CELTICS SHOULD MOVE ON FROM RONDOBy Peter May
I believe I am on the record as saying the Celtics should trade Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul. And for Deron Williams (who still is out there).
There are a handful of point guards in the league for whom I'd trade Rondo: Paul, Williams, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Jeremy Lin. (OK, just threw that last one in there.) The Celtics didn't get Paul. They didn't get Westbrook (although apparently they tried). They're not getting Rose.
So yes, they should trade Rondo. I'd deal him in a heartbeat for Williams, throwing in an expiring contract and a couple of first-round draft picks. How could New Jersey say no to that? Oh, wait, it must have already. But there's still two weeks before the trade deadline, and Williams is still with the Nets going nowhere, so maybe there's a chance.
Clearly, the latest Trade Rondo talk is not revolved around basketball. If it was, we'd all be silenced after Rondo's triple-double Wednesday night. No, it's as much, maybe more, about Rondo as an individual.
He is either high-maintenance (his detractors) or complicated (his supporters), but he is a personality with a capital P on a team loaded with strong ones. Maybe the Celtics and Doc Rivers have simply grown weary of him.
I wondered last year when Rivers was thinking of re-signing why the coach would want to come back to a team that eventually was going to be led by the temperamental Rondo. Would you want him being the main man in your locker room? Especially on a team that likely was going to have to rebuild and take a few hits?
After coaching a championship contender for four years, why on Earth would Rivers want to go back to that scenario, especially because he could have taken a year off and had his choice of job offers in a year? But he did, and now we have a situation where the chicken has come home to roost.
The other reason it makes sense to move Rondo is that it's becoming clearer by the day that this team needs to start its rebuilding process -- and forget about staging another 2010 and getting to the NBA Finals. The Celtics are at .500 in a terrible conference. They've had about 458 starting lineups already, and Jermaine O'Neal is out again. Shocker!
True, the Celtics are only three games out of first place in the Atlantic Division, but does anyone really think this team can compete with Miami or Chicago once the playoffs start? And if you start to feel optimistic, look at the schedule. Whatever chance the Celtics had this season of being a contender ended when they totally caved at home during a stretch when they had 19 of 25 games at TD Garden and ended up losing to the likes of Cleveland, Detroit and Phoenix. They also couldn't hold serve against the better teams (Indiana, Chicago, Dallas, OKC, the Lakers).
They've started the second half by eking out wins over two lottery teams. You can rebuild around the edges by trying to deal Ray Allen. But if you want to start the process in earnest, No. 9 is your best chip.
CELTICS' BEST BET IS TO MOVE FORWARD WITH RONDOBy Chris Forsberg
Should the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo? If the right offer came along offering up a bona fide franchise cornerstone like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, the team would be hard-pressed to say no. But because that's unlikely, the Celtics' best bet moving forward is to hold on to their most valuable young asset.
When Rondo's name first bubbled up in trade rumors after the lockout, Celtics GM Danny Ainge was honest with him in admitting that Rondo's name came up as Boston attempted to pry Paul from the Hornets.
Ainge said that he never shopped Rondo in December, only offering up his point guard in talks with New Orleans (or other teams where the goal was always obtaining the talent necessary to land Paul). As the trade winds swirl again in advance of the March 15 deadline, it appears the same is true this time around.
And that's this argument in a nutshell. When the Celtics ponder the idea of trading Rondo -- or any other player in their origination -- it comes down to the simple question of, "Does that move make Boston better?" In the case of Rondo, very few players return a "yes" response, and most of them aren't available to the Celtics.
Does Rondo come with his own set of headaches? Of course, but what superstar doesn't have their idiosyncrasies? Rondo can be temperamental, but when he's engaged, few point guards are better. The Celtics simply have to hope his inconsistencies and immaturities will fade with time, and the 26-year-old has made strides this year in trying to improve in those areas.
Certainly, he's prone to lapses (both in judgment and play). Coming off a two-game suspension for a regrettable incident in which he zipped a ball at a game official, Rondo went scoreless Tuesday night in Cleveland and spent a longer-than-normal stint on the bench while sulking after turning the ball over. That's not the way the team wanted to see him respond after his on-the-court issues.
Doc Rivers said after the game that his players have to be able to grind through struggles this season and find a way to contribute even when they are not playing their best ball.
Rondo got that message. Wednesday against the Bucks, he put a renewed focus on defense and produced his third triple-double of the season.
Can he sustain that sort of play? Actually, with visits from high-profile point guards like New Jersey's Deron Williams and New York's Jeremy Lin looming, maybe he can. But Rondo's biggest goal at the moment has to be consistency.
Still, Rondo is averaging a career-best 14.2 points per game this season to go with 9.6 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game. When Rondo plays to his potential, the Celtics win more often than they lose.
Remember, too, that Rondo's stubbornness is what endeared him to the Big Three. His coach and the front office probably wish he wasn't so stubborn, but it's part of what makes him so tantalizing.
At the end of the day, the talent outweighs the turmoil. Rondo gives the Celtics a better chance of winning than anything that's available in return for his services, which is why the team should think twice before entertaining the idea of trading him.
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