The biggest news story in the NBA over Labor Day weekend was a report that point guard Rajon Rondo wants to be traded from the Boston Celtics. Coming on the heels of the Kevin Love trade, it appeared the league was headed from the summer of Love to the fall of Rondo. However, earlier today it was revealed that, supposedly, Rajon Rondo refutes the trade demand.
The initial report of Rondo wanting out of Boston stemmed from an off-air segment taking place after an episode of ESPN’s Around the Horn. In the segment, Boston’s Jackie MacMullan stated that the point guard has told management that he wants out. As a result, a whirlwind of speculation and rumors took place during the weekend concerning possible destinations for Rondo.
However, the situation took an intriguing twist earlier today, when Bill Duffy, Rondo’s agent, and the point guard completely denied the report. Now, it has been put into question as to who is telling the truth. Despite Rondo denying the report, it does not necessarily mean that he has not requested a trade. Even if he has not put in the request, it also does not mean that the point guard does not want to leave anyways. On the other side of the coin, there still is that possibility that Rondo, who has spent his entire career in Boston, has no intention in leaving. In fact, the point guard told the media in June that he is comfortable with the Celtics and does not want to leave.
Regardless of what side is the truth, Rondo denying his trade desire does not mean that the rumors will come to a stop. Much like previously rumored players wanting out, such as Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, it is likely to only increase. As such, whether Rondo wants out or not, it may be the beginning of the end for the point guard in Boston. The problem is that, unlike the aforementioned players, Rondo is not a player who is easy to move.
First and foremost is that Rondo is, arguably, not a franchise player. Secondly, last season, after coming back from injury, was one of his worst from a production standpoint. Both of these issues stem from the fact that he is not the best shooter, which has many teams afraid to trade solid pieces from him. Additionally, he is the kind of player that needs a solid team already put in place to be effective. His best asset is his ability to get others involved. Because of this, he is not a player that is going to automatically transform a team. He needs a team that already has a solid base, with a plethora of offensive weapons, who he can make better.
Rondo is not a one-trick pony though. While his greatest asset is his ability to make offense easier for his teammates, he also is one of the best rebounding point guards. Despite his small frame, he has managed to average 4.6 rpg throughout his career. Another attractive asset that Rondo brings is his defense, where he has proven to be one of the leaders in steals. Moreover, he also has shown through the years that he is a hustle player, always putting his heart forward in pursuit of the ball.
There is no question that Rondo is, quite possibly, one of the most unique players in the league. He can transform a team with solid pieces into a championship contender. The problem he has right now, if he wants to be traded, is that he does not have much to show for it. He has only played 68 games throughout the last two seasons. As such, he comes into this season being susceptible to injuries, which is always going to leave a potential trade partner hesitant to acquire him. While he did not play awful last season, averaging 11.7 ppg, 9.8 apg, 5.5 rpg and 1.3 spg, he was not consistent. Because of this, it would, initially, make sense for Rondo to stay in Boston another season to prove himself, coming into next season’s free agency. However, considering Boston is far away from a playoff spot, thanks to a less than stellar roster, it will be difficult for Rondo. He is not a player who can carry a team on his shoulders. He is not a player who can do well with mediocre offensive talent. Moreover, it will be close to impossible for him to truly show his worth on Boston. At the same time, it will also be difficult for a team to trade assets for Rondo in hopes that he stays healthy and consistent.
While there are, most likely, other squads potentially interested in Rondo, the only team to officially announce their desire for the point guard is the Sacramento Kings. In order to get the point guard, Sacramento will have to trade away potential assets for a Rondo, who has stated he would not sign an extension for the Kings. In turn, Sacramento believes they can entice Rondo the same way they persuaded Rudy Gay when he arrived — by playing a season there. It is a risky proposition for Sacramento to get Rondo. Worse yet for Rondo is that, while they do have good offensive players in DeMarcus Cousins and Gay, the rest of the squad leaves much to be desired. In all likelihood, Rondo may be better off staying on Boston.
The Boston Celtics are in an interesting predicament. Rajon Rondo, supposedly, refutes his trade demand. Whether Rondo wants out of Boston is anyone’s guess. While there have been rumors of Rondo leaving the team, it is likely the point guard may be traded any time from now until the trade deadline in February. After all, Rondo is a free agent next summer, and with an upcoming season that once again is, likely, to have them sitting outside of the playoffs, it may benefit Boston to trade him for assets while they still can.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey