Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rondo and Smart: Too Many Cooks

Chris Mannix assessed Rondo's place in the future of the Celtics' franchise at CSNNE ...
So where does Rajon Rondo fit with this rebuild? Is he a cornerstone or trade bait?
"I don’t see them trading Rondo in the offseason just because his value is not as high as it will be if he comes into training camp and the early part of the season looking like the Rajon Rondo we saw two years ago," says Mannix, but he cautioned, "I don’t think they’ve ruled out trading anybody."
On the face of it, this view, which has become conventional wisdom now, makes perfect sense.  Danny, we hear, is always primarily concerned to trade for value, and he won't want to let Rondo go until Rondo's value maxes.  Right now teams are jittery about how successful and complete Rondo's return from injury will be.  When they see Rondo playing brilliantly early next season - as the theory goes - they'll surely raise their offers.

There are at least two problems with this smug scenario, though.  One is that a team that wants Rondo next year can wait a few months until he becomes a free agent.   They don't  necessarily have to pay through the nose in a mid-season deal.  Another problem is that the chaos which is likely to unfold on the Celtics next year, and particularly in the backcourt, may hurt Rondo's trade value more  than increase it.  The Celtics will be coming out next year with a backcourt as crowded as the front court was last season, which suggests that Danny may be designing another tank.  Not only are the Cs, as constituted, going into the 2014-15 season with a very crowded backcourt, but it looks like they will have two very intense alphas at point guard position.  Danny may feel that,  no matter what,   he can get something for Rondo -- even if it's just through a sign-and-trade? -- and meanwhile, clashing between Rondo and Smart might help the team tank.  Who knows?  Danny seems to be capable of any kind of deviousness.

But if value is the issue, Danny may be best advised to trade Rondo soon.  Now that the futures of a few big names in free agency seem to have been settled, Rondo trade rumors seem to be heating up again.   In Celtics Land the 'wise ones' continue to maintain the absurd pretense that Danny only 'listens' to trade offers,   but I'm pretty sure that Danny is shopping Rondo hard.  If so, Danny ought to make  a move soon, so that Rondo can have a fair chance to build a future for himself elsewhere.   There is also a selfish reason for Danny to move now;  Rondo may never be worth more.  If another team believes in Rondo's talent, they are going to want him early enough in the summer to have a chance to organize themselves around him.  Rondo is certainly not the kind of player one can simply insert into a given slot.  Don't outsmart yourself, Danny, and at the same time, do the right thing for Rondo:  move him now.

Really the most important point Mannix makes about the Celtics and Rondo is that (according to his sources) the Celtics' organization has decided that Rondo is not a number one guy that you can build around.  Of course you don't have to have 'sources' to know that.  The drafting of Smart and flirting with other pgs made that perfectly clear.  This too has long since become conventional thinking in the Celtics World, or shall we say, group think?   Poor Rondo.  As Michael  Walsh writes for Bleacher Report, Rondo has always been the odd man out, though the reasons given for his scapegoat status have changed over the years ...

At first, he wasn't good enough to be the starting point guard on a championship team. Then he was merely a sideshow to three future Hall of Famers. Then he was a headcase who couldn't keep his emotions in check. Then he was a stat-padder out for individual recognition. Finally, he is a guy who can't lead a rebuilding team or come all the way back from ACL surgery.
Rondo's career has run the gamut of criticisms, and he has been reportedly almost traded countless times.
 The claim that Rondo can't be a player you build around is just absurd.  Anyone who wants Rondo wants him precisely because he is an alpha dog, not because he has a killer three that spreads your offense.  Rondo is a guy who wants the ball in his hands more than any other player in the league, and he wants to control what his team does - really, what both teams do.  He was gutsy enough to assert himself this way  around three future HOFers, and he ultimately established himself as the key guy on the  Celtics Big Three team, a team that continued to contend fiercely even as the Big Three aged.  I'm pretty sure Rondo isn't about to take a back seat to Marcus Smart, or anyone else. 

It has seemed obvious for a while now, I think, that the Cs either had no real intention of building around Rondo, or no idea how to do it.  Players that Rondo connect with well  get shipped out (Perkins, Wilcox, Daniels, Pietrus).  Players that he doesn't connect with so well  (Green particularly) are treated as key guys.  The drafting of Smart seems to be the icing on that cake.  I suppose that Rondo, Smart and Bradley could be the keys to a killer defense, going forwards,  but on offense it looks like there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

I suppose that when Danny finally makes a move to trade Rondo, it will happen without warning.  I could see Rondo going to Miami, now that they are having to seriously reconfigure.  Houston supposedly is going to make a run at him.  Indiana seems to be an obvious possibility.  I still see Sacramento as the best option.  It may be a small market, but if you pair Demarcus Cousins with Rondo, you might just change the landscape of NBA basketball.  They say that the era of the Big Man is over.  Maybe it's just starting.


  1. What seems to be little recognized is that Danny, by drafting Smart, drastically weakened his bargaining position as regards Rondo.

  2. Danny is going to have to lower his expectations, and if I were Rondo, I'd be thinking about where I really want to go. Rondo can apply a lot of pressure. He needs to think about the way he wants to play basketball, in my opinion. Where can he come closest to doing what he wants in the game?

  3. Love the pic that u drew up. The Celtics have shown that they are not building around Rondo. They haven't made one move yet this summer that shows that. They have yet to go for a star to go with Rondo, which isn't easy, but what's the real deal with Love?

    1. Thanks Greg! I get the impression that Danny was just going through the motions in chasing Love. Who knows? But I agree, I'm not seeing any moves that have Rondo written on them so far. Frankly, I think it's been like this for a while now - it's not like one could sense the outlines of a new team taking shape around Rondo.

  4. They have no intention.. Hit the nail on the head. People in Celtics nation don't even care. They've already put Smart in Rondo's spot.

  5. Isn't that crazy, Dan? Somehow Rondo's career has fallen into a twilight zone for Boston fans.

  6. It's bizarre to see so many of the brilliant commentators around poo-pooing any possible Rondo deal because no one has enough assets to offer. They don't get it that Danny has run his Rondo leverage down to almost nothing by constantly shopping Rondo over the years and now drafting his replacement. Teams can see that the Cs and Rondo are about to part ways. They aren't going to offer any 'hauls', any kings ransoms. Even the Kings won't do that. Danny is going to end up getting a fairly unimpressive collection of picks, players and cap relief, and that is going to be the best he can do. Waiting to pull the trigger is both counteproductive and, frankly, very very mean.