Niko Regalbuto- If the season were to end today, the Boston Celtics would be just the 8 seed in the East, and their title chances would be gloomy at best. Their rebounding struggles are abysmal, and it’s clear that this isn’t the same contending team we’ve seen in past years. They don’t have many tradable assets with the deadline looming, so the big question remains, should the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo?
David Vertsberger- No. If you’re going to overhaul your roster, why try to get rid of such a valuable piece in the process? There are no more than five point guards in the league I would rather have than Rondo, who’s proven himself as a key instrument in winning a title without even being in his prime. Rondo is signed through 2015, but unfortunately for Boston so is Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. Running through 2016 is Jeff Green‘s and Courtney Lee‘s contracts. In order for the Celtics to retain Rondo for the long run, they must collect enough talent around him to assure him there’s a team surrounding him that can contend. Only way this can happen is trading quite a few guys to clear up cap space before Rondo becomes a free agent. Is it difficult? Yes. But unless a masterful deal becomes available, something along the lines of a couple of young, talented prospects and first-round picks, trading Rajon Rondo would prove costly for GM Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics.
Niko- I’m on the other side of the spectrum here. Kevin Garnett is the key to the Celtics winning a title, and Ainge knows it. He’s been dominant in the playoffs as well as defensively for them, so creating a championship team in his small window of opportunity is the goal. I agree that Rondo is a great point guard, but some things concern me. The Celtics offensive efficiency has been above league average just once in the last four years, and since most of the Celtics offense consists of Rondo initiated pick-and-rolls or him driving and improvising, I pin the efficiency on him. Although Rondo’s numbers look great, we sometimes forget that efficiency is the name of the game. Among the remaining big three (Garnett, Pierce, Rondo), Rondo is the only person with a negative plus/minus on the season, and of the five 5-man units the Celtics have played for over 70 minutes this season, the most successful has been the only one without Rondo in it. Now, of course I’m not advocating just getting rid of Rondo because their offense isn’t the most efficient in the league, however if they were able to get a young talent like Cousins or someone to solve their terrible size issues, I think it would be something to look into.
David- Well, for one, the Celtics’ goal to win a championship in these next short few years is extremely far fetched to me. That said, even if they are seriously committed to that motive, why trade their best player? Offense being Boston’s issue is in some ways a positive, as defense is where this squad has thrived. But if you really find Rondo a big enough liability on the court, name me five point guards you rather have, whether you’re trying to win now or later. Rebounding has never been a strong point for the Celtics, size problems or not. Small ball has even solidified itself as an optimal championship strategy, so Garnett playing the center, like last season, is likely to bring more success to this Boston team. With this, is there really any need to trade Rajon Rondo? Maybe Paul Pierce. But Rondo?
Niko- I certainly agree that their Championship hopes are a bit far fetched, and I won’t name you 5 point guards better than Rondo, because it simply can’t be done. Rondo certainly is one of the top guards in the league, but perhaps it’s his limitations that have held the offense back despite his amazing passing ability. The Celtics, with Pierce, Garnett, Barbosa and Terry have plenty of people capable of creating their own shot. So maybe they have been successful with Rondo off the court because of the addition of floor space. When a player like Terry is manning the point guard position, he expands the court much more than Rondo does. His passing ability clearly isn’t close to that of Rondo’s, but he makes up for it by providing space for others to work with. Plenty of times we’ve seen defenders sag of Rondo with little consequence, that’s something you certainly can’t do to Terry. But in reference to their size issues, you’re right, small ball has served them well with Garnett at the center position. But let’s not forget that when the Celtics won the NBA Finals in ’08, they had Garnett at the 4 and Kendrick Perkins manning the 5. See the hard part about advocating the trade of Rondo is that he is a really, really good player. I just think that with title hopes in mind, their best chance at getting a positive return on talent while improving the team at the trade deadline would be at his expense.
David- Guess it’s time we agree to disagree, and come up with some trade ideas that we could see playing out well for the teams involved. All proposals will be verified as possible by using ESPN’s Trade Machine. Niko, start us off.
Niko- How about this one? http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=aqf2j56. I wanted to get the Celtics some size, and with Favors and Kanter both waiting on the wings, it’s doubtful the Jazz will be able to retain Al Jefferson this summer. It was difficult to get the salaries to match, which led to me including Randy Foye (who is actually having a pretty good year) over Mo Williams. The Celtics would be getting one of the best bigs in the league, but of course this would mean starting Avery Bradley at point guard most likely. The Jazz would have to include some picks for the Celtics because Rondo does have a few years on his contract while Jefferson is in a contract year, but I don’t think big Al would walk away from the C’s in free agency.
My turn: http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=bczu9ob BOOM. Celtics size problem? Solved. Need a young player with a bright future ahead of him? Done. Replacement for Rondo? There it is.
Alright, alright, here’s a better idea: http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=bzb487o
I took to your strategy of combined one popular trade rumor with another. Celts get a PERFECT power forward to play alongside Garnett in Speights, a very solid and underrated replacement for Rondo in Mike Conley, and Rudy Gay. Gay is one of my least favorite players but I’m interested to see if Doc Rivers could develop his game further over the course of a few years. Speights was always one of my favorite bigs in the league and his play warrants a shot at becoming a starting player for an elite team. Conley can help space the floor like Rondo can’t with his 37% shooting from downtown. And Rudy Gay is… well one day we might find out.
Niko- Wow that’s really interesting. I can’t decide how I feel about it truthfully. Rondo is an upgrade over Conley, but as a team desperately searching for outside shooting, is that the move the Grizzliez make? Maybe Rondo would be able to take them in a different direction? I just can’t decide. But I love it for the Celtics. I’m a huge fan of Conley, who is a very smart offensive player and a good defender as well. I think your right in saying that Doc Rivers could improve Rudy Gay’s game, and Speights is a tremendous shooter for a big as well.
Now with the Celtics recent winning streak, Danny Ainge has said that he’s now less likely to make any roster changes. However, we do both agree that where the Celtics currently stand, they are not a championship caliber team. Whether a move is made or not as we approach the February 21st trade deadline remains to be seen, but whatever happens, it should be an interesting time for Boston Celtics fans.