The Rajon Rondo trade rumors are not going anywhere, folks, as illogical as they may be.
Now 28 years old, coming off a season in which he only appeared in 30 games and heading into a rebuilding season directed by second-year coach Brad Stevens, rumblings allege that the former Kentucky star would rather throw in the towel and move on than help in the rebuild.
According to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, via Jay King of MassLive.com, Rondo has told the team he wants out:
"When Frank Isola raised the topic of trading Rondo, MacMullan replied, 'Oh, I hope so. Just get it done. And it will happen because he's told them he wants out. And no one believes me, but that's the truth.'"
Of course, Rondo and his agent, Bill Duffy, quickly threw a counterpunch, as noted by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:
"'Neither Bill nor Rajon know where this has come from, but it didn’t come from them,' Alyson Furch said in a text. 'They want this on the record. Neither has spoken to anyone about this.'”
Regardless of all the he-said, she-said drama, the notion that Rondo is on the block has been around for all of two years and counting. It is a thought that will only intensify as the 2014 season progresses now that he is in the final year of his deal, per Spotrac.
For the Celtics, that expiring contract is a critical part of the future as the rebuild rages onward. By the time the trade deadline rolls around next season, franchises who want to obtain Rondo will not have the means to do so and help the rebuild in an adequate manner.
If the front office waits until next offseason, it can cash in by facilitating his next deal as part of a sign-and-trade agreement. Rondo has apparently made it quite clear that he intends to test the market for the first time.
"Though he is not looking to get out of Boston, Rajon Rondo was quick to kill talk of an extension when recently approached by Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge," ESPN's Chris Broussard reports (subscription required). "It didn't even get to the numbers stage. Rondo is looking forward to becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career in the summer of 2015."
All of this completely neglects the notion that Rondo can return to form and re-up with Boston anyway. He was miserable on the defensive end of the court last season after his return, but one can surely presume it was more of a rust factor than his talent taking a nosedive off a cliff.
Which is something the Celtics should want to find out, rather than ship off a point guard who can be top five in the league.
For Rondo, a trade now makes very little sense. He would not get to test the market, and he has as little leverage as possible as he comes off a knee injury, not to mention the fact the Celtics just drafted Marcus Smart.
If the rumors have any shred of credibility, it implies that Rondo does not want to waste what may potentially be the remainder of his prime mired in a rebuilding effort. If that is even slightly the case, it means he would prefer to get dealt to a contender and ink an extension.
Question—where would that be, exactly? Cleveland (Kyrie Irving)? Oklahoma City (Russell Westbrook)? Los Angeles Clippers (Chris Paul)? San Antonio (Tony Parker)? Portland, Golden State or even Toronto?
It goes on, but the point is that even if Rondo wanted to ditch his home for the past eight seasons because of a bit of adversity, the grass is not exactly greener in other locales.
At least in Boston he gets to mentor and play with 2014 No. 6 overall pick in Smart. Jeff Green is still around after a career-best 16.9 points per game last season. In the paint, Jared Sullinger (13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last year) and Kelly Olynyk (8.7 and 5.2) are quite young but present a core only in need of a mold before the Celtics can contend in the sloppy Eastern Conference (don't forget about quality depth such as Evan Turner, Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass, either).
Should the Celtics trade Rondo before the trade deadline?
It might just turn out that Rondo finds his current situation much better than previously anticipated. As long as he holds up his end of the bargain in terms of health and on-court productivity, it will result in another major deal and a leadership role on a playoff squad.
Maybe a deal gets done. Perhaps Rondo is a member of the Celtics for the duration of his career. No matter how it pans out, the rumors as they stand now make no sense.
Point guard is not like the NFL's quarterback position—there are a bevy of talented names in all corners of the league. Rondo has few desirable options on the trade market and a not-so-bad situation around him. The money will come regardless, should he stay on the court.
There is a reason all parties seem to vehemently deny such rumblings, not to mention why a trade seems to be the last thing on anyone's mind. As it should be, the upcoming season is in the front seat, not fantasy deals that involve a potential top-five player at his position.
Stats via ESPN.