The rumors have been rampant, repeated and ridiculous. Rajon Rondo traded here, there and everywhere. We’ve already heard the rumors out of Detroit, Sacramento, Indiana and most recently, New York. No doubt there will be more to roll in, and regrettably we won’t be rewarded with reprieve after the February trade deadline. These rumors should recur until the draft on June 26, 2014. That means we resolute Celtics fanatics have half of a year to ride out this relentless race to ransack our roster. Should we run and retreat with hands over eyes and ears, or face this raid without reticence and revulsion? I say rise, remain robust and ruin these reports. For if we hold to reality, most of these rumors can be readily resolved as rubbish and ranting. Here’s some Rondo Rumor Reality to ruminate on.
These teams are happy with what they currently have:
Brooklyn Nets: Putting aside Deron Williams’ shortcomings, he is still an all-star level point guard with a gaudy contract. Brooklyn won’t be able to move him easily and may not be very motivated to do so anyway. They certainly wouldn’t be looking to trade for a player coming off of an injury. They have had enough of those type of problems.
Charlotte Hornets (Do I really have to write Bobcats?): One of the few bright spots on the Bobcats has been the play of young Kemba Walker. With building a fan base being as important in Charlotte as winning games, keeping a fan favorite is a priority. Charlotte shouldn’t be very motivated to be in the market for Rajon Rondo.
Washington Wizards: John Wall may make the all-star team for the first time in his young career. Also, Washington just extended his contract in the offseason. The Wizards have point-guard shored up for the foreseeable future.
Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson is a perfect guard to run defenses ragged in the thin air of the Rocky Mountains. If Lawson hadn’t suffered a hamstring injury he would have been a sure bet for the all-star team. Even with the injury, he may still be selected. Denver will have no interest in Rajon Rondo.
Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley averages over 17 PPG and over 6 APG and makes under 10 million dollars per year. That sounds like a deal the Grizzlies won’t be very quick to trade away. Their need for improvement lies at other positions.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans have already traded their 2014 first-round pick to Philadelphia for point guard Jrue Holiday. He will be the one to run the show in New Orleans unless his play diminishes greatly. It would be a great shock if the Pelicans front office had soured on Holiday this quickly.
Phoenix Suns: The backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe has been the biggest surprise of the young season. They have made the Phoenix Suns a playoff contender who are looking for a star player to supplement them. It is possible that either Dragic or Bledsoe is traded, but both are point guards, and given that fact, one would think that Rajon Rondo would be not be high on the Suns list of possible trades.
Portland Trailblazers: Damien Lillard looks like a stud and Portland has to be dreaming of how good he might become. One position the Trailblazers will not be trying to get better at is Point Guard.
San Antonio: Tony Parker runs the San Antonio machine. This machine was one Ray Allen missed shot away from a championship banner. The Spurs won’t be looking to disturb the team in any significant way. I don’t expect to see Rajon Rondo wearing black and silver in the near future.
These teams don’t have what it would take or aren’t willing to part with what it would take to trade for Rajon Rondo:
Miami Heat: I’m sure the Miami Heat would love to have Rajon Rondo, but the reality of this situation is that Miami has no valuable draft picks, and the only player on their roster Danny Ainge would covet would be LeBron James. As I’m sure you can understand, that’s just not happening.
New York Knicks: (laughing) Poor Knicks fans. (still laughing) The Knicks don’t even want any of the players they have, and they’ve already traded away the majority of their future assets. Per the Stepien Rule, the NBA prohibits teams from trading first-round draft picks in successive seasons, so the Knicks can’t even offer us a first-round pick. (now laughing hysterically) James Dolan should be forced to walk the streets in a big red clown nose.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are another team that would love to have Rajon Rondo, although their love may have lessened in recent weeks as Brandon Jennings is playing some of his best basketball to date. Regardless of Jennings, the Pistons have little to trade the Celtics. They owe Charlotte their 2014 first-rounder, and Greg Monroe is going to be a restricted free agent. (not the most attractive trade chip to have) The only thing the Pistons could offer in a trade for Rajon Rondo that would have Danny Ainge listening intently would be monster-in-the-making, Andre Drummond. However, it is highly unlikely that Detroit would be willing to deal Drummond. I put a stress on the highly in that sentence and the unlikely.
Indiana Pacers: George Hill and Danny Granger for Rajon Rondo was a ridiculous rumor. The Celtics have no interest in either of those Indiana players and the Pacers should have no interest in disturbing the chemistry of a team that is seen as a legit championship contender. Though Rondo would be an upgrade for the Pacers at the point, it is hard to imagine either team finding a trade that is beneficial to both sides.
