The Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics will look very different next year. One of them is a legitimate championship contender, another is a viable playoff contender and the third is a non-factor for the foreseeable future. The one thing that they all have in common, however, is the fact that they’re all still willing to tinker with their rosters.
Houston has made it abundantly clear over the past month that it’s NBA title or bust for them at this point. You don’t go out and acquire Dwight Howard a season after bringing in Omer Asik to be your big man if you don’t have your sights set on bringing home a championship. Like every other contender, though, the Rockets have flaws. Namely: Their current point guards don’t mesh especially well with their superstar shooting guard. Well, scratch that. Patrick Beverley does complement James Harden, but that’s only because he’s so good at staying out of everyone’s way. It’s the Rockets’ best point guard, Jeremy Lin, that isn’t as good at that.
Detroit has made some splashy moves this summer: namely signing Josh Smith and bringing in Brandon Jennings via sign and trade. While the former is a great pick-up for the Pistons, despite his notable deficiencies, the latter is very questionable. Jennings’ inherently ball-hoggish nature doesn’t fit with Smith’s incessant desire to fire up bad shots. Detroit would’ve been far better off bringing in a good passer to play alongside their new superstar four – not a guy with Kobe Bryant’s shot selection and very little of the talent.
Boston has gone into full-on rebuilding mode. Realizing that there was no last title around the corner, Danny Ainge shipped out Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry – leaving a Celtics roster comprised of Rajon Rondo and the Pips. And seeing as Ainge was willing to move Rondo back when Boston was still good, it’s probably a safe bet that he’d be similarly open to the prospect in the here and now.
So where does all that leave us? It leaves us in perfect position for a three-team deal between the Rockets, Pistons and Celtics. Well, sort of perfect position.
The Rockets need a quality, pass-first point guard. The Pistons need a combo point guard, but one who is better at passing than shooting. The Celtics need someone exciting so that Boston fans don’t start offing themselves in the stands.
Why not just do this:
Lin goes to Detroit. Jennings goes to Boston. Rondo goes to Houston.
Now, the obvious question there is: Why is Rodney Stuckey being moved? He's not. Jennings was just part of a sign and trade last month, and he can’t be traded until Dec. 15. However, seeing as Boston is now under the cap, just fill in Stuckey with Jennings and include a couple of useless auxiliary pieces to get an idea for how this deal would look. The point is: It improves all three teams. (Quick note: We also know that the idea of Jennings being moved by Detroit has been brought up in other potential deals, so it’s not out of the question.)
Jennings would provide Boston with a fun-to-watch, young player who can score at will and would have a green light to shoot however much he wants. Remember what Paul Pierce was like when the Celtics sucked? Well, Jennings can be that – just less efficient. Lin would provide Detroit with a perfect complement to Smith’s game. His first inclination is to pass, and his court vision is noticeably better than Jennings’. At the same time, he can still score. And Rondo, obviously, is one of the best point guards in the NBA when healthy and should be playing for a championship.
Are there some minor concerns with this deal? Sure. There have been rumors floating around for a while now that Howard doesn’t want to play with Rondo. The Celtics have given no indication that they want to be interesting; so far, it seems like the franchise is all about cutting costs at this point. Plus, Jennings can be a headache, and it remains to be seen whether you want a young, rookie NBA coach having to deal with that mess. And Lin to Detroit, well, there’s no downside to that. It works no matter what.
If the Rockets aren’t performing as expected and/or Lin isn’t meshing with the new lineup in December, and if Jennings and Smith are clashing like they inevitably will come year’s end, and if Boston is painfully boring to watch a few months into this season, don’t be surprised if all involved pull the trigger on this deal.