Mar 14, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (left) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo: What Is He Really Worth To The Celtics?

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When the Boston Celtics selected not one but two guards in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, the first question on every savvy basketball fan’s mind was, “So when are the Celtics going to trade Rajon Rondo?”

After all, the Celtics failed to use the draft to fill the gaping holes the team has in the paint.  And while Boston didn’t surprise anyone by using a pick to upgrade itself at shooting guard, drafting Marcus Smart was the essentially doubling-down on the lone strength the team has: it’s point guard, Rajon Rondo.

Making matters worse, early news regarding the Celtics’ free agency inquiries inform me that the Boston has inquired about both Kent Bazemore and Isaiah Thomas, II.

Yep – two more guards, with Thomas playing the point.

Think this has anything to do with why Boston is looking at so many guards?

According to Boston Celtics radio announcer Cedric Maxwell, “rumor has it” that Rajon Rondo has asked for a $100-million contract. . .

Technically speaking, Rondo can’t request a $100-million deal until he hits free agency next summer. Bound by the collective bargaining agreement, the Celtics, even if they want to, can’t offer nearly that type of money right now. In 2015, they will be able to offer him a maximum contract worth about $100 million over five years.

Oh Rondo.  Boston is not going to offer you $100 million.  You’re just not worth that kind of money.

There you have it, readers: I just admitted that Rajon Rondo is not worth a max salary.

Which means the Boston Celtics should try and trade him, right?

Well . . . not necessarily.

See, this is the damn problem with Rondo.  Rondo is a good point guard – a very good point guard.  In terms of pass-first players, he’s possibly the best baller on the planet.  But teams are not going to part with enough assets to make trading Rondo a smart business move.

Just look at Rondo’s career numbers – does this sound like a player teams will get in a bidding war over? (Stats courtesy of Yahoo!))

Year Team G Min FG% 3PT% FT% Off Def Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts
2006-07 BOS 78 23:28 41.8 20.7 64.7 0.9 2.8 3.7 3.8 1.8 1.6 0.1 2.3 6.4
2007-08 BOS 77 29:56 49.2 26.3 61.1 1.0 3.2 4.2 5.1 1.9 1.7 0.2 2.4 10.6
2008-09 BOS 80 33:01 50.5 31.3 64.2 1.3 4.0 5.2 8.2 2.6 1.9 0.1 2.4 11.9
2009-10 BOS 81 36:34 50.8 21.3 62.1 1.2 3.2 4.4 9.8 3.0 2.3 0.1 2.4 13.7
2010-11 BOS 68 37:09 47.5 23.3 56.8 1.3 3.1 4.4 11.2 3.4 2.3 0.2 1.8 10.6
2011-12 BOS 53 36:55 44.8 23.8 59.7 1.2 3.7 4.8 11.7 3.6 1.8 0.1 1.9 11.9
2012-13 BOS 38 37:26 48.4 24.0 64.5 1.1 4.4 5.6 11.1 3.9 1.8 0.2 2.5 13.7
2013-14 BOS 30 33:16 40.3 28.9 62.7 0.7 4.7 5.5 9.8 3.3 1.3 0.1 2.2 11.7
Totals   505 32:57 47.5 25.2 62.1 1.1 3.5 4.6 8.4 2.8 1.9 0.1 2.3 11.1

Bottom line: trading Rondo for an All-Star caliber player is not a guaranteed thing, and it’s inconceivable to think that Danny Ainge would trade Rondo for anyone less than a player who seems destined to play at such a high-level.Things get a bit better if you look at Rondo’s career win shares (45) and his win share per 48 minutes (.130, with the league average being .100) . . . until you look at LeBron James‘ win shares (168.5) and win share per 48 minutes (.243), and reality sets in.

Still, the fact that Boston would not get enough in return for trading Rondo is not the biggest reason I would advocate trying to re-sign him (albeit for a reduced price).   Rajon Rondo’s TRUE worth to the Boston Celtics?  Championships, and the ability to attract players who want to win championships.

Think about Kevin Love.  The Celtics may not be able to offer the Minnesota Timberwolves a package that convinces them to send Love to Boston . . . but should Love fail to be traded and wind up entering the waters of free agency, the Celtics do have something to offer him: the chance to play with the best pass-first point guard in the NBA.

A pass-first point guard who just happens to have played in two NBA Finals, and who owns a championship ring, too boot.

For a player like Kevin Love, who has yet to even experience the NBA Playoffs, playing with Rondo is a dream come true.

So . . . he’s not worth a max salary, but he’s a proven winner who other players would die to play alongside.  See the conundrum?

At the end of the day, then, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics have to be really careful.  If Rondo truly wants a max salary, the Celtics are smart to try and shop him . . . but because he is not considered an elite, or even up-and-coming, point guard, offers for Rondo are bound to be on the disappointing side.  Besides, Rondo is the only reason a truly elite free agent would even consider coming to Boston, in the first place!

Until, of course, he himself becomes a free agent next season, in which case . . . damn, I’m glad I’m not a GM!

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