Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about Rajon Rondo, trade rumors, the NBA draft and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Mannix predicts that Rondo will remain with the Celtics this year, and Danny Ainge will look to keep him on board for the long term if he shows an ability to work with the team’s new coach.
“I think he’s a guy that Danny wants to build around if he gets along with Brad Stevens. … It’s still very much a wait-and-see situation with Rondo,” Mannix said. “You’ve got to see what you get from him next year. He’s not going to get traded before this year’s trade deadline, he’s going to be with this team through the offseason.”
Mannix didn’t guarantee Rondo would be in Boston after the season, saying Ainge would always listen to offers.
“If Danny gets a monster offer for Rondo, I don’t think he’s attached to him in the sense that he’s untradeable,” Mannix said. “But I think it’s going to take a huge, All-Star level Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen type of offer.”
Jeff Green, who has been part of recent trade rumors, might be writing his ticket out of town due to his inconsistency, following a strong start to the season.
“He was off the table in the Omer Asik trade about a month ago,” Mannix said. “I remember talking to people in the organization and there was no way they were going to trade Jeff Green in an Omer Asik deal. They thought Green was too valuable in the short term and the long term. Now, a month and a half later, and we’re now realizing that Jeff Green is kind of this Jekyll and Hyde type of guy where some nights he can go for 30, other nights 2-for-12 from the floor and totally vanish.”
However, Mannix sees Green’s inconsistency as a problem for a deal.
“I think at this point, Jeff Green is absolutely on the table for a deal. I think if Boston can find a way to find a way to get either a first-round draft pick or some kind of young piece back that can be better for their future, they would be willing to deal him,” he said. “The problem is that other teams are seeing what Jeff Green is, and other teams are seeing just how much money Jeff Green is making, and I don’t think they’re willing to deal for him.”
Another player Boston reportedly is looking to move is Brandon Bass. Mannix, after conversations with people around the NBA, said Boston will struggle to move the veteran.
“Nobody really wants him. … You hear a lot about what Brandon Bass can do, and how valuable he might be, but Houston didn’t want any part of him when they were talking about the Omer Asik trade a month, month and a half ago, and I don’t think anybody across the league really wants him. He’s got a decent salary and I guess he comes off the books in a year or so, but for the time being he’s not a valuable guy in terms of on-the-court contribution. You’re not going to get a first-round pick in return for him.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.
On Boston overvaluing some of its players: ”I’ve had conversations with a couple of different general managers last night, and we talked a little bit about Boston and what they were trying to do at the trade deadline, and the sense I got from them was that Boston is totally overvaluing some of the players they have. They’re looking for first-round picks in return for guys like Jeff Green or a guy like Avery Bradley and others and they’re just not going to get it.”
On Rondo’s perceived attitude problem: ”The most overhyped aspect of Rondo is that he’s a jerk, that he’s not a leader, that he’s a pain in the butt. I mean, you show me one player, one superstar caliber player around the league that’s not, in a lot of ways, a jackass, and I’m surprised by it. Rondo has his quirks, no question about it, as you’ve heard Doc Rivers allude to both, subtly and overtly, over the last year or so, he can be difficult to coach at times. But when he’s on the floor, and when he’s playing at a high level, he is a top-five point guard in the NBA.”
On Oklahoma City and other NBA teams picking for need: ”Really it started with last year’s draft, is that teams are picking mostly on need. … Oklahoma City, they didn’t love Steven Adams in the draft at No. 12 necessarily, he wasn’t necessarily No. 1 on their draft board. But they look at that team and looked at the financial picture and the long term, and saw they could draft a center and maybe let Kendrick Perkins go in a year or two and have Steven Adams be their starting center and still be able to afford the guys like [Kevin] Durant and Russell Westbrook and maybe one other player to a big-time salary. Teams are drafting on need as much as ever before, and I think they’re going to do that in this year’s draft. So if you have a hole at center, you’re drafting Joel Embiid. If you think Jabari Parker can player power forward for you, you’re drafting him. If you need a small forward, you’re taking Andrew Wiggins. I think any one of these guys could wind up being the No. 1 pick based on the team he goes to.”
On who is the most talented player in the 2014 draft: ”I still think Wiggins is going to turn out to be that guy. I still think he’s going to be the No. 1 pick on these draft boards based on who teams would pick if they had to start their franchise. I mean, Embiid has gotten a lot of press in the last month or so because of where he’s come from and how far he’s come in a short period of time. Jabari Parker might be the most NBA-ready player right now. But when you watch Wiggins, even though he’s been inconsistent all year long, when you watch him go off and have one of those stretches where he can shoot the ball from 3, goes to the basket, defends, this guy still is a tantalizing talent, and I think he’s going to be tough to pass up if you have a big need at that small forward spot.”
On where the sweet spot is in the NBA draft: ”When you get into the six territory, and you start talking about guys like Marcus Smart and some other guys that have some question marks attached to them, they still might be All-Star level players. We don’t know the answer to that question, but they’re not the sure-fire locks that I think the first five guys are going to be in this draft. If I’m Boston, I want to stay out of that 6-10 range, and jump into that top five.”
On if Jared Sullinger would be better if he lost 20 pounds: “I don’t know if he would be, really. He is so good at using that body underneath the paint. In the games I watch, he’s going up against guys four or five inches taller than him and he is rebounding over them, and that, to me, is a great sign for Jared’s future. Now maybe, going forward, because he’s probably not going to be a center in the long term, you don’t want him playing that spot in the long term. If he’s going to have to guard quicker forwards, then yes, you do want to see him drop some weight, get a little more agile, but from the offensive end of the floor, from the rebounding end of the floor, I love his size. I think he’s able to use that body as well as any player at his position in the league. It reminds me a lot of like Kevin Love uses his body in the paint to overcome a lot of athleticism to rebound over bigger players. He’s very good in that respect and I don’t want to see him lose any of that if he loses weight.”