Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
If you would have asked me what I thought the least likely trade rumor to pop up after the lockout ended would be, I would have said anything involving Rajon Rondo. I figured that with a shortened season, the Celtics would be all-in for their final go round and their core group would give them a leg up on teams that will be doing some major shape shifting over the next few weeks. But now it seems like Rajon Rondo has seen his last days as a Boston Celtic. There are tons of rumors floating around, including both past and present offers.
The past offer is perhaps the most telling. ESPN reported that Danny Ainge offered the Oklahoma City Thunder Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo for Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins after the playoffs last season. Whether that was Ainge realizing how much Perk had meant to his team or attempting to catch Sam Presti in a vulnerable state after he watched Westbrook and Kevin Durant play to each others weaknesses in the playoffs, the fact that Rondo was included in the offer is telling.
Once the lockout ended, the first rumor to come out was that the Celtics weren’t shopping Rondo but they would be open to trading him if the right offer came their way. Within a day that changed to: BOSTON WANTS CHRIS PAUL AND WILL TRADE RAJON RONDO FOR HIM. That would be a heck of a deal for Boston and with help of a third team they may be able to hook New Orleans onto that idea as well. That said, Paul has said, or sources say that Paul has said that he won’t sign a contract extension in Boston, which makes sense, making that deal unlikely.
The other team that has been associated with Rondo is the Indiana Pacers. With all the talk of super teams and New York, New Jersey, Miami and Los Angeles, the Pacers may seem a bit out of place, but they are one of the most well run organizations in the league and because of that they are only on the books for $35-37 million for this upcoming season. With so much money to spend and a young core that proved itself as a gritty bunch when they made the playoffs last year and challenged the Bulls, the Pacers do have what it takes to get a Rondo deal done.
It will likely take giving up small forward Danny Granger, who has been the face of the franchise since he was drafted in 2005, but such a move may be worth it for a team like the Pacers. If they were to trade Granger for Rondo, with some other minor pieces and potentially a third team involved as well, their starting five would look something like this Rondo, Brandon Rush, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert. Ok, so that doesn’t look like an elite bunch or anything but don’t forget, they’d still have a large amount of cap space to use. That cap space would grow if they were to amnesty James Posey, who has over $14 million over two years left on his deal. This will kickoff our hypothetical moves.
With the free passing Rondo at the helm of the offense, which was the fifth fastest in the league last season in terms of pace, you’d have to think Nene would be even more intrigued by Indiana. I listed the Pacers as the top option for Nene yesterday prior to the Rondo/Pacer rumors, and replacing a scorer with a passer would only entice Nene more as he’d likely see an even bigger role for the Granger-less Pacers. And if Nene goes elsewhere, guess what: The Pacers are also said to be interested in David West, who is a more natural power forward and would come slightly cheaper. So there’s a plan B here for all that extra cap space.
Ok, so at this point in our hypothetical trail of moves for the Pacers, the depth chart would look like this:
Nene (or David West)
Looking at that group, the most glaring needs would be a wing scorer to play the two or the three and they would likely still have a few million to pursue somebody. Brandon Rush is decent but he’s not someone you want starting. Luckily for the Pacers, they have a youngster in Paul George that has scoring instincts and can play either the two or the three, giving them some flexibility with their last big free agent splash.
Jamal Crawford is someone that has already been linked to the Pacers – for some reason, Larry Bird likes his game, which I find amazing – but he may be too expensive at this point. Some of the other wing players that are on the market but probably won’t be asking for as much as Crawford are: LUC RICHARD MBAH A MOUTE, Reggie Williams, Delonte West, Jonas Jerebko and Nick Young. Given the personnel already on our hypothetical roster, Reggie Williams would work, here, so let’s go with him.
Here’s our revised roster:
Nene (or David West)
Ok, so we’re getting better. At this point, it looks like there are two major issues left: 1) Trading Darren Collison, who won’t want to be a back-up again, and 2) finding another big man or two so Psycho T isn’t the only back-up post.
Trading Collison will be a beneficial move for both sides. He’s a great young talent but Rondo is a better fit for this team and George Hill is a more than capable and willing back-up for Rondo. Perhaps Collison could net a big man, helping out with issue two. For now, we’ll call him Player X. Because the Pacers will be getting West, I really wouldn’t see too much wrong with the team re-signing both Josh McRoberts and Jeff Foster to make them five deep at the center position. There are some other players on the market but these two are familiar with the team and both were effective in their own ways last season. And they both should be reasonably cheap.
So my Pacer makeover would leave the roster looking like this:
Jones (likely not dressing out)
Foster and/or McRoberts
That’s not a bad team. Not bad at all. Of course, I don’t expect these EXACT scenarios to play out but the point is that if the Pacers pull the trigger on a blockbuster to acquire Rajon Rondo they have some very good options in the free agent market to make themselves even more dangerous than they were last season. So long as they get Rondo and either Nene or David West, look for this Pacers team, which smartly brought back Frank Vogel, to do more than put a scare into their first round playoff opponent.