The aging Celtics are in a real predicament entering the 2011-2012 season. As many have speculated, this could be the last stand for veterans like Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Due to the money invested in Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Rondo, the team was only able to add less sexy veterans such as Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox.
To make matters worse, they recently lost their do-it-all young and promising forward Jeff Green for the season due to injury. What's left is an older Boston team that lacks real depth in this 66 game compressed schedule.
The current make up of the roster will have a tough time getting past the East's elite (Miami and Chicago). With very few trading pieces, Danny Ainge and the Celtics may be forced to deal their highly touted All Star point guard Rajon Rondo in an attempt to squeeze one more championship season out of the Big Three. In return, the Celtics will need depth (preferably on the perimeter) and a replacement for Rondo.
Here's five Rondo trades that could swing in Boston's favor for another championship run.
Rondo, Jermaine O'Neal, & Avery Bradley for Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, and Kirk Hinrich
Smith gives the Celtics an athletic and long defender that will clean up missed shots and create easy buckets in the open floor. The move slides Garnett to the five and brings Teague and Hinrich to replace Rondo at the point. Joe Johnson, Al Horford and the rest of the Hawks finally get a point guard to help them defend against the Derrick Rose's of the league.
In addition, they get a one year flyer on Jermaine O'Neal (who will be playing for a new contract this season) who moves Horford to his natural position in the starting lineup.
Boston: Teague, Allen, Pierce, Smith, Garnett with Hinrich, Bass, Wilcox
Atlanta: Rondo, Johnson, Williams, Horford, O'Neal with McGrady, Pachulia, Pargo
Rondo for Darren Collison, Tyler Hansbrough, and Dahntay Jones
Larry Bird and the Pacers were hot on Rondo's case earlier this month. The deal nets the two time All Star at the expense of young studs Collison and Hansbrough. Rondo solidifies Indiana's starting lineup while serving as an experienced post-season performer.
For Boston, the move gives them flexibility and depth.The 24 year old Collison will up for the challenge of replacing Rondo in Boston just as he was in New Orleans when his then teammate Chris Paul went down with a season ending injury. Hansbrough provides some needed depth behind the aging Garnett and O'Neal while Jones provides the same on the perimeter to relieve Allen and Pierce.
Boston: Collison, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, O'Neal with Jones, Bass, Hansbrough
Indiana: Rondo, George, Granger, West, Hibbert with Hill, Amundson, Foster
Rondo for Brandon Jennings and Stephen Jackson
Jennings is the younger and cheaper of the two but does not have the pedigree of Rondo. Like Rondo, Jennings could be a late bloomer in the league and may develop into an All Star if Boston turns out to be his situation. Jackson's defense and shooting are huge assets for the Celtics in this deal.
He provides them with a veteran who can relieve starters Allen and Pierce while also capable of playing some PF in a pinch. For the Bucks, the rebuilding process will continue but the deal nets them a All Star guard who help improve and develop the young talent already on this team and a perfect pairing with center Andrew Bogut.
Boston: Jennings, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, O'Neal with Dooling, Jackson, Bass
Milwaukee: Rondo, Dunleavy, Mbah a Moute, Gooden, Bogut with Udrih, Delfino, Sanders
Rondo for Mike Conley and OJ Mayo
Conley came on very strong last season as a scorer and lead guard for the Grizzlies, so it's difficult to see them move him and Mayo in the same deal. hat being said, Rondo is an ideal fit with the current make up of this year's Grizzlies. With the a front court trio of Gay, Randolph and Gasol providing the majority of the offense, Rondo is an ideal distributor for this bunch.
Boston gets a solid replacement with Conley, while Mayo (entering a contract year) will be used as a 6th man scorer to relieve minutes from Allen and Pierce and lead the second unit.
Boston: Conley, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, O'Neal with Mayo, Daniels, Bass
Memphis: Rondo, Allen, Gay, Randolph, Gasol with Henry, Young, Arthur
Rondo, Jermaine O'Neal, and Avery Bradley for Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, and Hasheem Thabeet
In my opinion, this is the best deal Boston could get, IF Houston were to bite on parting with their young point guard. The move drastically improves the Celtics staring five with Lowry and Scola replace Rondo and O'Neal. In addition, the Celtics will take on Thabeet's contract in an attempt to turn him into a contributor under the supervision of Garnett.
The defensive minded Rondo would be paired with the high scoring Kevin Martin in the backcourt, making them a dynamic tandem who will complement each others play quite nice. Moving Scola promotes second year forward Patrick Patterson who came on strong the second half of the year last season.
Boston: Lowry, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, Scola with Dooling, Bass, Wilcox
Houston: Rondo, Martin, Budinger, Patterson, Hill with Dragic, Williams, O'Neal