The dust has settled: 10 thoughts on the Rajon Rondo trade

"That's all we got for Rondo??"

My initial reaction to the Celtics trade of Rajon Rondo was probably similar to most of yours: disappointment. 20 or so hours later, that disappointment remains, but there are also many other thoughts.

Instead of writing an organized, neat column laying them all out in some kind of order that makes sense -- I decided to go stream of consciousness with them. Ten thoughts on the deal, and it's ramifications on the Celtics future.

1. Rondo's value was so much lower than most of us expected

- I won't say lower than everyone expected, but certainly lower than what I, and most Celtics fans, thought. A good (but soon to be free agent) 27-year-old big man, a backup swingman without much upside, a veteran point guard with no value, what will almost certainly be a late 1st round pick in 2016, a future second rounder, and a gigantic trade exception. No lottery pick (unless the Mavs miss the playoffs one of the next two seasons), no young, cost-controlled talent. Hell, considering Rondo was an expiring deal, not even any cap relief. Now a lot of people are quick to point the finger at Danny Ainge for not getting enough, I think it's far more likely that this was the best offer Ainge has had on the table. Sure, the Kings were rumored to have offered Ben McLemore and a pick last summer, but Rondo was pretty clear that he wasn't re-signing there. Once that leaked, Sacramento wasn't giving up a lot for him. The Rockets reportedly wouldn't even give up Terrence Jones, the Lakers reported offer -- Steve Nash, Jordan Hill and future first round picks (the earliest would be 2017, but possibly later) for Rondo and Jeff Green wasn't anything special either, and the Knicks never even made an offer tempting enough to consider. None of us know for sure what offers Ainge had, but I think it's a safe bet to assume that he took the best one. And that just shows how flooded the point guard market is with talent, and how much Rondo's star had dimmed. He has not looked like the same guy since ACL surgery, his confidence as a scorer is at an all-time low, his defense has been slipping for half a decade, and he's a free agent in six months. He's still a very good player, but all of those factors caused his value to slip immensely, especially in this era of great point guard play.

2. It's ok to be mad

There were logical reasons to trade Rondo. He's slipped a bit, the Celtics are unlikely to be good for a few more seasons at least, they have a 20-year-old point guard they just drafted sixth overall, ect. That said: fans have every right to be pissed that their team just signed up for a 3+ year rebuild, and traded their one star for what appears to be about 40-cents on the dollar. Get angry, curse out Ainge, refuse to watch for awhile, send mean tweets. Do whatever you need to do. We're invested in this team, and it's 100% A-ok to be pissed off for a week, a month, or longer. Just don't threaten with the "I'm done with them" stuff. If you're a true Celtics fan, that's not happening. But the seven stages of grief are very real when it comes to sports, and no one owes it to their team to blindly follow them and support every move. Be pissed. It feels good.

3. People don't know how good Brandan Wright is

Brandan Wright is one of the most interesting players in the NBA, and I feel like basically nobody knows that. He was the 8th overall pick in 2007, but flopped horribly out of the gate, playing in only 114 games in his first four seasons due to injury and ineffectiveness.

But something changed when he joined the Mavericks in 2011. The light switch got flipped on, and Wright became one of the most efficient players in the NBA. Over the last four seasons he has averaged 8.3 PPG, 4 RPG and 1.3 BPG in just 17.8 minutes-per-game, while shooting a ridiculous 64.4% from the field. Since 2011, Wright has posted a 22.6 PER, the seventh best number in the NBA among players who have played at least 3,000 minutes. No, he has not shown the ability to do it over 30+ minutes per game, but he has become an immensely valuable player, and someone that contenders will line up to get their hands on before the trade deadline. While not a classic center at 6'10", 210 pounds, his 7'4" wingspan makes him a top-notch rim protector/mistake eraser. That's something the Celtics have not had since Kevin Garnett left.

Of course, the question with Wright is whether or not he'll stick around. My hunch is no, but it is possible that Ainge views him as a ~$10 million talent, and pays him as such this summer. But if Wright is dealt, his small salary ($5 million) and ability to fortify a team's bench could make him worth a first round pick before the deadline. Or he could be used as the carrot that entices a team to take on Gerald Wallace's contract. Either way, if the Celtics do deal Wright, they'll get something of real value.

4. Rondo is going to be awesome in Dallas, but that doesn't mean he would have been awesome here

Rajon Rondo is one of, if not the best, "driver" in the NBA. But he is not the car. He cannot make a bad team good because he lacks the ability to take over a game in the traditional sense, and his skills are meant to maximize the potential of a talented team. He'll drive the hell out of a Maserati, but he's not going to be able to do much with a Prius.

But oh man he is going to excel in Dallas. He has shooters, a franchise big man, a center capable of erasing his mistakes on the defensive end when his gamble doesn't work out, and a veteran coach to tie it all together. Not to mention, Dallas has more than a dozen national TV games left, plus a playoff run on the horizon. Rondo will dazzle, and it will make the Celtics look worse. Just try and remember that none of that was about to happen with his current roster in Boston, and it was a major unknown if the Celtics could get to that level before Rondo entered his early, or even mid-30s.

5. It's Marcus Smart's team now, but I am worried about his ability to stay healthy

Less than two months into his NBA career, Smart has already suffered a pretty significant ankle injury, and is now nursing a nagging achilles injury. And he's only played 164 minutes.

