BOSTON (CBS) — Trade rumor season never sleeps … even during Christmas week.
Although Rajon Rondo is still weeks away from returning to the floor and playing his first game for Brad Stevens, his name continues to pop up as a potential trade candidate.
The latest report from well-respected ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst indicates that the Knicks are hopeful that Rondo could force his way out of Boston after the season, much like Carmelo Anthony did in Denver in 2011. Anthony and Rondo would then presumably team up for years to come in New York.
It’s a nice pipe dream on the surface for a Knicks team that is coming off an embarrassing 29-point loss at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day. The setback dropped them to 9-19, and the team continues to flounder toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks need help desperately and obviously could use a healthy Rondo for the long term. But is any trade between Boston and New York for Rondo truly feasible? Let’s try to answer that question by answering a few other important ones.
Do The Knicks Have Enough To Offer The Celtics for Rondo?
This is probably the most important question to answer. Any time you have a trade, two willing parties have to be involved. The Knicks would undoubtedly want the All-Star point guard to run their offense, but is there anything on the Knicks’ roster that would be of interest to Danny Ainge?
A close inspection of New York’s roster shows a few players that are appealing to a team like the Celtics looking to build for the future. Young players like Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. are good cheap assets, but they aren’t close to a worthy return for Boston in exchange for a star like Rondo.
The rest of the Knicks roster is full of overpaid players (Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani) or over-the-hill players (Metta World Peace, Kenyon Martin). None of these players hold any kind of long-term value to Boston.
Besides talent, the only other things the Knicks could offer the Celtics are draft picks and salary cap flexibility. New York can’t offer much in the former department, after already dealing away their first round picks in 2014 and 2016. Due to the Stepien rule, the earliest the Knicks could deal away a first-round pick is 2018, and that’s a bit too far down the road to be attractive to Ainge.
The Knicks could offer to take back some of Boston’s ugly long-term contracts (Courtney Lee, Gerald Wallace), but that willingness in itself still won’t be enough value in exchange for a player like Rondo.
Bottom line here is that the Knicks, as they are currently composed, simply don’t have enough assets to deal for Rondo, a player whom Ainge has openly said many times this year on the Sports Hub he has no interest in trading.
What If Rondo Wanted To Force A Trade To New York? And Would He?
The other possibility in this story is that Rondo might try to force his way out of Boston for a trade to New York. This potential scenario was compared to Melo’s situation in Denver, but there are some pretty distinct differences here. For one thing, Denver got quite a nice haul for Anthony in the form of Wilson Chandler, Timothy Mozgov, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, and first-round picks. As I mentioned already, the Knicks just don’t have assets like that to offer.
Additionally, it’s hard to fathom Rondo wanting out of Boston at this point. Rondo and his new coach Brad Stevens appear to be working together quite well. Ainge has publicly supported his point guard. Why would Rondo want to jump ship when the team is committed to building around him?
Meanwhile, the future isn’t all that rosy in New York. Outside of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, there isn’t a lot of great talent in place. Instead, there’s an aging roster and a lack of draft picks to build for the future.
At this juncture, Boston’s future outlook looks a lot better than New York’s, so if Rondo is interested in winning, he’s better off staying in Boston.
If, for some reason though, Rondo had his heart set on the Knicks (for the allure of endorsement money in New York perhaps) you can bet that Ainge still wouldn’t be willing to deal him for anything less than full value … and he’s not getting that from the Knicks for his prized point guard.
Much like the other Rondo-to-the-Knicks rumor that popped early this season, I can’t see this one happening.