Celtics Mailbag: Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis, Dwight Howard All Play Into C’s Offseason Dealings

Celtics Mailbag: Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis, Dwight Howard All Play Into C's Offseason Dealings What’s the mood like these days for the typical Celtics fan, with the 2010-11 season long over and the road ahead looking bumpy?

Well, there’s a mix of different sentiments. Some of you are still mourning the disappointing season that was, trying to figure out what went wrong. Others are looking toward the future, thinking about potential trades or free-agent signings. Still others of you have massive, pipe dream-y ideas for the C’s in the distant future.

No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it’s a thought-provoking time to be a Celtics fan. That’s for sure.

Thanks to everyone for your questions this week. As always, keep ‘em coming.

What are your thoughts on Doc Rivers’ re-signing?
–GriffinMorrow, via Twitter

I think it’s a tremendous step toward clarifying the team’s long-term future. Let’s face it: There’s a lot of uncertainty about this team going forward, from the Big Three to Rajon Rondo to a few key bench guys that may walk away this summer. At least with Doc, the Celtics have one guy they know will be around through 2016. That’s huge.

Because this is such a long-term contract, I think we can infer that Doc’s relationship with Rajon Rondo is stronger now than it’s ever been. The bond between coach and point guard is very important, both on and off the floor, and it says a lot that Doc is willing to re-up with the C’s with Rondo as their franchise cornerstone.

Also, unrelatedly: Yowza, that’s a lot of money. Doc will make $35 million over the next five years, vaulting him over Mike D’Antoni and Gregg Popovich as the highest-paid coach in the NBA.

Will the Big Three make a difference next season, or are they just too old?
–Shihua

Will they make a difference? Of course they will. Ray Allen keeps in spectacular physical shape even at 35, so he’s just as good as he’s always been. Paul Pierce is only 33, and he’s still got some gas left in the tank. Probably the biggest question mark at this point is Kevin Garnett.

KG turns 35 this Thursday. He’s not the same player he used to be in Boston — his defense is still top-notch, but his ability to get into the paint and generate the C’s inside-out style of offense has really fallen off. The Celtics’ biggest flaw is that their three veteran leaders do an awful lot of settling for long two-point jump shots.

Because of the age issue, the C’s probably won’t be a leading title contender again in 2012. But they’ll still be very relevant, and you’d be a fool to count them out altogether.

I’ve been hearing rumors that the Celtics are trying to trade for a point guard with a package that includes Rajon Rondo. Any truth to them?
–celtsfan34

Honestly, I doubt it. I’ve heard those rumors too, with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul being the two popular names to throw around. But I don’t see it working.

The problem with trading Rondo is that Rondo has way more value to the Celtics than to anyone else. The C’s know him, they trust him and they have familiarity with him. Because Rondo has such a long-standing bond with the Big Three, he can call any play he wants from their four years of experience together, and they’ll know it instantly. That’s a valuable ability, and it’s not something you can just pick up in a trade for another big name.

Why should the Celtics trade him? He’s the cornerstone of their franchise going forward. He’s still young, he’s still growing and he’s still getting better. His assist average has gone way, way up every single year of his career. This is no time to give up on a star player like Rondo.

After hearing Glen Davis’ whining — “Where is Glen? I can’t find him” — do the Celtics really need a head case like him back?
–bycopp

Good question. Very tough. Doc Rivers has made comments recently about how Big Baby’s problems were more “between the ears” than physical. Considering how he almost completely disappeared down the stretch for the Celtics this postseason, you have to consider that Baby’s time in Boston could be up.

Here’s my position. Baby is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He made only $3 million this year. He deserves a raise, but the Celtics can’t go overboard. Offer him $6 million. If he says yes, that’s great. Roll the dice on him for another season. But if not, that’s OK too. The C’s have other options out there.

One thing they can’t do right now is make a long-term commitment. I’ll explain why in a second.

What would the Celtics need to do to get Dwight Howard?
–Brian

Yes, this is why. Good question, Brian, and it’s one that’s on a lot of Celtics fans’ minds this summer. The Magic’s superstar big man will be a free agent in the summer of 2012, and countless teams will be in the running to get him. The Celtics may well be one of those teams.

