It seems that Rajon Rondo has a desire to get himself out of the rebuilding process that is the Boston Celtics. Rondo reportedly declared to Celtics management that he desires a trade, as you can read about here.
A couple of suitors’ names have already arisen, including the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. All are understandable. Both Mark Cuban of Dallas and Daryl Morey of Houston seem to believe that they can chase any target and have a shot at landing them; plus their teams are pieces away from being contenders. As for the Lakers and Knicks, both teams need an upgrade at the point guard spot more than Popeye needs his next can of addictive spinach.
But what about Cleveland?
No one mentions them in these talks for two reasons: A) they already have had their blockbuster trade of the summer and B) they don’t need a point guard (other than a strong backup) because they have Kyrie Irving.
But what if they decided to do an Irving-Rondo swap? What then? Perhaps the fans would explode with rage or excitement or both. From what we’ve seen in the past, the Cavaliers don’t come across as gutsy enough to pursue something like this aggressively.
But allow me to throw something out anyway. Now, I’m not saying this will happen. Actually, I’m definitely saying this will not happen. However, there could be a trade like this:
Cleveland Receives: Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger
Boston Receives: Kyrie Irving
Philadelphia Receives: Tristan Thompson
It looks ridiculous but hear me out. Straight up, it works, and yet would never work. There would need to be some draft picks and salary thrown around first. Philly might not even be the right third team to make this happen.
However, Cleveland would get who they want in Rondo, plus a solid backup center in Sullinger. Boston would get a Kyrie who is locked up for a couple of years and who can tandem with Marcus Smart while the rebuild occurs. Philadelphia is the most tricky, since they don’t really have much going on at all due to their plan to tank again next season. They don’t even have any bad contracts to get rid of! But accepting Thompson would add even more young depth to their squad, and certainly give them one of the better below-age-25 frontcourts in the league.
Now that we’ve gotten past that part of the hypothetical, we get to the part which warrants the most interest. Why Rondo for Irving?
Sure, Kyrie is much younger than Rondo and is perhaps a much more talented offensive player. He’s got better handles, is a better shooter and has a sense of humor that fits in perfectly with a LeBron James-type team.
And yet, Rondo would ultimately fit the Cavs better. LeBron has already shown that he’s in win-now mode instead of looking into the future by instigating the Love trade, so the age issue really is no issue at all. Rondo’s had a tough time returning from his partially torn ACL injury suffered back in 2013, but those of us who have been lucky enough to witness him at his peak know that he’s a guy worth gambling on.
Rondo’s defense is vastly superior to Kyrie’s. He makes Irving look like pylon with the words “Blow By Me” flashing in neon across his face. In arguably one of Rondo’s best seasons (2009-10), he averaged a career-high 2.3 steals per game and contributed 4.7 defensive win shares to the Celtics. It is precisely his defense that makes him such a boost to any club he’s part of. For Cleveland, he’d be able to hold down his position on a team that desperately needs better defenders and, not only that, but he’d also be able to aid the offense by getting stops and immediately allowing the team to get out and run.
While Irving may be the more talented offensive player, Rondo may be the more talented offensive team player. In the same season he recorded the defensive stats previously mentioned, he averaged 9.8 assists per game, more than Irving has averaged in any year to date. Since that season, Rondo has gone on to average 10+ assists for a season three times (2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13) and almost managed to do so again the next season despite his recovering ACL.
So although he may not be as great of a pure shooter as Kyrie, Rondo still manages to contribute to the offense by being one of the league’s best passers and finding guys for easy buckets. If he was able to do that on weak Celtics teams, what about this super talented Cavs team?
Besides, if the Cavs are really looking for an isolation bucket, the ball will without a doubt will be in James’ hands. And Kevin Love (despite his clutch record) isn’t a bad second option. No matter what, Kyrie would be the third option on that team. Rondo is better fit to that mold than the younger point guard.
Let’s not forget that Rondo has also won a championship (2007-08) and has that necessary experience and know-how to help make a team excel in multiple ways. There have been many people say that Rondo can be difficult to deal with, but like many other players perhaps this is simply because he wants to win so badly. He’d get that chance in Cleveland.
Which would you rather have? A pessimistic, brooding player that has lots of experience and will do whatever it takes to get to the top again so that he might feel a pinch of joy? Or a happy, inexperienced player who plays like he’s floating on air because he’s young and just got two of the league’s best players on his team over the summer?
Nothing against Kyrie, but as stated before, Mr. James wants to win now. And one thing is for certain. Even if the organization has no idea how to make the most logical pitch to the Celtics and another team for Rondo, they at least need to stick their noses into the middle of these rumours and sniff things out. Because making a major change like this might bring them one step closer to their ultimate goal: bringing the Cleveland Cavaliers the championship they’ve craved for over 50 years.