Despite long odds, Josh Smith dreams of teaming up with old friend Rajon Rondo
The ties that bind professional basketball players extend well beyond -- and well before -- the NBA. Top prospects meet each other on the AAU circuit growing up. Some shuttle together as transfers to a basketball powerhouse (Oak Hill Academy, Findlay Prep and the like) or vie against one another for state titles. They converge on All-American teams, attend the same developmental camps, and share memories in collegiate conference play or the NCAA tournament. The current basketball system is built in a way that allows players from all over the country direct access to one another, offering countless possible origin points for friendships among them.
Pistons forward Josh Smith and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo are one such example of a basketball bond, as the two former high school teammates and roommates have remained close despite never playing for the same team since. According to Smith (per ProBasketballTalk), that's something the former classmates might eventually look to rectify:
“The conversation comes up,” Smith said. “[Rondo and I] always tell each other how surreal a moment that would be, for us to be able to reconnect again in that realm. With the different free agencies that we both have, it could be far-fetched, but it could be possible, too.
“I’m always optimistic. I’m always thinking different scenarios. It could happen, but who knows?”
The free agencies that Smith noted are still a long way off, if only because his own deal doesn't expire until the summer of 2017. Rondo will have the ability to test the market two years prior, though the shaky status of both players on their current deals also creates an alternative means for reunion. Never before in their NBA careers have Smith and Rondo been so unsettled with their current teams; the Pistons have been disjointed and slow to improve with Smith as a centerpiece, and the rebuilding Celtics have reason to part with Rondo if the right deal comes along. It's possible, then, that the two could eventually come to be teammates again -- whether in Detroit, Boston or another city.
It's just not all that plausible, as the Celtics would have exceedingly little motivation to acquire Smith and Rondo would at best be a rather curious address of the Pistons' spacing problems. There's also a three-year, $24 million obstruction to their reunion in the form of Brandon Jennings' contract, which wouldn't likely be easy to move in the event that Detroit ever seriously pursued Rondo. Any such deal would also likely include Greg Monroe, though the outstanding draft pick the Pistons owe the Bobcats would make it tricky to arrange for future picks in a potential trade. There is no master plan at work here -- just a mention between two old friends of how nice it would be to play together. It's a quaint thought, but probably only that.