The four most likely trade scenarios for Rajon Rondo

In my opinion, Rajon Rondo will be with the Celtics for quite some time. As we discussed yesterday, the lack of teams that, A. Need a point guard, B. Have the assets to acquire him, and C. Are in a city that he would re-sign in all point towards Rondo sticking around through the season.

However, it's impossible to watch the secret Jackie Mac video (by the way, how pissed must Jackie have been that ESPN posted that? Guessing someone got yelled at.) and not wonder: if the Celtics do need to trade Rondo to avoid losing him in free agency..what teams would be at the front of the line to acquire him?

Sure, we did a lot of this last year, but every year is very different. Teams sign, trade and draft new players, some teams can now trade draft picks that couldn't before, and some teams are now prevented from dealing picks that could trade them last year. Each year is a new canvas for beautiful trade proposal paintings (which I understand some people hate. Disclaimer: if you do not like trade proposals, this article may not be for you).

With all of this in mind, I looked at the rosters in the league and came up with what I think are the four most likely destinations. Sure, there are other possibilities, but these are the four that fit best.

Let's get after it.

New York Knicks

Knicks trade: Amar'e Stoudemire, Tim Hardaway Jr, Cleanthony Early, 2018 1st round pick, 2020 first round pick

Celtics trade: Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace

Why the Celtics do this trade: This is clearly a 'dollar for four quarters' type trade..but it's very possible that the Celtics do not get a young star back in return for Rondo, and if they can't, this package isn't all that awful if Rondo is truly set on leaving Boston next summer.

Boston receives Hardaway Jr, who had a strong rookie season (10.2 PPG, 43% FG, 36% 3 PT, 83% FT, 55.4% true shooting) and is under team control for three more seasons for a total of $4.8 million, and Early, who dropped to 34th in the draft, but is a very athletic forward who I think will be a rotation guy in the NBA. The Celtics would also grab two more first round picks to add to the pile, although New York's inability to trade a first rounder until 2018 at the earliest certainly doesn't help. Oh, and the Cs dump Wallace, freeing up a ton of cap space next summer (the Celtics would have a whopping $22 million on the books for 2015-16 with Bradley, Smart, Young, Olynyk, Early, Hardaway Jr and Zeller on the roster. Throw in their two 2015 first round picks and they'll be around $27 million for 9 players under the age of 25.)

Why the Knicks do this trade: If the Knicks can pull this off, they'll have two-thirds of the big three they badly need to compete while Carmelo Anthony is still in his prime. And if they can dump one of Wallace, Jose Calderon or JR Smith between now and next summer, they'll have the cap space to make a run at an elite big man during next year's loaded free agent class. Is a big three of Melo, Rondo and DeAndre Jordan/Marc Gasol/Roy Hibbert/ect enough to win a title? Doubtful. But it's a hell of a lot better than anything else the Knicks have had this century.

What could hold it up: The Celtics aren't getting a star back, and they're not getting a first round pick until 2018. While this deal is certainly better than losing Rondo for nothing next summer, Ainge may think it's better to roll the dice and try to re-up Rondo next year with a huge offer. As for the Knicks, there's no doubt they pull the trigger if the Celts agree to it.

Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers trade: Julius Randle, Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash, 2015 Rockets 1st round pick

Celtics trade: Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace

Why the Celtics do this trade: Randle was one of the top prospects in the 2014 draft, and he can be paired with Sullinger and Olynyk to form a talented, young big man trio that could develop into one of the better offensive units in the league (defensively..not so much). They'll also snag a third first rounder in the 2015 draft (albeit a late first rounder), and get back expiring deals while dumping Wallace. It's possible the Celtics could pry another first rounder out of LA, but if they're giving up Randle, they may not bite on that.

Why the Lakers do this trade: Rondo is good enough to improve the Lakers greatly during Kobe's final years, and young enough to be a key player in the post-Kobe era. The Lake show is badly losing the battle of LA to the Clippers, and acquiring Rondo would definitely help get them back in the news. While losing Randle would sting, the Lakers just gave Kobe $48 million over two years, and I've got to imagine they aren't content with winning 35 games the next two seasons.

What could hold it up: A lot of it depends on how high the Cs are on Randle. Considering they passed on him at #6 overall in June, it's fair to question if they think he's a good enough chip to be the centerpiece of a Rondo deal. But it's also fair to question if they'll get something better than a 19-year-old who was the #7 pick in a really good draft and is under team control for at least four years. Despite the fact that Rondo doesn't single handedly transform the Lakers into contenders, I've got to imagine they'd agree to this deal, simply because Kobe makes most of the decisions, and Rondo makes the Lakers significantly better in the short term.

