has been sidelined since January with a knee injury. (Brian Babineau/Getty Images)
A disappointing start has left the Knicks so mired in trade rumors that one Atlantic Division rival felt compelled to distance his organization from the brewing storm.
New York guard Iman Shumpert has been linked in trade scenarios involving Denver (for Kenneth Faried) and Boston (for Rajon Rondo), and the building chatter has led Celtics president Danny Ainge to publicly shoot down his team's involvement in any talks.
The Boston Globe reports that Ainge said Monday that Rondo is "going nowhere" and that the Celtics haven't engaged in trade discussions for their All-Star point guard, who is currently rehabilitating from a 2012-13 season-ending knee injury suffered in January.
"Rondo is coming off an injury and I think people know how much we love Rondo, so I don’t expect anybody to inquire, quite honestly," Ainge said. "People know that Rondo is a big part of our future and that we’re not going to trade him."
Ainge called Rondo, a four-time All-Star, "the centerpiece of our future."
The Point Forward argued last week that the Knicks shouldn't expect to receive Faried in exchange for Shumpert, and that is doubly true when it comes to Rondo. The two players are separated by roughly $10 million in salary, meaning other pieces would need to be involved to make a deal legal, but the real issue is the questionable logic behind such a move for Boston.
Rondo is a top-shelf point guard despite his limited range, prickly personality and knee injury, and a trade involving him should return an A-list asset, whether that's a major young talent or a quality draft pick. Shumpert doesn't quite fit the bill on the first count and the Knicks are drowning in pick debt due to previous trades. That Boston needs a capable point guard and already has a young backcourt stopper of its own in Avery Bradley makes the proposal even more difficult to swallow.
What's more, New York even lacks the major expiring contracts that could provide relief to Boston for the money owed to Gerald Wallace, Jeff Green and Courtney Lee if the Celtics were looking to slash-and-burn. Even if the Knicks did have expiring contracts, would they want to use them to facilitate a deal for Rondo or simply wait it out until their cap clears up in 2015, when they can make a play for even bigger name stars in free agency? And what's the point of a pass-first, no-jumper point guard like Rondo if New York's offense is going to continue to run through the ball-stopping Carmelo Anthony?
The questions just go on and on. Why trade your best player to a division rival? Why not take a wait-and-see approach to Rondo's health this year and determine whether any other desperate suitors emerge at the deadline? Longer-term, why not simply enjoy Rondo's affordable contract this year and next while using the time to see how his relationship with new coach Brad Stevens develops?
Ainge's "no trading Rondo" edict is not as permanent or as definitive as it sounds. Let's not forget that Kevin Garnett
said he wanted to "retire a Celtic" in February
before Boston agreed to trade him to Brooklyn in June. That trade, ironically, offers excellent insight into why Rondo wouldn't be moved to the Knicks in a package around Shumpert. Brooklyn bowled over Boston with draft picks in a way New York simply can't. There must be some appeal for Boston to be even remotely interested in parting with Rondo, and Shumpert's potential just isn't appealing enough.