Last night, while doing the 8th Seed show, I said I was going to do a post imploring Danny Ainge to sign Rajon Rondo now. And while my stance hasn't changed… I can see the logic for not doing the deal this week, and waiting until next summer.
We love Rondo. I think he's the guy who gets the keys when the Big 3 are gone. Why not sit down with him, work things out, and show you're commitment to him with a contract extension. Right now, there are a few things he has to work on before becoming an "elite" player… which could drive his price down. We keep tossing around the 5 year, $50 million number. If that is, indeed, close to the number that would get the deal done… then just do it now before he figures everything out.
Look at Glen Davis. Was he a $3 million player at the beginning of last season? Nope. Not even close. He was worth maybe half that. Then he developed his jumper. And then he had the shot in Orlando.
What happens if Rondo's shot starts falling April? What happens if he closes the holes and he's not signed? Why risk the extra money that will cost you flexibility down the road?
Wait 'till the summer:
If the Celtics truly are worried about his maturity level and whether he can handle a big contract, then maybe one more season of growing up can help.
The key to all of this is Rondo will be a restricted free agent. You're not running the risk of letting him go if you're willing to match offers. And there will be significant offers.
but at worst that means he’d likely be forced to sign an offer sheet
with one of the many teams that have positioned themselves to have
significant salary-cap space next July and then return to the Celtics
if the offer sheet is matched. Some team out there will inevitably test
Boston's resolve if it gets that far.
“It’s not the worst situation,” one Rondo confidante insists. “He
will get paid. It won’t affect him if he has to wait. He is fearless.”
But if you can stomach the offers, and you know you're willing to match them… then letting Rondo grow one more year might not be a bad thing. The stories of his missteps… his tactical mistakes as he attempts to lead a team… are starting to be told. But he's young… and growth can be good.
And again… look at Glen Davis. If the Celtics put word out there that they're going to match ANY offer to Rondo, then other teams are less likely to play the game with Danny Ainge. Why give Rondo an offer, even a max offer if you want to test the Celtics, if you know Danny is only going to wait the full week to match the deal…. while your plans b, c and d all start to sign offer sheets somewhere else?
The end result, either way, SHOULD be the Celtics signing Rondo. He's a unique player who is only beginning to scratch the surface of what he can do. He's already a great player who will very likely only get better and better. He's got an ability to make players better.
But the question is… WHEN should the Celtics make it happen?