The first thing they need is cap space. Assuming there are no major rule changes in the upcoming CBA negotiations, Howard will be an eight-year veteran eligible to make 30 percent of the salary cap, likely a little over $16 million. It’s hard to clear out that much space under the salary cap. Making a run at Howard next summer would mean no Kevin Garnett, no Ray Allen and obviously neither of the O’Neals sticking around. We’re talking about a team built around Howard, Rondo and maybe — just maybe — Jeff Green.

The next thing they’d need is a really good sales pitch. There’s no guarantee Howard leaves Orlando next year, but if he does, he needs to be convinced he’s getting enough to make it worth changing teams. That means not only max money but a big media market, a chance to be the biggest star in town and an opportunity to compete for multiple championships. If Danny Ainge can offer Howard all those things, he’s got a shot.

He’ll be far from the only GM in that hunt, though. New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles are all likely to be leading contenders, not to mention the possibility of Howard staying in Orlando.

Do you think there’s any chance the Celtics make a run at Yao Ming this summer with the mid-level exception?
–Joe

It’s an interesting idea, Joe, but I’m not so sure that Yao would be the best fit. You’re right that the Celtics need a big man, but Yao is on the wrong side of 30 and obviously has an extensive injury history. Given the tumultuous season the C’s have had with their bigs, I think they need someone who’s more of a sure thing.

My checklist for Danny this summer: Big, relatively young, relatively healthy and strong defensively.

Two names I’ve thrown out there are Kris Humphries and Jared Jeffries. Yao is a bigger name than those guys, but he’s also a bigger health risk. I’m not so sure Danny’s in the mood to gamble on another big man after everything he’s gone through.

Hey, at least you didn’t ask about Greg Oden.

Did Danny Ainge make the Kendrick Perkins trade without Doc Rivers’ consent? Judging by Doc’s recent comments, it sure looks that way.
–SK

The way Doc describes the trading process, it’s a collaborative deal. Danny and Doc meet and discuss these decisions together. That teamwork has been the foundation of their relationship for the last seven years.

But occasionally the two butt heads and, at the end of the day, it’s the GM who makes the final call, not the head coach. This was a situation where Doc didn’t want to lose Perk because he appreciated the continuity they’d spent years building, and he didn’t want to give that up midseason.

One thing about Doc, though: He’s a consummate professional. Even if he wasn’t initially happy with the Perk decision, he stuck with his team and coached them well the rest of the way. And down the road, he’ll definitely learn to appreciate what Jeff Green has to offer.

Do you think James Harden would have been a better fit than Jeff Green?
–Wesley

No, Wesley, I don’t. Not really. I’ve heard the rumors that Ainge asked Sam Presti for Harden, not Green, and I’m not sure what to make of them.

Both are very talented players. Harden has proven his mettle by hitting four huge 3-pointers in OKC’s Game 7 win over Memphis this weekend, so the question is a well-timed one. But this isn’t necessarily so much a matter of individual talent as it is a question of fit. The Celtics already had a strong backup shooting guard in Delonte West, and Harden didn’t fit any of their specific needs at the time.

The Celtics should be happy to have Green. Going forward, what they’ll appreciate about Green is his versatility — he’s a small forward, he’s a power forward, he’s whatever the team needs him to be. He’s unselfish enough that he doesn’t mind shifting his role to fit the pieces around him. He’ll start or come off the bench — either way, no complaints. Green’s a great fit, both now and for the future.

After all of the turmoil following the Perkins trade, is it possible for the Celtics to go back and try to get Perk back through some combination of trades or other deals? Could Boston somehow undo the infamous trade?
–Lou

Nope, sorry. Immediately upon trading for Perkins back in February, the Thunder sat down with the big man and negotiated a massive extension to his contract. He’s set to make $35 million over the next four years. He’s not going anywhere.

I know the Perk nostalgia is still there, and after eight long years with the guy, it should be. But it’s time for Boston to move on. Just like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish before him, Kendrick Perkins is not walking through that door.

Yardbarker

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