First of all, thank you to everyone who participated in this. It was a fun exercise.
Secondly, I'll warn you that this gets a little long, so here's the "too long; didn't read" version:
TL;DR - While I understand the case for trading Rajon Rondo, I'm more optimistic about his future with the team. I do think he's a max player and I do think he'll re-sign with the Celtics because they have the most money to offer and a chance to build a title contending team in the near future.
So to review, here's what I wrote a few days ago.
I want to issue a challenge to those who think trading Rondo is a good idea. Convince me. Convert me to your way of thinking. This won't be easy. In fact, it might be impossible. But you are welcome to give it the old college try.
Several of you came through in a big way. I really appreciate that. I've selected the best responses and put them below. In the interest of space I edited most of them down to the essential points but you can find the whole comments in the link above.
Enough lead in though, here are your cases for trading Rondo.
Yes he’s said said all the right things for the most part and I believe that he wants to stay in Boston but he IS going to hit free agency, and a team could easily just offer more than we do. Would he turn town tens of millions of dollars to stay in Boston? Would he turn down an opportunity to be on an instant contender to stay in Boston?
Actually this is an easy one. The Celtics will not be in a position where they can't offer him more than another team. They can offer him both more money and (more importantly) one additional year more than any other team. The only way another team would be able to outbid the Celtics is if Ainge and company decided that he's not worth the money. Ainge has already said that he's probably a max player, so I doubt that very highly. If, behind closed doors, they do not believe he's worth it, then by all means, they should trade him. But again, I doubt that.
I'll make this simple
If Rondo was the Rondo we saw last night EVERY NIGHT or close to it, nobody would entertain the idea to trade him.
However, if this is an occurrence that happens 1/20 games then someone like Greg Monroe is worth giving that money to. Not only because of age, but because of Smart’s development.
I think the 1 out of 20 games thing is a large exaggeration, but I have to admit that one of my primary concerns with Rondo is his consistency. Like with Jeff Green in the past, there's always a built in excuse for anyone like me that wants to use it. During the Big 3 era, he was never the #1 option. Sometimes it seemed like he was flat out bored out there at times (but he seemed to turn it on for the National TV nights and of course the playoffs). Last year it was the injury.
This year I suppose you could legitimately blame a lot of it on getting used to a new system and teammates, but everyone has to do that and it didn't seem to bother him earlier in the year when he was averaging a near triple double.
He's a little Jekyll and Hyde lately. I don't know how else you can explain getting a triple double one day and then getting shut out literally the next day against the same opponent. I get that he might have been tired, but again, so is everyone.
So yeah, I admit that this is a concern for me. Still, I guess I'm a glass half full type of person and I just enjoy the triple doubles so much that I can live with a few stinkers here and there. He is still averaging 10.8 assists to go with 8.3 points and 7.4 rebounds on the year. That's not too shabby.
If Danny does not feel secure enough in the knowledge that Rondo will re-sign with the Cs
…for a price the Cs are willing to pay — then he will HAVE to find a trade, any trade, to avoid losing Rondo for nothing in the summer.
That would be another concern. As I mentioned above, the Celtics can offer him the most money, but the Lakers had the most to offer Dwight Howard and he bailed on them. So it does happen and if Rondo really has no faith in the Celtics to get better soon, then he might pick greener (pun) pastures somewhere else. Maybe even Houston now that I think of it.
Still, Rondo is comfortable here and has the potential to be eventually thought of with the other Celtics greats if he sticks around and gains more success. Not unlike Paul Pierce's situation in 2007. Ainge has already built a contender once and he's got even more assets to try to do it again. That isn't a guarantee that he'll succeed and maybe Rondo will see an easier path to contending elsewhere.
But again (being optimistic) I tend to think he'll see enough potential here to stick around and see it through. Especially when he can get the most money by doing so.
Here are my reasons:
(1) Defense. Rondo’s on-the-ball defense is terrible. It was terrible during the Big 3 era, and it is being fully exposed now that there is no one in the lane to make up for his gambling and unwillingness to fight through screens. To build a championship team with Rondo as point guard will require a transcendent or All-Star pivot player – one who plays both sides of the ball and is not a liability in late game situations due to Rondo’s other shortcomings.
(2) Free throw shooting. Rondo’s defensive liabilities in addition to his free throw shooting woes shifts pressure onto other players on the floor. Having a poor free throw shooting big man on the floor with Rondo creates significant end of game issues.
(3) End of game situations. This year is casting light in another significant deficiency – Rondo’s end-of-game value. As stated in #2, he is undependable as a free throw shooter. He can’t be relied upon to create a quality shot for himself at the end of a game, and he has zero value off the ball in these situations. These are not good qualities for someone competing for a championship. These deficiencies were covered up with PP as the primary ball hander in end of game situations and having shooters like KG and Ray Allen off the ball. Getting the same caliber of a supporting cast will be difficult.
(4) Cap hold. Ainge would be insane to offer Rondo a max deal at this point. Insane. Rondo is a complementary player that has some outstanding games, but when you consider both sides of the ball he makes Jeff Green of the last two years look like a pillar of consistency (which he appears to be molding into at this point as many have hoped). Even with the cap going up, when one considers the types of players that need to surround Rondo to be a championship team (a go-to-scorer, a two-way big man, a sharpshooter, and a well rounded 3/4), it is going to be difficult to build the depth and breadth needed with Rondo drawing a max or near max contract.
