By now, we have all heard about the Boston Celtics' desire to have Chris Paul join the ranks. Unfortunately, that would mean giving up fan favorite Rajon Rondo. There are reasons why this shouldn't be approached, most importantly the long-term risk that it affords, especially if Paul were not to be part of a sign-and-trade deal. Fans needs to get over that though, because like it or not, Danny Ainge is making a move and Rajon Rondo is the only legitimate piece to move.
Sure, teams could ask for Ray Allen, especially contenders who just need that one last piece of outside shooting to get them over the top. Or teams could ask for Kevin Garnett if one of their big men go down, or if they cannot re-sign one of their big men, like the Denver Nuggets. Rajon Rondo is the only piece that is at a realistic price for more than just this season.
Some will say "Paul Pierce has some left in the tank. Maybe we can get something for him." Not likely—Pierce's contract is bad and was given to him out of loyalty, the type of loyalty that scares other teams until the trade deadline of the last year of it. So Rondo is the only piece they can move to keep the Celtics in contention beyond this year.
Think about next year's squad—the one with Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and...no one. Unless 26 teams whiffed on JaJuan Johnson there is nothing left. Players are not going to look forward to joining a team with an over-the-hill small forward, a terrible offensive guard (yes, he can pass but Rondo can't shoot any better than I can), two second-year players and Jeff Green (who, if you believe ESPN's Chris Broussard, might have been sent back to Oklahoma City if Ainge had his druthers). That team barely makes the playoffs, let alone adds another banner.
What is the better option?
So what can the Celtics do? Go after a big name. It's exactly what their brothers in Fenway do. When in doubt, make a headline.
There are currently two big names: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Dwight Howard is not going to happen without trading Garnett and the Magic have no need for a point guard so that is a fruitless endeavor. Chris Paul is something that works.
Let's say that Hornets know that Paul won't re-sign there. It's the conclusion the rest of America has made so let's assume they are in on it, too. Where can they get a decent return on value where Paul wants to play?
The Hornets are owned by the NBA—right now they have two goals: Make them competitive and make them cheap. Rondo is cheap for what he brings to the table; Paul won't be next year. Rondo will be around for a while; Chris Paul won't.
New Orleans and the NBA need to push this trade through.
There are still some who will say "Chris Broussard said Paul won't sign long-term in Boston." So what? All that means is the Celtics would have even more cap space next season. Does anyone think that marquee free agents are going to sign in Boston because of Rajon Rondo? I certainly don't. Chris Paul, on the other hand, without a doubt attracts big-name free agents.
Maybe the risk turns out to be a good thing. Kevin Garnett didn't want to be here and here we are four years later talking about his last hurrah. Chris Paul has a longer shelf life. So maybe he leaves in 2012; worst things have happened here and only good can come from it. Either we have CP3 in Boston long-term or we have the money to go after D12 in the offseason.
Rondo will be a casualty and will be sorely missed, but this move is a risk Danny has to take.