Boston Celtics rumors throughout the entire NBA offseason have centered around one name — superstar point guard Rajon Rondo. Now that the offseason is officially over and the preseason gets underway — with the Celtics facing the Philadelphia ’76ers at Boston’s TD Garden Monday night — the situation is even more confusing.
Rondo remains out of action with a broken hand, allegedly suffered when the 28-year-old four-time All-Star slipped in the shower at home and hit his hand against the wall. So, the Celtics will be forced to wait at least another five weeks as Rondo heals from a September 26 surgery on his left hand before they can make a final decision on his fate.
As the Celtics prepared to take the court for their preseason opener on their home court, the rumor mill appeared to have settled on the idea that Rajon Rondo is not going anywhere.
In fact, Sporting News basketball reporter Sean Deveney says the current thinking of Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is that holding on to Rondo would help Boston attract a top free agent or two in the 2015 offseason — even it means paying Rondo the NBA max contract he is expected to demand before he enters free agency himself after the 2014/15 season.
On the other hand, Ainge is acutely aware that the Celtics are still at least a couple of years from playoff contention and piling up draft picks is the best way to build a future Celtics team that might actually have a shot at hoisting NBA Championship banner Number 18 to the Garden rafters.
While Rondo is clearly among the league’s top point guards when he’s healthy, he’s often — like now — not been healthy, and by the time the Celtics reach playoff contention again, he’s likely to be in his early 30s and probably on the downhill side of his career.
So, do the Celtics stick with Rondo and use him as incentive to lure a free agent such as Marc Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies center who some NBA observers call the game’s best big man? Or do they attempt to unload Rondo before the February trade deadline — and if so, where?
The New York Knicks have been reportedly keen on acquiring Rondo, even willing to offer him that coveted max contract if and when the Boston star hits the free agent market. But there was another, unexpected landing spot for Rondo mentioned by Deveney in an interview with the Celtics Blog site — Oklahoma.
“The Thunder could be one to watch,” he said. “They have pieces to shed in a sign-and-trade, and a Russell Westbrook-Rondo backcourt would be fascinating.”
Fascinating indeed— but even if sending Rondo to Oklahoma somehow worked money-wise — and Deveney notes that the finances are far from certain — would Rondo really want to co-exist with another superstar in Westbrook? After all, Rondo is assumed to want to remain in Boston, with the chance to finally make the team his own. In Oklahoma, he’d immediately slide to the third-ranked player in the Thunder pecking order behind Kevin Durant and Westbrook.
Only one thing is certain right now. The Boston Celtics will have to deal with at least another five weeks of rumors, until Rajon Rondo gets back on the court and proves what he still has left.
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