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What do you want to happen with Rajon Rondo, really?

Rajon Rondo might be traded this season; he might not. Set aside the predictions and ask yourself on an emotional level - what do you want to happen?

Choose your own adventure.
Choose your own adventure.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Opinions about Rajon Rondo's future with the Boston Celtics are like butts - everyone has them, they all stink, and zillions of people on the Internet will inevitably click any link that offers them the chance to view someone else's.

That last parallel is especially salient when noted basketball insiders, people with real industry connections, go public with their thoughts in a very explicit, detailed fashion. So, for example, when Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose put out a YouTube video with 165,000 hits and counting in which they carefully spell out their expectation for a Rondo deal with the New York Knicks ... yeah, we can safely say that will get some attention.

In case you missed it, here's the prediction that Simmons tossed out on his Grantland season preview show Thursday. The part-time ESPN commentator and full-time Boston fanboy declared that Rondo would go to Manhattan, along with the bulky contract of Gerald Wallace, for Iman Shumpert, the similarly bulky contract of Amare Stoudemire, a first-round draft pick and the right to swap one additional pick.

So - Rondo to the Knicks. Sure. That's all fine. Not a prediction that I share, but I understand where it comes from and I respect the thought process. No major beef with this portion of the show. But here's where it gets thorny. The following was Simmons' introductory speech before getting into his specific Knicks prediction:

"I love Rondo. I want him to be on a good team. I don't want him to be on a rebuilding team. The guy helped us win a title. He was the best player in the 2010 conference finals against Cleveland. He outplayed a team that had LeBron James in his prime. He was the best player in that series. He went toe-to-toe with Wade and LeBron and Bosh in 2012 and took them to a Game 7. He was fantastic. He was a good Celtic. I think he has some prime years left, and it would be a waste to do it in Boston. I hope they trade him."

Well, OK, now we've got a couple of issues. First a point of fact-checking - the Celtics never played the Cavaliers in the conference finals, they played the Cavs in round two and the Magic the following round in 2010. But the bigger issue is this: When you start blurring the lines between reason and emotion and begin talking about both at once, you're going to start saying things you don't mean.

Sorry, that was convoluted. Let me put this in simple terms. I think when people these days have conversations about Rondo's future, they should be answering two distinct, very different questions:

1. Analytically, what do you think will happen to Rondo?

2. On an emotional level, as a fan, what do you want to happen?

Two completely different conversations, yes? Each is really, really interesting in its own right. Discussing the first question gives us all a chance to don our detective caps and piece together all the clues - teams' positional needs, salary cap maneuverings, franchises' short- and long-term goals, little bits of media speculation that have trickled out here and there - and come up with an answer. You might think Rondo's getting traded to Team X, I might think Team Y, and we can argue about it and it's all good fun.

The second question is a lot harder to talk about. Everyone has different approaches to being a fan, and everyone wants different things. You might be single-mindedly obsessed with championships; you might enjoy the ups and downs that transpire over the years, finding beauty in even the abysmal seasons; you might not care as much about the wins and losses but just love following along. No one can dictate the "right" or "wrong" way to be a fan.

But what surprises me is to hear any fan, of any kind, exhibiting a defeatist attitude about Rondo and his outlook as a Celtic. If you've been following Rondo and the C's for the last eight years, why would you want to be rid of him? As a fan with an emotional investment in the franchise, who's ridden the roller coaster since Rondo was drafted by a lottery team back in 2006, become a champion and fallen off again, why would you want to give up? What kind of fan is eager to unload a guy who pours his blood, sweat and tears (literally in all three cases, I'm pretty sure) into the team's success?

I'm not trying to pick on Bill Simmons here, especially not because he's caught in a thorny situation playing the dual role of maestro league analyst and loyal Boston fan. This is more of a collective issue anyway. So many people have talked this way in recent months - that Rondo's burdened by having to stay in Boston, that he doesn't belong here, that it will be better for both sides once he finally moves on. And to me, that's poppycock. Losers talk that way; Boston should know better.

Great players are incredibly hard to find in the NBA. You have to get lucky somehow - in the draft, free agency, what have you - to land even one of them. Assembling two or three of them in order to become a contender? Sometimes seems like it takes a miracle. When you get a transcendent talent in the fold, you do what you can to keep it. That's how this league works. And the Celtics, bless their hearts, understand that principle better than anyone.

Russell. Cousy. Havlicek. Cowens. Bird. McHale. Pierce. All were Celtics their entire careers, save for a couple of brief blips in the final seasons. More or less Boston lifers. Who's to say Rondo can't be the next?

Obviously he's seen better days in Boston than the ones he's enduring in 2014, but Rondo could pull through. Believe it or not, there's a precedent.

We forget this now, but Pierce was in the exact same situation as Rondo seven years ago. He was the lone star on a losing team, just fought through an injury-plagued season and watched his squad tank, was at the center of numerous trade rumors. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski even went so far as to report, on June 25, 2007, that Pierce "has finally told team management that unless the Celtics come out of this week with a talented veteran co-star for him, they should expect him to make a public declaration soon after [the NBA draft] that he wants a trade."

That draft came three days later, and the Celtics swapped their pick for Ray Allen. A month after that, they had Kevin Garnett.

I'm not saying the next Boston superteam is right around the corner. In fact, if anything the C's missed their chance in August, when Kevin Love landed in Cleveland instead. It's hard to say when they'll get another opportunity. But in this league, you just never know. No one (not even Woj!) has perfect knowledge of all 30 teams. No one can predict with certainty when the next unforeseen move - like the Sonics picking up the phone with a Ray Allen trade offer - will happen. From where we're sitting right now, keeping Rondo doesn't seem like the first step toward contention, but we really can't say what the future holds. Sometimes in the NBA, you have to expect the unexpected if you want to have a chance.

So if you're one of those people who's ready to move on from Rondo, I have to ask you - where's your perspective? Can't you look back and remember all the great things the Celtics accomplished in their history, and how all of them began by having a franchise player in place? Can't you look past a couple of losing seasons and see the bigger picture? To give up now, well... it just seems to run counter to everything the franchise is about.

There may be two different questions here about Rondo - the "what will happen?" and "what should happen?" conversations are distinct. But they do share one thing in common, and that's the need for a wide-angle lens. To really understand the debate, you need to think about history and legacy and lasting, long-term impact. Rajon Rondo and the Knicks might look fairly copacetic in the Trade Machine, but there's more to fandom. In Boston, there's a whole lot more.

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