The NBA rumor mill is churning after an eventful 2013 NBA Draft, with the aftermath seeing the Boston Celtics agreeing to trade Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for a few role players and future first round draft picks. The Celtics are preparing to enter full blown rebuilding mode, with more rumors swirling that could lead to a move of the Celtics trading Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for a package including 2013 first round pick Shane Larkin and future first round picks, as well as players including Vince Carter. Celtics general manager has resigned himself to the fact that Boston must start from scratch once again, similarly to what they went through just prior to acquiring Garnett and Ray Allen before the 2008 championship run.
As the roster currently stands, Boston is in the ‘tweener stage. They are not a championship caliber contender, but neither are they a guaranteed lottery team. Along with Rondo, the Celtics still currently have Avery Bradley and Jeff Green, as well as Jared Sullinger, Gerald Wallace and others who can have an impact this season. They may be able to reach the playoffs in a weakened Eastern Conference around the middle and below, but they will not advance past the first round, if they even enjoyed that much success.
Yet, on the flip side, this is not a team who just finish in the bottom three of the standings, assuring a very high draft pick. It is the sports equivalent of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Trading Rondo could help sway that status toward one end of the spectrum. If the Celtics deal Rondo – which I have long insisted they should seriously consider – it should be enough to drop them into the bottom of the standings and give them a legitimate chance at earning a top three pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which is expected to be one of the deepest ones in a decade.
The Celtics could ask for Larkin and draft picks from the Mavs, who are in search of upgrading a roster that missed the postseason for the first time in 13 years. A player such as Rondo would certainly do the trick, and he is also grossly underpaid in terms of All-Star point guard standards. Dallas could still clear enough cap even with the acquisition of Rondo to make a run at another key free agent, such as Dwight Howard, if he were to consider taking less to win.
Either way, the Celtics may not actively be shopping Rondo at this very moment, but they are at a stage in the rebuilding process where they will field trade offers for absolutely every remaining player on the roster.
Knowing that Rondo is the most coveted player remaining, the time to move him is now.