There’s a reason Rajon Rondo has been in NBA trade rumors the past few seasons. He is a quality point guard who excels at making those around him better. He’s also a quality defender with long arms — all the better to get into the passing lanes. Still, his attitude and inability to get himself offense has been a problem. Have the Boston Celtics overvalued him all this time and have they done it again?
Reports have surfaced that the Sacramento Kings offered Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas and two first-round draft picks for Rondo, which the Celtics quickly declined. Now, Rondo at his absolute best is going to score 12-13 a night with 11 assists and two steals. He’s going to shoot in the mid-40’s from the field, the mid-20’s from the 3-point line and the mid-60’s from the foul line.
I heard someone compare Rondo to Steve Nash once. If we’re talking about his ability to get his teammates good looks, I completely agree. Otherwise, they’re polar opposites. Nash can’t defend. Rondo can. Rondo can’t shoot. Nash is one of the best ever.
Why do I bring this up? Because Rondo isn’t the second coming of Nash. He’s going to rack up assists on a team with talent surrounding him, but because he can’t get offense for himself, he’s not going to carry bad teams to decent records and he’s not going to make decent teams into playoff ones.
The current Celtics crop is a mismatched group of guys who have no chemistry. If Rondo were a different kind of leader, perhaps he could make it work. Problem is — he’s not much of a leader. Sure, he’ll go out and work his tail off each and every night, but he’s surly, passive-aggressive and quite reticent with the media.
A group of guys looking to rally around something (or someone) needs a different kind of leader. That’s where Brad Stevens should be jumping in, but that’s another story.
The Celtics should be jumping at the opportunity to reload. McLemore has athleticism for days and is still quite raw, but he holds significant value. Thomas is one of the most underrated point guards in the league, largely because he plays in Sacramento. Two first-round picks from a team like Sacramento could easily turn into lottery picks.
If the Kings made both of those picks unprotected, the Celtics would have to jump at it. There are only a handful of players in the ENTIRE league that shouldn’t be traded for that package.
The bottom line is that Rondo, while an excellent point guard, isn’t a superstar and shouldn’t be hoarded like one. Quality point guards are plentiful in today’s NBA and having one that can’t shoot really doesn’t help the Celtics. If I were Danny Ainge, I might have to give Sacramento a call to see if they’ll lift any restrictions on the picks. If they did, I’d be signing the dotted line.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the Sports Illustrated/Fansided NBA site HoopsHabit.com and the Arizona Sports site HeatWaved.com. He also covers high school sports for The Arizona Republic. Follow me on Twitter!