Rajon Rondo has officially done it.
It took him a grand total of 29 games to ruin his welcome on his fourth team in his decade long NBA career.
But I warn Bulls fans to not fear, because there's always a trade partner in today's league if you look long enough.
At this point, it's difficult to imagine almost any NBA team actually taking a chance on Rondo, especially when his current head coach had decided to completely drop him out of the rotation. Fred Hoiberg chose only to play him once he seemingly ran out of other players (see Tuesday night's game against Washington). In that game Rondo had a nice stat line of 12 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and finished +4 in plus/minus rating.
Against the Wizards he showed how he can still be valuable, and that helps when he already has such a team-friendly contract. His Bulls contract is basically a one-year commitment. The second year is only partially guaranteed, and the mutual option attached to the deal means both he and his current team would have to agree to stay together, much like a struggling on-again off-again couple.
Thanks to the power of the ESPN.com Trade Machine, the average person can make their NBA trade dreams come true. Thanks to the power of Red Bull, I was able to literally attempt to make a Rajon Rondo-centered trade with every team in the league.
Of course (as I'm sure a litany of comments saying this will flood in) I do not know if the NBA teams involved in these trades would actually accept them. Trading for a disgruntled point guard who can't shoot near 40% from the field is not ideal in today's NBA. However, at the end of the day the NBA is a business. The fact that Rondo's contract can be looked at as expiring, as well as the fact that there are actually some things that the point guard can still do well make him a player that is very much movable.
Without further ado, let's make a deal! Here are my top 3 Rajon Rondo trades that would be possible for the Chicago Bulls.
1. The "I'm Sorry" Deal
In this scenario the Chicago Bulls decide that there is simply no way a winning team is going to take a chance on the disgruntled veteran, so Gar Foreman calls up "special adviser"/guru/front office legend/behind-the-scenes-general manager Jerry Colangelo of the Philadelphia 76ers and is able to snag a career 36.6% three-point shooter. The player Forman acquires isn't groundbreaking, but he later admits "it's the type of veteran guard we should've went for in the first place, I'm sorry Bulls fans."
The conversation goes something like this.
Colangelo: What do you want Forman?
Forman: Call me Gar, Jerry. We're calling about Jahlil Okafor, and we were thinking about working Rondo into the package....
Colangelo: Bye Gar.
Forman (panicking): Wait! Wait! Wait! I was kidding Jerry...jeez. I was thinking you probably need a legit facilitator to get the ball to those developing big men you guys got in Philly. Nobody hits the roll man in the pick-and-roll like Rajon! Surely won't be able to complain about playing time in Philly.
Colangelo: And what am I supposed to give you for him? And why again?
Forman: Look Jer, you guys are 29th out of 30 teams in turnovers per game. Rondo's 2.59 assist-to-turnover ratio is better than that of All-Star guard Kyle Lowry.
Colangelo: Damn, really?! Well you still didn't say what you want. Unless...you didn't have a player in mind and you're making this up on the fly! You haven't changed at all! You son of a....
Forman: Jerryd Bayless.
Trade: Rajon Rondo to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jerryd Bayless
2. The "OK, We're Rebuilding" Deal
In this plausible NBA scenario, the Utah Jazz trade away a pretty good player and confuse every casual NBA fan in the world.
There are many different types of trades an NBA team can make. What I mean by that is every deal isnt necessarily about "who gets the better player" or "equal value" because the business of basketball is more complicated than that.
The Utah Jazz as an organization like to minimize risk as much as possible. And with that in mind, I could totally see them moving Derrick Favors between now and the trade deadline. Favors is a promising, old-school power forward that Utah took with the 3rd pick in the 2010 draft. Even with years of decent production (the currently struggling) Favors can't escape his long injury history. He has had back problems, and his knee troubles are well-documented. He is young (25 years old), but being young doesn't outweigh being a 6-foot 10-inch, 265 lb. basketball player with sore knees.
The Jazz already chose to pay Rudy Gobert before Favors. And all signs point towards them working on forward Gordon Hayward next. He has a player option that he will surely decline at the end of this season. So that may leave Favors as the odd man out. The Jazz could make it work with him for sure, but if there is a more dependable option out there the Jazz would give it a look.
That brings us to Taj Gibson, which will bring us to Rondo. The steady two-way presence that is Taj Gibson has been in trade rumors for years now. I think he earned equity with the Chicago Bulls organization because of how well he handled all of that speculation. I believe the only way the Bulls trade Gibson is if there is a contending team interested in his services. Utah sees that Gibson has played in at least 80 regular season games at least three times, something Favors has yet to do.
In return for boosting Utah's already ultra-effective defense (and championship hopes), Chicago asks that Utah take a flier on Rondo. The Jazz decide that since they are 27th in the league in assists they could use Rondo's play-making. Head coach Quin Snyder assures Rondo he will get the non-splashy Shelvin Mack's (31.9% from 3-point land) place in the rotation, and the rest is history.
Trade: Rajon Rondo and Taj Gibson to the Utah Jazz for Derrick Favors
3. "The HOLY F@&K THAT JUST HAPPENED!" Deal
This type of deal is the one that makes NBA off-seasons so exciting.
The "HOLY F@&K THAT JUST HAPPENED!" deal happens when a franchise makes a trade that either:
A. Seems ridiculous because one team clearly wins the trade
B. Shows that a franchise has given up on a player who is still very young
I sincerely think there is a scenario in which that happens for the Bulls. The Denver Nuggets wanted to snag Dwyane Wade when he became available because he was a veteran play-maker that could mentor the younger players on the roster. Rondo doesn't score like Wade, but his passing skills are definitely more advanced and nuanced. It is my belief that the Nuggets slowly but surely are starting to give up on young point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. He is 20 years old and only in his second season, but keep in mind Denver also has sharpshooting rookie Jamal Murray in the rotation. Murray is a former point guard so I think they would like a longer look at him in that capacity. He is a better natural shooter as well.
The key to this trade however, is not the fact that Murray could use some point guard minutes. The key to this deal is the fact that when head coach Mike Malone loses confidence during games in Mudiay, the only other true point guard on the roster is Jameer Nelson. Nelson--as you would expect--is getting absolutely destroyed on the defensive end this year and Mudiay hasn't been much better. Insert Rondo into a high-paced team that wants to get better on defense with a tough coach and you all the ingredients for a happy Rondo.
Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine are young players that I think the Nuggets would want as depth at the guard spot in case they decide to cut ties with Rondo after the season is over. Also in this deal I see Denver taking advantage of a desperate to get rid of Rondo-Bulls team, and throwing Kenneth Faried into the trade to make salaries match and to free up minutes in the logjam they have in their front court rotation.
GarPax would be reluctant to pull the trigger on this deal because they appear to be simply stacking their roster with more non-shooters. But they eventually agree to the deal because Mudiay still has the size (6-foot 5-in, 200 lbs.) and potential (20 year old, second-year pro) to be a franchise point guard, plus Faried is locked up at a reasonable rate that gives the Bulls insurance in case Taj Gibson leaves in free agency.
The turn of events that follow shocks basketball historians everywhere, as the Bulls get much, much better as a team. These same basketball historians declare 2017 as the first year the Chicago Bulls made a significant trade deadline move that altered the franchises long-term future (for the better).
Trade: Rajon Rondo, Denzel Valentine, and Jerian Grant to the Denver Nuggets for Emmanuel Mudiay and Kenneth Faried