The Boston Celtics are at a crossroads, and the time has nearly come for them decide which direction to take. And whether or not to take it with Rajon Rondo.
For all the speculation about Danny Ainge breaking up the big three, Rondo has emerged as the odd man out. The Celtics used him as bait in an attempt to land Chris Paul and are now entertaining the idea of moving him in exchange for the Lakers’ Pau Gasol. But is dealing their point guard the right move?
Boston’s willingness to make Rondo available makes it clear the organization is not keen on the idea of building a team around him after this season. Over the years, Rondo’s accolades have been taken with a grain of salt, as many believe that he would not seem prolific without a plethora of perennial All-Stars to make plays for him.
The Celtics’ surge without Rondo has only strengthened such an argument. Paul Pierce and company, despite having to stave off the rigors of age, proved their mettle outside of Rondo, yet does that warrant shopping the point guard?
The short answer is no. The point guard spot is the most important one on the floor, even more so than the center position. We have seen teams like the Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Timberwolves and even Heat stumble before the emergence of a true point man. Shipping out an All-Star floor general in exchange for a big man is taking a risk, and an unnecessary one at that.
Boston’s days at the top are numbered, there is no doubt about that. While the Celtics seem capable of contending for another title this season, next year is a different story. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett will be free agents, and Paul Pierce, like the previous two, will be yet another year older.
What the Celtics need is a youthful and heralded presence. Gasol certainly satisfies the star requirement, but at 31, he is no longer a source of youth.
Let’s also not forget that Rondo is under one of the most reasonable contracts in the league. While Gasol may be worth the extra cash, he would restrict the Celtics from making potential free agency additions.
Boston, as currently constructed, may be able to win some games without Rondo, but their roster configuration has the structural soundness of a house of cards. After this season, their entire team dynamic changes. Garnett has already began to drop off, and age is bound to catch up with both Pierce and Allen sooner rather than later.
The Celtics could have justified moving Rondo in exchange for Paul, but do not have that same luxury with regards to Gasol. His presence would be welcomed, but at the same time, with Brandon Bass on the docket, it doesn’t satisfy an immediate need, instead creating one.
The concept of a rebuilding period is taboo in markets such as Boston, and if the Celtics hope to make as seamless a transition as possible into next season, dealing Rondo isn’t a necessity. In fact, it’s a bona fide step in the wrong direction.
And with three of their core players over the hill, the last thing Boston can afford to do is take a step backward.
Dan Favale is an avid basketball analyst and firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His work can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.