|Right move to trade Rajon Rondo, but Celtics waited too long||12.19.14 at 4:33 pm ET|
Danny Ainge finally decided it was time to send the last standing piece of his 2008 championship roster on its way. It was the right move, there’s no doubt about it. But couldn’t it have been done sooner?
Ainge’s Plan A was no secret: Find a star to place next to Rajon Rondo. This plan began on June 27, 2013 — the day the Celtics agreed in principle to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. Despite Ainge aggressively searching for that star, it just wasn’t there. When no deal presented itself at last season’s trade deadline, Boston patiently waited for summer to arrive.
By June, it looked like the Celtics might be rewarded. Kevin Love did some notable flirting with Boston, and even chatted with Rondo himself at Fenway Park. Ainge went all-out to bring Love to Boston, and for a while it looked like he could offer Minnesota the best package to pry Love away. As we now know, one thing led to another and Minnesota got an offer it couldn’t decline. It was almost an unthinkable offer in which the Timberwolves received back-to-back No. 1 overall picks (Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett) for their star. In ways it was bad luck for the Celtics, but Plan A failed the second Love went to Cleveland.
Ainge kept looking for trades but just never found one. Not only was a deal to add a star not out there at the time, there were no foreseeable trades on the horizon for the upcoming (now current) season. Plan B, it’s now clear, was to trade Rondo. Which begs the question: Why not trade Rondo as soon as Plan A failed?
This is the part I don’t understand. Was Rondo really expected to succeed on the team he was given to lead this season? He’s not that type of player. In years past, debates have gone as far as to question which point guard you would rather have with players like Rondo against the likes of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Those debates are nowhere to be found today. Most of that is to blame on Rondo’s ACL tear suffered in January 2013. But Rondo has never been the same type of player as other point guards in the league.
Rondo’s uniqueness lies in the fact that his value is controlled by the talent of his teammates — something we can’t attribute to any other player. Rondo will thrive in Dallas, mostly because he will be playing with his best surrounding cast since at least 2010. He couldn’t succeed in Boston because the talent was not there, and for that reason Boston should have moved Rondo as soon as it realized it couldn’t add the necessary stars that its current star required.
Knowing now what Ainge’s floor was, in terms of a deal he would accept for Rondo, wouldn’t he have taken a first-round pick in the 15-25 range of this past June’s draft? Yes, Love still was an option at the time, but the idea of him coming to Boston was fading. Even after the draft, a team like the Rockets had long been rumored to be interested in Rondo. Just a day prior the draft, Houston acquired New Orleans’ 2015 first-round pick in a deal for Omer Asik. That pick figures to be higher than Dallas’ will be in 2016, why not go for that? Obviously, Houston didn’t want to make a deal using that pick now. But what about five or six months ago?
Hindsight is 20/20, but I (like many) was shocked by the low return on Rondo. Boston recieved Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and conditional first- and second-round draft picks. But Rondo had to go — Kendrick Perkins has even revealed to Yahoo! Sports that Rondo wanted out of Boston.
In the end, Ainge made the right move for the franchise. Why he waited so long I may never understand, but, in fairness, we still don’t know what the final return on Rondo will be. Wright is a nice player with one of the highest efficiency ratings in the league. Could Wright, Nelson and/or Crowder fetch another draft pick before the trade deadline? Ainge purposely got this deal done more than 60 days before the deadline so that trading players he got in return this season remains an option.
Ainge is a smart guy. He often makes gutsy and questionable moves. One of them was taking a gangly point guard who couldn’t shoot with the No. 21 pick 8 1/2 years ago. Who’s to say he won’t experience that success again with the pick he just got from Dallas?
ESPN basketball analyst Jeff Goodman joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Rajon Rondo trade to the Mavericks and the state of the Celtics. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The C’s have faced some early criticism for the deal, with critics saying the return for Rondo was not all that great. Goodman said the Celtics got a decent value back in the trade.
“You got a first-round pick, you got a good, young player in Brandan Wright, who I think has a chance to be a 14 [points] and seven [rebounds] guy if he plays 20, 30 minutes a game,” Goodman said. “But people forget also, they’re saying, ‘Well, you should’ve traded him early, you should’ve traded him earlier.’ He did get hurt, it’s not like his trade value was so high. He was out, he didn’t play a full season. Last year when he came back he was playing every other game. You really didn’t have the chance to trade him until this year when you tried to boost his trade value as high as you possibly could.”
Rondo adds to a team that already has Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons. Goodman said the point guard is a much better fit for Dallas.
“I’m not a Rondo guy for this franchise, meaning the Celtics, once [Kevin Garnett], Ray Allen and Paul Pierce left,” Goodman said. “I think in Dallas, in a fairly strong locker room, Rick Carlise’s gotten a little bit easier to deal with than he was back in the day. But you’ve got Dirk. You’ve got some veterans there, Tyson Chandler, who I think can handle him. And all he’s got to be is that third, fourth, even fifth guy, option on the floor. He can’t be your first, second option. He can’t be your leader. And he was forced to kind of be both in Boston. And Dallas is the ideal fit for Rondo to succeed.”
