"What is Danny Ainge thinking?"
It's the question of the hour. We've heard trade rumor after trade rumor after trade rumor. Every single one of the involves Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Ray we get. His contract is expiring so we can see how that becomes a trade piece. But why Rondo?
And if he's trying to trade Rondo, shouldn't he be pumping him up? All we keep hearing is how Rondo has a bit of an attitude… how he was late for playoff games… and how the Orlando series showed he still has a ways to go before joining the "elite" class of point guard. For someone trying to trade a guy… he's certainly going about it the wrong way.
Unless… he's not trying to trade Rondo at all.
My opinion… and this is merely an opinion based all all the wild speculation that I've seen lately… is that Danny Ainge is really trying to negotiate Rajon Rondo's extension this summer, not trade him. Rondo's a restricted free agent next year, and the Celtics have until the end of October to negotiate exclusively with him without having to worry about matching someone else's offer.
So suddenly, all the talk that would bring Rondo's value down makes sense. The trade talk sends signals to the league "hey… we don't think this kid is worth all the money you might think he's worth…. so we're willing to include him as part of a deal." All the talk about the attitude and the tardiness reinforces it. It says "sure, he's shown flashes, but this shiny little apple actually has a few bruises on it."
Rondo has said he wants to be a max guy. Danny doesn't want to have to pay the kid max money. So now comes the big song-and-dance. The Celtics are in the process of bringing his value down from behind the scenes. Outwardly, they're singing his praises while still being "honest" about where he stands in the NBA right now.
I use "honest" in quotes not to insinuate Danny is lying. I think he's telling the truth. But he has no other reason to come out and answer the media's questions honestly. GM's of major sports franchises don't just come out and freely offer that kind of stuff for no reason.
We've been saying all along… where there's smoke, there's fire. And there's definitely fire when it comes to all of these Rondo rumors. But it's not the kind of fire we're expecting. All the talk about Rondo going away actually seems to be a way to keep him in Green.
Now… let's see if it works.