Pros and Cons of Boston Celtics Pursuing Rajon Rondo Trade
Since then, it seems, Rondo has been involved in trade rumors almost nonstop.
At first, he wasn't good enough to be the starting point guard on a championship team. Then he was merely a sideshow to three future Hall of Famers. Then he was a headcase who couldn't keep his emotions in check. Then he was a stat-padder out for individual recognition. Finally, he is a guy who can't lead a rebuilding team or come all the way back from ACL surgery.
Rondo's career has run the gamut of criticisms, and he has been reportedly almost traded countless times.
Yet, he remains a member of the Boston Celtics and the team's captain.
With LeBron James moving back to Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the clouds have cleared for basketball's real offseason period to begin. If the Cavs make a move for Kevin Love, they might trump Boston's package, leaving no clear path to pairing Rondo with another immediate All-Star.
That could put more pressure on Boston to deal its 28-year-old point guard. Sure, it is something everyone east of Berkshire County is sick of hearing, but what would it really mean for the Celtics?
Pro: Signals a Definite Direction for Franchise
The Boston Celtics made their rebuild plans pretty clear last summer when they dealt away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, along with Doc Rivers for a first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Boston even reaped the first future benefit of the blockbuster deal with its selection of James Young at No. 17 in June's draft.
However, since then there have been two divergent paths, and nobody seems sure of which route the Celtics will take in their decided rebuild.
There is the quick-fix, which happened somewhat in 2007, though Boston missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons before bringing in Garnett and Ray Allen. There is also the grinding, drafting path, where the Celtics build from the ground up and don't trade for a second star to pair with Rajon Rondo.
Having Rondo on the roster, with one year and $12.9 million remaining on his contract, presents an unclear direction for the Celtics.
Half of Danny Ainge's time is spent trying to figure out a way to bring in a fellow All-Star to pair with him and vault his franchise back into the playoff picture, while the other half is trying to acquire future assets and young players who will grow up in green and hopefully pan out down the road.
Bartering Rondo, either this summer or before February's trade deadline, is the second arrow sign pointing Boston in a definitive, chosen direction. Of course, you don't just trade an All-Star player to trade him. There has to be a very steep return, and even then it is tough to swallow, especially when said All-Star has helped you win a title and been with you for all eight seasons of his career.
However, even more important than Rondo and any individual player, for that matter, is the direction of the franchise. Boston's compass has been spinning around for a year now, and trading Rondo would certainly straighten it out and point Boston in a new and hopefully fruitful direction.
Con: Losing Legitimacy and All That Goes with It
Along with that definite directional signal is going to come a lot of losing.
One of Boston's few claims to legitimacy and its biggest is Rajon Rondo and the fact that he should be returning fully healthy for a full season for the first time since 2011-12.
If the Celtics decide to move him out of town, Boston is instantly one of the league's worst teams and quite possibly an NBA laughing stock. That is a tough fact to listen to and accept, especially for loyal fans who will get to read and hear all about how terrible their favorite team is in newspapers and on the radio.
As far as watching them in person, that takes another hit. Who wants to buy tickets to see Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller struggle to score 85 points and get blown out on a nightly basis?
While the Boston Bruins have suddenly become the premiere winter team in New England, the Celtics without Rondo continue in a downward spiral to the bottom of fan consciousness.
With just a full year of healthy Rondo, the Celtics are still probably less than 50-50 to make the playoffs. However, they do carry some legitimacy. Rondo is a scary player for teams to face and causes things like matchup problems that help Boston in more ways than his individual play.
He is also a lot of fun to watch. Passes come from out of nowhere and travel through lanes that other people struggle to fathom, let alone see. The intensity is also something to marvel at on good days.
Rondo makes Boston legitimate this coming season. Without him, the Celtics are in serious danger of being completely MIA in the New England and national sports scene.
Pro: The Return
Chief among the reasons to deal Rajon Rondo before his contract expires is the return.
Should the Celtics play out this next season with the squad they have now and Rondo doesn't like what he sees, he has all the power next summer to choose his next team as an unrestricted free agent. In that case, the Boston Celtics are left high and dry.
They can assure themselves of that not happening by finding the best offer for him this summer or during the season before February.
Where that best offer is coming from remains fairly unclear. The Rondo trade talks have been a bit quiet lately, but with LeBron James making his decision, offseason avenues and phone lines should open up.
