BOSTON (CBS) – Danny Ainge is at it again.
Good idea? Bad idea? Trading Rondo falls into both categories.
With an aging team looking to rebuild, on the surface it make little sense to trade away a young, pass-first, defensive-minded point guard who has a better chance at attracting future stars than any other piece on the roster. Rondo’s speed and passing make other players around him better. Just ask Chris Wilcox, who has emerged recently thanks to his willingness to run the floor with the Celtics speedy quarterback.
His offensive game is limited to shaky jump shots (usually with no defenders as they are off double-teaming someone else) and attacking the basket, when he wants to attack the basket, but when his game is on Rondo is as fun to watch as anyone in the NBA. He notched his third triple double of the season Wednesday night in Boston’s 102-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, doing it on both ends of the court. He even held the explosive Brandon Jennings scoreless until the final minutes of the game.
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Rondo may also be the only piece to attract big name free agents for the foreseeable future. He has three years left on his current deal, with $36 million coming his way; a bargain considering the going rate for point guards. With him and Paul Pierce being the only starters signed after this season, the Celtics will have plenty of cap space to make a splash in the free agent market, but will need a player of his talents and caliber to convince players to come to Boston.
But with all the good also comes the bad.
As much as “The Great Rondo” can work his magic on the court, he can also pull disappearing acts, and for long stretches. He is moody, and lets that affect his play. It seems like the Celtics constantly have to motivate the 26-year-old, and Broussard reported there are clashes with head coach Doc Rivers.
“With Rajon, it’s a lot of personality conflict,” Broussard said Thursday on ESPN. “He’s kind of introverted. He’s stubborn, which can be a strength but can also be a weakness. He has trouble taking constructive criticism and he does clash a lot with Doc Rivers. They know he’s a great player. They’re not going to just give him away. But they feel like they probably can’t rebuild around him because of the problems they do have with clashing with his personality.”
The Celtics have had enough of the headaches Rondo causes, hence Ainge’s pitch to other teams. One can only imagine what his attitude could become when/if veteran players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are no longer around, as early as next season.
But what can Ainge get in return to assure the Celtics have a solid base heading forward? The proposed Rondo-for-Stephen Curry swap with Golden State would not be enough, even though it is reported Golden State is the one that backed off the deal. Curry has struggled with injuries during his brief NBA career, and although he is a much better scorer, cannot run an offense or defend as well as Rondo.
The one player he should set his sights on is New Jersey point guard Deron Williams. The offensively gifted Williams would give Boston what they wanted in Chris Paul, who they offered up Rondo for prior to the season. Williams is averaging a career high 21.9 points for the Nets this season to go with 8.3 assists. He would immediately turn around a Celtics offense that has struggled to score 90 points a game.
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Granted, bringing in Williams probably won’t equal another banner this season, and there is the risk he may leave down when he becomes a free agent this summer.
But if the Celtics are that desperate to rid themselves of Rondo, and the Nets are willing to make the deal, take the chance. Maybe a few months in Boston would convince Williams to stick around, and maybe even convince Dwight Howard to come join him in the offseason.
And if Rondo remains in Boston, that wouldn’t be too bad either.