It was bound to come sooner or later, and sure enough, just days after free agents signed over the summer became eligible to be traded, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is reportedly on the market.

Talks of a trade involving Rondo have increased in recent days, according to Yahoo Sports columnists Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears. To the surprise of nobody, Celtics president Danny Ainge is holding out for a hefty return, preferably from a Western Conference foe.

The Celtics are exhibiting a renewed willingness to pursue trade packages that include point guard Rajon Rondo, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

As much as ever in his nine seasons in Boston, the Celtics have left strong impressions with rival organizations that they’€™re prepared to make a deal that includes Rondo, sources said. Boston has been engaged in discussions described as ‘€œserious’€ in recent days, but no trade agreement is imminent.

We’ve been following the Celtics captain’s trade value in our weekly Rajon Rondo Trade Barometer series.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.

THE BEST

1. Warriors (21-3)

I am still skeptical about the Dubs’ ability to win it all, but any team that opens the season 21-3 deserves the top slot.

2. Grizzlies (20-4)

The Grizzlies beat the Warriors on Tuesday night at home. If the Splash Brothers are the league’s best backcourt, the Griz have the best front court in Gasol and Z-Bo. I love watching Gasol/Conley pick-and-roll as well as the absurd arc on Gasol’s jumper.

3. Rockets (18-5)

Dwight Howard, the NBA’s softest and most hated player, just missed 11 games. The Rockets went 8-3 and didn’t seem to miss a beat.

4. Wizards (18-6)

My reaction when watching Jon Wall:

Also, Marcin Gortat says he is black, and the rest of the team agrees. Beautiful stuff.

5. Hawks (17-7)

The best NBA team you have never seen. Jeff Teague is playing great. Kyle Korver continues to shoot the lights out, even if Evan Turner thinks he can’t play defense. The Hawks recently won nine games in a row where they beat teams by an average of 14 ppg.

THE WORST

5. Celtics (8-14)

I want to believe in this team. I see the potential, but losing to the Knicks is unacceptable. That was one of the worst games I have ever seen in person. Rondo only taking three shots was so frustrating that I almost jumped to the trade-Rondo bandwagon. At least Danny Ainge feels the same way and has entered Joe Dumars two-phone mode.

  4. Lakers (8-17)

Only a man who nicknamed himself Swaggy Pretty would have the gall to take and make that shot. The next week, the Lakers got absolutely destroyed by the Pacers. This team cannot and will not play defense. I just hope the lottery gives the Lakers the sixth pick, so it gets sent to the Suns and they get nothing for this horrible season.

3. Pistons (5-20)

Pistons fans rejoice. Josh Smith is on the trade block. Brandon Jennings is on the trade block. JOSH SMITH IS ON THE TRADE BLOCK!!!!!!

2. Knicks (5-22)


1. 76ers (2-22)

The boy Nerlens is a defensive beast. I don’t know what was going through Sully’s head when he attempted this dunk.

Follow Sam on Twitter @SPackGuy.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

Let’s face it: This is the season of Rajon Rondo. As interesting as it is to evaluate the frontcourt progress of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley‘s offensive potential and Jeff Green‘s surprising consistency, the biggest questions the Celtics must answer all involve Rondo. Just how good is he? Will he be traded? What can they get in return? In a weekly feature on Green Street, we’ll take stock of the Celtics captain’s status every Tuesday.

RAJON RONDO TRADE VALUE

During a dismal week in which the Celtics lost to the Hornets and Knicks before snapping a three-game skid with a wire-to-wire win over the hapless 76ers, here are Rondo’s three-game totals: 19 points (9-17 FG, 0-3 3P, 1-2 FT), 27 assists (8 turnovers), 24 rebounds and six steals. He was a minus-26 in 88 minutes.

And here are the combined totals for opposing point guards Kemba Walker, Jose Calderon and Michael Carter-Williams: 40 points (14-36 FG, 3-10 3P, 9-12 FT), 20 assists (9 turnovers), 13 boards and six steals. They were plus-20 in 98 minutes.