The hosts wondered if Rondo had any issues with coach Brad Stevens or the front office that might have led to the trade. Goodman said it came down to wins and losses for Rondo.
“Brad Stevens is the easiest guy to deal with you’ll ever meet in your life. If you can’t get along with Brad Stevens, you have so many issues,” Goodman said. “Did I hear that Brad loved him? No. But he dealt with him. Rondo bought in as much as Rondo could possibly buy in, partially because Rondo knew the endgame here. If he didn’t buy in, he was going to be here long term, and he wanted to go somewhere he could win because he was used to it. He didn’t want to be here. Yeah, $20 million would’ve been nice to stay here. But I think for Rondo, he’s a different dude, he just beats to a different tune. I think a lot guys say it, the money isn’t as important, I think Rondo would’ve been one of those guys that would’ve taken less money to go elsewhere to win than to stay in Boston and keep losing games.”
|Celtics trade Rajon Rondo to Mavericks||12.18.14 at 6:17 pm ET|
Trade rumors crept up on Wednesday before ESPN.com’s Marc Stein originally reported what has since become official: Rondo has been shipped to Dallas along with rookie Canadian forward Dwight Powell for a package that leaves many questioning if Boston got enough.
“We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement.
“We would not have won Banner 17 without Rajon and will always consider him one of our most valuable Celtics, both on the court and in the community working with kids,” added Celtics managing partners Wyc Grousbeck, Irv Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Robert Epstein. “We will always cherish the time he was here.”
The deal, which has since been announced on the Mavericks’ website, landed Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and two draft picks in return — Dallas’ 2015 first-round selection and 2016 second-rounder. The move also forced Boston to release second-year Brazilian center Vitor Faverani.
Rondo took to Twitter just after midnight and sent out multiple tweets. Here’s Rondo’s message in full:
My time in Boston has meant so much. I’ve grown up with this city both as a basketball player and person. The love I have for the most loyal and supportive fans in the league is unmatched. My teammates have shown nothing but heart the last couple of seasons. They are some of the hardest working guys I have played with and I wish them the best. I’ve experienced my most successful and challenging years with the Celtics, fans and city. The opportunity to play with guys like Dirk, Monta, Tyson and the young talent of Chandler is exciting. I look forward to building something special in Dallas.
Rondo averaged 10.8 assists, 8.3 points, 7.5 rebounds in 22 games this season with the Celtics.
|Brad Stevens addresses Rajon Rondo trade rumors||at 1:21 pm ET|
Following the Celtics‘ victory over the Magic on Wednesday night, Rajon Rondo spoke about the trade rumors surrounding him. Essentially, Rondo maintained the stance that he does not want to be traded, but that the rumors will continue to be part of life in the NBA.
“Obviously, we experienced it all the way through last year,” Stevens said. “From my standpoint, the most challenging thing of it is, number one is just coaching the group and making sure that everybody knows we’re focused on playing Minnesota [on Friday]. We’re focused on doing what we need to do to get everybody playing at the best level that they can.
“I think that a lot of these guys that are older have probably dealt with the talk throughout their years in the league, but I don’t know that it’s ever not unsettling. [My] door is open if anybody wants to talk about it and those type of things. I don’t talk a ton to Danny [Ainge] and his staff, they only say if there’s really something that I need to know. It’s one of those things you just try to do your job the best you can through all circumstances.”
So does Stevens expect to be a part of any trade discussions?
“My job is pretty well defined,” Stevens said. “And that is to coach, and to get our team ready to play and to play as well as we can. My expectations aren’t very big. I just want to be in the loop as [Ainge and his staff] deem appropriate. They’re good at their jobs and I’m hired to coach.”
Stevens went on to speak very highly of Rondo when asked how he thought his point guard was playing this season, but that’s to be expected whether Rondo remains the captain of the Celtics, or if the final rebuilding move is to ship him out.
We already know it isn’t Stevens’ call as to the future of Rondo, but the coach seems very set on sticking to what is asked of him and keeping faith in Ainge’s ability to build winning teams. Many of the trade rumors that have circulated so far don’t seem to accomplish that for the Celtics, so expect the rumors to drag on.
The news is trickling out in waves now, and the latest on the possibility of the Celtics trading Rajon Rondo comes from CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger, who reports the C’s captain is ‘open’ to re-signing with the two teams rumored to be in hottest pursuit of his services — the Mavericks and Rockets.
While Rondo expressed publicly his desire to remain in Boston following Wednesday’s game, he’s apparently reached a point privately we had not heard in years past. The writing, as they say, appears to be on the wall.
In his weekly interview with CBS Sports Radio, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge conceded there have been trade discussions with multiple teams, as there always are at this time of year — while not specifically citing the rumored Dallas and Houston interest — didn’t exactly give his point guard a ringing endorsement when asked if the team would be all that different without Rondo.
“I don’t know,” said Ainge, stumbling for phraseology. “That’s a good question. Rajon has been a big part of our team, not just this year, but for the past years, as you know, but Rondo — because we don’t really see what Marcus Smart has been able to do yet, because he hasn’t been healthy; he’s got such a shortage of minutes and opportunities to play with the ankle sprain, so it’s a good question. I don’t think any of us know the answer to that.”
The wheels are turning, and Rondo getting out when they stop seems more likely than ever before.
|Rajon Rondo on trade rumors: ‘It’s a way of life’||12.17.14 at 11:45 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo knows the deal by now.
Every year around this time, the trade rumors start swirling around the Celtics point guard, and this season is no different.
“It’s a way of life since I’ve been here,” he said after Wednesday’s win over the Magic. “It’s just part of it.”
Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, as he so often does, peppered Twitter with a few freshly ground spices as Rondo wrapped up another near triple-double effort — the Mavericks “are serious suitors” for Rondo’s services.
In his postgame press conference, Rondo said he had not spoken to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge about the latest round of rumors, and then proceeded to walk out of TD Garden just as Ainge, Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren and co-owner Stephen Pagliuca were exiting the building. It might’ve been awkward had it not been a way of life.
While the Celtics seem willing to part with Rondo for the right price, Rondo reiterated publicly his desire to stay in Boston.
“How many times do you want me to say it?” he asked. “We discussed it on media day. My thoughts and my opinions as far as the organization hasn’t changed, so … I’m enjoying life. You can’t win ‘em all, but these guys are funny, I’m young and I’m doing what I love to do. It’s a dream come true. I can’t be upset about anything, really.
“I just want to be a better person each year, be a better teammate each year, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job so far, just trying to lead these young guys. I’m not that old, but they make me feel like it.”
If something seems different about the rumors this time around, Rondo is remaining as poker-faced as ever.
“It is what it is now, and everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I believe in certain timing and things happening for a reason, so I’m 28 and I’m pretty much the veteran guy on this team and that’s part of it.”
|10 trades worth the Celtics’ while: Part 1||at 8:13 pm ET|
A major theme of the rebuilding Celtics has been that no player is safe from being traded for the betterment of the team – something Danny Ainge has shown the willingness to do throughout his career. The Celtics have been one of the most active teams pursuing trades of late, according to Yahoo Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, who also reported the C’s have showed “renewed wiliness to trade Rajon Rondo.” While it’s just speculation at this point, we’ll be rolling out 10 trades that could make sense for the Celtics (in a 10-part series) — some involve moving Rondo, some building around Rondo and some just collect more assets as Ainge has been doing all along. Again, these specific trades are not rumors, simply ideas. This is Part 1.
With the Rondo news breaking Wednesday night — along with word Boston would prefer to send him West — let’s start this series on that theme. The Kings were a team we know had interest in Rondo, but talks in the past have fallen apart. Here’s a new proposal:
KINGS GET: Rajon Rondo
Ainge would likely demand Sacramento include a first-round pick as well, but the problem is the Kings can’t offer one until 2017. Rondo’s value certainly is not at it’s peak right now, so a package like this could realistically be one of the best Ainge sees.
Before shaking your head at the move, remember all three of the players the C’s would be getting in return are top-eight picks in the draft (Williams No. 2 in 2011, McLemore No. 7 in 2013 and Stauskas No. 8 in 2014). Although it is probably time to put the “bust” label on Williams, his $6.3 million would come off the books at the end of the season.
What the Celtics really get in return is two young, promising wing prospects in McLemore and Stauskas. McLemore is averaging 11.6 points in his second year in the league since departing Kansas following his freshman campaign. Stauskas is averaging just 3.6 points so far in his rookie season, but is doing so while playing only 14 minutes per game.
Stauskas was labeled as one of the best shooters in this past draft when he left Michigan as a sophomore. It’s still very early in his career, but if he were to improve, Boston could get a much needed shooter in the young Stauskas. McLemore is a good shooter in his own right, but also has the all-around potential to be a great scorer from all areas of the court. He was selected in a weak draft class, but many had him penciled in as the No.1 overall selection at the time.
The trade would likely hinge on Sacramento’s willingness to include a future first-rounder — something Ainge presumably will require no matter how many prospects he is receiving in exchange for his point guard. The Kings would then have their own Big Three of sorts, built around Rondo, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Boston would get their wish of keeping Rondo out of the East, while adding three quality assets including the draft pick. A move like this would undoubtedly put C’s rebuild in full tilt.
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