BOSTON (CBS) — Trade rumor season has gotten off to an early start this year.
With the New York Knicks, among several other Eastern Conference teams, staggering out of the gate, the early trade talk is not a big surprise. It’s panic time in the Big Apple, amongst other NBA cities for teams that are trying to win now but are well below the .500 mark 10 games into the season.
Hence, we’ve had a flurry of trade rumblings developing over the past 24 hours. There are reports out of New York that the Knicks are interested in going after Celtics prized point guard Rajon Rondo in a trade package featuring Amar’e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton.
Danny Ainge has come out today (like he has countless of other times) and told the Boston Herald he hasn’t discussed trading Rondo with any other teams. Still, just like in years past, that won’t put an end to the rumors surrounding the rehabbing All-Star guard on this rebuilding team. It probably won’t put an end to any future discussions either.
The important part now is to look through the trade rumblings and try to piece together what exactly are the realistic trade scenarios and which ones don’t have a chance of happening. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at these reported Rondo rumors involving the Knicks.
Is the proposed Knicks trade realistic?
From a Boston viewpoint, absolutely not. Rondo is a top-flight guard in the NBA, and is signed at a below-market contract ($12 million for this season, $13 million for next season). The Celtics’ would be looking for big-time assets in any trade involving him, whether they be young promising players or future lottery draft picks.
The reported Knicks’ offer contains neither of these things.
Iman Shumpert is a solid role player on the wing, but will never come close to being a superstar in the NBA, averaging a mere 8.3 points per game in his career.
Amar’e Stoudemire used to be a star, but now is nothing more than an overpaid, injury-riddled veteran who is over the hill at the young age of 31. He’s also averaging a putrid 3.2 points per game, while earning over $21 million. Not exactly a great value contract right there.
The final piece of the reported deal, Felton, is signed at reasonable money for the next couple of seasons, but at age 29, he doesn’t really have the potential a rebuilding team like the Celtics would be looking for. His best days would be behind him by the time the rest of the young Celtics core would be turning the corner in their development.
The Knicks’ offer would also be contingent on taking back some of the bad Celtics’ contracts alongside Rondo (Gerald Wallace, Courtney Lee) in order to make the salaries in the trade match up and clear some long-term salary cap room for the Celtics.
However, clearing out that long-term salary cap size is not enough of an incentive for Ainge to deal one of his potential building blocks in Rondo. Any such deal for Rondo would require more assets than just cap room and this proposed deal does not make the cut. That leads us to our next question.
Do the Knicks have enough assets to deal for Rondo?
We know the first deal doesn’t work. Could Ainge find something that is enticing to him?
Nope. It’s not even close either. Here’s the Knicks’ problem: They don’t have much of value on their roster right now in the eyes of a rebuilding squad like Boston. Shumpert is their best young asset, and he doesn’t come close to matching Rondo’s value. The rest of their team is filled with overpaid veterans like J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Stoudemire. None of these guys make a lick of sense to bring onto a young Celtics squad.
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The Knicks also don’t have any first-round draft picks available to deal until 2018, since teams can’t trade first-round picks in back-to-back seasons due to NBA rules. They’ve already dealt away their first-round picks for 2014 (in the deal for Carmelo Anthony) and 2016 (in the Bargnani trade last summer), leaving the cupboard mighty bare. The uncertainty of a draft pick that far into the future isn’t nearly enough to entice Ainge to part with a talent like Rondo.
Moving forward, while you may not be able to ignore the Rondo trade talk entirely around the league, any rumors involving the Knicks and Rondo can be brushed off. The Knicks just don’t have the parts to make it happen.
There’s still a possibility that the C’s and Knicks could work out a trade with players not involving Rondo. Ainge would be happy to unload a number of veterans (Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, Lee) that could help a Knicks’ squad right now and clear some long-term payroll from Boston’s books.
In the interim though, Celtics fans can rest easy, knowing that there’s no real chance Rondo will sporting a Knicks uniform this season.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.