But as the Rondo trade rumors continue to fly and the Welker contract negotiations get ready to heat up later this offseason, it's becoming clear that both the Celtics and Patriots are facing a similar dilemma when it comes to dealing with the issues surrounding their respective star.
The dilemma? Determining the player's true market value.
Admittedly, both situations are unique, with Rondo under contract in Boston for another three seasons after this year, and Welker facing free agency (although the Patriots are expected to place the franchise tag on him, which would give them exclusive negotiating rights with Welker for the next year). Also, Rondo's tenure in Boston hasn't exactly been the complete love fest that Welker's has been.
However, as Celtics general manager Danny Ainge fields trade inquiries regarding his starting point guard and the Pats prepare to ramp up dialogue with their star wideout, there's plenty of jockeying for leverage in each set of negotiations.
In other words, the underlying question surrounding both Rondo and Welker at this moment is, "What's his value outside of the franchise?"
Rondo has evolved into one of the game's bright, young point guards, with his most recent impact coming on Sunday versus the Knicks. The 26-year-old chipped in an impressive triple-double that featured 20 assists, 18 points and 17 rebounds. That marks the first time a player has had at least 17 in each of those categories since 1989, when Magic Johnson had a triple-double that consisted of 24 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists.
Plenty of Celtics fans who watched Rondo's gutsy performance were probably sitting at home wondering, 'How can you possibly trade this guy?' And while it's unclear if Ainge will eventually deal away the young guard, it's obvious that it's at least a possibility, even if the organization continues to stress that it's not actively shopping the All-Star.
Ainge seems to be realizing that his team's championship window is closing — or has closed — and isn't too keen on building around Rondo. But the holdup in a potential trade looks like it's going to be the Celtics' asking price.
Rondo is an excellent player. He's a fantastic facilitator, a great defender and can do a solid job of getting to the basket. But he also has his issues, and therefore isn't exactly the type of player most NBA teams want to build a team around. And because of that, GMs aren't willing to completely break the bank for Rondo, which is what the Celtics are seemingly asking others to do.
It's as if Ainge is trying to sell off his car for a more luxurious model without expecting to take any additional hit. A deal is tough to come by when bringing that strategy to the bargaining table.
Meanwhile, over in Foxboro, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and Co. will face a similar predicament when it comes to dealing with Welker's representatives while trying to hash out a new contract this offseason.
Welker's numbers reflect those of an elite receiver, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a team willing to pay him like such, as there's a widespread notion that his production is a reflection of New England's offensive system. Throw in Welker's past knee surgery and the fact that he's on the other side of 30, and it'd be understandable if the Pats were a bit weary of doling out a massive contract, even if they do hold the four-time Pro Bowler in such high regard.
Ultimately, it will come down to the Patriots having to gauge what Welker could receive on the open market when approaching him with offers. In many ways, Welker's agent is playing a role similar to the Celtics' in the Rondo situation. He'll be trying to sell his client off as a top-of-the-line talent, even if the Patriots and others don't exactly see him that way — similar to the way Ainge is presenting Rondo to other NBA teams.
So it all comes down to perception. Rondo's monster game on Sunday and his All-Star season can go a long way toward convincing the Celtics front office that he's a top-five point guard, just as Welker leading the NFL in receptions in three of the past five seasons can go a long way toward convincing the receiver that he deserves Larry Fitzgerald money.
At the end of the day, though, the Celtics probably won't find someone who views Rondo's value as high as they do, and Welker probably won't receive the money that an elite receiver commands.
Add it all up, and two of New England's most recognizable faces are likely staying put for the foreseeable future. And with team-friendly deals, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Just don't expect the headaches caused by each situation to go away any time soon.
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