A team like the Houston Rockets, who have had interest in him before, could be calling again. They just lost out on Chris Bosh, who re-signed with the Miami Heat for max money, and traded Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers, per Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. Unfortunately, original Boston target Omer Asik is reportedly being dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Packages could also come Boston's way from the Sacramento Kings, who just saw Isaiah Thomas sign with the Phoenix Suns. Sacramento holds its own first-round picks after 2015, as well as recent lottery picks Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas.
The return is really the piece of the Rondo trade puzzle that everything hinges on.
A reasonable comparison to look at is last summer's Jrue Holiday deal. Holiday was an All-Star point guard at the time, and the Philadelphia 76ers were able to get Nerlens Noel at No. 6 last season as well as No. 10 overall this summer.
Philadelphia dealt No. 10 for No. 12, Dario Saric and the Orlando Magic's 2017 first-round pick. That makes potentially three lottery picks, with some extra crafty maneuvering, for a one-time All-Star point guard.
Holiday is no Rondo, so if Ainge finds the right buyer, he could bring back one serious return.
Con: Harder Than Ever to Get Stars to Come
The only group of people who can rival some Boston Celtics fans' adoration of Rajon Rondo is NBA players.
Rondo certainly has his detractors in the media, coaching and fan worlds, but he is held in pretty high regard by most active NBA folks.
The Celtics have a very hard time getting quality free agents to sign in Boston as it is. With Rondo in town, at least the players know they are getting to play alongside an elite distributor who will almost certainly make them look better. He has also been around long enough now that he knows the lay of the land and has a lot of friends throughout the league.
This obviously hasn't equated to much just yet, but given Boston's salary-cap concerns and Rondo's ACL injury, there hasn't been much opportunity for schmoozing by the Celtics star. Last summer was spent reeling from the Brooklyn Nets trade and trying to get his knee healthy. This offseason has barely just begun.
If Boston is too quick to deal Rondo, it won't give him adequate time to see just what his reputation and standing bring to the table during negotiations.
The one thing people can know for sure is that Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley have very little pull around the league. Nobody is signing a contract in frigid Boston to play with anyone else on the Celtics roster besides Rondo.
Pro: Selling High
One may not think selling high is really an option for a former All-Star point guard just 30 games removed from a major ACL injury.
However, the Boston Celtics know more than anybody about just how Rajon Rondo has healed and how he is in general.
If Boston knows in-house that Rondo really has lost a step since his injury, it should pursue a trade now rather than wait for him to showcase it to the league for half a season.
Right now, Rondo can be packaged as a perennial All-Star point guard who had a fairly common basketball injury 18 months ago that takes a year to heal. If the Celtics open next season with Rondo and the team struggling, that does little positive to his trade value.
Suddenly, Rondo becomes a guy who may have had the prime of his career taken from him by an injury that he can't fully escape. He is just another name in the slew of middling point guards, possibly the league's deepest position.
Throw in some potential headbutting between he and a hardheaded rookie like Marcus Smart or struggling second-year head coach with one eye already back on potential college jobs, and you have a disaster on your hands.
This is all worst-case scenario stuff, but Boston's brass know things fans don't. If in six or seven months, Boston is struggling to get a first-round pick in exchange for Rondo, the Celtics will look back at this summer full of regret.
Con: Rondo Is Fun
Over the past year or so, Rajon Rondo has gone to great lengths to rehab a public image that got a bit shoddy after some on- and off-the-court blowups.
For a time, Rondo was becoming well-known for throwing the ball or bumping officials to the point where he was suspended for a playoff game, brawling with Kris Humphries and showing a particular distaste for postgame cameramen.
However, he may have humbled in a lot of ways since. Maybe it was the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade that forced him to re-look at himself and reassess the kind of professional he wanted to be.
Sure, the quirks have always been there. The rollerskating thing is unique, and the Connect Four prodigy storyline is just plain fun. Even the fashion choices have forced fans to look at Rondo in a different way.
Lately, though, it is things like going on Jimmy Kimmel Live and doing a humorous skit with Cousin Sal and then again with Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose. Rondo participated in the NBA edition of Kimmel's popular segment, "Mean Tweets." Rondo made a special guest appearance on Fashion Police and had some friendly ribbing with Joan Rivers.
"I don't like change, really," Rondo told CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely. "I'm pretty comfortable. I have a beautiful home here, I love it. I don't want to leave. I'm a Celtic."
There is definite thought put in on Rondo's end that makes him a bit more palatable and even endearing as a NBA player and personality. It would certainly be tough to lose a self-aware star like that.