I want to begin this post by saying I can’t believe that I’m writing this post. Amidst all of the trade and free agency rumors that have been swirling around ever since a lockout deal was finally reached last Saturday, perhaps the most controversial argument that has arisen is whether or not the Celtics should trade budding star Rajon Rondo to acquire Chris Paul from New Orleans. Both players are elite all-star point guards who bring drastically different skillsets to the table, but regardless of who you think is better, this nonsensical hype about CP3 needs to stop and the Celtics need to keep Rondo as their starting point guard for the shortened 2011-2012 NBA season.
I refuse to pick a side in the argument over which point guard is better, partly because stats can be misleading, and partly because the debate should already be over since Paul has stated he will not sign a long term contract with Boston and has requested to be traded to the Knicks, who have ultimately become the biggest threat to Boston in the Atlantic division. It does not appear that the Celtics would have any realistic shot at acquiring Paul anytime in the near future, and the Celtics have no business trading Rondo if they would be unable to land a point guard with as much raw talent as him.
After trading Kendrick Perkins at last year’s trading deadline, the Celtics simply have not had the paint presence and ability to dominate the boards that they once had. While it is easy to point fingers when a team gets exposed like the Celtics did against the Heat in the playoffs, it is important to keep in mind that Rondo was not at the root of any of our problems. Danny Ainge should be working on addressing the issue of the crater that was left behind by the departure of Perkins… not at upgrading flash for more flash. Rondo’s young legs make him the only member of our current starting lineup that will even come close to being able to handle the compressed 66 game season and the nightmare of potential back-to-back-to-back games. Upgrading at the point guard position should be the last thing on Ainge’s mind.
These problems at the center position truly need to be addressed if the Celtics want to remain relevant this season. It seems people have forgotten just how far Rondo has come in his five incredibly productive years with Boston, and his assist numbers continue to annually increase despite the stars who are aging all around him. Rondo has great chemistry with the Big Three, and I firmly believe that without Rondo, the 2008 Championship run would have never happened. He is an explosive passer, slasher, defender, and even rebounder, and the “quarterback” can read a defense better than any other point guard in the Eastern Conference.
The debate over whether Rondo or Paul is the better point guard needs to be settled on the court, and not through the media. The truth is, both players are elite and no matter who is truly better at basketball, Rondo will always be better for the Celtics. He played a vital role in their 2008 Championship run, loves being part of this historic organization, and still has not reached his full potential.
Paul wants to play in New York, so I say let him. If Ainge wants to try to drive up CP3's trade value by leaking Rondo trade rumors, consequently making it slightly more difficult for other star-studded teams like the Knicks and Lakers to acquire players like Paul or Dwight Howard, so be it. But fragile as his young psyche may be, Rondo is the point guard, the quarterback, and the young leader of this veteran Boston team. We all know that the Celtics have issues to address in the paint and in the second unit, but if we want Banner 18, then trading Rondo seems unimportant, deconstructive, and overall impractical.
Personally, I would love to see Rondo running the point for the Celtics again this season, and if we can all look past Chris Paul and put our faith in our point guard like we did in 2008, I believe the best of Rondo’s time in Boston could be yet to come.