Rumor after rumor indicates that Rondo is being shopped around the league like a Shamwow. By now you are familiar with the rationale (he's "difficult" and wants too much money next year, etc.). Ainge didn't help things with his comments this morning (Rondo was fined, he hurt us at times last year, we can win a title without a star PG, etc.)
Allow me to put the brakes on all this for a moment. You know I'm biased, I'll never shy away from that. But I'd like to offer up a few happy thoughts for the Rondo supporters out there like me. Here are a few reasons why I think Rondo is going nowhere.
Balance: Ainge's stated goal is to improve the team. Right now the starting lineup is perfectly balanced. If he trades Rondo for anyone but one of the other top 10 point guards in the league (few are available) then he creates an imbalance. Most deals that might make sense improve us at other positions and leave us needing to fill in the gap created by Rondo's exit. So Ainge would be running a huge risk betting that he could fill it via trade or the free agent market. I know he says that you can win a title without a great point guard, but I'll submit that you can win one with a "difficult" point guard that can't shoot too (see 2008).
Doc can handle it: Say what you want about "management's" frustrations with Rondo, but Doc has shown before that he can work through issues with talented, moody players. Remember the rough patches he had with Paul Pierce? Remember how Pierce dumped Gatorade on Doc and went out of his way to show his appreciation for him? That can happen with Rondo too. Notice this quote from Ainge: "If Doc says, ‘No, no, no,’ then I gauge it by that. Sometimes it’s just frustration, but we won’t trade a player unless he’s really disruptive, and Rondo is not a disruptive force on our team." I don't doubt that Rondo can be a little difficult from time to time, but so what? You work with what you've got.
Maybe, just maybe, Ainge is telling the truth: Here's a wild and crazy hypothetical for you. What if Ainge really did like Rondo and had no intention of trading him (but would listen to offers if it helped the team win a championship)? What if he really didn't think Rondo was a max player yet and decided to say so. What if Ainge was looking out for the best interests of the team in the short, medium, and long term? You know, what if he was doing his job pretty well? I mean, who would believe that rumor?
Trades are hard to do: As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Teams are making trades already and some of the potential/rumored Rondo destinations are already making moves without us in mind. Salaries have to match up and in our case, the team has to get better. That's not an easy combination to work out no matter how many times you run the Trade Machine.
I don't think we've heard the last of the Rondo rumors. There's a chance he could be traded. There's also a very good chance that he's going nowhere. Here's hoping for a pretty quiet draft night.