(5) Comparative value. There are a number of PGs in the market that could be had for a lower salary that would provide more consistent value that Rondo on both sides of the ball. Half of the rosters in the league have PGs that could replace Rondo and provide reasonably equivalent value to the roster (weighing offensive and defensive contributions with salary) if building a contender. Some are unlikely to end up on this roster (Paul, Curry, Lillard, Lowry, Conley, Dragic, Bledsoe, Parker, Rose, Wall, Irving). Then there is another tier that may be attainable (Teague, Jackson, Lawson), and then the up-and-comers who might not be there yet but could be as the Cs grow into a contender. I would rather see the Cs pay Reggie Jackson or Ty Lawson $10-12M a year which gives them a player who can create his own shot at the end of a game and provides financial opportunity to cover deficiencies with other spots on the floor than Rondo at the max (or close to it) with limited opportunities to cover his deficiencies elsewhere. With squads that could be attracted to a player of Rondo’s marketability and skill set (Lakers, Knicks, OKC, Houston, and Dallas immediately come to mind), there is opportunity to get value for Rondo that would allow the acquisition of a Lawson, Jackson, Teague, etc.
Well thought out. Thanks for this. I'll go point by point.
1) I think he's not as bad defensively as you say, but he's no Marcus Smart. That said, I think if he did have a better rim protector (doesn't have to be transcendent) he'd be better off. We did just fine on defense during the big 3 era and that was with Rondo and Ray starting up top.
2) Yup, free throws are a worry. There's something mental there that he's got to work out. But this seems like a temporary slump. One horrible start to the season (shooting .324 from the line) doesn't negate the fact that he's averaging .614 for his career. That's not great either, but it isn't exactly hack-a-Rondo level either. I think he'll snap out of it.
3) When Rondo had KG and Pierce, he would often initiate the end of game situations - sometimes even calling his own number. With the possible exception of Jeff Green and maybe Evan Turner, he doesn't have guys that have been called upon to be closers in the past - so it all falls on him. He's not a score first guy the other 47 minutes of the game, so asking him to be that in the final minute seems a bit silly. But just because he's not Paul Pierce doesn't mean he's not a good guy to have on the court in the last minute.
4) You kinda lost me on this one. Just seems like your opinion that he's not worth the max. Ok. I disagree. The end.
5) I don't want to downgrade from Rondo to a lesser point guard just to have a few extra bucks to spend elsewhere. If anything, Ainge has set up the roster so that he'll have very little guaranteed salary aside from Rondo so he can kind of build a new roster from scratch if he wants to. If we were capped out and needed to save money, I could put more stock into the value argument. But again, I think he's worth the max, so we're at an impasse here.
milt palacio's shot
He should be traded because the long term success of the Celtics doesn't depend on him, it depends on Brad Stevens. To become a new dynasty (which is really the dream, right?) the Celtics need to have a culture and mentality and "DNA" in which they pride themselves on playing within a system called "The Celtic Way."
I simply think that there are too many factors counting against Rondo becoming that guy. He has learned how to play in the NBA according to a certain way, and it is very hard to re-wire that. Especially because he’s seen great success playing under a different system, with a different role than he now needs to embody. Most importantly though, is that Rondo isn’t a defensive leader. Great teams have great defense, and great defenses have great defensive leaders. The Celtic Way is always going to start on the defensive end, as Stevens has stated pretty explicitly. But to get there we really need a guy who is capable of leading the team on defense.
I guess none of this adds up to: "we need to trade Rondo" – but I think it does add up to: "Rondo is not/will not be the identity leader for this team if and when we become great." Rondo could be Cousy, but Boston won’t be special until we find Russell.
I don't agree that Rondo can't learn a new system and I don't really think it takes that much re-wiring. The fundamental basis of Brad's system (as you point out) is unselfishness. Rondo's maybe the best ball-sharer in the league from an assist perspective. Yes, I know the lament that he gets "selfish assists" and holds the ball too long. But honestly I haven't seen that much this year. He's whipping the ball around the perimeter if that's the right basketball play. The ball is moving and it is fun to watch.
Obviously he can't do it alone. He can't be the penultimate alpha dog on offense and defense, but nobody's asking him to be. He was a key part of the Big 3 era and if you put a great player (or two) on the floor with him, I think he'll shine for a contender once again.
Every year a star becomes available that we didn't anticipate becoming available. Have a little patience.
If you can replace him with a better point guard option, then this makes sense. Downgrading for the sake of downgrading because you don't think he's as good as a lot of other people think he is, doesn't really make sense.
Finally, Transferox did a whole FanPost on this topic that is worth the read (which is why I put it on the front page). It covers most of the ground covered above though, so I won't bother re-hashing everything.
So despite all those well thought out and compelling arguments for trading Rondo, I remain unconvinced (sorry). I'd rather take our chances at building a roster with Rondo being a key element to the long term plan. But that's just me.
What do you think? Now that you've read the pros and cons, do you think that we should trade Rajon Rondo?