Rumors and speculation abound about where Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is going to end up playing next season. It seems almost certain that he will not be in New Orleans. It seems his preference is New York, which is an impossibility this year. The front runners seem to be Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers, and then of course the Lakers and Celtics are each entertaining their own fantasies about getting the all star point guard on their squads.
Chris Paul in Celtic green is an exciting prospect for all of us to think about, but just thinking about it has come at a great cost. Initially the story was that GM Danny Ainge wanted to trade Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul straight up. This trade prospect got the basketball world buzzing. CP3 is definitely more of an offensive threat, though plagued with knee problems, still, it seemed like a no brainer. Then we heard that Chris Paul had no intention of signing an extension with the Celtics, which initially we thought was unacceptable to Ainge. Then we heard, maybe he would trade Rondo for Paul without an extension. The latest story is that Ainge would trade Green, Rondo and future picks for a shot at Chris Paul and in the long run, Dwight Howard. Is Chris Paul really that good, is Ainge really willing to blow up his team a 2nd time in less than a year in order to make one last run with the big 3? It seems like the answer is, yes. So if Paul ends up in Boston this season much will be said about the chances of the Celtics to compete with a schedule that appears designed to focus on their weaknesses, mainly their age and a lack of depth on the bench. Jermaine O’Neal is still the starting center, but I can’t imagine he’ll last long playing multiple back-to-back games. Most people know Ainge should have been chasing a big man, such as Tyson Chandler or Deandre Jordan, but instead he’s opted to put all the attention on Rondo, Paul and chasing a championship this season.
So now comes the fun part. What happens when Paul ends up on another team. Ainge has sent a message to Rondo that is undeniable and will have an impact on the team for years to come. Danny Ainge in the last week has told Rajon Rondo through his actions that the Celtics are not and never will be his team. This comes as a huge surprise to me. I know that Rondo has his flaws, but over the last two years as Rondo has come into his own, and solidified his place as an elite point guard in the NBA I always assumed that the Celtics were going to be his team once Pierce, Allen and Garnett gracefully surrendered to their respective ages and either walked away from the game or, especially with Pierce, shepherded in a new generation as a supporting player. Even if Rondo ends up leading the Celtics for years to come, he’ll always know, and we’ll always know that he’s only there because the trade didn’t work out.
Maybe a few years ago this would have lit a fire under Rondo to play harder and prove that he’s the man for the job, but Rondo has already proved that. Now, less than a year removed from a bad trade that sent his best friend to Oklahoma City, Rondo will have to play this season with a chip on his shoulder against management, with a team that is probably not fit enough to compete and a future that will always be in doubt on a team that will never be his. Should be an interesting season.