Here we go.
As Samuel L. Jackson’s character in “Jurassic Park” warns, “Hold onto your butts.” Rajon Rondo Trade Rumor Season is about to heat up in a very big way.
First there was Kevin Love Trade Rumor Season, which went through a temporary lull when the big fish of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony Free-Agency Season were biting. Then the Miami Heat re-signed Chris Bosh to a maximum contract, which is sort of like the guy who reels in a 1-pound perch, then hangs it above his mantel like a trophy.
Now it’s Rondo’s turn.
How much of the Rondo rumors actually are true is substantially smaller than the endless stream of reports will indicate. Bear in mind as well that “gauging interest,” as the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings reportedly have done in recent weeks, is far different from engaging in substantive negotiations.
But the premise is sound. As the Love talk apparently cools, the prospect of Rondo remaining in Boston is less and less tenable. Without at least one All-Star-caliber running mate, Rondo is extraneous to the Celtics, neither fitting their long-term rebuilding goal nor making them a legitimate title contender in the short term. As we have stated many times, keeping Rondo under the circumstances that existed last season is not fair to him or to the team.
While James, Anthony and the like still were on the market, there was the oft-stated opinion that Rondo lacked value around the NBA. That was not quite true, obviously. Four-time All-Stars and two-time assist champs always have value, even when they are just 18 months removed from major knee surgery. Rondo still is seven months away from his 29th birthday, and he is signed for one more season at an affordable $12.9 million.
The question is not whether Rondo has value but how much.
The top-tier stars are off the table, with the next level down already beginning to thin out. Chandler Parsons and Luol Deng have new homes, while older veterans like Paul Pierce have begun the inevitable end-of-career nomad’s life. As more players come off the market, the more focus will be paid to Rondo, and the more his value is likely to grow as the market becomes more sparse.
For a few agonizing weeks, fans in Cleveland and Miami hung on any new reports coming out of James’ camp. Now it’s Boston’s turn. Hold onto your you-know-whats.