Update: Friday, March 9 at 12:54 p.m. EST
Rival executives believe Celtics president Danny Ainge would have to be blown away by an offer to move point guard Rajon Rondo.
Update: Wednesday, March 7th at 4:50 PM EST
Rajon Rondo has been on an absolute tear since being on the block. His 17 rebounds, 20 assists and 18 points against the Knicks prove that he's playing with a chip on his shoulder and excelling mightily.
According to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, Doc Rivers said,
""My relationship with Rajon is as strong as it has ever been. Our communication has never been better. I want him here. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty he will be here with us when the season ends. I'm tired of this stuff. It's not fair."
After his outstanding stretch of games, Rondo's value is higher than it's been all season, but will the Celtics be willing to part ways with him?
The Boston Celtics are 16-17 and heading nowhere in the Eastern Conference, which means now is the time to retool the team with an eye towards the future.
Nobody holds more trade value than their 26-year-old point guard, Rajon Rondo.
After this year, he has three years and $36 million left on his deal. It’s a team-friendly deal and one that has garnered plenty of attention from point-guard-needy teams.
The Celtics are playing just bad enough that GM Danny Ainge will not have any problems breaking up his old gang. There’s not much to get for the likes of Kevin Garnett, but Rondo is the guy. Ever since they traded Kendrick Perkins you get the sense he’s checked out mentally, if not with his play. More the feeling that the organization doesn’t have his back.
It’s no secret that Rondo has a fragile personality that can affect his game from time to time. Many people (including me) believe it’s time for Rondo to get a new start on a team with younger players that aren’t barking at him 24-7.
UPDATE: Friday, March 2 at 8:25 a.m. EST by Mike Chiari
Despite the constant rumors swirling regarding the possibility of the Celtics dealing Rondo, the people in power have been defiant. According to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston, head coach Doc Rivers said that he and general manager Danny Ainge have had no conversations with regards to trading Rondo.
My relationship with Rajon is as strong as it has ever been, he said. Our communication has never been better. I want him here. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty he will be here with us when the season ends. I'm tired of this stuff. It's not fair.
Like Rivers, Ainge also seems to be up in arms about the Rondo trade talk. He went so far as to say that Rondo is the team's best player, and that he is not actively shopping the All-Star point guard.
He's our best player, he's the most important part of our future, said Ainge. There's no way we're actively trying to trade Rondo. That makes no sense, no logical sense.
Obviously it would be terrible PR for Rivers or Ainge to come out and admit that Rondo is on the block, so they said all the right things. Ultimately, though, there's a lot of smoke with these trade rumors, and where there's smoke, there's usually fire.
The feeling is mutual. ESPN’s Chris Brossard reports that the Celtics' front office has grown tired of dealing with Rondo and his mood swings:
Boston is aggressively shopping Rondo, according to sources. The Celtics find Rondo's personality to be too high-maintenance and his clashes with coach Doc Rivers continue. With the Celtics having realized they are no longer title contenders, they don't believe the payoff is worth the headaches Rondo brings, sources say. And they do not want to build around him.
Rondo’s game is predicated on the fast break, and one of the oldest teams in the NBA can’t keep up. Getting constantly lumped into trade rumors is messing with Rondo’s mental state, and there are some serious trust issues at this point.
So, what are some potential options?
Nobody could use a point guard more than the LA Lakers, and the Rondo-for-Pau Gasol rumors have been floating around for a while now. Recently, Peter Vecsey of the New York Post suggested if the Lakers decide to bring Rasheed Wallace out of retirement, a Rondo trade makes plenty of sense:
If the Lakers indeed are interested in signing Rasheed Wallace—a logical step-down from flirting with Gilbert Arenas—it lends credence to the Rajon Rondo/Jermaine O’Neal-Pau Gasol swap I keep hearing. Lord knows they’re desperate for a point guard and Rondo is exceedingly obtainable and Kobe Bryant loves his “any means possible” style.
Then again, maybe the mental issues with Rondo make his value less than what it should be. In a recent chat, ESPN’s Chad Ford said the chemistry issues have a lot of potential suitors worried. His recent two-game suspension for throwing a ball at a ref didn’t help.
Maybe that’s why Sean Deveney of Sporting News is reporting that a trade for Ray Allen is more likely at this point:
Sources say that should the #Celtics decide to break up the roster, it is Ray Allen, not Rajon Rondo, who has generated the most interest.— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) February 27, 2012
Ever since the Rondo-for-Chris Paul rumors were swirling way back in November, Rondo has been consistently brought up in trade rumors. His unique personality may turn off some, but the All-Star is still a top-five player at the position, and there are plenty of teams dying for somebody with the talents of Rondo.
With all things considered, it’s hard to believe Rondo won’t be traded at this point. The only question is how much of a return they can get for him. Obviously, they are looking for young guys and draft picks.
Are the Lakers willing to surrender a chunk of their future for this year? Would the Celtics trade him to LA without Gasol involved? Is the front office willing to trade him for less than his value?
Plenty of questions remain, and as the countdown to the March 15 deadline approaches, zero answers have been provided.