Rajon Rondo is looking to leave Boston and taking his talents to South Beach might be the best fit for him – unless he kills one of his new teammates first.
Let’s take a step back and look at the latest news surrounding the Celtics point guard. In case you haven’t heard, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan made some comments off-air during a taped segment of Around The Horn, a show which features reporters from across the country debating current topics in sports.
MacMullan, a longtime mainstay of the Celtics locker room, was recorded saying that Rondo “wants out” of Boston and then mentions a few trade scenarios that included New York, Sacramento, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
But not the Miami Heat, which strangely enough might be an ideal spot for the former All-Star.
First of all, MacMullan’s comments seem very off-the-record but that doesn’t make them any less accurate. Her history in Beantown and her personal relationship with Rondo certainly makes her a reliable source, even if she didn’t intend to make this go public.
Secondly, and perhaps of greater importance, is Rondo’s troubled past with the Heat, perhaps a front-runner for the Understatement of the Year. Rarely in today’s friendly NBA do players voice their displeasure about other teams, and much less with the vitriol that has marked the rivalry between Miami and Boston.
Yet, Rondo has very publicly stated in January that he “still doesn’t like” Miami, even if many considered the feud to be over as the Celtics began their multi-year rebuilding effort. He’s also gone on record as saying he’ll “never play for the Heat”; again, a rarity in this modern age of free agency and playing for multiple teams over the course of a typical career.
Rondo, however, is anything but typical, a quality that has endeared him in the New England area while making him a loathed and controversial figure everywhere else. Rondo is quirky and compulsive, competitive and determined and, like his former Hall-of-Fame teammates, the kind of player you want on your team but you’d hate to play against.
Having learned from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce during their championship-contending years in Boston, Rondo figured out how to do the little things to annoy an opponent (and opposing fans) in order to do what’s most important: winning.
Even his comments about Miami should be taken with a contextual grain of salt as Rondo added that he doesn’t “really like anybody” he plays against. His feelings on the Heat are more a result of some great playoff battles against Dwyane Wade and former Miami player LeBron James, skirmishes that began even before the forming of the Heat’s “Big 3” in 2010 and simply escalated as the two franchises stood in each other’s way of adding more titles.
So, perhaps you can assume then that Rondo might be willing to put aside his distaste of all things South Floridian in order to join a competitive team. Could he play with known nemesis Wade, a player that once – and some claim dirtily – tossed Rondo to the floor and led to a gruesome injury?
Let’s be honest here … no one knows for sure. There has been a pretty extensive history between the two, both on the court and off, exchanging harsh words and hard fouls during one of the best rivalries in recent years.
But a strong argument could be me made that both players are hyper-competitive and their mutual dislike is merely an extension of that.
On the same team, former foes could become great allies.
Which brings us to the last obstacle – making it happen. For all you salary cap gurus out there, this is your time to shine.
There are lots of options, not all of which are viable or mutually beneficial to both Miami and Boston so a third team is likely needed to make a trade work. You can spend all day contemplating possible scenarios but I won’t do that; feel free to use the comment section below for that purpose.
Still, a possible trade with Miami, Boston and, say, the New York Knicks, could be worked out.
In this proposed deal, Miami would take on the heavy contract of Rondo (set to make nearly $13 million this season). The Celtics would get back the short-term deals of Luol Deng (two years with a player option after this season, at $9.8 million in 2014-15) and Mario Chalmers ($4 million).
To clear space for Deng, Boston would trade forward Jeff Green ($9.2 million) and forward/center Joel Anthony ($3.8 million) to the Knicks in exchange for Andrea Bargnani, whose bloated contract ($11.5 million) expires after this season. Other minor salaries would need to be included in order to make the deals work but, in principle, it’s a trade that helps out everyone.
Miami gets an elite playmaker in Rondo, the Celtics get Chalmers to help mentor rookie guard Marcus Smart until he’s ready to take over permanently. Deng represents a clear upgrade over Green while still giving Boston some flexibility with its roster.
The Knicks get superior defenders in Green and Anthony, a glaring weakness for Phil Jackson’s team while, again, not committing to any long-term deals that would hamper any future moves.
The trade for Rondo could be tricky but for Miami, it’s definitely worth considering. Heat President Pat Riley has never been afraid to take chances and his moves this summer would seem to indicate a plan to rebuild the team in the absence of James. With Chris Bosh contracted for five more years and with Wade’s deal expiring in 2016, bringing aboard a young All-Star talent like Rondo could be the step to luring a third superstar – say, Kevin Durant – in the future.