I'm all for discussing a Rajon Rondo trade scenario, but this one from NBA affiliated Bulls.com writer Sam Smith is way off the mark.
Obviously, there’s the Dwight Howard/Omer Asik issue in Houston. But perhaps rather than the stretch four for Asik, like New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, as some have suggested, it seems perhaps more obvious the Rockets need a point guard. Asik to the Celtics — get him out of the conference — for Rajon Rondo, who is a free agent after next season? Despite a reasonably good start, it’s difficult to see the Celtics contending by 2015. They could easily lose Rondo for nothing and all Asik wants to do it start somewhere.
Sure, Asik is not happy in Houston and Rondo leaving as a free agent should be a real concern to the Celtics' higher ups, but those two things do not have to connect. This trade would be the equivalent of getting pennies on the dollar for Rondo.
I've gone on record several times saying this team needs to shed the all-star point guard to aid in the rebuild the Celtics are currently enduring. Apart from not believing Rondo can be the centerpiece of a title contender, this is not going to be a presto chango overnight rebuild. It is going to take time. Maybe two or three or four years until this team is truly competitive again. Rondo will either be right around or on the wrong side of 30 years old by then. Of course, the 27-year-old Rondo won't lose all of his ability and turn into a pumpkin when he hits the big three-oh, but this rebuild should be about the long term success of the Celtics, not merely a couple years of contention with Rondo in his prime until his abilities start to diminish. Even if Rondo stays, he's going to get a max deal when he hits free agency after next season which will take up a very large chunk of Boston's salary cap.
All of this is not to say the team has to dump Rondo at all costs. Rondo is one of the smartest players in the game, makes all of his teammates better and is a perfect fit to be a team's second best player on a championship caliber team. Apart from a straight up swap for another younger great player in his prime, any deal involving Rondo has to include at least two assets: financial flexibility, a high pick in this year's draft or a very good up-and-coming blue chipper (ala Andre Drummond). This Asik deal does none of those things.
Asik is a nice center, but he's far from a cornerstone of a franchise. Also 27 years old, Asik's potential has pretty much peaked. He is what he is, which is a top-15 center in the league. Is that good enough for a top-5 point guard? No way. Just because the Celtics need a center, doesn't mean they should just take whoever is unhappy on their current squad for the Celtics best trade asset. Rondo for James Harden? Now we're talking, but why would Houston ever do that?
That's the other issue with this trade. According to former Celtic great and current Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, the Rockets already have two starting-caliber point guards. Why would they want a third? Sure, Rondo would make the Rockets better, but what do they do with Jeremy Lin, who they are paying a little over $8 million this season and next, and Patrick Beverley?
Should Celtics GM Danny Ainge listen to any and all offers for Rondo. Absolutely. But if Rockets GM Daryl Morey calls with this offer, Ainge should listen politely and give a firm "No, thanks."
Photo: AP Eric Blaisdell 11/12/2013 07:27:00 PM Tweet Edit