Are Rajon Rondo's days as a member of the Boston Celtics numbered?
That's the question most Boston fans have been wondering about this offseason as rumors have popped up about the future of the veteran point guard.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stayed quiet on the topic for months, but broke his silence Sunday night in an appearance at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Worcester. Ainge fielded several questions from the audience in the Q-and-A session, including one regarding what the team plans to do with Rondo. (Via the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.)
"The truthful answer is I really don't know (if Rondo will get dealt)," Ainge insisted. "I have no intention. I'm not trying to trade Rondo, but because he's a free agent this summer, he assured me that he wants to stay in Boston. We'd love to keep him in Boston." ... "The possibility of a trade is not out of the question," Ainge said. "Nobody is untradeable, but I don't see that happening."
Ainge's acknowledgement of the uncertainty surrounding his team's captain is a refreshing dose of reality regarding Boston's current standing with the point guard. Rondo is entering the final season of a five-year contract with the Celtics and will certainly be looking for a hefty raise from his current $12.9 million salary. He averaged 11.7 points and 9.8 assists per contest in 30 games last season, as he spent most of the year recovering from ACL surgery.
Barring some fireworks during this upcoming season, the Celtics will still be in the midst of a rebuild when Rondo becomes a free agent in July, 2015. Building around Rondo and using him as a lure to attract other free agent possibilities is certainly an option to help Boston put together a winning core, but Rondo's increased salary demands could prove to bit too high for Ainge's taste.
That scenario ensures a potential trade of Rondo will remain on the table until February in all likelihood, as Ainge wisely explores the trade market and evaluates how Rondo looks on the court with a clean bill of health. The team will also be watching how he meshes with rookie addition Marcus Smart in the backcourt.
Whatever decision Ainge makes on Rondo's future will certainly alter the course of the franchise. Until one is reached, expect the Rondo rumors to keep popping up as Ainge explores all potential paths back to NBA relevancy, with or without his long-time point guard.