What John Wall’s Contract Means for Rajon Rondo


Jan 2, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) drives the ball in the first quarter against Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) and shooting guard Ray Allen (20) at the TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn’t hear last week, John Wall signed a maximum extension with the Washington Wizards. Wall’s extension was for five years through 2019 and he’ll earn $80 million from it.

Wall is only a third year player going into his fourth. He hasn’t had any All-Star appearances, but has averaged 16.9 points per game and 8.0 assists throughout his career.

Wall is no doubt talented, but if there is one thing that he isn’t, its proven. Wall is now the Wizards designated player but, again, he’s never been an All-Star. He’s never lead a team to the playoffs and that’s the main goal for the Wizards organization that is trying to rebuild itself.

This brings us to Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics. Back when Rondo was facing restricted free agency, he and his agent, Bill Duffy, thought that he was worthy of a maximum extension just as Wall’s camp did here. Rondo eventually took a deal to the tune of about $4-5 million less per year on his contract. He was signed to a five year $55 million deal that would end up becoming one of the NBA’s best contracts.

Now, with only two years left on his deal, Rondo will have to renegotiate a contract with the Celtics or face free agency. He’ll likely opt out when the time comes because of the financial security that it guarantees, but still, there’s no telling what Rondo will want. If John Wall is getting a max deal without having proven much, it seems like Rondo will have the opportunity to demand the same.

Without a decent team around him the likelihood of him getting that deal from the Celtics is pretty slim. Rondo will be 29 years old when the time comes for him to test the market. He’ll be able to be the Celtics designated player going forward–something that isn’t likely. That is something that Rondo may want, however. He’s going to be the face of this franchise now and will want to be paid for it accordingly.

Still, its always a risk giving a player who is entering his 30’s a five year maximum contract. They’d be locked up with Rondo until he’s 34 years old and he’d be able to finish his career as a Boston Celtic. The risk there is that he’s going to be an old point guard without a decent jump shot–pending no improvement there–and he’ll have experienced an ACL surgery in his career.

Without the ACL and a nearly spotless bill of health as far as his knees are concerned, this would be a slightly safer deal. But because Rondo has had knee issues in the past the chances of him having problems going into the future increase a bit. If the Celtics are willing to pay him this type of money going forward, then so be it, but it could be to the detriment of the organization’s future.

Looking at the facts as they stand, its pretty clear that what Rondo has done up to this point makes him a maximum contract player. He’s a two time All-Star player that would’ve made it three had he not gotten injured last season. He technically has led the league in assists for the last two seasons even though he didn’t finish last year. He’s propelled the Celtics to the Finals once and has one a championship with the organization another time. He’s one of the best defensive guards in the league and has an innate sense of the geometry of the floor. Paying him a max contract would’ve been an easy decision had it been made last offseason.

Now, with his injury hanging in the balance and the Celtics in a rebuilding state, things aren’t going to be as clear-cut. The Celtics will have to make a decision if they can’t get their hands on a player who can be a true franchise changer to supplement the skill of Rondo. They’re searching for another cornerstone to rebuild that championship foundation. If they can’t find two, there’s no sense in going forward with one. The goal is to win a championship and Rondo can’t do that alone.

It really comes down to two simple things for the Celtics when Rondo’s next deal is concerned. The first thing will be whether or not Rondo’s production has increased. If it has, then how much it has increased will matter. The Celtics will know whether or not that production is worthy of a max deal or not.

The second thing will be whether or not the Celtics have found another cornerstone or two to build upon and if they’re winning. If they’ve found another piece and they work well with Rondo, they’d be more willing to pay him what he asks for to keep things going in a positive direction. If they can’t find that next piece to their puzzle, then they’ll likely try to get Rondo to settle for less or just let him walk all together.

I’m sure that Rondo would like to retire as a Boston Celtic. In this era of basketball it isn’t everyday that a player can play for one organization throughout their career–Celtics fans know that first hand now. But if there’s a chance to improve this team by letting Rondo go, then the Celtics have to do it. A max deal for Rondo may or may not be the answer. Only time will tell.