Boston Celtics: Is Rajon Rondo Their Franchise Player?

Mark EvansCorrespondent IIIJuly 19, 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

There has been much discussion about how the Boston Celtics will approach the 2011 season—if there is one, that is. After retaining coach Doc Rivers for the next few years, the widespread belief is that Boston will keep the same core together and give it yet another run.

There is one issue that should be getting more attention, however, and that is whether or not the Celtics can build around Rajon Rondo once the Big Three leave. This needs to be decided sooner rather than later, as the free agent class of 2012 has legitimate franchise players. Dwight Howard, by far the most dominant big man in the league, would look great in Celtics green.

That being said, it's hard to see the Celtics trying to build around a Howard-Rondo combination. The other two marquee players on the market, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, both play the same position as Rondo.

It's very hard to build your team around a guard who can't shoot and tends to be inconsistent from time to time. And let's face it, he's made a career out of passing to three Hall of Famers.

One option would be to trade Rondo for a veteran guard who would be off the books after this season, allowing the Celtics to completely blow up their roster and rebuild with a splash in free agency. Steve Nash is one name who would make some sense, as the Suns are trying to get younger and he wants one more chance at a title. It's debatable whether the Celtics would be better next season with Nash instead of Rondo, but they would certainly be much more difficult to defend. Nash is as good a passer as Rondo, but a much better shooter and a more capable scorer.

With Rondo out of the picture, Boston would be able to pitch to Howard that the Celtics would be his team for years to come. And they would have the financial ability to support him with other good players.

With Rondo on the books, it would be hard to have a team where your two best players can't shoot free throws.

Don't get me wrong, I love Rondo and everything he's done for the franchise over the years. But if you're going to build your team for years to come around a single player, you better be sure that he's capable of carrying the team to a championship level.

I'm not convinced that Rondo is quite at the level of Derrick Rose, CP3 or D-Will. And with the summer of 2012 quickly approaching, and the Big Three soon riding off into the sunset, Danny Ainge needs to make a decision.

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