It’s long been common knowledge that everything isn’t exactly rosy between Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics. Rondo seems to want no part of the major overhaul being undertaken by Boston general manager Danny Ainge, and from Ainge’s point of view, Rondo seems to represent the final tie with the past just waiting to be cut.
With all of this in mind, it didn’t really come as a surprise when whispers of a more formal trade request came to the fore over the last day or so.In a behind-the-scenes clip from ESPN’s Around the Horn, respected sportswriter Jackie McMullan stated her belief that it’s just a matter of time before Rondo finds himself playing basketball in another city. The fact that it was McMullan who made these remarks is significant.
Having been a long-time columnist for the Boston Globe, it would take no real leap to imagine that she still has the inside track with the Celtics as an organization.
The bigger problem, as McMullan also noted (take a look at the video and transcript by James Herbert of CBS Sports, here), will come down to what the Celtics feel is an acceptable return for a player of Rondo’s caliber. Rondo’s value is far from at its peak, coming off the back of a couple of difficult seasons where he was held back by injuries, and the fact that everybody knows that both parties want to move on, does nothing to increase that value.
So, what teams could be a fit for the 28-year-old? The Sacramento Kings have long been a rumored destination, with the Kings ownership prepared to do whatever it takes to make a splash, but with reports suggesting that Rondo is categorically against the idea of re-signing in Sacramento, a deal seems unlikely.
Other contenders include the likes of Houston and Dallas, but it doesn’t seem like either of those two would be able to offer Boston a package that they’d deem acceptable.
This leaves a couple of interesting options on the table in terms of sign-and-trade deals. The Phoenix Suns have long been thought of as a potential suitor for the Kentucky native, due in large part to the status of Eric Bledsoe.
Many expected Bledsoe to be one of the prized possessions of this summer’s free agency class, but now in September, with Bledsoe having priced himself out of many potential deals, question marks hang over his future with the Suns.
Bledsoe would offer the Celtics the chance to get a guy with definite star potential in exchange for Rondo, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be a good deal for both sides. Having drafted Marcus Smart, the Celtics already have their potential point guard of the future, while the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas means the Suns aren’t short on point guards either.
That leaves one more potential sign-and-trade partner for the Celtics to speak with: the Detroit Pistons.
Just like Eric Bledsoe, not many people expected Greg Monroe to still be on the table at the beginning of September, but that’s exactly the position the free agent finds himself in. As an organization, Detroit has spoken of its desire to keep Monroe, yet they obviously weren’t sufficiently convinced to offer him a new deal.
Over the past month or so, many reports have suggested that Monroe is preparing to sign the Pistons qualifying offer.
If Monroe does indeed do this, it would almost certainly signal the end of his time as a Piston, as it would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. With this in mind, the Pistons should be looking to act now, and get something back in exchange for Monroe, rather than lose him for nothing next summer.
In such a scenario, there doesn’t seem to be a much better player to pursue than Rondo either.
With Josh Smith‘s contract seemingly immoveable in Detroit, Monroe finds himself as the odd man out. The Pistons have committed their money to Smith already, and as such need to try to find a way to get the best out of him.
It’s hard to see a much better way of doing that than picking up Smith’s incredibly close friend either. Having played together at Oak Hill Academy, Smith and Rondo have long dreamed of teaming up in the NBA, and this could be their chance.
The Pistons do already have Brandon Jennings in place, but it’s fair to say Rondo may fit in better with the ideals of new head coach Stan Van Gundy. Rondo is, in many ways, like a coach on the court, and his strong defensive mindset could be right up Van Gundy’s street.
It might be a long shot, but there are plenty of reasons why the Pistons and Celtics should be talking about doing a deal. There may not be many equal value deals in the NBA, but this one would at least rid both teams of some significant problems, while setting them off on a stable footing for the future.