View galleryRajon Rondo. Photo by Keith Allison.
COMMENTARY | Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is one of the most entertaining players in the NBA. But now that the Celtics' chances of a championship in the near future are slim, the time to cut ties between Boston and Rondo has come.
The following five reasons, in no particular order, outline the most important advantages to dealing one of the league's most enigmatic stars:
1. The Celtics have no chance of winning in the near future
After six seasons of competitive basketball, Boston is no longer a powerhouse team with a legitimate chance of winning a title. The Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls all are significantly better than the Celtics (and that's just in the Eastern Conference). If there is no chance of winning a title, it makes more sense to trade Rondo as he is coming into his prime so that Boston can get the most out of a deal for him without having to worry about jeopardizing its own season.
2. Losing Rondo makes the Celtics one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference
An entire season without Rondo will surely make Boston one of the worst teams in the NBA, which may very well be a positive spot for the Celtics to be in. Boston has nine first-round picks in the next five drafts, including three first-round picks from the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and another first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015 that they received for relinquishing rights to former coach Doc Rivers.
Unfortunately, because the Clippers and Nets are both teams on the rise, it's unlikely any of these picks, except possibly the 2018 pick, will be lower than the 20th spot in the draft.
The Celtics' best chance of getting a top spot in the draft will be from their own picks and is heavily dependent on the team's win-loss record. This actually presents an amazing problem for the Celtics: The better the team plays, the worse off the team will be in terms of the draft and rebuilding for the future. While it may upset some fans to hear it, the best decision the team could make for the future is to lose now in order to win later, a strategy that will likely only be successful without Rondo on the floor.
3. His contract is almost up
The more time left on Rondo's current contract, the more the Celtics can expect to get in return in trade. If Boston waits to make a deal too close to the end of 2014-2015 season, when his contract expires, then the team must also worry about finding a trade partner who can negotiate with Rondo over a new contract immediately. Trading Rondo now avoids this problem completely.
Additionally, because Rondo's contract is back-loaded, which means his salary increases each season, it is actually easier to trade him this year when a team only has to worry about matching an $11.9 million salary compared to next season when the contract jumps to $12.9 million. This may seem like an insignificant difference, but the complexity of the NBA salary cap makes every penny count in trade talks.
4. Rondo is not worth a max contract
The alternative to trading Rondo is signing him to a maximum salary contract over at least four seasons. As good as Rondo is, he is not worth that kind of financial commitment in a league where a few bad contracts can hinder a team's ability to make changes for several years.
Yes, Rondo makes everyone else on the floor better, he is capable of outstanding defense, and he creates offensive opportunities on fastbreaks better than anyone. But if he is given a maximum contract, he would likely be the worst scorer of any max-contract guard in recent memory. It cannot be understated: Giving a guard a maximum salary who has career averages of 11.1 points per game, a 3-point average of 24.1 percent and a career free-throw success rate of 62.1 percent would be unheard of and should be avoided at all costs.
Trading Rondo sets up the Celtics for the future
If Boston fails to trade Rondo in the near future, the trade rumors will persist, the team will be forced to either let him go to free agency in two seasons or pay him a max contract -- and the Celtics will miss out on an opportunity to bring in a key young player they would likely be able to attain in return for Rondo. It may not be easy for Boston's front office, but the right move for the organization going forward is to trade Rondo as soon as he can prove he is healthy.
Don't agree with me? Tell me why I am wrong on Twitter @THATCelticsGuy or by e-mail at THATcelticsguy@gmail.com.
Justin Haskins is a New England native and a freelance journalist. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.
Hey...discuss amongst yourselves...