Rajon Rondo returned to the Boston Celtics on Friday night after a year of recovering from a torn ACL. The Celtics promptly lost to the absolutely awful Los Angeles Lakers 107-104. Rondo had eight points, four assists and two rebounds in the effort. On Sunday, Boston fell again, this time by two points to the Orlando Magic. Rondo played a total of 21 minutes and totaled up six points (on three-of-10 shooting), six rebounds and four assists. He’s getting better, but clearly he’s not yet the dominant player he was prior to getting hurt.
Which begs the obvious question: What does this mean for his status with the Celtics?
According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, “more than a few” general managers around the league expect Rondo to be moved either before next month’s trade deadline, or in June before the 2014 NBA Draft.
If that is true, and it makes enough sense given the Celtics’ current setup, then there is really only one trade for them to make: Rondo for Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Kevin McHale has made it no secret that he is a fan of Asik’s work, and Lin has proven himself to be one of the league’s more solid offensive talents this year. This is really the only scenario where Boston gets sort of fair value back for a guy of Rondo’s stature.
Of course, there is another theory floating around. This one is based on the notion that, the Celtics already have a young centerpiece to build around, so why trade him? Why attempt to acquire a draft pick who may turn into a great player when you already have a 27-year-old great player?
In a year, the Celtics will have less than $20 million committed to salaries. McHale would be able to ink Rondo to a max deal and then add any of the talented big men available (ahem, Kevin Love) that year beside him.
If Rondo gets moved this year, it will be to Houston. It just makes too much sense to ignore. However, if Daryl Morey doesn’t bite, then it wouldn’t be particularly shocking to see Rondo ride it out until he sees whether or not the Celtics can surround him with some talent in 2015.