Charlotte Hornets

Hornets trade: Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo, 2015 first round pick

Celtics trade: Rajon Rondo

Why the Celtics do this trade: Walker is a legitimate starting point guard, and MKG and Biyombo are both intriguing talents, although to this point neither has proven a thing. But getting all three plus a first round pick would be nice value for the Celtics, even though I'm not a huge fan of Walker, and the Celtics are already set up at both guard positions going forward with Smart and Bradley. If Ainge is high on either Kidd-Gilchrist or Biyombo, this could be a deal he goes for. However, if he is not particularly interested in either, I'm not sure Kemba and a pick gets it done. Especially since Walker hits restricted free agency next summer and will get expensive quickly.

Why the Hornets do this trade: By pairing Rondo with Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson, MJ would make the Hornets a really interesting team to watch in 2014-15. Sure, they'd have to give up a lot, but acquiring Rondo would help Charlotte retain Big Al (who has a player option for 2015-16), and virtually lock them into a top-four seed in the 2015 Eastern Conference playoffs assuming they stay healthy. For a franchise that has never won a single playoff game, that's worth going all-in for.

What could hold it up: All of these deals come down to talent evaluation. Basically, how highly does Ainge value the guys coming back to Boston? Personally, I think Walker is a good player, but I don't see him improving much more, and the Celtics have two guards signed for 4+ years that profile as starters. I'm also not very high on MKG or Biyombo, although I do put this deal ahead of the Knicks offer.

From the Hornets perspective it comes down to whether or not Rondo would re-sign there. Is Charlotte another Sacramento that Rondo won't consider? Or is the allure of working with MJ and playing with Big Al and Stephenson enough to make him want to stay? Obviously the Hornets aren't giving up three players and a pick unless Rondo is sticking around more than one season.

Detroit Pistons

Pistons trade: Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings, Will Bynum, Pistons 2015 1st round pick

Celtics trade: Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green

(Note: trade based on Monroe signing $5.3 million qualifying offer first. It could also be turned into a sign-and-trade with Monroe making something similar to what Rondo is making ($13 million), and Jennings/Bynum/Green no longer being included).

Why the Celtics do this trade: Monroe is likely the best player the Celtics can acquire for Rondo at this point, a 24-year-old big man who has averaged 15.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game over the last three seasons. However, if Monroe is adamant about signing the QO and hitting free agency next summer, there is risk that you may have him for only one season before he bolts. The Celtics would also get the Pistons 1st round pick in 2015 for agreeing to swap Green for Jennings (both guys are signed for two more years, but Green fits Detroit's roster better. If the Pistons are merely pretty good with Rondo, the Celtics would probably get a pick in the 18-22 range plus Monroe for Rondo. That's a hell of a haul if Monroe re-ups in Boston, despite having to take on Jennings.

Why the Pistons do this deal: This much is clear: the Monroe-Andre Drummond-Josh Smith trio cannot co-exist. Smith needs to be at the 4 to play up to his abilities, and the paint is too clogged with both Monroe and Drummond having minimal range. If the Pistons need to move one of the three, Monroe makes the most sense as Drummond is a superstar in the making, while Smith's contract makes him a terrible trade chip. Monroe is valuable and will likely leave next summer anyways, so if Detroit can use him to land Rondo, it's a no brainer. They'll also rid themselves of Jennings, giving them a Rondo-Jodie Meeks-Green-Smith-Drummond starting five with a decent bench consisting of DJ Augustin, Caron Butler, Kyle Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Is it just me or does this roster have a shot to be the third best team in the East behind the Cavs and Bulls?

What could hold it up: If Rondo really does come to Ainge and ask for a deal, this is the best offer to me. Monroe and a 1st rounder (while swapping Green for Jennings) accomplishes two of the three things you look to do when dealing a star -- acquiring a young building block, and picking up a draft pick. While it doesn't create cap space, the Celtics already have a ton of space, and the only bad deal they're acquiring expires in just two seasons.

However, that doesn't mean this deal is perfect. There are legitimate concerns that Monroe and Sully can co-exist, namely because neither can defend the paint. The Celtics would also be taking a risk that Monroe leaves next summer, although that's mitigated somewhat by the fact that they can pay Monroe more than other teams can.

Despite the concerns, if the Celtics think they can re-up Monroe, they should pull the trigger (again, assuming Rondo actually wants out).


Obviously there are other teams that will be linked to Rondo should he be made available. However, some don't have the pieces (Houston, Dallas), and some Rondo won't re-sign with (Sacramento). These are the ones that fit best.

Let me know what you think in the comment section. What's the best fit for Rondo? (if of course they do trade him).

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