Rajon Rondo is one heck of a player. He’s smart, fierce, stubborn, exactly the kind of player you want to have on your side of the ball. It’s been a long, long time since the Boston Celtics have had a point guard this good, and one can only imagine the synergy between Rondo and Larry Bird, had the two played at the same time. Rondo is the engine that makes the Celtics go. He exploded on the scene in the playoffs not too long ago, and teams have had a hard time keeping up with him since. Rondo represents the future in a post-Big Three world, the transition to a younger group of title chasers soon to be assembled by basketball jefe Danny Ainge.
But Rondo, for all of his greatness, is still a player with limited shooting range. And while he may shoot the ball slightly better than he did bricking it up during his rookie season, Rondo will never become a consistent outside threat. Trust me, it would have happened by now. There was an era when this didn’t matter, but that time isn’t now. Back in the day, point guards brought the ball up the floor and that was considered enough. Now is not then, and perimeter players who can’t shoot the ball cause problems for their teammates. Defenses sag off of a guard who can’t shoot, daring that player to beat them away from the basket. It’s all about the percentages. Rondo has been able to overcome this deficiency thanks to his incredible speed and uncanny ability to put himself in the right place at the right time. How else do you explain a point guard of Rondo’s stature going double-digits in rebounding? With giants all around him?
Still, the brief flirtation with Chris Paul is a clear indication that Ainge feels Rondo has hit the proverbial glass ceiling. Why else would he be interested in swapping a guard for a guard? It wasn’t like the deal was going to land Dwight Howard in Boston. This was a guard-for-guard swap, and by pursuing it Ainge was saying that Paul is a better point guard than Rajon Rondo. Translation: Paul is a better shooter than Rondo. That’s the difference maker, and that’s why Ainge was trying to land Paul in the first place.
With that said, now is the time to trade Rondo. This season is a lost cause by Celtics standards – at least by the standards set during the team’s championship heyday – and the Big Three are showing some serious wear and tear. Trade Rondo, suffer through this season with the old guys and accelerate the rebuilding process. It won’t be pretty, it won’t play well in the press, but this is about thinking long-term. Big picture. That’s Ainge’s job. The Heat are the best team in the East. Chicago isn’t far behind. Both have young clubs with superstars hitting their primes. The Knicks are on the rise. Indiana’s better – at least they were last night. It’s time to trade Rondo and start playing catch-up.