When you combine these injuries with Smart's "100% effort, 100% of the time" playing style -- I have some concerns about his ability to stay on the floor. And as talented and fun to watch as he is, you can't help the team in a suit. So hopefully once he's back in the lineup, it's for good. Because make no mistake about it, this will be his team very soon, if it isn't already.

6. Jeff Green is next

Green is having a career season, averaging over 19 PPG, and displaying a consistency that we've been begging for since he got here. So obviously, it's time to deal him! Green is basically an expiring contract, as he is extremely unlikely to pick up his $9 million option for next season after a career season this year. He's in line for another 3-4 year deal at $8-10 million per season, and he'd be hitting the market at age 29, the perfect age for one more big deal.

With all that said, his value is at it's peak, and I can't see Ainge deciding to build around Green as he enters his 30s. The Cs are reportedly holding out for a first round pick, which is ambitious, but not impossible. As crazy as it sounds, a swingman who can average 15-20 PPG and play above average defense might fetch nearly as much as a really good point guard in this market.

Oh, and if anyone will give up anything for Brandon Bass or Marcus Thornton, they'll be gone too. The Celtics entered the season with the seventh youngest team in the NBA, and they'll likely end the season as one of the youngest.

7. I would like the Celtics to change their name to the Boston "Accumulating Assets" for the next few seasons

Here is a list of the Celtics current assets:

Own 2015 1st round pick
Clippers 2015 1st
Mavericks 1st round pick (protected 1-7 and 15-30 in '15, and protected 1-7 in '16)
Sixers 2015 2nd round pick
Own 2015 2nd
Wizards 2nd
Unknown Mavericks 2nd

Own 2016 1st
Nets 2016 1st
Cavs 2016 1st
Sixers 2016 2nd
Heat 2016 2nd
Cavs 2016 2nd

Own 2017 1st (With right to swap with Nets)
Cavs 2017 2nd
Own 2017 2nd

Own 2018 1st
Nets 2018 1st
Own 2018 2nd

Own 2019, 2020, 2021 1sts
Own 2019, 2020, 2021 2nds

$12.9 million trade exception (expires 12/19/15)

Five former 1st round picks currently on rookie deals (Marcus Smart, James Young, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullener, Tyler Zeller)

I can already hear you yelling through your computer screen: "WHO CARES ABOUT ASSETS, WHAT HAS AINGE DONE WITH THEM SO FAR?????!!!!!"

I get the frustration. But it's important reminder that it has only been a little over a year since this all started. In that time, Ainge drafted Smart and Young (jury obviously out on both), and turned the Nets' trade exception into Zeller and another 1st rounder. He has not failed yet. He hasn't succeeded yet either, not by a long shot. But unless the expectations were to be contending quickly, we really can't judge the rebuild yet. Don't get me wrong, there are reasons to be worried about how long it is going to take, but until we see how this plan develops over the next few years (mostly, can Ainge hit on these draft picks?) -- the jury is still out. The asset chest is growing, and Ainge should be allowed to use them to the best of his abilities. If the roster is still stagnating come 2016-17..that's when I'll be ready to get the pitchforks and torches ready for Danny.

8. NBA irrelevancy blows

This is self-explanatory, but it's terrible being irrelevant. And for now, the Celtics are just that. So are the Lakers, Knicks, and Sixers (especially the Sixers). Thankfully, what should be a brilliant Western Conference playoffs will entertain us come Spring, but that can only dull the pain so much. We are in Year 2 of the rebuild, and it seems impossible to fathom it will take anything less than 5 years.

9. The Celtics still aren't bad enough to tank

Wright will make the Celtics better on defense, and the Celts record the last few years without Rondo tells us he wasn't making the same type of impact on the team that a typical All-Star would. The Cs were ticketed for 28-34 wins before the deal, and barring any more trades, I expect them to be right in that area still. However, I do expect those deals (see #6), so I'm not too worried about it.

But in the short term, expect to see the Cs to be similar to the team we've seen all season. They'll run, play hard, entertain us, blow some 4th quarter leads, and lose more than they win.

10. Who the fuck is going to be the captain?

Random thought, but keep this in mind: The Celtics have had a captain every season since 1950. That includes the likes of Pervis Ellison, Dee Brown, Dominique Wilkins (a legend, but not in Boston), and Dana Barros.

So, will the Cs name a new captain this season, or wait until summer? And either way, who is it going to be? Avery Bradley is the longest tenured, and signed for four more years. But is he really captain material? I say no. Sullinger? Maybe, I guess. Olynyk? Nope. Gerald Wallace is a I guess that's worth something? (*kills self after trying to sell the idea of captain Gerald Wallace*).

I mean if we're being honest, Ainge should be the captain, but something tells me that won't happen.

I know, not the most important thing in the world, but I'm intrigued about who it's going to be. Plus I needed a 10th thought, and it made the cut.

Like the trade or hate it, this much is clear: the future of the Boston Celtics now resides on Danny Ainge's ability to turn his assets into a winning team over the next few years. The foundation has been torn down, and in it's place is a young team without a single "franchise altering talent". That needs to change, and it's Ainge's job to change it. His future, and the future of the franchise depends on it.

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