Rajon Rondo is the key to the Boston Celtics’ future. This is not really debatable. What is debatable is what role he will play in that future.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has no shortage of options regarding his All-Star point guard and team captain. Whatever Ainge elects to do will set the course for this latest rebuilding journey — and offer a hint into just how long the Celtics will have to wait for another chance to hoist a championship banner.
By now, fans are surely tired of hearing what everyone else has to say about Rondo’s future. So here is their chance to speak for themselves.
Option 1: Keep Rondo and try to re-sign him after the season. Anyone who has been paying any sort of attention understands that Rondo will not sign an extension. It does not make sense for him financially under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. But he would be eligible for a new, maximum contract next summer. The Celtics could grace him with a massive five-year pact, making him one of the highest-paid players in the NBA and the unquestioned cornerstone of their franchise at 29 years old.
Option 2: Keep Rondo and let him walk after the season. Rondo was not the Celtics’ highest-paid player this season. That would be free-agent-to-be Kris Humphries, who made a cool $12 million. But Rondo was right behind Humphries at $11.9 million, and if Ainge does absolutely nothing between now and July 1, 2015, he will have $12.9 million come off his payroll. (That is Rondo’s projected salary next season.)
Option 3: Trade Rondo for draft picks. As if the Celtics need any more draft picks, Ainge could ship out his best player now for the chance at an even better player in the future. Of course, Ainge is not particularly high on the draft as a reliable rebuilding tool, but Ainge has never been predictable.
Option 4: Trade Rondo for a player or players. Kevin Love, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are all at pivotal stages in their careers, contracts and relationships with their respective teams. It may be unthinkable that one of them would come to Boston, but it was also unthinkable that Kevin Garnett would be a Celtic until it happened in 2007.
Option 5: ??? There are all types of other things the Celtics could do with Rondo. They could waive him, sign him to the previously mentioned extension, excuse him from the team with pay Keith Bogans-style or make him honorary sidekick to Lucky the mascot. None of these are realistic, but anybody who has any better ideas is free to share them in the comments.