Not great, even if Rondo submitted his third triple-double of the season against Charlotte. While he owned a superior true shooting percentage (53.1 vs. 48.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.38 vs. 2.22) with more rebounds and the same number of steals, the C’s captain should wipe the floor with that trio.

As if we expected to solve Rondo over the first six weeks of the 2014-15 season, he remains an enigma. Should he continue averaging 10.6 assists, 8.0 points and 7.5 rebounds over 82 games, Rondo will join Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only players to produce those numbers. Yet, he ranks among the league’s worst shooters from mid-range (30.2 percent), 3-point range (24.1 percent) and the free throw line (33.3 percent).

Regardless of how you feel about either set of numbers, it’s hard to argue with these: The Celtics have been better both offensively and defensively without Rondo, outscoring opponents by 0.5 points per 100 possessions in 405 minutes without Rondo and getting outscored by 3.2 points per 100 possessions in 668 minutes with him.

It’s always been impossible to measure Rondo’s impact with traditional stats, but his positive on/off numbers from 2006-12 always reflected what we thought we were seeing with our own eyes: He made everyone around him better. Statistically, that hasn’t been the case this season, and that has to concern potential trading partners.

Value: Stagnant.

It's time now to ask the Magic 9-Ball.

It’s time now to ask the Magic 9-Ball.

RAJON RONDO TRADE IDEA

Free agents signed this past summer are now eligible to be traded, and Hornets guard Lance Stephenson is the name most often mentioned.

While Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge could pursue Stephenson without dangling Rondo in a deal, he could also weave the four-time All-Star into a much larger trade.

Charlotte just signed Kemba Walker to a four-year, $48 million extension. So, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe suggested, the UConn product joins old friend Al Jefferson as (somewhat) untouchable, making Rondo of little use to owner Michael Jordan.

However, Stephenson’s availability at a price tag of $27 million over the next three years creates all kinds of three-team trade possibilities for Ainge involving both Rondo and Jeff Green.

Take the Rockets, for example, who might be willing to part with the injured Terrence Jones and picks. Would Ainge ship Rondo to Houston and Green to Charlotte if he could collect Stephenson, Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in return?

Same goes for the Pacers. If Ainge could land Roy Hibbert, Kidd-Gilchrist and/or Stephenson in a deal that sent Green to the Hornets and Rondo to Indiana, where Larry Bird has been enamored with him, would he do it?

Ainge might not pull the trigger on either trade, but the sudden availability of Stephenson and a host of other players who don’t quite fit with their new teams increases Ainge’s chances of getting value in return should he deal Rondo.

Idea: Not too shabby.

RAJON RONDO TRADE ODDS

Suddenly, Celtics rookie point guard Marcus Smart is injury prone.

After missing just three games in two seasons at Oklahoma State — all a result of his suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan — he has now missed 12 of the C’s 22 games due to an ankle sprain and Achilles strain in his left foot.

One injury may be linked to the other, and a dozen DNPs this early in one’s career does not a bust make, but in the process of determining Rondo’s future, the Celtics would like to know what they presently have in Smart. While the rookie’s 23-4-5 effort in a double-overtime loss to the Wizards last week was an encouraging sign he could ultimately be their next great point guard, another prolonged absence makes the entire process that much more difficult.

The longer Smart sits on the sidelines between now and the February trade deadline, the longer the C’s should hold onto Rondo in an effort to see as much as possible from his potential replacement. So, while more players are eligible  to be traded in recent days, Ainge should hold out hope his starting and backup point guards increase their value.

Odds: 20-1.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Kelly Olynyk netted a career-high 30 points to help lead the Celtics to a 105-87 win over the lowly Sixers, in Philadelphia. (For a complete box score, click here.)

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk netted a career-high 30 points to help lead the Celtics to a 105-87 win over the lowly Sixers, in Philadelphia. (For a complete box score, click here.)

