The Boston Celtics already possess one of the NBA's elite point guards in Rajon Rondo, yet they're trying to acquire perhaps the best point guard in Chris Paul, according to an SI.com report. Both players are defensive menaces, both thrive in transition, and both are fantastic half-court creators, whether in pick-and-roll situations or in isolation.
For New Orleans, the move is both sensible and stupid.
Currently owned by the league, the Hornets don't have much to spend, and Paul is due more than $16 million this season with a player option of $17.8 million in 2012-13. Considering that Paul is widely expected to sign with the New York Knicks as a free agent next season and thereby create another Eastern super-team alongside Carmelo Anthony and A'mare Stoudemire, a supreme talent like Rondo would be a terrific consolation prize for New Orleans. Then again, the team -- acquired for $310 million last December -- would likely take an enormous hit in overall value by losing a superstar like CP3.
The other element to consider is that Rondo still has four years remaining on his contract. Somebody -- sooner rather than later -- is going to buy the Hornets, and having the insurance of a backcourt wiz at lead guard who's just entering his prime (he's 25) would be extremely helpful.
Boston meanwhile, and specifically GM Danny Ainge, would be taking a massive gamble. Although SI.com calls Ainge "highly motivated" to get Paul, he has reportedly said he would not resign there, so trading his best player in Rondo -- at a premium position, mind you -- for a one-year fix seems like a reach. Then again, so did trading a young center by the name of Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a soft, gun-shy wing defender in Jeff Green just last year. Paul himself is only 26 years old and could absorb multiple minutes, a boon for an otherwise aging duo of wings in Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
To be certain, the move would help the Celtics (finances aside), even if only for the one season. Paul is an absolute maestro who understands -- better than Rondo -- how to properly blend his versatile offensive talents with the necessary touches that Pierce, Kevin Garnett and shooter extraordinaire Allen demand. While Rondo has undoubtedly improved his offensive game since entering the NBA, Paul remains light-years ahead as a perimeter shooter, having hit nearly 39 percent from 3-point range and 88 percent from the line last year. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Paul has attempted over 500 more shots than Rondo from 15 feet and out during their careers, and he's been better shooting in those situations, averaging nearly seven more points per game on such shots. Conversely, Rondo hit on just 57 percent from the line and is hardly a threat from distance, even when given ample room to shoot.
Even still, Rondo would hardly be a Band-Aid for New Orleans. The Hornets still have a solid if not exciting center in Emeka Okafor, not to mention a tremendous wing athlete in Trevor Ariza whom Rondo could conceivably run the break with. And perhaps if the team were to land Rondo for the next four years, it might even be able to lure back unrestricted free agent David West, who would be an excellent pick-and-pop partner.
As we have learned over the past few months, situations in this league are both fluid and fast. Rondo and Paul could just as easily remain in place as they could be dealt. Such a trade, however, would potentially turn the Celtics into another one-hit title wonder and give the Hornets a real opportunity to build on an All-Star point guard just now entering his prime.
Let the games begin.
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