Blakely: No Love, so C's should look at Rondo-for-Bledsoe

Blakely: No Love, so C's should look at Rondo-for-Bledsoe
August 7, 2014, 11:45 am
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BOSTON — With the Kevin Love-to-Cleveland trade all but a done deal now, the Celtics have no time to sit around and lick their wounds after failing to land the big man.

The whole point of landing Love was to give Rajon Rondo a high-impact, big-time talent to play with that could nudge the four-time All-star closer to re-signing with the Green Team next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Without Love, it's hard to imagine Rondo would want to spend the prime years of his NBA career as the face of the franchise in what will surely be another round of growing pains.

He's been there, done that.

Former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers faced a similar dilemma and, rather than stomach another rebuilding project in Boston, Rivers bolted for the Los Angeles Clippers for more power as well as better weather - and a better team.

But let's be clear on one thing:

The Celtics won't trade Rondo just for the sake of trading him.

Boston will want a star or a young star on the rise in return; a player who would come here with something to prove; someone younger, who brings an element of excitement to the game that'll keep fans cheering and maybe just as important, generate a few more wins.

Boston needs Eric Bledsoe.

Yes, he's a restricted free agent in Phoenix and they have said publicly that they intend to re-sign him.

Still, when he turned down their four-year, $48 million offer because he felt he was deserving a max contract, that's when you knew this was going to get messy.

Bledsoe is a talented player who will be an All-Star in this league at some point.

But he is not a max-salaried player, evident by just about every team with the ability to sign him to such a deal taking a pass on him.

And just to protect themselves, the Suns signed point guard Isaiah Thomas just in case a deal involving Bledsoe doesn't come to fruition. In addition, the Suns drafted point guard Tyler Ennis out of Syracuse in the first round.

Did we mention they also have Goran Dragic, arguably the best player in the league the first half of last season to not be named an All-Star?

There's no escaping the fact that Bledsoe is an immensely talented player.

Ditto for Rondo.

So why would either team do this deal?

For the Suns, it would give them the kind of difference-maker they'll need in the near future to get to the playoffs and potentially make a run.

Remember, Rondo has consistently been at his best when the games matter most. And while Phoenix has a number of point guards already, none have shown the ability to elevate their game the way Rondo has throughout his career.

And for a team such as the Celtics who are entrenched in rebuilding, those opportunities will be few and far between this season for Rondo.

In Bledsoe, Boston would add another young, dynamic player to a roster that's already overflowing with good talent.

Because of Bledsoe's athleticism and ability to score, he could play either guard position, which would allow him to play off the ball with rookie Marcus Smart running the point, or at the point with Avery Bradley at shooting guard.

But there are some health concerns.

Bledsoe had torn cartilage in his right knee that required surgery and limited him to just 43 games last season, a factor in the Suns failing to make the playoffs after a strong start with him in the lineup.

In his first season in Phoenix, Bledsoe averaged career highs in just about every statistical category, which includes scoring (17.7 points), assists (5.5) and steals (1.6) per game.

But the health issue swings both ways when discussing these two ex-Kentucky players.

Rondo had a torn right ACL injury in 2013 and returned to the floor the following season while appearing in 30 games. After his return, Rondo did not play in any back-to-backs in addition to having his minutes limited for a sizable chunk of games. However, his minutes did increase near the end of the season for him to finish averaging a respectable 33.3 minutes per game.

Regardless of health, there's always a certain amount of chance and luck involved when trading a proven talent like Rondo for a potential star like Bledsoe.

But the Celtics have a GM in Danny Ainge who is not adverse to risks that most of his fellow front office brethren would pass on.

Regardless of whether it works out or not, being active and aggressive is how this franchise has operated for years and why they have been so successful.

The goal is to build this franchise back up and bring home Banner 18, something that won't happen by sitting around licking wounds.