Philadelphia (2-22) dropped to 0-13 at home this season, staying in contention for the NBA record more most home losses to begin a campaign. (The 1993-94 Mavericks started 0-19.)

The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Celtics, who had beaten Philly in the teams’ only other meeting this season.

The C’s broke open a five-point lead in the first quarter with a 27-13 second quarter, thanks in large part to Olynyk’s 18 first-half points.

Avery Bradley only went 5-for-20 from the floor, but finished as the Celtics’ second-leading scorer with 15 points.

Two Celtics mainstays struggled in the win, with Jared Sullinger netting just five points on 2-of-10 shooting, and Rajon Rondo taking just three shots on the way to a five-point night.

For a complete recap, click here.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Celtics dropped a 101-95 decision to the New York Knicks (click here for a box score) Friday night at TD Garden.

The Celtics dropped a 101-95 decision to the New York Knicks (click here for a box score) Friday night at TD Garden.

Carmelo Anthony, who missed the previous game with a sore left knee, appeared to have no lingering issues, as he scored 20 points in just under 40 minutes. The Celtics once again struggled to find open looks in their half court offense, committing 18 turnovers and shooting a mediocre 43.5 percent from the field.

The Knicks led for almost the entire game and were able to withstand a frantic fourth quarter push by the Celtics. Amare Stoudemire and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 20 and 16 points, respectively, in the win. Jeff Green led the way for the Celtics, scoring 28 points on 9 for 19 shooting.

Zeller Lone Bright Spot

Tyler  Zeller continues to be one of the lone bright spots on this Celtics team. Zeller scored 19 points, shooting a crazy efficient 9 for 14 from the field. Zeller is a favorite target for Rondo around the basket and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He moves especially well in transition, finding the right angles before the defense has the chance to set up. Zeller struggled to defend the length of Stoudemire, but continues be impress on the offensive end, especially in the pick-and-roll.

Marcus Smart Injured Again

Marcus Smart left the game in the second quarter after only playing just more than three minutes. The team quickly announced that he suffered a strained left Achilles. He appeared to hurt himself while taking a charge on this play (see below). He limped into the locker room at the next stoppage of play. It’€™s unclear if this injury is related to the sprained ankle he suffered earlier in the season.


(Thanks to ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg for the Gif.)

Haters Gon’ Hate Evan Turner

Turns out Taylor Swift knows all. Players are indeed going to play, while haters are simultaneously going to hate. Evan Turner caught a lot of twitter flack after missing a potential game winning shot against the Wizards on Monday. Friday, Turner, starting in place of the sick Avery Bradley, only gave his detractors more reasons to vilify him as he shockingly struggled with his outside shot early. He found moderate success later in the game by attacking the rim. He finished with 13 points and five5 turnovers.

Bad Rondo Night

Rondo had his typical near-triple-double stat line with 10 assists, and seven rebounds, but only 2 points. The polarizing point guard only attempted three shots, and drove into the lane with almost zero intention of shooting the basketball. Knicks defenders were daring him to shoot as he forced a number of high difficulty passes. He was an astounding minus-11 while on the floor as the Celtics struggled to push the tempo and play fast-paced basketball.

Marcus the Microwave

His basketball reference page lists his nickname as “€œLil’€™ Buckets,” but I much prefer “Marcus The Microwave,” because he heats up insanely fast. As colleague Julian Edlow mentioned yesterday, Marcus Thornton is one of the only Celtics who has shown the ability to consistently create his own shot and provide scoring off the bench. He followed up his 16-point performance in Charlotte with 13 points in 21 minutes. We want more Microwave, we need more Microwave.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard
Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Well, this didn’t take long.

Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that Carmelo Anthony would consider waiving his no-trade clause (for the right situation) just 24 games into his five-year $124 million contract. Of course, many reporters who cover the Knicks have come out to dispute this report. It is a bit ridiculous that Melo would give up on New York this early, but let’s roll with Berman’s story for argument’s sake.

Is Anthony a player worth pursuing if you’re Danny Ainge?

