The general consensus last week was that Saturday’s deadline to extend players from the 2006 draft class would pass without the Celtics and Rajon Rondo coming to an agreement. Only three players from that class — Portland’s Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge and Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani — have signed agreements at this point.
Now it looks like their might be some movement. WEEI.com learned that the Celtics will offer Rondo a long-term deal and the two sides are expected to talk tonight. Of course “talking” and “signing” are two different things, but presumably the Celtics have an idea where Rondo and his agent, Bill Duffy, want to be on the numbers. Put it this way: There was no indication there would even be talks last week.
If the Celtics are successful in locking up Rondo it would set the franchise’s direction for the post Big 3 era. Although some fans had held out hope for some kind of major foray into the 2o10 free agent class, that scenario realistically went up in smoke when they signed Rasheed Wallace to a 3-year deal in the offseason. An extended Rondo and Kendrick Perkins would become the bridge to the next Celtics era.
Rondo has frustrated some with his style of play, but it’s worth remembering that he is a 23-year-old point guard (he won’t turn 24 until February) who in three years in the league has been the starting point guard on an NBA championship team, an All-Defense defender and probably should have been an All-Star last season. He also memorably averaged a triple double against rising star Derrick Rose in the first round of the playoffs.
Basketball Prospectus’ Kevin Pelton makes an interesting point. If the big stars of the 2010 free agent class decide to stay with their respective teams, what’s to stop one of those teams hoarding cap space from making a strong run at Rondo, even if he’s restricted? Say, the Knicks, who have a crying need for a run and gun point guard to handle Mike D’Antoni’s system. True, the Celtics could match but that would probably at an inflated price.
Of the members of the 2006 draft class who have signed extensions, only Roy got a so-called “max” deal. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnowksi reported that Aldridge signed a deal in the $65-70 million range. Bargani got a few million less than that annually.
Whether Rondo signs an extension or not may come down to a question of value. Using the two Portland deals as a barometer is Rondo a “max” player that you build your franchise around like Roy, or an Aldridge player; i.e. a second star?