This past summer, the Boston Celtics entered a new era. When Danny Ainge decided to trade away almost any valuable asset the C’s had, in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers, he kick-started a radical rebuilding process, which is still under way. The Celtics, however, still possess one more valuable asset, and that’s no other than Rajon Rondo. Multiple times Danny Ainge has stated that the team’s intention is to not trade its superstar point guard. However, multiple times the Celtics have been contacted by teams around the league, who requested a trade for him. So what will Rondo’s role be in the Celtics’ future? Will he be the cornerstone around which the team will build? Or is he the perfect piece for a potential trade, one that could bring a a difference maker and potential franchise face in Boston?
Rajon Rondo is currently considered to be one of the best point guards in the league. He is arguably the most creative passer in the league, and especially prior to his injury he was considered as the best playmaker, maybe together with Chris Paul. Rondo has been selected as an All-Star four times in his career and he has managed to retain an All-Star level of performance for the biggest chunk of his career.
The first option the Boston Celtics have is to build a team around Rondo. This seems like a realistic scenario, as Rondo has just entered his prime. He is 28 years old and he is under contract until the end of the 2014-2015 season. The problem for the Celtics is exactly that. The C’s will obviously need some time in order to build a competitive team. It will be difficult for them to form a group which can once again chase an NBA title. For sure, Rondo is the kind of player who can fight hard for the ultimate goal, to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. He has proven during his tenure with the C’s that he fits perfectly in the team’s tough, championship mentality. However, if the Boston Celtics have to go through the difficult time of the rebuilding and then start being competitive, there is no guarantee that Rondo will stick around, especially if he was “forced” to experience this rebuilding process despite his will.
The other option the Boston Celtics have is to trade Rajon Rondo away and receive some valuable assets for their rebuild, which seems like a nice option too. Certainly Celtics fans will not be happy to see their superstar leader leave the team, especially when he is the last piece of the Big Four that won the championship a few seasons ago. Rondo is the only thing left out of that forceful team with championship metal. Nonetheless, despite the emotional ties the entire Celtics community has with Rondo, fans, but also everyone around the team, should look reality straight in the eye.
Maybe the best option the team currently has is to trade Rondo away. Once the glass is broken, it can never be whole again, and that seems to be the case with Rondo. It’s not about his lack of motivation or bad performances. It’s not about the lack of chemistry between him and the new Head Coach of the team, Brad Stevens, or even his new teammates. On the contrary, Rondo seems to have already built a nice communication line with Stevens and his current role on the team fits him. It’s about the big picture. The Boston Celtics are not the team they used to be when Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen were in town, together with Doc Rivers. When this group of five guys, together with Rondo, were onboard, it seemed like something magic happened. The Big Four had such a great chemistry between each other and they all had a deep relationship of respect with Doc Rivers, which seemed like it boosted them to perform better.
It’s no surprise that we’ve seen Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett playing below expectations this season. They are the same players they were some months ago and yet they are not playing like they did when they were in Boston. Something similar is happening to Rondo. Although he is the same player he was before KG and Pierce left the team, he is not playing like he then did.
Certainly his recent injury issues and the fact that he has a bunch of new teammates on his side play a big role in his outputs. However at the end, Rondo will fully rehab from his torn ACL, even if this happens at the beginning of the next season, and he will have to build chemistry with his new teammates. But on the other hand, it’s hard to believe that this team, with all the draft picks it possess, can become competitive and even more of a championship contender within two seasons.
The C’s chose to acquire some contracts of questionable value when they initiated the KG – Pierce blockbuster trade this summer. Kris Humphries, an undersized and underperforming power forward is in the books for $12 million this season. Gerald Wallace, an overrated small forward is owed $20 million over the next two seasons. Even Keith Bogans has a big contract of $5 million, which expires this summer.
Thankfully, the Boston Celtics did perform some positive moves since the beginning of the season, like the acquisition of Jarryd Bayless. However, they need more. They can’t go on like they are currently doing. They need a plan, and that could be either to trade Rondo away or stick with him and perform all the moves needed in order to re-sign him next summer. The latter would require them to prove to him that they can be competitive.
Whichever decision the team makes, it should be carefully examined. Thankfully, the Celtics have much time ahead, and have the chance to make up their minds in peace.