Long-time Celtics fan Bill Simmons is back from a three-week suspension at ESPN and is breaking down all 30 NBA teams with video previews on Grantland with Jalen Rose.
On Thursday, the duo handed out their power ranking for the Celtics, placing them 27th amongst 30 NBA teams for the 2014-15 season. At first glance, that number may seem to be a bit on the low side, but it comes with an expectation that Rajon Rondo might not be a Celtic after the trade deadline hits in February.
Simmons spent the first half of the preview laying out why he hoped the Celtics will deal away their prized point guard.
“I love Rondo,” Simmons declared. “I want him to be on a good team. I don’t want him to be on a rebuilding team. The guy helped us win a title. He was the best player on the 2010 Conference Semifinals against Cleveland. He outplayed a team that had LeBron James in his prime.
“He was the best player in that series. He went toe-to-toe with Wade, LeBron and Bosh in 2012 and took them to a Game 7. He was fantastic. He was a good Celtic. I think he has some prime years left and it would be a waste to do them in Boston. I hope they trade him."
So where exactly does Simmons see Rondo landing in a somewhat limited trade market? Here’s the proposed trade Simmons bring up later in the preview involving the New York Knicks.
Celtics get: Amar’e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, 2018 first round pick, right to swap first round picks with the Knicks once in next five years.
Knicks get: Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace
Simmons’ thoughts on the deal: "I think Rondo gets traded to the Knicks in the next four months...I actually like the thought of Rondo and Carmelo together. I think he would get him the ball in all of the right spots."
Our reaction: The call to trade Rondo is understandable for Simmons, but it appears he’s selling the Celtics a little bit short on this potential return in his proposed Knicks deal. The Celtics would be able to dump a big contract in the trade with Wallace, who has one more year on his deal after this season, but there is really limited compensation there otherwise for Boston.
Stoudemire’s deal is strictly a huge expiring contract, Iman Shumpert will be a restricted free agent after this season looking for a sizable raise. Plus a first round pick in 2018 probably wouldn’t be lottery material if Rondo and Anthony team up. Dumping Wallace's contract won't be a high priority for the Celtics now as well, since the NBA's new TV deal may be leading to a much higher salary cap as soon as next contract. Wallace's $10.1 million salary will still look bad then, but it won't eat as much of the team's cap space as it did in past seasons.
The bottom line is whenever Rondo gets put on the trade market again, the Knicks will surely be one of his main suitors. That should be no surprise to Boston fans. The Celtics front office should be able to fetch a sizable return for their star though, a much better one than the pu pu platter Simmons suggests.