible to sift through the muck and find those tiny gold nuggets in preparation of the 2014 NBA draft.
So, let's try to ignore the he said/she said gossip and try to really find out what Danny Ainge's options are moving forward. With any luck, a solid plan will reveal itself beneath all the outlandish tweets and rampant Photoshopping.
Rajon Rondo Trade Rumors
As with every offseason, or actually pretty consistently throughout the calendar year, Rajon Rondo is involved in trade rumors.
You can pretty much take your pick of the various suggestions on trading partners for Boston's star point guard. Perhaps the Sacramento Kings are trying to make a move for Rondo. The Houston Rockets are still out there as a team in need of a distributor as well. You can scan the web for various other possibilities involving Rondo, but likely none warrant mentioning as factual claims.
As Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix told Adam Jones and 98.5 The Sports Hub recently, "I don't think Rondo gets dealt on draft night. I don't think he gets dealt in the offseason."
When boiling it all down, it is tough not to agree with Mannix. There just isn't much of a point in sending Rondo packing right now, or before he plays another game in Celtics green. Boston has him under a friendly contract this upcoming season, and he will be an unrestricted free agent next spring.
The NBA's trade deadline isn't until late February. By then, Boston will have an idea as to what their future looks like with or without Rondo. They will also be able to gauge his full return from the ACL injury that sidelined him for much of the past two seasons. If anything, his trade value will only increase with his health and other teams' desperation for a midseason boost.
If need be, Boston can trade him then. However, even then it would only be sensible if the team was suffering and at risk of losing him for nothing next summer.
ESPN's Bill Simmons, in the hippest way possible, tweeted an Instagram photo of ESPN's Trade Machine recently. The suggested trade sent Rondo to the Kings as a part of a three-team deal that brought Boston Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas and Ben McLemore, along with Sacramento's No. 8 pick.
Certainly quite the potential haul for Rondo, but even this could be swiping a dollar for four quarters. Rondo is still far and away the best player involved, and the best immediate talent you are returning is a 5'9" restricted free-agent point guard. Williams doesn't do much very well and McLemore shrunk under the NBA lights in his first season.
It is certainly a good-looking package for Boston, but they shouldn't feel pressure to make a lateral move just yet.
Sell the rumor, Rondo isn't going anywhere right now.
Boston Looking at No. 1 Pick
This is a late-breaking news item, but one we should have probably expected long ago. Of course Boston is interested in picking first in a supposedly stacked draft. They were interested as soon as their card was flipped too soon at the lottery.
The prospect of drafting Andrew Wiggins is a great reason for Danny Ainge to get greedy. Not only is it showing a desire to get better quickly, it is a signal that he may finally be ready to give up on the Jeff Green experiment.
Ainge loves Green, as referenced by the initial trade of Kendrick Perkins for him a couple of years ago, and then again by Green's generous contract offer coming off surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. However, Green hasn't panned out as a starting small forward for Boston, a position that would presumably be filled by Wiggins in an NBA uniform.
For that uniform to read Celtics on the front would be quite a feat for Ainge.
The Cavaliers were set to take Joel Embiid with the pick until recent news about his foot injury broke, sorry for the pun. Now, with the Kansas center out for up to six months, it looks like they will entertain offers leading up to Thursday's draft.
Cleveland now appears split between taking Wiggins or Duke's Jabari Parker, according to a report from Jeff Goodman and Chad Ford of ESPN.
All this will do is add fuel to the speculation that the pick is for sale. Of course, LeBron James opting out of his final contract year with the Miami Heat is also averting Cleveland's attention. The Cavaliers still hold hope for a reunion, and dealing their pick for a handful of NBA-proven guys would look more appealing to a title-hungry free agent like James.
While it is easy to believe the Celtics are interested, it is tough to believe they would have what it takes. If the idea is to deal No. 1 to get proven talent, Boston can't be a front-runner. Their most desirable piece plays the same position as Kyrie Irving, and the rest of what they'd offer likely wouldn't come near earning the 2014 No. 1 pick.
Buy that they're calling. Sell that they are getting more than an answering machine. Those still exist in Cleveland right?
Boston's Main Targets Are Vonleh, Smart and Gordon
Should the Celtics stand pat and hold onto their first-round picks Thursday night, they reportedly have three names at the top of their big board.
According to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, Boston will choose between Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart and Aaron Gordon at No. 6.
Vonleh and Gordon are both projected power forwards, while Smart is a combo-guard. There are a bunch of things that taking any of these three players could tell us about Boston's chosen path.
Gordon is a hyper-athletic forward, who may have outgrown the wing position. Fortunately, thanks to his speed and transition abilities, he could potentially play some small forward.
Vonleh, on the other hand, is a bit longer and could project as at least a part-time center in the vein of a Chris Bosh.
Still, the selection of either of these players signals another move on the horizon. Both should primarily work on being NBA power forwards, a position Boston has severe overcrowding at. A Vonleh or Gordon pick would likely mean Boston is ready and willing to deal any of Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk, and likely two or all three of them.
While we shouldn't jump to the conclusion of Smart making Rondo somewhat expendable, it should set off an alarm that Avery Bradley is not a top priority. Smart had a stellar defensive college career and has an NBA-ready body.
The Oklahoma State sophomore weighed in at 227 pounds at the NBA Draft Combine. That is a full 47 pounds bigger than Bradley, with 10.6 percent body fat. Smart is built to defend NBA players, and Bradley is looking for his first NBA payday. If one comes in, the other is likely on his way out.
This certainly seems like an accurate rumor. Vonleh, Gordon and Smart all look as though they would improve Boston, and potentially all three could be available at No. 6.
Buy the rumor. Boston is leaving Thursday night with one of these three in an enormous gift basket.
Boston Celtics Still in Kevin Love Sweepstakes
This rumor will flow back and forth like a Cape Cod tide. The Celtics are front-runners one day, then there is no chance they land Kevin Love the next, then someone important lets us know Boston is heavy favorites again.
The consistent belief should be that Boston will never be out of the running. Not as long as they hold onto the future assets that they currently have stashed somewhere beneath Danny Ainge's mattress or deep in his sock drawer.
Other teams will continue to come and go, as we've seen most notably with the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets. The difference is, with those teams offering players of actual present-day substance, opinions can wax and wane.
With future assets, like Boston offers, opinions are tougher to come by and future predictions more difficult to navigate. Where will those Brooklyn Nets picks land? It is tough to say at this point. However, your opinion on the level of player Klay Thompson or Kenneth Faried is can be tangible and evidenced.
As director of player personnel Austin Ainge told Bulpett, "the news cycle was going way faster than the actual talks. Trade talks, draft rankings, all of these things, are going way more methodically and way slower than the news."
However, with the draft right around the corner, Boston soon won't have the luxury of taking their time and moving slower than the news. Draft night is one of the few settings where talks and reporting coincide and happen live.
For both Boston and Minnesota, everything becomes more real. Grasping for fantasy amid all the reality will bring you right back to the Celtics and their offer of future during a night of present.
Buy or Sell the rumor, but Boston is still in on Love. I can't remember which came most recently.
Battle basketball demons with me on Twitter @3rdStringWalsh.
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