Boston Celtics: Could a Russell Westbrook for Rajon Rondo Trade Work?

Grant RindnerContributor IIIMay 27, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MAY 01:  Rajon Rondo #9  of the Boston Celtics points during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 1, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Now that both the Boston Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder have been eliminated from the 2011 NBA Playoffs, we can fully assess where each team stands and what they need during this offseason.

The Celtics lack of athleticism was made painfully obvious by their 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat, this is a team that needs to add some upper echelon young talent if it wants to keep contending in the post-"Big Three" era.

The Oklahoma City Thunder had a fantastic postseason for such a young team, but still have issues that must be addressed. Chiefly, the role of All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook, who had a fantastic regular season (21.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds per game) became increasingly erratic throughout the playoffs.

Whether it was his 30 shots for 30 points in Game 4 against the Nuggets or the nearly five turnovers per game he averaged in the Western Conference Finals against the Mavericks, Westbrook's occasional moments of brilliance have been overshadowed by inconsistency and poor decision-making.

Here's where a trade scenario could arise, I'm not saying that I would endorse this trade, but merely that it is a lot more plausible than people might think.

The Celtics don't just need youth, they're going to need more scoring going forward, not only playmaking. While Rondo's offense can obviously still improve, he'll probably never have much consistency on that end of the floor. With Kevin Garnett's and Ray Allen's retirements looming, the Celtics are going to need more scoring than just Paul Pierce and maybe Jeff Green.

A player like Westbrook is an offensive force on his own and given his unfamiliarity with the point guard role—he played primarily two-guard at UCLA—Westbrook is clearly more comfortable as a shooter than as a facilitator. There wasn't a player on the Celtics this past season with the explosiveness he possesses, and in an increasingly athletic league that type of player is essential to being a contender.

Should the Celtics re-sign Jeff Green, the pair of former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates would make a strong core to build around and demonstrated significant chemistry in OKC prior to Green being traded to Boston.

Westbrook would help space the floor in a way that Rondo couldn't and his penetration would allow for open shots for some of the Celtics' excellent range shooters like Allen and Pierce, should Westbrook pass the ball out.

As a player, Westbrook still needs some guidance and where better to go than to a ball club with several revered, team-first thinking veterans like the Big Three.

Whether or not Westbrook would mesh with the Celtics would depend heavily on his commitment on defense. Westbrook has the quickness and intelligence to become an excellent defensive guard and being guided by a defensive coach like Doc Rivers could help him live up to that potential.

Paul Pierce and Ray Allen weren't great defenders until the arrival of KG and the shift of the Celtics system to one that was more defense oriented.

For the Thunder, though Westbrook's been a good second option after Durant the emergence of James Harden in the latter half of this season has been huge. Harden, in a starting role, could potentially be the second option scoring-wise allowing the Thunder's point guard to be more of a facilitator than a scorer.

The common criticism for Westbrook throughout the playoffs was that he spent too much time looking for his own shot instead of giving the ball to KD.

Against Dallas, Westbrook averaged 20 shot attempts per game, hitting a mere 36 percent of them. These included a myriad of pull-up jumpers and heavily contested, difficult shots that helped ignite some of the Mavs' fast breaks.

If Rondo were on the Thunder this would clearly not be the issue. Rondo is perfectly content to be a facilitator first and foremost, despite his ability to penetrate and get to the rim. Rondo's passing ability would help set up not just Durant, but the rest of his teammates.

Though opposing defenses could play off of Rondo and double-team Durant, Rajon's court vision would allow him to either find the open lane or hit a player like Serge Ibaka for a dunk or midrange rhythm jump shot.

Rondo's reputation as a hard-nosed defender would help provide the Thunder with some toughness on the perimeter. A backcourt of Rondo and Sefolosha would be one of the best in the league defensively, though they couldn't generate much consistent offense.

It's more likely Rondo will be playing mostly with James Harden, whose scoring ability and high basketball IQ were crucial to the Thunder's deep playoff run. The combination of Harden and Rondo would give the Thunder two top-notch playmakers who are both capable of running an offense.

Personally, I can't see the Celtics parting with Rondo. They signed him through 2015 for a reason and despite his limited offensive capabilities he is clearly the franchise player for the next era of Celtics basketball. 

The Thunder might be more open to it, but the issue of chemistry would likely play a huge role. Durant and Westbrook are very close and at times operate perfectly in sync which is a nightmare for opposing defenses.

Though both teams could stand to gain something from such a trade, Boston fans shouldn't worry about Rondo being shipped out to OKC.

What do you think? Could the trade work and make the Celtics more successful or would Westbrook's poor decision-making be even more costly in Boston?