Boston Celtics

Should the Boston Celtics Trade Rajon Rondo?

Can’t shoot; temperamental; thin-skinned; egotistical. These aren’t the most endearing descriptors, particularly when they’re attached to your starting point guard who, incidentally, also doubles as your best young player and the future of the team. Indeed, to even contemplate handing the reins of the most successful franchise in league history to a character as flawed as those adjectives suggest, seems the very definition of insanity. Aren’t the disastrous tenures of Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland, etc., proof enough that entrusting a team to a crazy, moody point guard is generally a terrible idea?

Absolutely. And yet, I refuse to give up on Rajon Rondo. What’s more, there are very few players I’d trade him for, including Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and Deron Williams.

I will, of course, probably regret publicly stating this opinion in a year or two, when he’s leading a sub-.500 team to the lottery and the center of innumerable trade rumors. Transitioning from a supporting role on a team led by three future Hall of Famers to captaining one hopelessly devoid of talent would, after all, be a tall order for any player, never mind one possessing questionable leadership abilities and an incomplete skillset. In fact, the Celtics’ rocky start is probably an ominous foreshadowing of what awaits the franchise once the Big Three finally rides off into the sunset: Rondo posting mind-boggling stat-lines while the C’s sputter along, depressingly uncompetitive, but just mediocre enough to deny themselves the chance at a high-draft pick.

So clearly, a player like CP3 or D-Will (if either were available) would represent a huge, short-term upgrade, and would likely keep Boston in the playoff picture, if not the title hunt. That Danny Ainge has repeatedly entertained the idea of trading Rondo for a more conventional guard (Tyreke Evans during the ’09 draft; Rodney Stuckey (ugh) that same summer; Paul and Russell Westbrook prior to the start of this season) suggests that Celtics management shares that sentiment. Exchanging a flawed, mercurial, and slightly ornery personality for an equally-talented, and less-distracting, player would represent an opportunity too tempting to pass up for a team looking to ease its way into the inevitably painful post-Big Three era.

But despite these reservations (some of which I share), it’s become perfectly obvious that prematurely relinquishing a player as gifted and unique as Rajon Rondo would be a mistake of monumental proportions, particularly for the reasons that are so often given. Indeed, if Charlie Pierce’s fantastic feature from a couple of years ago is any indication of what irks the Celtics about their young point guard, then Ainge and company should be ridiculed  (as Brian Windhorst and Kurt Helin have done) for even thinking about giving up on a guy as talented as Rondo merely because of the occasional missed practice or argument with a coach or teammate. A difficult or strange personality, however aggravating and distracting, doesn’t necessarily equate with a crippling flaw.

For however disconcerting his various eccentricities, Rondo’s quirks are ultimately, and surprisingly, encouraging. Where some would see weakness in his inability to cope with the Kendrick Perkins trade, I see an intense and desirable loyalty; and where others would laugh at his insecurities, particularly in regards to President Obama’s rather innocuous comments about his jumper, I applaud him for taking that criticism seriously, and for recognizing the very real flaws in his game. There are many different shades of headcase, and Rondo seems to fall on the benign side of the spectrum, something which couldn’t have been said for the Marburys or Stevie Franchises of the world.

Furthermore, a Rondo-led team would open up a world of possibilities that Celtics management would be foolish to ignore. Letting him, say, quarterback an up-tempo offense (once KG, Pierce, and Allen are gone, that is) would allow him to maximize his potential and fully utilize his peerless playmaking abilities which, despite his stellar play, have been somewhat obscured by the slow, plodding pace at which the C’s have played for the last four or five seasons. Imagine an unconstrained Rondo, just entering his prime, orchestrating a relentless fast-break, a la the SSOL Suns; if that doesn’t pique your interest, then you should consult your cardiologist, because you probably don’t have a heart.

And provided he’s surrounded with the proper personnel, I can easily see him transforming into Jason Kidd-lite, a slightly-troubled playmaker whose unselfishness, defense, competitiveness, and unparalleled command of the game more than make up for his offensive deficiencies. At only 25 years old his ceiling is, after all, still sky-high, and whereas the league’s other young point guards (Paul, Williams, Rose, Westbrook, etc.) have decidedly mixed postseason track-records, Rondo has already proven himself capable of leading (albeit in a supporting a role) a team to the Finals. Not once, but twice. Such experience will prove invaluable once he’s landed his own team, particularly since (unlike so many other young stars of the past and present) he’s been forced to learn how and when to defer or to take over.

