Our friend Sean Deveney of The Sporting News sheds some insight into whether Rajon Rondo and the Celtics are on the same long term page:
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, dating back to the end of last June, when the Celtics began their rebuilding project in earnest by trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, management was in contact with Rondo about the team’s long-term plan. And it is only a small coincidence that the Celtics’ long-term plan dovetails nicely with Rondo’s long-term plan — both are focused on the summer of 2015.
That is when Rondo will be a free agent. If all goes well for him, he will play through the rest of this season healthy and getting rid of the rust that comes with nearly a year off. He will return next year in a role he has never known in the NBA— as the unquestioned star and leader of his team, something that wasn’t going to happen as long as Pierce and Garnett were around.
A source close to Rondo told SN that he, “relishes that challenge.” Which makes sense. Ideally, Rondo would come out next season and post big numbers on a fair-to-middling Celtics team, positioning himself as one of the top free agents in 2015. He will be 29, and could fetch a four-year deal in the max-contract range — if all goes well for the remainder of this year and next, of course.
His preference, as he has said, is to remain in Boston over the long term.
Come 2015, the Celtics will have a ton of cap space to sign Rondo to an extension (max or near max) and get a big name free-agent like:
Minnesota’s Kevin Love would be the top target in that scenario, but consider some of the players who could be part of the fallback plan: LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap, Kenneth Faried (restricted free agent), Klay Thompson (also restricted).
A refreshing report that probably won’t get a lot of play in Boston because it goes against the media grain that is trying to run Rondo out of town.
And it’s not just the Boston media. ESPN’s JA Adande dropped the most ridiculous reason to trade Rondo earlier this week:
J.A.: Ainge should trade Rondo if for no other reason than to end the speculation about whether he’s going to trade him. Haven’t we been wondering ever since 2008? Another thing that confuses me: If the reason to trade Rondo was because he didn’t get along with Doc Rivers, shouldn’t Doc’s departure mean Rondo can stay now? (And if those two hated each other, why did Rondo visit with Doc in his office before the Celtics played the Clippers recently?)
I’m praying that was said in jest.
The Celtics can rebuild into a championship contender with Rondo as a key piece. I’m not saying they will, but they can. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong.