Depending on who you talk to, Rajon Rondo is either halfway out the door or holding that door open for the next star to join him in Boston.
He’s either a bad apple or the apple of the Celtics’ eye. He’s a bad shooter or too good of a passer.
You get the idea – there’s a Team Rondo and a Team Anything But out there, so let’s go over some real, hard facts.
Rondo is heading into the last year of a contract that pays him $55 million over five years. At 28-years-old, he’s due for the last major contract of his career – and is reportedly looking to cash in.
He’s also coming off of a season in which he returned from a torn ACL and played in 30 games. Understandably so, his production dipped a bit last season (11.7 points, 9.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds).
The ROI (return on investment) for Rondo right now is low – too low for Danny Ainge to trade (as has seemed to be the case for a while now), though he’s reportedly willing to deal. It’s low because of those facts listed above. Teams are hesitant to trade for Rondo because they want to see more out of him and his surgically repaired knee. They’re also hesitant because with Rondo going into the last year of his deal, he could bolt to a new team the following season.
There’s also this: Rondo is not Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook. He can’t be considered a Top 5 point guard, and you could make the case he’s not a Top 10 point guard in the league right now either.
This puts the Celtics in a tough spot. It doesn’t feel like they consider Rondo a franchise guy, does it? But they also don’t seem to have any better options right now.
Here are the spots Rondo will most likely be a year from now:
1. Boston Celtics
This is the obvious choice. Rondo is the team’s best player, he’s at least said all the right things publicly – including that he would be open to staying with the Celtics for the long run – and the Celtics have said all the right things back. The C’s can offer Rondo more money than any other team, but the question still remains if they want to. They didn’t draft Marcus Smart to ride the bench, and Ainge is very high on Avery Bradley too.
2. Sacramento Kings
The most constant rumor involving Rondo and a potential trade is with the Sacramento Kings. The Kings' front office is dead set on making themselves contenders as soon as possible, and Rondo could be the best player available to them this season. Pairing Rondo with DeMarcus Cousins could be a great thing, or the beginning of a disaster. The Kings could offer a package centering around Ben McLemore. Rudy Gay could also be on the way out.
3. New York Knicks/ Detroit Pistons
Neither of these options feel like great fits in a trade. That’s the big problem overall with getting anything for Rondo: finding a team that wants him and has something the C’s want back. For New York, keep an eye on Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. For Detroit, Greg Monroe could be the guy out next season.