A ruthless competitor, a creative passer, a defensive nightmare, and a loyal, hard-working teammate with the requisite playoff chops: what else could one possibly ask of a point guard (well, besides a jump shot)? As long as he doesn’t start his own shoe line, or film himself eating Vaseline, the Celtics should be more than content with a Rondo-centric future. Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and Deron Williams may be considerably better right now, but Rajon Rondo could very well end up revolutionizing the point guard position. I just hope he’s able to do it in Boston.

Related posts:

  1. Michael Pina: More thoughts on the Jeff Green Trade and the Boston Celtics (4/24/11)
  2. Jonathan Mathis: Ray Allen and the Ageless Boston Celtics (4/18/11)
  3. Adrian Wojnarowski: Perkins Trade Hangs Over Shaq, Celtics (4/4/11)
  4. Is this the End of the Road for Boston’s Big Three?
  5. Another Bad “Decision”: The Chris Paul Trade Veto

Discussion

12 Responses to “Should the Boston Celtics Trade Rajon Rondo?”

  1. The players you mention are on teams that would laugh if such a trade offer was made. NJ, OKC and the Clippers are not gonna trade their star players for a…how can I put this nicely..player that is only at all decent because of who he plays with anymore then they would trade said player to the Heat for one of their point guards.

    As to should they trade him overall…they should if they could get value down the road for him. Since this Boston group has a closed window already. They are not going to beat Miami or Chicago in a 7 game series. If the Boston GM is smart they would trade Rondo before people figure out that he has very little real value.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | January 6, 2012, 7:57 pm
    • I wasn’t implying that those teams would trade for Rondo (though I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam Presti at least considered it). I was only arguing that Ainge is foolish for even contemplating that sort of move, both for the reasons you cited, as well as others.

      Posted by Sean Cribben | January 7, 2012, 12:09 pm
    • Anyone who know the game knows RONDO is the last one to go. He is the only reason to buy a ticket. anyone of the big 3 should be ok to trade starting with the youngest dinosaur The Truth. he make 14mill and that is 5mil less than KG and he is killing them. Ray only makes 10 and KG is a max contract and is still giving you decentif not great production. Danny and ownership cannot create a sacred cow. If they can package him to get a young fast power forward or center then do it sooner rather than later.

      Posted by longtimeloyalfan | January 12, 2012, 1:35 pm
  2. As a longtime Rondo fan — he’s the main reason I watch every Celtics game — I think the verdict is still out on him. He seems to have improved his foul shooting this season, and it is possible that his jump shooting will follow. He is still capable of putting on remarkable offensive and defensive displays.

    But he’s is a very difficult position this year. The short preseason made it harder for the new players to get used to Rondo’s passes. The Big Three are noticeably fading — even Ray Allen, who is shooting the lights out, is a step slower on defense. The absence of Kendrick Perkins, who had mastered their defensive schemes, makes for a huge hole down low.

    And though people don’t mention it much, the Celts have no depth at guard. That means Rondo plays more minutes than he should early and late in the game and his effectiveness diminishes for those minutes. I don’t understand why they traded Delonte West. He at least provided some solidity.

    So, as you point out so well, Rondo is now the leader of a team that lags behind. He is unlikely to ever make that up by averaging 20 points per game.

    Danny Ainge sold his future for a single title when he brought in Allen and Garnett. He lost his chance for a second when he traded Perk. Now he’s got nothing, and Rondo is stuck. In a way I wish they would trade him, because he’s a brilliant player who could make fans of a good team very, very happy.

    Posted by Kansachusetts | January 7, 2012, 7:51 am
    • Yeah, I share your frustrations. The Perk trade is looking mighty foolish right about now, and losing Delonte has and will definitely hurt them in the short term. And as much as I love the Big Three, it would’ve probably made sense to at least get something (anything)for one or more of them before they retired.

