Due to the rules in the CBA, what the Celtics could offer to Rondo is only a 2 year extension. So of course the Celtics would love to lock him up for another couple of years without committing long term money. That isn't to say that they don't want Rondo around for a long time, but the shorter the contract the less risk they take on (risk of injury or unexpected decline in play or whatever).
Likewise, Rondo probably isn't motivated to sign such a short contract when he can remain patient and wait another year or two and get a longer term deal. Ben Rohrbach of WEEI does a great job or explaining the options here. Follow the link for the full description but here's the quick breakdown.
- Feb. 1, 2014 - June 30, 2014: Rondo can only sign a two-year, $28.8 million extension
- July 10, 2014 - June 30, 2015: Rondo can sign a three-year, $44.8 million extension
- July 10, 2015: Rondo can sign an estimated five-year, $108 million free-agent contract with the Celtics
I mean, when you have the options laid out for you like that, it isn't hard. Do the math. Would you rather have $28M or $108M? OK, maybe that is over-simplifying a bit. After all, he would be signing deals after the 2 or 3 years deals came up and in theory he might even make more that way. Still, if he just waits another year and a half, he can get the 5 year deal that will take him right through his prime.
Granted, there's some risk for him in that plan too. If he gets hurt again, that could hurt his chance of maximizing his value. Especially if it is another knee injury. So there's always a chance that he and his agent will be satisfied with taking the 3 year extension offer this offseason. Then again, it doesn't really sound that way.
While Rondo stressed that he has made no decision about his future and that he is just focused on this season, he did compare the process of free agency to college recruiting when asked what about it was intriguing to him. "It’s kind of like college recruiting," Rondo said after practice here Friday. "I’m pretty sure a lot more goes into it in the NBA. A lot more money is spent. I’ve heard stories, guys getting called right at midnight. It’s something that I haven’t experienced. I may want to go through it. I haven’t thought about it at all. "
Everyone wants to be wanted. It must be a fun feeling to be recruited. That doesn't mean that he'd want to leave and in fact the Celtics could offer him the most years and the most money. But if the Celtics aren't offering the max then he'd be wise to test the market if only to drive up the price.
So the bottom line takeaway from this is that Rondo is smart to turn down the extension offer now and is wise to at least consider testing free agency. After all, if the team won't rule out not trading him, why would he rule out signing elsewhere?