In a chat on espn.com Wednesday, NBA writer Chad Ford said this about the Celtics making a trade:
Yes I would put them up there with the Rockets, Grizzlies and Lakers as the most active teams right now. I'd be shocked if they didn't get something done. May or may not include Rondo, but the Celtics are looking for a youngish player to fill out their front line.
Now Ford did not say the Celtics are shopping Rondo or have included him in any trade proposals and “may or may not” is not very strong language. But Ford does have his finger on the pulse of the league and this is not the first time Rondo has been the subject of trade rumors.
Yes the Celtics have won four straight, including three against top competition, but as all the fans were gushing about the team now being on the right track, they forgot one important point. Teams, unless they are very desperate, won't trade struggling players because their value is not there.
Win a few games against good teams and show what the players can really do and the value goes back up. Courtney Lee looks much more valuable now than he did two weeks ago and Jared Sullinger looks like a legit future starter.
That's the problem for fans, the players show their value and, in turn, the fans value them. But if you don't believe this team, as currently constructed, can win the title then you need to do something about it. That seems to be the case for Danny Ainge since the Celtics are linked to so many trade rumors meaning he is at least not completely sold on this squad. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are on a very short timetable and they certainly won't be traded.
The most valuable pieces the Celtics have are Rondo, Avery Bradley and Sullinger. The Celtics seem hesitant to trade Bradley, but if they are looking for a front court player, then that means Sullinger may (there's that word again) be on the move.
Given both players value right now, a package based around Rondo and Sullinger should pull in top talent. Be that Josh Smith, DeMarcus Cousins (please no) or another “youngish” big.
Here are some reasons to entertain the idea of letting Rondo go:
Rondo's defense has fallen this season. According to Basketball Reference, Rondo is right at his career average of 1.9 steals per game, but his defensive rating is tied for the worst of his career at 103 points allowed per 100 possessions.
Rondo's defensive win share, an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense is 1.4 this season. His next worse defensive win share season? His rookie campaign at 2.6.
If Bradley were playing all year, then you could make the argument that Rondo didn't have to do as much defensively. But the Bradley/Rondo combo has only played together for four games so far this year.
Rondo's defense just doesn't pass the eye test this year either. He isn't as engaged defensively and is more prone to reach for the steal and pick up a foul or let the guy drive by then keep the man in front of him. Rondo is almost as talented defensively as Bradley, part of the reason Celtics fans drool at the possibility of the two being in the back court for the foreseeable future, but defense just doesn't seem to be a top priority for Rondo anymore.
Rondo has not taken the next step to be a superstar or franchise player in the league. He doesn't take the team on his shoulders and carry them when everyone else is having an off night. The most telling instance was when CSNNE's analyst Donny Marshall said it was “impossible” for Rondo to be great every night. Really? I'm pretty sure LeBron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant are great every night or at least 90 percent of nights.
The same can't be said for Rondo. His jumper hasn't improved enough for opposing defenses to worry about, he still can't shoot free throws (63% this year) and now his defense is slipping. This guy is in his seventh season. How long are we supposed to wait until he takes the leap to number one guy?
Then there is the attitude and composure. Rondo just came back from his fourth suspension in the past year. While this recent suspension is itself suspect, he and Doc Rivers have both admitted Rondo has a reputation with the league and that will follow him the rest of his career. The guy just doesn't keep his head.
The bigger point in all of this is simple: point guards don't win championships. Think about it. When was the last time an elite point guard won the title? The last time the point guard was best player on a championship team was Detroit in 2004 with Chauncey Billups and even that is arguable since that squad was the definition of team with every starter being key to the team's success.
The key to today's NBA is wings and bigs. You have Durant, James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, etc. Then you have a legit chance to win it all. (side note: Russell Westbrook could keep Durant from winning a title since he needs the ball so much. See last year.)
The proof is in the pudding. Is it simple coincidence that Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd (in his prime, not a role player on Dallas) and Allen Iverson have a combined Zero championships? Now that this is “Rondo's team” you can expect much of the same.
Rondo's put up great numbers in the playoffs and he is truly a great player, but not all great players win championships. Ask yourself, would you rather have John Stockton (hall of famer, no rings) or trade for a big of equal talent to Rondo and have a lesser point guard like Derek Fisher (five rings). Eric Blaisdell 1/11/2013 01:39:00 AM Tweet