Column Written by: Mike Macchi
Well, Celtics Nation, you knew this day was inevitable. The minute the Celtics created the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen in 2008, you knew that it would be an exciting but limited ride. The night of the 2013 NBA Draft effectively ended a six year period where Celtics basketball became relevant again, as the Green (a team currently without a head coach after trading Doc Rivers earlier in the week) traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Keith Bogan, Gerald Wallace (who I think will be moved before playing a minute for the Celtics), Kris Humphries (who also will never play a game in a Celtics uniform), Marshon Brooks, Kris Joseph (remember him?), and 3 future first round picks. The word has been thrown out in the open for the last couple of seasons, but there is no doubt about it now…the Celtics are in “rebuild” mode.
Danny Ainge will never admit it, but the goal for the 2013-2014 Celtics is to become the worst team in the NBA to better position themselves for what could be the best NBA Draft in the past decade featuring the one and only Andrew Wiggins.
The only problem is that the Celtics are still too good to rebuild the way that an NBA team needs to rebuild nowadays in order to be successful long term. As mentioned above, it is likely that Kris Humphries will never play a minute as a Celtic, and my gut is telling me the same will be true for Gerald Wallace. Even still, the team has a solid core surrounding their star, with guys like Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, and Avery Bradley. Since those three pieces seem to be key to the whole rebuilding process, the time has come for the team to cut ties (via trade) with their star, Rajon Rondo. Why, you might ask, is it necessary for the Celtics to explore a Rajon Rondo trade? Here are three reasons why it makes sense:
1) The Celtics are simply too good of a team with Rajon Rondo still running the point.
How many organizations would ever complain about their team being too good?! But this is the case with the Boston Celtics. A starting lineup featuring a very impressive Jared Sullinger, a reliable option in Jeff Green, and an improving Avery Bradley, along with scorers such as Marshon Brooks and Jordan Crawford coming off the bench, receiving passes from Rajon Rondo has me thinking the Celtics could end up in no man’s land (8th-10th seed in the Eastern Conference) in the year they could least afford to be in that position. In order for the Celtics to successfully tank the season, Rajon Rondo cannot be feeding other players the basketball. He makes others on the court that much better, as proven by his absence for the Celtics this season and the impact it had on the Celtics’ offense.
2) Rajon Rondo is going to bolt from the Celtics in two years anyway.
Let’s face it. Danny Ainge has never thought as highly of Rajon Rondo as a portion of the Celtics fanbase. When Rajon Rondo’s deal is up in two years, he is long gone. Rondo can see into the future of this team, and sees a team that is not quite bad enough to rebuild quick enough through the draft if he remains on this team the next two years. He also sees an opportunity to finally cash in on the contract that he thinks he deserves as a top three point guard in the NBA. What this would mean is that it would potentially cost the Celtics extra cash versus that of a contender to sell him on the idea that the rebuilding is nearly done and he should stay, and Ainge will not be spending that extra cash on a guy he has never fully valued as the potential face of the franchise post-Big Three era. Which leads to this…
As much as Celtics fans love to love Rajon Rondo, the high-IQ fans know that a team where Rajon Rondo is the superstar and face of the franchise is a team that will never contend for an NBA championship. For one, Rondo is incapable of taking over a game like the rest of the NBA’s stars. Rondo’s inability to consistently knock down the mid-range jumper and poor free throw shooting makes him difficult to rely on down the stretch of close games as the guy with the ball in his hands. Sure, the defense is there and he can pass the ball arguably better than any other point guard in the league, but find me a team with a star that cannot go into a mode where they score at will late in games and I will show you a team that is not contending for a very long time.
Then, of course, is the issue that I am sure people are sick of hearing about when it comes to Rondo. But I would be remiss not to mention the attitude issues that have been reported in his years with the Celtics. Whether it was during the good times of the Celtics in the Rondo era, when he and Doc Rivers nearly came to blows, or before the Big Three era when he would openly display his frustration with teammates on the court during the tough times of the franchise. These reports should all go a long way in concluding that: A) Rajon Rondo is not ready to be THE leader of any franchise and B) You better believe that attitude will rear its’ ugly face when the Celtics work through this 2-3 year rebuilding slump.
So why hold on to Rajon Rondo when he is going to delay the full-blown rebuilding process, will quite possibly bolt the Celtics when given the chance in two years when his contract expires, and has not necessarily proven he is ready to be the face of a franchise with as rich a history as the Boston Celtics have. And oh yeah, he’s coming off of a torn ACL…