As NBA general managers go, Danny Ainge is a tinkerer.

Though he held onto the current Celtics era longer than anyone anticipated — remember that he would have brought back Ray Allen last summer if the guard was willing — Ainge can’t keep his hands off the engine.

All parts are in play. And that means that no matter how much the Celtics personnel chief will again insist that he’s not looking to trade Rajon Rondo, he will once again be on alert in case a deal makes sense.

Sure, there will be lots of pickpockets to sort through. Rondo’s surgically repaired knee means Ainge will receive trash offers. It should also be noted that dramatic advances have been made in ACL surgery. The fact that Rondo suffered only a partial tear means he should be ready for the start of training camp. He has more value than players who had similar procedures in the past.

But this nearly annual look into Rondo’s trade value has to eventually reach a limit. The Big Three Era is a month, maybe two away from a change. Rondo is a premier point guard in a league increasingly dominated by aggressive playmakers. The game is officiated in their favor.

As such, Rondo is as good a starting point guard as Ainge is going to find for the new era. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may have another season left as Celtics, but not without Ainge attempting to make a strong move forward.

Even if Ainge decides to free up cap space by parting with his two elder stars, he needs something to attract free agents. Rondo would be that lure — the facilitator that players such as Al Jefferson and J.J. Redick dream of playing with. Rondo’s cap-friendly contract ($12 million next season, $13 million in 2014-15) also facilitates the addition of free agent pieces.


Rajon Rondo the linchpin
Next C’s era hinges on mecurial guard

Sunday, May 12, 2013 PrintEmail Comments (4)
By:
Mark Murphy
As NBA general managers go, Danny Ainge is a tinkerer.

Though he held onto the current Celtics era longer than anyone anticipated — remember that he would have brought back Ray Allen last summer if the guard was willing — Ainge can’t keep his hands off the engine.

All parts are in play. And that means that no matter how much the Celtics personnel chief will again insist that he’s not looking to trade Rajon Rondo, he will once again be on alert in case a deal makes sense.


Sure, there will be lots of pickpockets to sort through. Rondo’s surgically repaired knee means Ainge will receive trash offers. It should also be noted that dramatic advances have been made in ACL surgery. The fact that Rondo suffered only a partial tear means he should be ready for the start of training camp. He has more value than players who had similar procedures in the past.

But this nearly annual look into Rondo’s trade value has to eventually reach a limit. The Big Three Era is a month, maybe two away from a change. Rondo is a premier point guard in a league increasingly dominated by aggressive playmakers. The game is officiated in their favor.

As such, Rondo is as good a starting point guard as Ainge is going to find for the new era. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may have another season left as Celtics, but not without Ainge attempting to make a strong move forward.

Even if Ainge decides to free up cap space by parting with his two elder stars, he needs something to attract free agents. Rondo would be that lure — the facilitator that players such as Al Jefferson and J.J. Redick dream of playing with. Rondo’s cap-friendly contract ($12 million next season, $13 million in 2014-15) also facilitates the addition of free agent pieces.

Though Rondo is responsible for his mercurial, somewhat petulant public image, the locker room is his. He’s not the same kind of leader as Garnett and Pierce. But he has the attention of players like Jeff Green and Avery Bradley.

Green needs him. As evidenced by the inglorious close to the 2012-13 season, Green isn’t good enough at creating his own offense to thrive without a top flight point guard.

Bradley, once and for all, isn’t a point guard. He was at his best playing off the ball, and cutting to those spots where Rondo, and very few others, could deliver an easy look, or a jumper in the flow.

Over the last three months, as Bradley’s play deteriorated, one of the few things that could bring an unabashed smile to the guard’s face was mention of Rondo.

As stated here before, the Celtics may have temporarily played better without Rondo in the three weeks following his departure, but they are not a better team without him. That counts doubly for the playoffs.

So Ainge, a Rondo admirer since the guard was at Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy, may have to finally put aside his curiosity with the point guard’s trade value.

Rondo, foibles and all, is probably the new era.