The Celtics’ Rajon Rondo Dilemma
Make no mistake about it, the Boston Celtics are in a state of rebuild. The memories of those epic playoff runs from 2008-2012 are quickly fading in the rearview mirror. Gone are stalwarts such as Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. That Hall of Fame ensemble has been replaced with names such as Brad Stevens, Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner.
Times are changing in Boston, but one name from those glory years still remains in the fold: point guard Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is entering the final year of his current deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will undoubtedly field questions regarding Rondo’s long term future with the franchise, much like he has the past two campaigns. However, those questions will be intensified as we approach the trade deadline. Teams rarely let talent, let alone top talent, walk out the door with the risk of receiving zero assets in return. That’s not the NBA way and that’s the decision Ainge faces over the next few months.
However, there is a widely held belief that the market for Rondo continues to shrink with the talent level at point guard thorough throughout the league.
According to Zach Lowe of Grantland, this is the situation facing the Boston as it decides whether or not Rondo is part of their long term plans.
Boston has gauged the market for both Rondo and forward Jeff Green over the last year or so, and its expected price for Rondo has been sky-high, per several league sources. That price will drop as Rondo’s deal ticks toward expiration, but the market for him is thin. Point guard is stacked league wide, and Rondo is 28, coming off ACL surgery, and seeking a max contract as he approaches free agency. A few suitors could wait to chase him in the offseason instead of dealing assets now and risking that Rondo walks in July.
If Boston wants a big haul, it has to hope a potential Rondo suitor feels some unexpected desperation early in the season. Houston is under pressure to win now, and if it starts slowly, Daryl Morey might meet Boston in the middle. Rondo and James Harden make for an awkward fit, but talent tends to work itself out, and the Rockets are confident they can re-sign stars once they get them.
Rondo is a flawed, temperamental player, but he’s a pass-first star who could work as bait for an alpha dog. Without him, Boston is just a collection of unmolded pieces waiting for a unifying force, playing the lottery in the meantime.
In a league headlined by dominant scorers, Rondo is the rare player who can change the direction of a game by creating havoc defensively and finding offensive opportunities for others.
Ainge has consistently gone on record stating he would do everything possible to keep the franchise relevant, even if it meant letting go of big names in the process. Allen, Garnett and Pierce have already exited stage left, will Rondo be the next with a change of address?
LaMarcus Aldridge discusses his approach to impending free agency
In many ways, All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge was projected to be the third cog in Portland’s grand scheme. Of course, the Blazers had drafted guard Brandon Roy and center Greg Oden with the hopes they would serve as the pillars of the franchise for years to come. However, both of those guys had their careers cut short due to a variety of injuries and while they’ve faded off into the sunset, Aldridge remains and is now undoubtedly the face of the franchise.
Funny how things play out.
Aldridge is set to earn $16.3 million this season in the final year of his current deal. The forward at one point was rumored to be evaluating greener pastures but has recently been hammering home his desire to retire in Portland.
With the NBA recently securing a lucrative nine-year $24 billion TV rights deal, upcoming free agents are set to cash in financially.
Aldridge says that’s one of the reasons he didn’t sign an early extension, because from a financial standpoint it made more since for him to wait. Even though he’ll miss the window by a year, Aldridge’s decision shows why guys don’t sign early extensions – the new Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t make it smart business.
“Yeah, that’s the reason why I didn’t sign this summer,” Aldridge told Forward-Center. “It makes more sense financially to wait one year and play it out and be a free agent and then re-sign here where I can get double the money and it just secures my future here in this organization.
“So that’s why I didn’t sign. Definitely I want to be looking for that maximum contract. I don’t think I’m going to hit that. I think that money kicks in in 2016, so I’m going to miss it by one year. So, that’s sad to know, but for all the guys in 2016, happy for y’all.”
Aldridge averaged 23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds for the Blazers in 69 contests last season. The team was eliminated in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
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