Now that the Wolves have officially traded Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo seemingly looms as the next most likely superstar trade candidate. Still, the Celtics aren’t anxious to deal the point guard in part because they’re eager to see how he plays at the beginning of this season, when he’ll be more than a year and a half removed from tearing his right ACL, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Rondo can become a free agent next summer.
The 28-year-old Rondo, like most star veterans in their primes, is unlikely to sign an extension, as Washburn notes, adding that Rondo would be especially reluctant to do so with the Kings. Sacramento was reportedly one of the teams most active in pursuing him at the deadline this past season and the Kings had talks with the Pistons earlier this summer about acquiring Josh Smith, a close friend of Rondo’s. Still, it’s unclear if the point guard would be more inclined to consider a long-term future with the Kings were they to trade for his former Oak Hill Academy teammate.
The Celtics hold Eric Bledsoe in high regard, Washburn also writes, speculating that Bledsoe might end up as Rondo’s replacement in Boston. Bledsoe’s camp and the Suns, who employ former Celtics executive Ryan McDonough as GM, appear to have stalemated in talks about a new deal, and Phoenix has begun to examine sign-and-trade possibilities involving the restricted free agent. Bledsoe has the chance to hit unrestricted free agency next summer, but only if he takes take the unusual step of signing his qualifying offer, worth about $3.7MM, for this season.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has time and again batted down persistent Rondo trade rumors that date back to shortly after the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to begin a rebuilding project. Three GMs told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald earlier this summer that Rondo’s trade value wouldn’t be all that high, anyway, perhaps suggesting that other teams share Boston’s desire to gauge his health. Bulpett also heard from rival execs who had reservations about Rondo’s consistency and personality. In any case, Rondo’s scoring and assists per game were down last season in the 30 games he played after returning from injury, and his 40.3% shooting was the worst of his career.