There have been reports that a Rajon Rondo to the Los Angeles Lakers for Dwight Howard deal has been discussed. There have been reports of a Kevin Garnett trade discussion involving the Los Angeles Clippers and their young talents Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan. Heck, there has even been talk of both those deals in conjuction with each other.
Ironically enough, all this trade talk comes as the Celtics are playing their best basketball of the year. The Celtics have won eight of their last nine games. The streak began when the Celtics learned that their court leader, Rajon Rondo, was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
So why would they shake things up now? Admittedly, I was in favor of blowing this team up last year. But, this year, I would ride out this team as currently constituted. I've written that this team may be better off this year without Rondo, but that does not mean I think this team is better long term without him.
I've seen improvement in Rondo this year, and he was pretty good to begin with. He has begun knocking down a better percentage of mid-range jumpers. Even his free throw shooting has improved slightly. All these trade rumors hinge on what Danny Ainge perceives of Rondo. Should the Celtics rebuild around Rondo? Or should they look to build around a big man and find a point guard elsewhere?
This is where the Garnett-to-the-Clippers rumor has legs for me. If the Celtics acquire Bledsoe, they are acquiring him to be their point guard of the future. If the Celtics make that deal, Rondo has no future in Boston.
If Ainge initiated the Rondo-for-Howard deal, that is an indication that Ainge believes the team needs to rebuild around a dominating center. As talented as Rondo is, Ainge has said in interviews that having a true point guard is not a necessity for success. Quick-- who was the point guard of the Jordan-era championship Chicago Bulls teams?
If Josh Smith comes to Boston, that is an indication the Celtics do, indeed, want to rebuild around Rondo. Rondo and Smith were roommates and played together at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. If the Celtics acquire Smith, it would be to reunite him with Rondo and to give Rondo a partner who can keep up with him on the fast break.
All these rumored trade proposals are sending me mixed signals. Some of the rumors indicate that Ainge is confident in building the Celtics around Rondo. Yet others indicate he wants to build around a big man like Dwight Howard.
I reside in both camps. I want to keep Rondo, and get a dominating, defensive-minded big man who can run the court. Heck, I lobbied last year for the Celtics to pursue DeAndre Jordan for that exact reason. It's interesting to me that his name has come up this year. I don't think you have to set your sights as high as Howard.
I've never been a big fan of Dwight Howard's game. As a matter of fact, I don't want anything to do with him. He puts himself before the team. He is self-absorbed and a baby. If he doesn't get what he wants, he sulks. No, thank you. I like to have a team full of players I want to support. I would never trade Rondo straight up for him, never mind having to throw in a couple more pieces to make the numbers match up.
I do like the Clippers rumored deal, but if I'm keeping Rondo, I don't need Bledsoe. I'm definitely not dealing KG if DeAndre Jordan is my best piece coming back. It may all be irrelevant, anyway, as KG has a no-trade clause and has said that he wants to be "buried in green."
That leaves Josh Smith-for-Pierce. I loved Smith early in his career, but he has not matured as I would have liked. Smith is a free agent at the end of the year and will be looking for a max contract. When his head is into it, he is one of the best defenders in the league as well as one of the most ferocious high-flying dunkers around. Unfortunately, offensively, he falls in love with his outside shot, which is nowhere as good as he thinks it is. If the Celtics want him so bad, why not wait until the end of the year and then try to sign him? But is he a max contract player? I don't think so. But, boy, would I love to see him run the court with Rondo.
The Celtics have been fun to watch the last few weeks. Their ball movement has improved. Their team defense has improved. Jeff Green has, finally, stepped up and started to fulfill some of the potential that Ainge saw when he dealt Kendrick Perkins for him. Let's ride this out with this squad and see how far they can go.