I'm on record as being in favor of this proposed swap of Rajon Rondo (and whatever) for Chris Paul. That's one of the very few Rondo trades I'd be in favor of. But there are plenty of competitors looking to land CP3 and the last time I checked the rumor mill, the Celtics were still being called a "long shot."
So what happens if Chris Paul is traded to the Clippers or Warriors (or worse the Lakers)? Now you have a situation where you didn't upgrade your roster and you may have just permanently damaged your relationship with the one building block you have in place for the future.
Hopefully the team has been in open communication with Rajon and his agent since day 1 post-lockout. Yes, the agent expressed that Danny told him Rajon was "their guy" and the Celtics "love Rajon." All that was true and still is true. I just hope they also made sure to remind Rajon and his agent that anyone on the roster is available for trade if a clear upgrade is available. We have to hope that Rajon is professional enough to understand the business end of basketball. Actually, scratch that. We know he's an intelligent guy and he's fully aware of the business side. He needs only dial up his buddy Kendrick Perkins to get a refresher course. What concerns me most is how he "feels" about the situation.
He as much as admitted that the Perkins trade impacted the team (read: himself) more than it should have last year. How is this 3 ring circus going to go down? A bitter pill or just water off a duck's back?
He's already expressed frustration over hearing his name in the news once again. In the past there have been rumblings about possible deals, but this is kind of another level. Everyone knows about this trade, not just basketball junkies. My mother in law is asking me if the Celtics will trade Rondo. Can you imagine how many questions he's avoiding about it?
So instead of making an effort to pass the baton from the older generation to him, the team is sending a clear message to everyone in the world that he's not really the ideal solution going forward. That's got to sting.
Again, I'll go with my best case vs. worst case analysis. Best case is that he uses this as fuel to his competitive drive and continues to focus on becoming the best point guard in the league. He even develops a jumper and passes Chris Paul in the upper echelon of point guards - or even players - in the league. Not sure how likely any of that is, but he's got that kind of talent so as an optimist and Rondo fan I'm not ruling it out.
The flip side is what I'm a little worried about though. I don't think he'd go into a funk and play uninspired basketball, but I can't say for sure he won't (in part because he kinda did that already). I hope he wouldn't tune Doc out, but I can't say for sure that he won't. I don't know that he'd go so far as to demand a trade of his own, but I can't say for sure that he won't.
At that point, I suppose you would have to start shopping him around the league - at less than his ideal value. Once again you are forced into the rebuilding era without a solid foundation piece in place. Some in the league apparently have already put his value somewhere short of guys like Stephen Curry and Eric Gordon. What are we going to net if he's not just "complicated" but "disgruntled" as well?
Also, putting Rondo's feelings aside for the moment, Danny Ainge clearly would have to resort to whatever Plan B he has in mind. That probably means patching up the roster for this year, re-signing guys like Jeff Green and Big Baby if only to use as trade chips, and hoping that some free agents want to play for Doc in Boston. This was the presumed plan all during the lockout, but nobody was overly optimistic about it before and now it seems rather bland and uninspiring when compared to visions of CP3 to DH for the alley oop dancing in our heads.
Danny Ainge is taking a few big risks here. There's a risk of getting Chris Paul that he might bolt or re-injure his knee or whatever. But there's also a risk of not getting Paul and figuring out what to do with a scorned Rajon Rondo. For now, all we can do is wait and see how things play out.