Just a day away from the 2014 NBA trade deadline and the rumors are swirling but we have yet to see anything happen despite the infinite number of “sources” saying that deals are being discussed. The Celtics have a history of being one of the most active teams at this time of year, making seven deals right before the deadline in the past five years. All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo has long been the subject of trade rumors and speculation, dating back to when the Celtics first acquired him on draft day in 2006. Once again it appears that a multitude of teams are interested in the star point guard’s services, so we’ll take a look at Rondo and some potential landing spots in our last trade deadline player preview.
Rajon Rondo has been with the Boston Celtics for all of his eight seasons after the team acquired his draft rights from the Phoenix Suns in 2006. In that time he has amassed an array of statistical achievements, awards and become one of best point guards in the NBA. Just days away from his 28th birthday, Rondo is now in his prime and with his pass-first game and high basketball IQ he looks like he will play well into his 30’s if he so chooses. After recovering from an ACL tear, Rondo returned to the Celtic’s lineup and has now played and started in 10 games in the 2013-14 season. So far he has played just 27 minutes per game for averages of 9.8 points, 7.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds but we know that once he is back to his usual high workload those numbers will explode towards the end of the season. He has shown flashes of his usual brilliance recently and has even shown an improvement in his three point shooting which was one of the biggest knocks on his game.
Rondo is a four time NBA All-Star, a four time All-Defensive Team selection and was named to the 2011-12 All-NBA Third Team. He has led the league in assists per game in the previous two seasons, which capped off three years straight averaging a double-double and was also the league’s leader in steals per game in 2009-10. He is a nightly threat for a triple double and one of the league’s premier performers when it comes to the playoffs where he substantially steps up his game under the national spotlight. He is the lone remaining member of the Celtics’ 2007-08 NBA championship and after the departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett he is now the unquestioned leader of the team and was named as captain in the offseason. He signed a five-year, $55 million extension which has just this and next season remaining at which time he will be one of the most coveted free agents in a loaded 2015 class.
Why They Would Trade Him:
Rajon Rondo has seemingly been at the center of trade rumors every year he has been in the NBA and this season is no different. The direction of the Celtics is up in the air right now and Ainge appears to be open to moving anybody on the roster if the price is right. Of all the pieces on the Celtics’ roster, Rondo is by far the most valuable and the one player that could potentially yield a huge return in a trade. We have already heard a number of rumors in the past few days that teams are interested in trading for the Celtics’ star point guard, but it is also well known that Ainge’s asking price for Rondo will be sky-high. If they want to rebuild the team on the fly and contend again as soon as possible it is likely that they keep Rondo around and try to make a splash in a trade or free agency in the next year, otherwise if Ainge wants to start with a clean slate and build around youth we could see Rondo moved for an assortment of young talent and draft picks at the deadline. Rondo’s contract will be up at the end of next season and it will be no surprise to see him demand a max contract. With a number of teams around the league clearing the decks for a run at 2015 free agents Ainge may not want to run the risk of losing his prized piece for nothing long term.
Teams That Would Be Interested:
We’ve heard the Rockets thrown around as a potential trade partner over the last couple of days and we know that Ainge was trying to land disgruntled big man Omer Asik earlier in the season. The Rockets could look to complete a “Big Three” of their own by adding Rajon Rondo to All-Stars James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston, but do the Rockets have enough to interest the Celtics? Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons could potentially be involved as well as the inclusion of a first round draft pick, but that alone would not be enough for a player the calibre of Rondo. If the teams were able to turn Jeremy Lin or other Houston pieces into additional young talent and draft picks via a three-team deal they may be able to advance the rumored discussions but as it stands it does not appear the Rockets have enough to get the deal done. Expect them to push right up to the deadline to add a playoff performer like Rondo to a team with championship aspirations.
The Kings have entered a new era, centred around big man DeMarcus Cousins and will look to turn around the team’s recent lack of success sooner rather than later. The addition of Rudy Gay was a signal that the team intends to try and return to the playoffs as soon as possible and trading for Rajon Rondo would give the Kings the talent they need to contend for the post-season in a tough western conference. Teaming up Rondo with Gay and Cousins would give the Kings a talented trio to build their roster around and Rondo’s elite passing game could bring the best out of the Kings’ existing stars. The Kings should have a valuable lottery pick in 2014 to offer alongside talented youngster Ben McLemore. If Ainge is serious about moving Rondo at the deadline the Kings would be one of the most likely teams he would be talking to as a trade partner.
Los Angeles Lakers
It may seem like sacrilege to talk about the Celtics moving their star player to the Los Angeles Lakers but realistically Ainge will take the best offer regardless of where it comes from. The Lakers don’t have a great deal of young talent to work with on the roster but with a bit of creativity the team’s may be able to at least entertain the idea of sending Rajon Rondo to L.A. Firstly the Lakers will have a top 10 selection in the 2014 draft to offer, but finding the additional assets that Ainge covets may be the issue. If they could flip big man Pau Gasol for a collection of expiring contracts, draft picks and potentially young players to a third team (say Phoenix) than they could potentially be unlikely trade partners at the deadline.