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Previous Sources Should Say features:
Boston’s Big Three- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen
Doc Rivers might feel confident in his relationship with Rajon Rondo, but that means about as much as Rivers also saying that he has not discussed deals with GM Danny Ainge- in other words, nothing at all.
Surely, even basketball fans outside of Beantown can remember what happened almost exactly a year ago. Rivers appeared to be as blind-sided as anyone upon finding out that Perkins had been shipped to Oklahoma City.
“It was the most difficult thing I have had to do since I’ve been in the league,” Rivers said. “It was like sending one of your kids [away].”
For practical purposes, whether or not Ainge and Rivers have actively discussed trades is about as relevant to Rondo’s status on the team as Myspace is to teenagers.
From the outside looking in, it does appear as though Rondo may have worn out his welcome to some degree.
Even Grantland’s Bill Simmons, who, If I’m not mistaken used to be rather high on Rondo, seems to have turned on him largely due to his continued inability to hit a medium-range jump shot.
Look, there’s a reason we left Rondo out when we did “Sources Should Say” pieces on Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett a month ago, back when Ainge first acknowledged that he was open to trading his stars.
Trading your youngest brightest star (and possibly top-5 point guard) doesn’t make much sense, even if you’re thinking about rebuilding. Remember, they have Rondo locked-in for the next four years at an exceedingly fair $46 million.
At the same time, you never know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes. His temperamental, moody nature combined with how much of a crunch-time liability he can be is clearly making Ainge look around for other options, regardless of whether or not he’ll openly admit it.
So, for the sake of hypothetical trades, let’s look at a few Rondo deals that are actually justifiable on some level.
If Boston decides to ship Rondo, Ainge can go a few different routes in terms of what he wants in return. Considering Avery Bradley (eh) and Keyon Dooling (old) are the only other point guards currently on the roster, you have to think getting a young point guard that can actually hit a jump shot is something of a priority. Darren Collison would provide just that. The 24-year-old point man is a 40-percent shooter from three-point range and gets to the rim at will. He is also one of the fastest guards in the league and uses his speed efficiently on the defensive end. Plus, he’s a hell of a lot cheaper. Granted, Granger does have two years left after this one, but you can make the case that he would inject some much-needed scoring into one of the worst offenses in the league. At 28, he’s six years younger than Pierce and could eventually replace him. Think of a lineup of Collison, Allen, Pierce, Granger and Garnett. You could surround KG with four players who can all create their own shot and all hit three-pointers. Think that team would be one the lowest scoring in the league?
The Pacers appear to be one (maybe two) move away from legitimately scaring Miami and Chicago. Currently outside of David West, whose deepest playoff run ended in the second round, this Pacers team is devoid of veteran, playoff-tested leadership. Rondo is one of the game’s best game managers and he would immediately become the team’s leader and solidify the most important position on the court. Flanking Rondo with teammates that can actually run with him could rejuvenate him and instantly make the Pacers one of the most exciting teams in the league. Moving Granger would save Indiana money (for a run at Eric Gordon this summer) and allow Paul George to stop playing out of position and realize his potential.
Or as we like to call it, the swap of petulance. I don’t know what makes more sense: Evans for Boston, or Boston for Evans. The Celtics need an offensive creator that can also score at will. While Evans is nowhere near the passer Rondo is (and he’ll probably never get there), he is absolutely devastating go to the rim. On the flip side, Evans will never reach his potential if he’s on young, shoot-first team. He’s as talented as any other under-25 guard in the league, but his game hasn’t matured since he came into the league. In fact, if you look at his numbers, you could argue that he’s regressed.
As Kenny Smith often says, on bad teams it’s easy to get your numbers but you’re basically a looter in a riot. Playing in Boston under Doc Rivers’ tutelage and surrounded by established veterans would teach him how to play winning basketball, not simply “get his.” As a basketball fan, you should want that to happen. Plus, Jason Thompson, the 25’year-old power forward, could undergo a Kendrick Perkins-like transformation simply by playing alongside KG.
For Sacramento, it comes down to how long they’re willing to wait for Evans to develop. If they take away the highlights and purely look at his numbers and leadership ability (or lack thereof), then this deal should be a no-brainer. A pass-first point guard is exactly what this squad of chuckers needs. Plus, you can’t discount Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins’ Kentucky connection and what Rondo could mean to his development. At the very least Cousins would get enough touches that he wouldn’t always look as though he’s about to commit multiple homicides just to get the ball. And if you’ve watched the Kings at all this season, you know that’s already a huge improvement.
Boston isn’t sending Rondo out of town without a promising young point guard in return and Jeff Teague fits that bill (12.4 ppg, 47 FG%, .45 3P% this season). Kirk Hinrich could step into the vacant “third guard” role that the Celtics have been desperately trying to fill since the departure of Tony Allen. Hinrich is capable of defending both guard spots and is one of the few guys in the league who can slow down Dwayne Wade. In fact, Hinrich might make for an even better fit than Allen was, as he could also play minutes at the point without incessantly turning the ball over.
Atlanta is in a rather interesting place as a franchise. Many skeptics have argued that the team should amnesty Joe Johnson (less than two years into his maximum contract extension with the Hawks) and attempt to trade other key players to begin a rebuilding process. Meanwhile most Hawks fans are, of course, hoping to make a championship run with some variation of the current core still intact. While Teague has shown flashes of brilliance, he still needs time to develop. Alternatively, with each passing day Joe Johnson’s contract looks a little more ridiculous. If the team is going to win, the time is now, and Rondo has proven his ability to lead teams on deep playoff runs.
Boston gets Jaeer Nelson ($7.3 mil) and Ryan Anderson ($2.2 mil)
Orlando gets Steve Nash ($11.6 mil exp)
Phoenix gets Rajon Rondo ($10 mil)
Jameer would have two years with the keys to the team and could either be re-signed (if he re-emerges as the decent player he was two years ago) or be let go as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. A new look lineup of Nelson – Allen – Pierce – Anderson – Garnett would certainly challenge Doc River’s coaching ability, but if he embraces the offensive potential of the roster, then the Celtics could immediately transform from defense-first to an explosive, western-style team. And even if it all goes to hell, the team could completely re-build far sooner, which seems to be something of a priority to Mr. Ainge at the moment.
At this point Orlando is justifiably desperate to keep Howard and tiny mortgages are worth making right now if they can potentially convince Superman to stay. Giving up Ryan Anderson would be no easy sacrifice, but the Nash to Howard lob potential is too tempting to ignore. Howard is putting up 20 points per game this year basically creating his own offense. With Steve Nash running the offense couldn’t we expect that number to jump five, maybe even seven points? Sure, Nash might be in the Metamucil stage of his career, but if you haven’t noticed he’s playing some of the most efficient ball of his career. You think a deep playoff run with Nash doesn’t sway him? Or, uh, the $20 or so million he’d be giving up to leave?
The Suns would be all over this one, turning the last years of Nash into a blue-chip point guard to build around. Regardless of Rondo’s shortcomings offensively, the front office couldn’t dream of a better haul in exchange for Nash at this point in his career. Rondo is exactly the kind of point guard the Suns could rebuild around and when you remember how appealing Phoenix is to free agents, that might not last too long.
Welcome to Not Your Father’s Water Cooler!
You know those mind-numbing water cooler discussions about weather, pets and weekend activities? That soul-crushing small talk would be far less demoralizing if it included something you actually cared about.
Founded by two hoops addicts, NYFWC brings you the kind of water cooler chatter we dreamed of: a dialogue centered on hypothetical trades, basketball debates and of course, humor.
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