The Boston Celtics are 4-7 and seem to already have one eye on the NBA Draft. When Danny Ainge traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, he was under no illusions regarding what was to come. The rebuilding process will be long, nasty and unpopular with fans. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil in order for the Celtics to become competitive again.
If you look at Boston’s roster right now, it’s essentially a mishmash of bad contracts and young prospects. The lone player who doesn’t fall into either category is Rajon Rondo.
Rondo, 27, has been out since January with a torn ACL. He has been cleared to return for 1-on-1 contact, however, all signs point to his on-the-court return not happening at any point in the foreseeable future. And seeing as all he can do at this point is make a team that’s hoping to tank slightly more competitive, there is really no desire to rush him back at all.
This past weekend, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that at least two teams have approached Boston about a possible deal for Rondo. The first was the New York Knicks. Their trade offer was a laughable package consisting of Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemore. Most teams wouldn’t even take the latter two players for free. The second team to approach Ainge was the Houston Rockets. Apparently, their offer was slightly more appealing: Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and assorted parts for Rondo.
Thus far, Boston hasn’t expressed any interest in either deal.
The strange thing about both of those trade offers is that they’re really, really awful. Rondo, when he’s healthy, is arguably the third best point guard in the NBA behind Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. Sure there are some issues regarding him being difficult to work with and being a ‘selfish passer,’ but that’s all stuff that can be worked out in the right environment.
Rondo commanding such bad packages has reignited another popular rumor from last year: Rondo and some bad contracts to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol. On its face this seems like a ludicrious prospect, given the Lakers’ desire to free up cap space for next summer. However, when you really think about it, who exactly will Mitch Kupchak get with all that money? LeBron James isn’t coming – plain and simple. Best case scenario Carmelo Anthony will ditch New York for Hollywood, but is he really the guy to lead L.A. to a championship?
The Lakers have been looking for an upgrade at point guard ever since it dawned on them what a debacle the Steve Nash trade was. Rondo would be a valuable addition.
Of course, there are some obvious roadblocks. The Lakers do seem to be steadfast in their resolve to free up cap space. The Celtics have never been particularly keen on dealing with the Lakers. Rondo alone wouldn’t make LA a contender, and the bad contracts that would have to absorbed to make the deal worthwhile for Boston would kill any chance of Kupchak being able to bring anyone else in.
So is there any shot of a Gasol-for-Rondo swap occurring? Probably not. If the Celtics trade Rondo to anyone, it’ll be the Rockets.