Strong arguments can be made for both sides.

WHY A CELTICS-KNICKS TRADE FOR ANTHONY MAKES SENSE

Ainge has been waiting for a big name to be made available, and Anthony would be the only one with trade speculation swirling around him … well, outside of Boston’s own Rajon Rondo. The Celtics are at a crossroads when it comes to the direction of the team. Ainge has been stockpiling assets for a youthful rebuild, but it has always been on his mind that he could turn those assets into win-now players if the opportunity presented itself, much like it did in the summer of 2007.

Boston would provide Anthony with a significantly better supporting cast than he has been given in New York, specifically Rondo. Ainge runs one of the only franchises with the combination of draft picks and expiring contracts to land Anthony, as well as persuade the star that the Celtics are a team worth his while.

Here’s an idea of what the Celtics could offer the Knicks: Jeff Green ($9.2M player option next season), Marcus Thornton ($8.6M expiring), Brandon Bass ($6.9M expiring) and a first-round pick in each of the next three drafts. Normally teams can’t trade picks in back-to-back drafts (let alone three in a row), but thanks to the C’s situation, they could offer their own picks in 2015 and 2017 (and the Knicks would have the right to swap picks with the Nets in 2017 if their pick ends up a better one than Boston’s) and the Nets‘ pick in 2016.

This would be a pretty nice haul for the nearly asset-less Knicks. At 4-20 entering Friday’s contest against the Celtics, New York is on track to land a top-five pick in June’s draft, and then would have the Celtics’ pick to pair alongside its own. The picks in 2016 and 2017 would give the Knicks hope of finding a young star in the draft that they haven’t had in ages.

Aside from the flurry of potentially high picks, New York would be getting three players whose contracts (likely) expire at the end of the season. Green does have a player option for 2015-16, but if he continues to have a career season, he may be better off opting out and seeing what the market has to offer. Green is playing well enough to get some trade interest across the league, meaning the Knicks could work on turning Green into even more assets. Same goes for Bass and Thornton. Both are solid role players who could provide a spark of the bench for a contender, but even if the Knicks failed to move them, their contracts expire at season’s end and give the Knicks some flexibility.

The Celtics’ mindset would be obvious: Win now! Ainge would be shipping away many of his future picks he worked so hard to gain, but at the same time, still own roughly as many picks as a normal team would have since he possesses two first-rounders in most upcoming drafts. So without sacrificing the entire future, Ainge gets his superstar to pair with Rondo.

Things presumably wouldn’t turn around right away in Boston. Rondo and Anthony would have to get on the same page and the young talent that remains (Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, Marcus Smart and even James Young) would have to grow with the duo. Then Ainge would be faced with finding a way to re-sign Rondo in 2015, as well as find his James Posey/Eddie House-type role players to put the finishing touches on his work.

To dig even deeper, could Ainge find a way to build a new Big Three? Possibly a sign-and-trade with Memphis to get a player like Marc Gasol? It would require some serious work and parting with potentially the rest of Boston’s assets, but it could be worth it. Obviously I’m now way ahead of myself, but with the cap expected to rise significantly (thanks to the NBA’s new TV deal), this is not impossible to finagle. Prying Gasol from Memphis would be the hardest part, but just plug in “star player X” and create the same scenario.

But we would never find out if something like that could be if Ainge doesn’t start by going after Anthony with everything he has.

WHY A CELTICS-KNICKS TRADE FOR ANTHONY DOES NOT MAKE SENSE

Anthony is on the wrong side of 30 years old and already is battling knee issues at the very beginning of a deal that will pay him $124 million. He is considered one of the best players in the NBA, yet has “led” his team to a 4-20 start. And this is not just any 4-20 start, this is a 4-20 start in the East. The Celtics are a struggling, young team that is learning how to win, but they have held their own at 6-6 against other Easter Conference teams. Anthony has played in 21 of his team’s 24 games,  and New York is just 3-12 against opponents from the East — 3-12! That’s more embarrassing than the overall record.

