NBA Trade Rumors: Rajon Rondo Swap Would Prove Beneficial for Kings and Celtics

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2014

Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, right, drives against Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., March 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

It’s late August on the NBA rumor mill, which means even anti-rumors make the headlines. Basketball Insiders had the latest regarding Rajon Rondo:

It appears that we aren’t going to see Rondo in a Sacramento Kings uniform next year, but that hypothetical trade would prove beneficial to both sides.

Before digging into why, it is interesting to point out that Rondo discussed his future early in the offseason, but it was long before Boston missed out on the elite talent available throughout the summer, via A. Sherrod Blakely of "I don't like change, really. I'm pretty comfortable. I have a beautiful home here, I love it. I don't want to leave. I'm a Celtic."

Regardless of Rondo’s lack of affinity for change, the Kings would be much better off landing the elite star. Remember, they lost Isaiah Thomas this offseason, so there is a glaring need for a floor general.

The pieces are in place for a potential run at the postseason if Sacramento finds that point guard to lead the way. The combination of DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Nik Stauskas and Darren Collison (who could serve as a backup or smaller shooting guard) is nothing to sneeze at, even in the loaded Western Conference. Throwing a pass-first point guard like Rondo into the mix would make Sacramento a playoff contender instantly.

Rondo averaged 9.8, 11.2, 11.7, 11.1 and 9.8 assists per game the past five seasons, and it was clear how effective he is at making his teammates better, even if there was some missed time for injury in that span.

What’s more, Rondo’s speed and willingness to push the ball in transition would give the Kings an extra offensive dimension, and he is particularly difficult to prevent from getting to the rim. Rondo’s quickness also lends itself well to perimeter defense, and he sports a per-game average of 1.9 steals in his career.

Michael Perez/Associated Press

Rondo also has an all-important championship on that resume.

Rondo’s talent is clear, and if the Kings tried to land him in free agency instead of through trade, there would be plenty of brand-name competition, as Arash Markazi of ESPN pointed out:

On the contrary, if Sacramento traded for Rondo and it became clear that the team was heading in the right direction with the Kentucky product at the helm, it may prove easier to convince him to stay.

Don’t overlook the Kentucky connection either when it comes to playing with Cousins. For one, it could appeal to Rondo, but having a strong presence who has already won a ring could help Cousins become an even better player by reining in some of the previous incidents that went beyond his talent.

So trading for an elite point guard would help the Kings on the court. That’s not exactly going out on a limb, but how could getting rid of him help Boston?

Simply put, the Celtics are not going to compete for a title while Rondo, who will turn 29 this season, is in his prime. He is coming off a serious knee injury, and much of his game is predicated on quickness and the ability to get out in transition or attack the rim. There aren’t enough years left on his legs to wait around for the Celtics to reach a championship level again.

Michael Perez/Associated Press

Boston missed out on the Kevin Love sweepstakes and saw LeBron James build a potential Eastern Conference dynasty in Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony stay in New York, Pau Gasol join a Chicago team that already has Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and rumors pop up that Kevin Durant could look toward Washington in the near future.

The Eastern Conference will not run through Boston anytime soon.

Remember, it took the Celtics years to acquire the assets needed to land Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. They are heading toward another rebuild and youth movement, and Rondo just doesn’t fit.

Boston drafted another point guard in Marcus Smart and grabbed wing player James Young later that same night. Between Smart’s versatility, ability to attack the rim and potential game-changing defensive skills and Young’s shooting prowess and tendency to play above the rim, the Celtics got two very solid pieces.

Michael Perez/Associated Press

Trading a superstar like Rondo would bring back a number of draft picks and young assets to pair with Smart, Young and a promising Jared Sullinger. That’s not even mentioning the fact that trading Rondo would result in more short-term losses for Boston, which leads to better draft picks and more talented young players down the road.

You don’t really think Rondo is going to want to stick around when he becomes a free agent in 2015 for an extended rebuild as his prime gradually slips away, right? 

Boston should grab something valuable for him while it still can.


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