      Posted by Sean Cribben | January 7, 2012, 12:12 pm
      • It’s not just the Perk trade. It’s Perk, West, and Baby also, who’s been performing very well in Orlando. We brought in Bass to supposedly get more boards, esp. offensive ones. The Celtics are still, however, one of the worst teams in the NBA when it comes to boards. Bass may be more “athletic” than Davis was (whatever that means), but Davis took crazy charges and drove to the hoop a hell of a lot more than Bass will ever do.

        I also don’t understand what Ainge’s obsession is with old farts. He appears to value “experience” with some of his picks, but nearly all the players that have come (and gone) minus the Big 3 are pushing 30: Carlos Arroyo, Marquis Daniels, Shaq, Troy Murphy, etc. And don’t even get me started on Jermaine O’Neal, a player so washed up and out-of-shape (you can tell from his ill-fitting jersey) that not even Miami wanted him anymore and gave him away.

        Jeff Green was a good pick-up I think, a talented youngblood that will have longetivity if he stays on the C’s. But, of course, his unfortunate luck has him battling that and he’s missing out this season.

        Posted by Luigi | January 8, 2012, 1:48 pm
  3. C’s should never trade Rondo, no matter what happens.
    He is the best PG in the league and the body and soul of the team right now!!
    Go Rondo!!!!!!

    Posted by Morena | January 15, 2012, 12:41 am
  4. Haha I don’t know how you can trade a guy after his statline this afternoon, 18, 20 and 17 in the W against the knicks. Theres nobody in the league that can get that kind of statline since prime J-Kidd

    Posted by stillshining | March 4, 2012, 4:39 pm
  5. Rajon Rondo has been raised by the Big Three in this league, one of them being the great Kevin Garnett. Garnett is the most passionate, and I believe hardest working player in the NBA. (that is open to much debate however) Rondo has learned the attributes from Garnett, and has placed them uniquely into his own game. No point guard goes into the paint and gets rebounds like Rondo does. His Personality “flaws”, just might be why this team can still win champions even after the Big Three leave. And honestly, anyone who has learned from, Shaq, Allen, The Truth, KG and Doc Rivers (A.K.A. Legends) should have a champions attitude, which he does, and Rondo has a Leaders heart, playing quarterback, pitcher, and point guard. Kobe, MJ, Bird, Johnson, Russel, Chamberlin… All these men have championships, and none of them were afraid of getting into it with another player. I’m not comparing Rondo to these greats, but just to their personalities, he wants championships, not people liking him.

    Danny Ainge is trying to make this team better, I understand that. However the trade with Perkins, nearly killed the future… It’s true. However with the addition steisma and his growth, KG playing (I believe his true position) at center, and Peirce, Allen, and Rondo playing All Star basketball. We got by well. But the future is important now to. Even if the Celtics claim the 2011-2012 Championship. (which is doubted, not impossible.) they need to rebuild next year. Instead of trading, one of the best point guards in the league, who wants to win your organization championships, trade Allen, in my opinion to Portland, and get a PF that wants to run the floor for Rondos sake, play good defense, in other words J.J. Hickson. I believe he is just a better fit than Bass is, Bass doesn’t want to get down and dirty on offense, and doesn’t play great post Defense. and don’t get me wrong I love Allen, however, we have a suitable replacement in Bradly. (I mean replacement for the Position, not the Person) hopefully KG will not retire yet, and you can still have a great center, if not you can grow Greg Stiesma, young talent who has a great nose for the ball! And honestly Peirce, we don’t want to trade him, he doesn’t want to be traded, and I don’t think any team wants him. Not because he’s a bad player, because in nearly every team in the NBA that position is filled with someone sufficient for it. And I think right now hes sufficient in Boston. But Danny Ainge needs to get a better back up for him, putting SGs in ain’t going to cut it anymore. Maybe a Gordan Hayward, Trevor Ariza, or Derrick Williams if their teams were open to it. Obviously time is running out, but the Celtics can pull through fine if they play it smart.

    That’s my rant for the night!
    Love and Peace to all my Peeps
    -CJ Holladay

    Posted by CJ Holladay | May 16, 2012, 11:48 pm

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