Houston Rockets: Once again, the Rockets are a team that would love to have Rajon Rondo. However, Omer Asik would in no way be a sufficient trade package and the Rockets first-round picks will not be valuable enough to move the needle. Danny Ainge would surely scoff at any offer Daryl Morey could piece together.
Dallas Mavericks: This list begins to get mind-numbingly redundant right around this point. The Mavericks have nothing Danny Ainge would want in a trade. No young, valuable talent. No valuable first-round picks. Sorry, Dallas.
Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings: These teams would jump at a Rajon Rondo trade, but they are also the list of five teams who would be unwilling to part with the one thing Danny Ainge would want, a top-five lottery pick. Now there is always the possibility one of these teams is crazy enough to make that trade, (I’m looking at you Sacramento) but in all likelihood no one is giving up a top-five lottery pick in this coming draft for anyone who isn’t named James or Durant.
That leaves only four likely candidates for a Rondo trade:
Atlanta Hawks: Danny Ferry understands the power of star players. He understands that his team, as presently constructed, can’t compete for a championship. He also understands that he has built a roster of trade-friendly contracts. With that said, should the Brooklyn Nets, with whom Atlanta has the rights to switch first-round picks with, continue their poor play, and should that pick end up being top-ten in the lottery, I can see a situation in which Danny Ainge might be enticed to trade Rajon Rondo. Jeff Teague, Dennis Schroeder, and Atlanta’s lottery pick to the Celtics for Rajon Rondo. This would give Atlanta a core of Rondo, Korver, Milsap and Horford and still have the salary cap space to sign a max level free agent. If Carmelo Anthony decides the Knicks are an unfixable mess, (which isn’t so far of a stretch to imagine) he could certainly be persuaded to join that group and be on an immediate championship contender.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors might be the true wildcard of this trade season, and while it may not be likely, Toronto is one of the teams that have both the need and the assets necessary to land Rajon Rondo. If Toronto decides to part with Jonas Valanciunas, Ainge could be enticed, and even if Valanciunas isn’t offered, Toronto has plenty of draft picks to deal. They have all of their first-round picks in the coming years and also have the Knicks first-rounder for 2016. It is unlikely Ainge would trade within the division, but anyone can be had at the right price.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio has not lived up to the hype, plain and simple. He is on pace to have one of the worst shooting percentages in NBA history. Pair this with the fact that Minnesota needs to prove to Kevin Love that the team can be viable, and you have the makings of a team that needs a trade savior. The Wolves could have very close to a top-ten pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (the pick goes to Phoenix if it’s higher than pick 12) and if they were willing to part with this sub-12 pick, there is a small chance Danny Ainge may entertain trading Rondo. It might also take another future pick, but I could see this package enticing Danny: Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, Minnesota’s 2014 first rounder, and Minnesota’s 2016 first-rounder for Rajon Rondo. If I’m giving my personal opinion, and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for over 1000 words, I don’t see this as likely to happen. Knowing Minnesota is close to losing Love might make other GMs hesitant to help the Wolves become better. However, this is a real possibility, and if reports begin to leak with Minnesota as the trade partner, I’ll be listening a little more intently.
Los Angeles Lakers: Does anyone really believe that Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant are willing to ride out the next couple of years with no chance of winning a championship? Are we really thinking that Kobe Bryant isn’t pushing for a more potent lineup all of the time? Can we really believe that the Lakers would watch Dwight Howard leave in free agency just to repeat the same mistake with Pau Gasol? Personally, I don’t believe any of these things. I’ve seen the Lakers swing and hit trade homeruns time after time. The CP3 failure was an outlier, not the norm for Tinseltown. Kobe Bryant has openly praised Rondo and commented that he would love to play with him. I don’t think the Lakers have enough to land Rondo on their own, but this three-team idea completely terrified me: http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=kgv3chh Pau Gasol and Jeff Green go to Memphis, Rajon Rondo and Zach Randolph go to Los Angeles and Steve Nash, Tayshaun Prince, Memphis’ 2014 first-rounder and LA’s 2014 first-rounder go to the Celtics. Steve Nash would obviously retire after this season, not wanting to sit on the bench of a rebuilding team and Tayshaun Prince’s deal is only for two years. I’d like to think Danny says no to this, but I’m not willing to bet money on it. This trade would give us four picks in the top twenty of the 2014 draft. I feel dirty for even thinking of this trade.
With so few teams likely to be in the mix for Rajon Rondo’s services, I see it likely that number nine stays in Celtic green. Though there will be an onslaught of rumors to endure, some more serious than others, it helps to have some information to flush them down the drain with. Here’s to reaching out for reasons that Rajon Rondo remains our ringleader running the point. (And here’s to having fun with a thesaurus)