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Remember those "choose your own adventure" books from when you were a kid? You know, where every chapter or so you would pick one of two directions to go in, and it would completely alter the adventure that you were partaking. It was a really cool, yet somewhat terrifying convention, where you had to make a decision and stick with it, knowing full well that you could have just made a terrible mistake.

Danny Ainge is currently living in one of those books.

He has already made the decision to deal Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, basically jumping the franchise from a gloomy path straddling relevancy and irrelevancy, directly into the heart of the haunted woods of rebuild. Now, Ainge has another choice, whether or not to deal Rajon Rondo and completely reshape the franchise in one short summer.

Both sides have their merit. There are certainly reasons to keep Rondo and build around him, as Mark touched on a little earlier. But there are also reasons to deal him. He has two years left on a very affordable contract that pays him $12 million a year, but will enter the 2015 off-season at the age of 29 looking for close to max money. There are also the well documented concerns about whether he has the requisite leadership abilities, and that pesky ACL injury that he is recovering from that need to be considered as well.

Personally I think that Ainge should be considering everything, keeping his options open as the summer develops. There are many ways to build a contender, and the C's owe it to themselves to be open to every possible re-build scenario. With that said, today I'm going to focus on the "trade Rondo" path, trying to figure out what kind of teams may be interested, and what kind of return the Celtics could get if they do indeed choose that adventure. Let's dig in.

5. Charlotte Bobcats

Trade: Celtics trade Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee to the Bobcats for Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Brendan Haywood and a 2015 1st round pick (top 5 protected)

Why the Celtics do this deal?

Two words - Cap. Space. The Celtics undo two of their bigger mistakes in Lee and Bass, and by trading for $20 million in expiring deals, they would have nearly $40 million in cap space next summer. Boston would also pick up yet another first round pick, giving them ten over the next five seasons. With their combination of $35 million in expiring deals (Kris Humphries, Jordan Crawford, Gordon, Sessions and Heywood) and 1st round picks, the Celtics would open themselves up to a host of potential trades.

Why the Bobcats do this deal?

Charlotte has tried building through the draft and umm..it hasn't really gone so well. Despite ten lottery picks in the past ten seasons, Charlotte's young core of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and now, Tyler Zeller, is hardly elite. Apparently recognizing that, Charlotte is trying to lure a big name free agent to North Carolina, meeting with Al Jefferson this week. With this deal, the Bobcats could bring in an elite PG, and one of Jefferson's close friends to try and seal the deal. All of a sudden the Bobcats would have a starting five of Rondo-Walker-Kidd Gilchrist-Zeller-Jefferson that could absolutely contend for a playoff spot next season, with the potential of developing into something even better if the kids come along as expected. And all it costs them is one 1st round pick, a bunch of expiring deals, and taking on Bass and Lee, both of whom would become valuable bench pieces.

4. Atlanta Hawks

Trade: Celtics trade Rajon Rondo and Gerald Wallace to the Hawks for Dennis Schroeder and a 2016 1st round pick.

Why the Celtics do this deal?

Again, cap space is king. In this scenario, the Hawks are so far below the salary cap that they could take both Rondo and Wallace (combined $22 million) without having to give the Celtics any contracts in return. The C's could use Rondo to get rid of their ugliest salary, and pick up another 1st round pick in the process. This one would really hurt Celtics fans as it would seem that the team was fully tanking, but if Ainge's plan is to bottom out, this deal would make the Celtics a lot worse in 2014 while also freeing huge amounts of cap space in both 2014 and 2015, and adding yet another pick to the pile. Boston also picks up Schroeder, AKA the "German Rondo" to replace the current edition.

Why the Hawks do this deal?

As you may have heard, Rondo and Josh Smith are BFF's. This deal would go a long way in assuring the Hawks retain Smith, something that they would still have plenty of cap space to do. All of a sudden the Hawks would be starting Rondo-Lou Williams-Wallace-Smith-Al Horford, a really good starting five that could make some noise over the next few seasons. They would still be in position to use their full mid-level exception to bring in more talent, and could deal Jeff Teague in a sign and trade to try and get back their departed first round pick.