So, what does that record indicate?

Anthony is not a winning player. With just one appearance in the conference finals, he truly never has been. But with his age and his current production, he is nowhere near worth his contract.

The Knicks obviously felt he was worth the money and plan on building around him. He’s their problem now. Anthony committed to the Knicks and they have their plan going forward. The Celtics have a much better plan.

As I mentioned, Ainge has the assets to get a player like Anthony if he realistically wants to change teams. But those assets could be more valuable if Boston just invests in its steadily growing young core. The C’s already have Smart, Young, Sullinger, Olynyk and Zeller, then add on all of the draft picks that Ainge now keeps by holding off on a trade. The Celtics have a good track record with developing talent. With so many picks they would be practically guaranteed to hit on some of their selections.

Then there’s Rondo, whom Ainge likely hasn’t picked a direction on yet. But if the Celtics don’t chase a star player like Anthony this season, it only becomes less likely that Rondo is still wearing green next season. Although Rondo continues to tell the media that he likes it in Boston (and I believe him), it may just end up not being the right fit for him after this season.

If Rondo walks in free agency (the worst-case scenario), then Ainge simply gains the cap space to chase after a young free agent. Greg Monroe, anyone? However, if Ainge does decide to swing a deal involving Rondo before the deadline, he presumably would be adding even more assets to what would now only be described as an absurd combination of prospects and picks.

Rondo already rode the bench in Washington during an entire fourth quarter and two overtimes in favor of Smart. Smart had 23 points and the game of his young career, clearly showing the potential to one day lead a team. It was a performance that caught the eye of many Celtics fans and made some envision a future without Rondo for the first time.

So why waste time adding an overpaid player like Anthony who has never shown the ability to win? Ainge already has the future of the team at his fingertips with the young talent he has (and has the potential to gain more).

FINAL THOUGHTS

If it got to the point where Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to come to Boston (and it probably won’t), Ainge would be in a tough spot. Superstars are not made available in the NBA often, and there’s very few of them to go around. But is this really the right guy for Boston?

It’s easy to talk about trades and say what you would or wouldn’t do. We’re all guilty of it. But if a deal like this were actually on the table, I for one would be glad that I’m not the guy making the decision.

 

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow
Marcus Thornton

Marcus Thornton

The Celtics‘ primary struggles have been well documented to this point. They are very, very bad when it comes to late game execution. One of the players most people look to in those situations — including his teammates — is Rajon Rondo. But, Rondo has preformed poorly in those scenarios so far this season, something he hasn’t lost any sleep over.

Realistically, crunch time scoring is not Rondo’s forte. That’s not his fault. He’s a brilliant passer that is trying to find his young teammates who are attempting to learn on the fly while under pressure.

Another seemingly strong option late in games should be Jeff Green, who has hit some game-winners before. Green is having the career-year many have been looking for from him, at least in terms on consistency and aggressiveness, but even he hasn’t done enough to keep the Celtics from throwing away games in fourth quarters.

Here’s an idea: Give Marcus Thornton a try.

Thornton was an afterthought entering the season. He’s in Boston because his expiring contract was included in a trade that Danny Ainge used to add Tyler Zeller and a first-round pick to the tall-standing pile of assets the Celtics have collected. Thornton, a streaky bench scorer, has kept his team in games a few times this season, but even more so recently.

In Sunday’s win over the Wizards, Thornton scored 21 points in just 17 minutes off the bench. 11 of those points were during a run that broke the game open for the C’s in the second quarter, and then he added another eight points to keep the Celtics on top in the fourth quarter after the Wizards were threatening to steal the win.

In Charlotte on Wednesday, Thornton was nowhere to be heard from — until the fourth quarter, of course. Thornton scored 13 of his 16 points in the first seven and a half minutes of the final frame, then Brad Stevens went away from the hot hand. Thornton missed a couple of deep 3-pointers to bail the team out at the end of the shot clock, but the ball was primarily in Rondo’s hands (then out of his hands as a result of three late turnovers). The Celtics seemed more interested in going to the guys that should be producing.

