The Dwight Howard era in Los Angeles hasn't exactly started off as expected. It's been more like a bad soap opera than a basketball team. The season's been nothing but drama, in-fighting, rumors and a lot of losing too.
There's been speculation that the Lakers could try to move Howard, with all of the aforementioned things seemingly likely to keep him from signing an extension with the storied Los Angeles franchise. The idea of trading Howard has been shot down repeatedly, but now a report emerges from a reliable source that the Lakers could be seeking a trade with their similarly revered rivals, the Boston Celtics.
Sources: With Dwight Howard still seeking happiness, the Lakers and Celtics have discussed a trade for Rajon Rondo. cbsprt.co/HowardRondo
— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) February 16, 2013
Celtics fans have dreamed of a Rondo-Howard pairing ever since Kendrick Perkins was shipped away, but a swap? It's not something most fans would want to see happen. Certainly, fans in Boston would cringe at the thought of seeing their star point guard dawn the purple and gold.
That said, Rajon Rondo has been the topic of much debate here in Boston. The star point guard, while widely admired nationally, is the subject of much contention in the city limits. That only escalated once he went down with a torn ACL and was done for the year. Since that time, the Celtics are 8-1, including a seven game winning streak. They've racked up impressive wins against some of the league's best - teams like the Clippers, Nuggets and Heat.
This has caused many to jump to the conclusion that the Celtics are in fact better without Rondo. A view that, to most who watch the team or NBA on a regular basis, is clearly misguided. To some, including Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, it's laughable.
Still, Rajon Rondo's sarcasm and often times curt treatment of the media has soured many on the all-star point guard. Despite, time and time again proving himself on the court in the teams' biggest moments, Rondo has his fair share of critics in Boston. There are those that feel he is a "prick" and clashes with his coach and teammates. Those critics have only become louder with the point guard off the court.
With all of the criticism heaped on Rondo in Boston, Kobe said when he visited not long ago that if we didn't want him here, he'd take him. He went as far to say that Rondo was one of his favorite players in the league.
It's quite the opposite of how the Lakers star guard has felt about Dwight Howard. There's been a lot of back and forth between Howard and Kobe. Most recently, Bryant called out Howard's dedication, criticizing him for not wanting to play through pain. (see: Dwight Howard's dad comes to junior's defense).
The criticisms of Howard have largely revolved around his lack of commitment and his inability to take the game seriously. Is that someone that Celtics fans would want to trade away a player that's the antithesis of that for? I say no way.
Obviously, on the surface, if you're trading away a player coming off an ACL injury for the best Center in the league, the choice might be obvious. I would still stick with Rajon Rondo though.
That said, let's look at what would have to happen in a potential deal. Let's also emphasize that these are "discussions" not a report that this deal is going down. Like most other trade rumors, this could easily fizzle out. The fact that Danny Ainge is inquiring with LA about the availability of Howard should be fairly obvious. Why wouldn't he ask about one of the best big men in the league? (Though if this was the 90s, it'd be an entirely different story) Similarly, why wouldn't the Lakers be asking about Rondo's availability with the way the Celtics have been playing?
The talks could turn into something at the deadline, they could turn into something after the season, or they could turn into nothing. One thing that Ainge would have to be assured of is that Howard would sign with the Celtics if he were dealt there. There's also the issue of the money, compare Rondo's $11 million to Howard's $19.5 and it's obvious it can't be a one for one swap.
Since the league source familiar with the discussions characterized them as preliminary, it's possible that the talks could be tabled until after the season. In that case, Howard would have to agree to a sign-and-trade to the Celtics that would only yield him a four-year deal as opposed to the five years the Lakers could offer him (or the Celtics, if he were traded there by Feb. 21 and subsequently re-signed). The Celtics could only acquire Howard in a sign-and-trade if they eschewed their full mid-level and remained below the so-called luxury-tax apron, a threshold $4 million above the tax line that was added in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.
Back to Rondo, while I believe it's undeniable the team has played better since he went down, it's silly to point to Rondo for that. When Rondo went down, the Celtics had to dramatically change their style. In the past, the ball would always run through Rondo's hands, because he was so knowledgeable and could set up all of the plays like a quarterback. This was Doc's directive, not Rondo's. The whole Rondo having the ball in his hands all the time was part of why Ray Allen was frustrated. Again, something Doc took the blame for.
The Celtics have been playing better recently because the ball hasn't stopped every time they've gotten it. It's not Rondo's fault that that was how Doc wanted the offense run.
What are your thoughts? Should the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo for Dwight Howard? Sound off in the comments.
(Con't) Kupchak said "I haven't talked to Danny Ainge in weeks. I made the statement a week or 2 ago that we're not going to trade Dwight...— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 16, 2013