Today was one of the few times I read an article on Celticsblog with which I did not agree. I have heard time and time again that the Rockets simply do not have the assets to make us consider a Rondo trade, but I tend to disagree. While it isn't the package I imagined when dreaming up Rondo trades, I've built a package that is much better than the alternative (Rondo undoubtedly leaving this rag tag bunch of youngsters in 2015 with the Celtics receiving nothing in return). This package would be Rajon Rondo for Alonzo Gee (to be waived), Clint Capela, Patrick Beverley, Pelicans 2015 draft pick (protection shouldn't matter), Houston 2017 draft pick, and Houston 2019 draft pick. Now hear me out Rondo fans, I know this isn't the kind of return you are expecting for our franchise PG. However, the truth of the matter is that there are VERY few teams that need a starting PG and even fewer that could expect Rondo to resign with them if they were to trade for them. He is also coming off of a major injury in which he visibly lost a step during his come back. At this point, the market for Rondo is looking extremely slim. That being said, I fully expect him to leave Boston after this offseason unless something major happens. That something major would involve signing one of the major free agents next offseason, but if Jeff Green picks up his player option, we DO NOT have the cap space to go after a major superstar. Not only that, but several of the big names free agents (Gasol, Love, Aldridge) will more than likely remain with their current teams. I expect Love to be on a different team by then, and if not, I expect him to go to a team closer to contending for a title that can pay him more than we can.
Therefore, I've gotten to the point where I feel like we need to get some sort of return for Rondo. He is my favorite Celtic of all time (I'm pretty young), so this argument comes with a heavy heart. At the same time, I would really enjoy watching Rondo play for a true contender (which Houston would become by adding him) for the remainder of his prime. In return for vaulting Rondo back into the title discussion, we get a quite valuable 2015 pick (I will get to the remaining assets later). The Pelicans pick should be somewhere in the 11-16 range depending on whether or not they stay healthy. They should improve by default since they added Asik and were ravaged by injuries last season, so I expect a minor improvement and a fringe playoff berth. Also, by trading Rondo, we all but guarantee a bottom 3 record and the fast track to a top 4 or 5 pick. We would also have our hands on a mid first rounder, a late first rounder (the Clippers pick), and 2 extremely early 2nd rounders (ours and the 76ers pick that will probably become 2 2nd rounders). By combining the Pelicans pick (roughly 11-16), the Clippers pick (likely 24-30), and the 2 2nds (likely both between 31-35), I feel like we would have the perfect move up opportunity to get up into the top 7 or 8. With this in mind, I think the Celtics could realistically knock the 2015 draft out of the park. If we played our cards right, we could end up with our franchise SF as well as our franchise C (the 2 positions we are sorely lacking young talent at). If we came out of the draft with some combination of Okafor/Towns/Turner (our franchise center) and Oubre/Johnson, we would be set at every position for a long time with the following roster:
PG: Smart; Beverley
SG: Bradley; Young
SF: Oubre/Johnson; Wallace (sorry)
PF: Sullinger; Olynyk
C: Okafor/Towns/Turner; Capela; Zeller
Now we have accumulated a roster of insane young potential where we would be 2 deep at almost every position. We would also have 3 picks in 2016 (ours, Brookylns, Clevelands), 2 picks in 2017 (ours - ability to swap with Brooklyn, Houston), 2 picks in 2018 (ours and Brooklyns), and 2 picks in 2019 (our and Houstons). Those future firsts from Brooklyn and Houston could become extremely valuable in a few years. Not to mention, in 2016, the books would be free and clear from everything but rookie scale contracts. In 2016, we could legitimately sell 2 superstars (yea I'm looking at you Kevin Durant) on joining forces with the promise of a squad that would only get better every single year (through development and the fact that we would have 2 draft picks every season for reinforcements are used to trade for more quality players). I know it would be extremely hard for Celtics fans to deal with not one, but TWO more seasons of losing basketball. However, rebuilding is not easy, and I do not see any "quick fixes" that vault our team into the championship discussion. This type of squad could not only contend in a few years with a few right moves, but it would remain a title contender for the foreseeable future. As both a Celtics fan and a huge Rondo fan, I think Houston could certainly be our savior. Not only could they give us the pieces to load our roster with young talent, but they could also allow me to watch Rondo play in the playoffs with an actual shot at a championship every year of his prime. Rondo deserves to be in the title discussion, and Celtics fans deserve a little bit of hope after a pretty hopeless first season of the rebuild. I think this sort of deal allows everyone to walk away happy.