With just hours to go before the NBA trade deadline, reports from ESPN’s Chris Broussard have surfaced that claim Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is available for trade.
The report goes on to say that a deal is unlikely given that Rondo won’t play the rest of this season due to a season ending ACL injury, but if you’re a team whose season is already over, what’s to stop you from making a move? This is especially true for the Orlando Magic, a team that already holds a trade chip that Boston so desperately covets.
Of the teams that have been in the market for JJ Redick’s services, Boston has not really had the pieces to this point to make a deal with Orlando. But, from the Magic’s perspective, that changes with the availability of Rondo. If the Celtics want Redick and his expiring deal bad enough, the Magic should make an offer that consists of the former Duke man and anyone not in their rookie year or named Nikola Vucevic. To sweeten the deal, a second round pick from last year’s Dwight Howard trade or a future first rounder may be in order, but any of it would be worth it for the Magic to get Rondo.
Boston has attempted to convey that they’ll be quiet around the deadline, but if Danny Ainge has any plans of his team making another playoff run, that won’t be the case. A fair trade for Rondo in his current state would be Redick plus Josh McRoberts and a future first round pick.
With Jason Terry, Avery Bradley and Leandro Barbosa all available to handle the ball for the Celtics for the remainder of the season, acquiring Redick gives them a reliable two guard who can shoot the three or create for others with his penetration and ability to pass the ball. He’s a guy that would thrive under Doc Rivers and could probably be resigned in a midlevel deal while playing a key role for the future of the franchise.
In McRoberts, Boston gets a little more help in their front court, but most importantly they receive another expiring contract that allows them to clear some more cap space to make a few signings for next year. If need be, Orlando could throw in a second rounder on top of the future first rounder or Gustavo Ayon who would serve as a viable backup for the Celtics at both center or power forward right now.
For Orlando, the deal is obviously done with a window to the future. Resigning Jameer Nelson to three more years at $8.6 million a season was an obvious mistake, but if they can trade Nelson or use him as backup to Rondo in a diminished role, that move may yet prove less disastrous than I originally thought.
With Vucevic and Glen Davis cemented in place for next season and good young talents in Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson locked in for the future, Orlando can focus their top ten status in the draft this year on a shooting guard to play behind Aaron Affalo or a small forward to compete with Harkless if they get Rondo. Maybe they draft a young big man or hunt down a low cost power forward in free agency, but regardless of what they chose, they are instantly better with Rondo in the team and back on their way to the postseason in the spring of 2014.
The Celtics clearly have issues with Rondo and don’t necessarily need him to field a winning team, hence their 8-3 record since his injury. Avery Bradley is a solid young talent and with the additional cap space, who knows what Danny Ainge could land in a trade in the summer to bring in a new point guard.
Orlando needs a superstar and playmaker, Rondo is just that. Imagine a starting five of Rondo, Afflalo, Harkless, Davis and Vucevic. Is it mind blowing excitement and edge of your seat basketball? Probably not, but it’s a big improvement over what the Magic are right now and a much better lineup than GM Rob Hennigan probably planned on having next year.
Note: The rumors of an Atlanta-Boston deal that swaps Josh Smith for Rondo are somewhat far fetched considering the Hawks are currently a playoff team ranked above Boston and wouldn’t likely just give Smith and his massive expiring deal away just to get a point guard they can’t see this season. If anything, the Celtics will have to offer something better or wait until the offseason.