Rajon Rondo is still a Celtic for at least another 26 games. For me, the best part of the trade deadline being over is getting a 3.5 month break from the Rondo rumors. I'd love to stick my head in the sand and declare that Rondo will be in Boston for the rest of his playing days and will follow a career progression much like Paul Pierce did. I still hope that is true and it could very well play out that way.
But the fact of the matter is that the GM that traded that same Paul Pierce is still in charge of the Celtics so anything and everything is on the table.
Other stars don't have to go through this every year. Teams know not to even bother calling about Russell Westbrook or Tony Parker or even John Wall because they know the answer is "no." With Danny Ainge, it doesn't matter what your name is, the answer is always "whaddayagot?"
That has to wear on a guy after a while, and it does.
"It gets annoying at times. It’s been like that the last eight years, though," said Rondo. "It’s what I do for a living. It’s not who I am. I play basketball for a living, for the time being. I’ll be 28 [Saturday]. I have a long life to live. I have a lot of things going on outside of basketball for me right now and it’s part of what happens when you’re an NBA player."
You'll never actually hear Ainge admitting to shopping Rondo around, but that's likely (at best) a matter of semantics. Listening to every offer and communicating an asking price is about the same thing.
Since then, every faux-exasperated protestation from Ainge that he has no intention of moving Rondo has only heightened fears that a divorce is imminent. Ainge keeps reassuring that Rondo is the future, but the longer you tentatively hold that pill in your mouth the harder it becomes to swallow, and years of Ainge snuffing out trade rumor flare-ups while pointedly never entirely extinguishing the blaze has made him hard to trust. It also makes it impossible not to wonder what he might know about Rondo that we don’t.
This constant run through the rumor mill has done a number on me. In prior years I've gone from shocked, to dismayed, to relieved, to defiant, to denial, and even into acceptance (and various forms of all of the above again and again). I think I'm settling in on "whatever happens happens."
There was no trade at this deadline. That speaks louder than any whispered rumor. Once again, Danny values Rondo more than any other team (as he'll let you know). But deadline deals for stars are rare and with the new CBA they are even harder to make happen. Rondo was virtually unmovable this past summer as he recovered from his injury. So the bottom line is that we can expect Rondo to be right back in the trade rumors this summer.
Again, we'll get into the big picture items for the Celtics this summer but the Cliff Notes version is this: Anything can happen. Big changes are coming and that doesn't necessarily mean that Rondo factors into those plans. On one hand, just the thought of that uncertainty makes me bristle. On the other hand, sometimes being a fan makes for being a bad GM.
Going back to the Pierce/Garnett trade for a moment. If I were a GM, I probably would have gone the route that Mark Cuban did with Dirk Nowitzki and made it known that Pierce in particular was not available at any price, period. That might have felt good and would have given Pierce the dignity of finishing his year out in Boston. It also would mean that the Celtics never would have gotten a bushel of draft picks from the Nets set up to rebuild for the future.
So maybe trading Rondo will make sense in the long run and I just can't see it right now. It all depends on what we get in return, right? Somehow, however, that doesn't really make me feel all that much better. Because while Ainge currently values Rondo more than the other GMs do, I'm not sure that he values him as much as I do as a fan.