Working The Trade Machine: Rondo to Sacramento

The question on the mind of every Celtics fan since 2012's improbable run to the ECF has been "when does Danny Ainge blow it up?"

Well that question has been answered. With only one member of the 2007-08 Championship team remaining on the Celtics, the staff of CelticsLife has taken to the ESPN Trade Machine to find some additional options for the Celtics to consider.

Week 1- Boston and Sacramento: Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace, and MarShon Brooks to Sacramento for Ben McLemore, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Jimmer Ferdette, Greivis Vasquez, and a 2014 draft pick (draft picks not available in ESPN trade machine).

The PRO Argument by Eric Blaisdell:
This trade is about as close to a win as you will get when trading away top talent. Gauging the value of a borderline superstar is never easy. The organization that has the player will overvalue him wanting a superstar or potential superstar in return, while other teams won't want to give up franchise-level talent for a guy who may not even be the best guy on a championship roster.

Sending Rondo out of town is going to sting, but the other players heading out the door with Rondo won't be missed. If the Celtics can move Wallace's horrid 3-years/$30M contract, that financial flexibility will go a long way towards the rebuild. Most of the players the Celtics would be getting back are either expiring contracts, additional picks, and cheap team options in Salmons, Patterson, Vazquez and Fredette. That's a small price to pay to offload Wallace and receive all some cap-friendly deals.

Outside of financial flexibility, the Celtics would be getting a player with real potential in rookie Ben McLemore. Here's a partial scouting report from SBNation.

McLemore is essentially the prototypical shooting guard. He has size (6'4, 180 pounds with a 6'8 wingspan), elite athleticism and an effortless-looking three-point shot. Not many guys can conceivably compete in the dunk contest and the three-point shootout.

Many said McLemore was the most talented player to come out of the last draft, but he fell to seventh overall because of questions about his competitive fire. He seems like a player that would thrive under a coach like Brad Stevens who seems to get the best out of what he has and knows how to mold young talent. Some of the other young players that the Celtics would be getting back could also help the rebuild as Fredette is a real nice shooter and Vazquez would be a great backup point guard.

The make-or-break parts of this deal is the draft pick. If Boston received Sacremento's 2014 first rounder in the trade then they essentially have two lottery picks in a loaded draft. Those two picks, McLemore, Fredette, Bradley, Sullinger and Olynyk make a very promising, very young core to build upon with all that the cap space in the hopes of getting the Celtics to their next banner. If the deal is for future picks then it may still be worth it for Boston as they would be adding to their stockpile of picks over the next several years for a potential trade for a superstar down the road.

If I'm Danny Ainge, this is probably the best deal for Rondo I'm going to get.

The CON Argument by Padraic O’Connor:
While this deal works on paper and gives both sides what they want, this is a bad deal for Danny Ainge & the Boston Celtics. If you can get a few blue chippers and some expiring assets you HAVE to do it, but there is no such thing as a guaranteed blue chipper. There are more Top 10 draft busts than there are blue chippers and the Celtics have had their share of busts. Here are the problems with this trade:

  • Youth: Just adding rookies, sophomores, and picks to this team will not secure a successful future for the Celtics – successful future being defined as being an ECF contender.  
  • Experience: This trade sends what experience the C’s do have in Rondo and Wallace and exchanging it for John Salmons. That leaves Bass, Green, Bogans, and Salmons to guide and grow your young core and future picks. That’s not a winning team – that’s the same kind of team that Cleveland, Washington, and Charlotte have had for the last 3 years. Not good.  
  • Talent: Boston is not a premiere destination for free agent talent. There is no external reason (less taxes, environment, nightlife, top media market, etc.) to come to the northeast and play a winter sport. In order to attract top talent, you need to have top talent. That means Rajon Rondo needs to stay in a green jersey.

While it makes sense on paper, in theory, and in the trade machine, I don’t think this works from a longevity standpoint for the Celtics.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor and Eric Blaisdell on Twitter @ericblaisdell13

Source: ESPN NBA Trade Machine