3. Sacramento Kings

Trade: Celtics trade Rajon Rondo and Clippers 2015 1st round pick to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons

Why the Celtics do this deal?

This trade is quite a bit different than the rest of the deals on this list, as the Celtics would be picking up an elite talent to build around rather than shedding salary and picking up draft picks. Cousins is a monster. This past season, at age 22, he averaged 17 points, 10 boards and nearly 3 assists per game for a woeful Sacramento team, and many around the NBA think he's just begun to scratch the surface of his potential. Of course, he comes with baggage, as the only reason the Kings would consider this deal is because of Cousins behavioral issues and repeated run ins with coaches. Boston would be rolling the dice on Cousins, but if they were able to tap his potential they would have a piece to build around for a decade.

Why the Kings do this deal?

Many people in Sacramento are reportedly sick of Cousins act, and this allows the Kings to pick up a star plus a pick for the troubled yet talented big man. Sacramento could also allow Tyreke Evans to sign with New Orleans, and usher in a new era of basketball, closing the book on the somewhat disastrous Evans-Cousins era. Dealing Cousins now also assures that the Kings get maximum value for him before he hits restricted free agency next summer.

2. Dallas Mavericks

Trade: Celtics trade Rajon Rondo and Courtney Lee to the Mavericks for Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder and Shane Larkin

Why the Celtics do this deal?

To be honest, I don't really know. Dallas is prohibited from trading first round picks because they owe a protected pick to Oklahoma City, meaning the best they could offer is Larkin, Crowder and the ability to take Lee off the Celtics hands. However, considering the Mavs reported strong interest, I felt like I at least needed to put this one on here. The Celtics would shed $17 million in 2014-15 payroll and pick up a young point guard that they reportedly like in Larkin, but the other deals on here offer more in terms of either complete cap relief or future first round picks.

Why the Mavericks do this deal?

Because it's a slam dunk. Dallas is in the midst of courting Dwight Howard and could still give him a max deal even after taking on Rondo and Lee. Dirk Nowitzki has also gone on record saying he will take a huge pay cut next summer from his current $22 million deal, meaning the Mavs could then lure another big name free agent to Dallas to join Rondo, Dirk and Dwight. And the only thing it costs them is the guy they just drafted and the ability to absorb Lee's salary. No brainer.

1. Detroit Pistons

Trade: Celtics trade Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass to the Pistons for Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, Jonas Jerebko, Kyle Singler, Vladimir Kravstov, 2015 1st round pick and 2017 1st round pick.

Why the Celtics do this deal?

It basically wipes their entire cap clean in one move, and nets them picks in both 2015 and 2017 in exchange for Rondo's services. Stuckey and Villanueva are $17 million combined in expiring deals, while Jerekbo is signed through 2015 at $4.5 million per season. Like other deals on this list (besides the Kings one), the Celtics would be trading their best player for cap space and players that they would not get to enjoy until years down the line. If Ainge's "We will not be tanking" quote is the truth, then don't expect to see any of these deals develop. However, if the Celtics boss does decide to bottom out, a Rondo deal would be the gateway to making the team worse in the short term while clearing the deck of all long term obligations.

Why the Pistons do this deal?

Detroit is currently looking to sign both Smith and Andre Iguodala, and could still possibly accomplish both of those things while bringing Rondo into the mix. Detroit would have $24-25 million in cap space to try and lure both Smith and Iguodala to Detroit to add to Rondo, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, setting up a potential Rondo-Iguodala-Smith-Monroe-Drummond line-up that would immediately vault the Pistons towards the top of the Eastern Conference.

Those are the five teams I see as most likely, let us know what you think in the comments section.

Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13

Michael Dyer 7/02/2013 04:02:00 PM Edit
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