With the Boston Celtics likely out of the running for many, if not all, star player's to bring to town, the green teamer's are forced with a very difficult decision:
To trade Rajon Rondo or to keep him.
Rumor's have surrounded Rondo's status as a Celtic for majority of the last 3 or 4 season's with Danny Ainge having to defend it largely to keep things quiet around the locker room. But there's no secret that Rondo has been on the block for some time. But Ainge is smart enough to hold on to him until he receives actually value for him. Rondo's contract run's through the upcoming season and is free to sign elsewhere next offseason.
Personally, I don't think that Boston should trade him nor let him go. While I understand he still doesn't have a consistent jumper, is a terrible free throw shooter, you can't just give up his basketball instincts. He sees things happen on the court before they develop, which is the main reason why he's near the top of the NBA in assist's every season. He is an ELITE point guard regardless of what anyone says about him. I believe Boston should extend him a new contract for max dollar's. He is worth that investment. He should be built around. But he's going to test the water's of free agency because he hasn't had the opportunity in his career yet and Boston doesn't want to lose him without getting anything back, hence the trade rumor's.
But for the sake of this article, let me tell you, the only way Boston should ever think about trading Rondo is getting someone of bare minimum, equal value in return. Houston has been rumored to enamored with grouping the point guard with Dwight Howard and James Harden but the Rockets possess absolutely no assets for Boston to take back. Indiana will be looking to upgrade their point guard situation, but lost their only trade chip to free agency last night in Lance Stevenson. Phoenix has a loaded back court with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and now Isaiah Thomas. So it's hard to gauge where Rondo would fit in for point guard needy team's.
One thing I will tell you is there is one trade that makes the most sense. I'm in no way saying this is a legitimate trace scenario and personally, I'd rather keep Rondo in Boston for the rest of his career. But the trade that makes the most sense:
Boston Trade's: Rajon Rondo
Oklahoma City Trade's: Russell Westbrook
This makes the most sense on both ends. For Oklahoma, the man on the Thunder is Kevin Durant. Not Russell Westbrook. It is Durants team. Landing Rondo would only boost Kevin Durants stats every year. Working with a pass first point guard is something that Durant has never been able to play with. Rondo allows Durant to slash to the hoop for easy layups and dunks, as well as ending up at the free throw line even more then he already does. Oklahoma City will benefit from Rondo's presence on the floor, making a deep team even deeper, opening the lanes for people outside of Durant. Reggie Jackson could benefit from Westbrooks departure the most. Jeremy Lamb would step into Reggie Jacksons role as a gunner off the bench, therefore benefitting from the boost in playing time.
It works for Boston because now Russell Westbrook would then become "the man". They get a little bit younger, but they become more athletic and more run oriented. Westbrook can score from all over the court, improving his three point percentage year by year in the process. They also don't give up any assets so they still have that opportunity to go out and get another player or two to play with Westbrook. Kevin Love anyone?
They did play together at UCLA (side bar: how did they not win an NCAA championship that year?)
Extremely unlikely, but nevertheless not impossible. Westbrook brings toughness and tenacity to a team and I think Boston could benefit from that. It doesn't make them a playoff contender until they land another great player to pair with him. They maybe be a fringe 8th seed in a weak Eastern Conference.
As I've clearly stated, my preference would be to continue to build around Rondo, trade the 429 future first round pick's and newly acquired trade exception in the Kris Humphries deal, and whatever young talent it takes to get another legitimate star or two to play with Rondo, IE:
Any talented shooting guard with promise or proven
I just don't think that you let go of Rondo's on court talent without receiving anything at the end of the day. He's been loyal to the only team he's known. I believe you should pay and build around him. But if you're going to do anything to get rid of him, you better get something nice in return. Westbrook would be that. If you did land Westbrook, you could build around him with the players mentioned in this post. A stretch 4 and a rim protector may be your best options when you do acquire the oft injured point guard. But is still a great player with many of his great years ahead of him.
Is this at all possible? Absolutely. But it all depends on the direction Boston is deciding to take this offseason.