Celtics look to improve their aging roster by trading away the young guy
The window on the original Big 3 seems to be closing pretty quickly. When the Boston Celtics made the trade to bring Kevin Garnett to town, and then signed Ray Allen to alongside Paul Pierce, they put together a trio of superstars unmatched in the NBA and the new additions helped to bring a title back to Beantown…with the help of a young point guard from Kentucky named Rajon Rondo. However, the years are taking their toll on the Pierce-Garnett-Allen, and it seems time (past-time maybe) for the Celtics to think about moves to help this quickly aging roster. General manager Danny Ainge is already hard at work, trying to trade the only starter under the age of 30, Rajon Rondo. That should help out with the whole “being too old” thing, right?
With the Celtics no longer being title contenders, Ainge and the Celtics are looking towards the future, and it doesn’t include Rondo. Reports are that the team finds Rondo’s personality too high-maintenance to be the building block for the future of the organization. Repeated clashes with head coach Doc Rivers remain an 0ff-court distraction, and his recent 2-game suspension for a flare-up at a referee further damages his chances of suddenly jumping back into the team’s good graces. The Celtics are tired of his antics, apparently, and not even his elite point guard prowess is enough to overlook the headaches he’s caused them. The C’s just want to move him out of town.
They’ve been trying, too. In December, the Celtics were in talks with Golden State about a Stephon Curry-for-Rondo trade. At the time, it was reported that Golden State were the ones who backed out of the deal, but the teams have kept the lines of communication talking. Curry’s recent ankle injuries, something he’s been plagued with throughout his career, could give Boston pause about going back to that deal.
But Golden State wasn’t the only trade Rondo’s been connected with. When Chris Paul was trying to make his escape out of New Orleans, Rondo was included in a package that would have brought CP3 to Boston and sent Rondo to the Big Easy. Ainge says he wasn’t actively shopping his point guard at the time, merely just trying to add a player of Paul’s caliber to the deal to make it worth the Hornets’ time. From ESPN.com:
“I was not trying to trade Rajon Rondo…There’s a big difference between trying to acquire a player and trying to trade a player.”
It seems the tone has shifted now, though, towards full-on trying to trade a player.
Rondo has had a spot of trouble this season, which makes it a little more understandable why he’d be on his way out. His temper showed when he threw a ball at an official, striking him in the chest during a loss against Detroit that earned him a 2-game suspension. The point guard has played in only 22 games during the first half of this season due to the brief suspension and a sprained right wrist injury. Add in the off-court issues, the attitude problems, and apparent personality conflicts, and you can see why Ainge would want to get rid of Rondo.
But what about the reasons to keep him? While he’s never been considered an elite scorer, Rondo has been the facilitator for this Celtics team on a number of deep playoff runs. A career 10.9 points per game, 7.7 assists, Rondo is having a phenomenal season so far, averaging a career best 14.2 ppg and nearly 10 assists. He recorded his third triple-double of the season with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists this last week against Milwaukee. He’s young, at just 26 years old, and is the only starter for Boston who was born after 1980. If the team was looking to just get younger, point guard was the only position they didn’t need to do it.
If the team does move Rondo, that will open the door for his backup Avery Bradley, second-year player out of Texas, to step into the starting role. In the two games he filled in for Rondo during his suspension, Bradley showed flashes of serious ability, including a 12 point, 5 assist, 3 blocked shots, 2 rebounds, and a steal against the Thunder. Could he fill in for Rondo on a full-time basis? If Danny Ainge gets his way, he better hope so. Trading away the one sure future star on the team can be a dangerously slippy slope towards unemployment.