Instead, Stevens and his team should considering running the ball through the guy that has been producing. Stevens has told the media that closing games has to be done by committee, not just one guy. However, at least on nights that Thornton has it going, he can be that guy.

This all might sound crazy. Making Marcus Thornton your go-to-guy means you are not a very good team. We all know that as currently constructed this Celtics squad isn’t going anywhere, so why not try something new? Something that looks like it might actually work.

For the long-term success of the Celtics, Ainge knows he needs to bring in additional talent — higher level talent, really. Those trades and/or draft picks are not here yet, though. Maybe the Celtics are trying to do what they did last year and get as high up in the lottery as they can in hopes of landing higher than No. 6 this time. But if they are serious about trying to turn the corner and start winning some games this season, they will see that Thornton might be their best crunch time scorer . . . for now.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

The Celtics returned home from an unsuccessful two-game road trip and got right back to practice on Thursday. They were a unique couple of games in the sense that the starters didn’t see many minutes during crunch time in Monday’s loss to the Wizards, but then were unable to keep up with the Hornets’ starters on Wednesday when they were on the floor late in the game.

There was a lot of speculation surrounding Rajon Rondo being benched for the fourth quarter and both overtimes in Washington. Many expected him to bounce back strong in Wednesday’s game, but instead he committed three late-game turnovers that potentially cost the C’s the game. Rondo seems to be putting his mishaps in the past.

“It’s not weighing on me at all,” Rondo said of his team’s struggles.

Does he feel like he’s getting too much of the blame?

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Rondo replied. “I’ve been here the longest. I’m the team captain and I’m the point guard. Just like in football, in the beginning they blamed [Tom] Brady a lot. It’s just part of it. It’s not weighing on me at all.”

Rondo doesn’t put much emphasis on trying to improve on things that went wrong after having a bad game — instead he looks forward.

“You let it go,” Rondo said of his fourth quarter in Charlotte. “I’ve been playing this game for nine years. I’m one of the best at what I do. I’m human, I make mistakes. I own up to my mistakes, this is part of the game.”

Rondo’s coach understands where is he coming from.

“I think he has an idea that as a leader and an older guy you have to be accountable,” Brad Stevens said. “At the same time, if he says, ‘Hey, this one’s on me,’ or he says something to that extent, none of us think that. We all were accountable for all the different things that went wrong in a loss or a win.”

“I think as a teammate, and as a person on the team, you appreciate that accountability, but you certainly don’t think that [Rondo is the one to blame], but it’s part of being a leader,” Stevens added.

JEFF GREEN‘S GLOVES

Although Rondo is not feeling any weight, Jeff Green has had plenty of weight on him. Well, on his hands. Green has been working to improve his ball-handling by wearing weighted gloves on each hand when doing drills after practice.

“They’re weighted gloves so it makes dribbling a little harder to control the ball, so it was all about control,” Green said.

Ball-handling, however, was not something that Stevens saw as a priority that Green needed to work on coming into the season.

“No, I think he’s always worked on it. He’s working on it right now with some funky gloves. I don’t really know what those do,” Stevens said. “But he’s better at [ball-handling]. He’s able to drive by people, he’s able to handle the ball and he can just continue to get better at it.”

But what made him decide to use the gloves?

“They were sent to me,” Green said.

Green does feel like the gloves have helped him so far — enough so that he plans to keep using them after practice for the foreseeable future.

JAMES YOUNG HURT

James Young wasn’t at practice for the Celtics on Thursday, he injured his shoulder playing in a game for the Maine Red Claws (the Celtics’ D-League affiliate) on Wednesday night. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as to when he will be able to return.

“I guess his shoulder subluxed and they’re doing more tests to see the extent of the injury,” Stevens said. “Those can be very, very short-term things or they can be a little bit longer, but that’s the extent of what I know. He’s getting X-rays right now.”

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow