He's in the lineup every night, unafraid to play through injury, and he's developed into one of the better point guards in the NBA.
All of that being said, it's time for the Celtics to move on.
The C's have tipped their hand one too many times when it comes to the idea of moving the point guard, with more rumors escaping about the idea of trying to trade Rondo. Danny Ainge is reportedly aggressively pursuing a trade, with rumors swirling that the Celtics are fed up with Rondo's antics.
This isn't the first time that the trade winds have swirled around the Kentucky product, as Rondo's name was floated around in connection with a possible attempt to land Chris Paul before the season began. Rondo, through his agent, wasn't very appreciative of that.
"It's just disturbing," Rondo's agent, Bill Duffy, told the Boston Herald in December. "It's disturbing for everybody. It's disturbing for me. It's disturbing for him, because it makes one think, 'Where do I stand in this relationship?' Particularly because he's a darn good player, and this is a very successful franchise, and he's one of the key players on the franchise."
If that's how Rondo's camp responds to the idea of being traded for arguably the game's best point guard, one has to assume that he's probably not too happy with his name getting out again. And this time, it comes with a leak that the Celtics reportedly bashed his attitude as well.
At some point, this relationship is going to become irreconcilable, if it hasn't already. Judging by what the Celtics have allegedly said, it may have already gotten there. The C's would never say as much publicly, but we have to assume that this leak is coming from a team that is interested and Rondo and leaked this information to drive the price down.
Regardless of where it's coming, and really, at this point, regardless if it's true or not, Rondo is almost certainly not going to be happy. His body language has been suspect this season — even more so than it usually is — and past clashes with head coach Doc Rivers are no secret. You certainly have to wonder how this would affect his attitude.
Rondo's antics aside, trading the point guard at this point really does make sense for the Celtics. They are not going anywhere this season. Whether Celtics fans want to admit or not, Boston is closer to having to rebuild than planning a parade through the streets of Boston.
If we operate under that premise, we must ask, is Rajon Rondo the guy you want to build your team around? Rondo has been overvalued some during his time in Boston. He is one of the best point guards in the NBA, but it's tough to argue that he's in that "elite" class of point guards. He's still too streaky both on and off the court, and it's apparent that's starting to wear thin.
If character issues are really the biggest concern for the C's, it's pretty clear that you can't build around a player like Rondo, especially as a point guard, a position in which you can least afford to have aforementioned character issues. You expect that position to be an extension of the coach, but what does it say if the coach struggles to get through to that player?
However, there is still something to be said for Rondo's trade value. If he's not at his physical prime, he's real close. His jump shot could always get better, but he's still playing on a team that's at least good enough to hide his flaws. We really don't know what Rondo is like without playing alongside three Hall of Famers. If you wait to find out the answer to that, and it turns out that those players made Rondo much better, his trade value will plummet.
There's also some wishful thinking for those who think the Celtics could go out and get a piece to help build a new core with Rondo by trading away any one or combination of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. The latter two are aging and will see their hefty contracts expire at the end of the season, so there's not much to be gained there. Pierce, on the other hand, presents value to some, but is anyone going to get excited about the idea of Rondo and Michael Beasley hitting the parquet together for years to come?
Look at the standings and you'll see the C's are in basketball purgatory. They barely beat the sub-.500 Bucks on Wednesday night to improve to 17-17. If the season ended today, the Celtics would have themselves a first-round date with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. If you like that matchup as a Celtics fan, you're probably taking crazy pills.
Hanging around the seventh or eight seed in the NBA is not where you want to be. You're screwed out of the lottery, and you're never going to beat a team like the Bulls or Heat.
The writing is on the wall. The Celtics know it. That's why they'd be willing to trade Rondo, a player they know they can't build around and a player they know will get them the most in return.
It's unfortunate that it comes to this, but there comes a time when all you can do is simply move on.