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NBA Trade Rumors: Rajon Rondo to Pistons might make sense

Three years ago, the Celtics were willing to to pull the trigger on a trade involving Rodney Stuckey and Rajon Rondo. A lot of the pieces have changed between now and then, but there may be good reasons on both sides to rekindle the conversation.

Would these players look better if they swapped jerseys?
Would these players look better if they swapped jerseys?

About three years ago, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Boston Celtics were seeking to retool on the fly (while adding future flexibility) and offered Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo to the Detroit Pistons for Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey.

At the time, our own Matt Watson called it a "lowball," and the comments of our readers basically agreed with the sentiment (seriously, the comments of that three year old thread are great, even if they're all "anonymous" after the migration to SBNation).

Almost three years to the day, Boston is selling again. And once again, Woj is all over it.

The individual pieces have changed by now, and Boston hasn't shown any interest in trading with Detroit. However, there might be very good reasons for both sides to pick up the phone and revisit those preliminary talks from three years ago.

In case you haven't heard, Boston is in talks with the Los Angeles Clippers to send Kevin Garnett, with Coach Doc Rivers in tow, and possibly Jason Terry or Courtney Lee in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, a first-round pick, and possbily Eric Bledsoe or Caron Butler.

So what in the world does this have to do with Detroit?

Reportedly, Boston is open to draft picks and financial flexibility. It just so happens Detroit has both. And we know that at one point, Danny Ainge coveted Rodney Stuckey and as part of a larger package was willing to part with Rajon Rondo to get him. Turns out Detroit still employs Stuckey and has a need for a long-term solution at point guard, and Boston employs Rajon Rondo.

So, to Joe Dumars and Danny Ainge I say, let's chat.

How it might go...

Dumars: Danny, (I hope) you like Rodney Stuckey, and I know you could use a lottery pick. So let's start there. Rodney Stuckey (and his not fully guaranteed expiring contract) are yours for the taking. Since I'm asking for your starting PG - who also happens to be coming of a pretty serious injury, mind you - I'll offer this year's lottery pick, with which you can select any number of promising young point guards.

Ainge: Joe, I do like Stuckey, and I like that draft pick, but here's the deal - I need to clear some long-term commitments so I can retool beyond just this year. So here's my counteroffer: take Courtney Lee and the $16 million he's owed through 14-15, and give me Brandon Knight to bolster the backcourt, and you've got a deal. Or, if he's not combo-guardy enough for you, I've also got Jason Terry for sale.

Aside: there'd need to be some filler to make sure it works under the cap, but not much. Think Slava kind of filler.

Lame attempt at entertainment aside, this kind of deal might make sense for both sides.

On Detroit's side: Rondo is a quality player, and he's proven he can produce even without healthy All Stars surrounding him. But, he's not without risk given injuries, and he's owed a hefty sum. And he's a point guard. A real point guard who does point guardy things on offense and defense.

Statistically, Courtney Lee isn't awful, and he plays SG, a roster hole that would need filling in a trade like this. But really, he ought to be viewed as the premium you have to be willing to pay for a player of Rondo's caliber.

On Boston's side: a quality player should be available when the Pistons are on the clock at the NBA Draft, and Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight - despite their flaws - do possess value, could benefit from a change of scenery, quality coaching, and there are no long-term costs. All three pieces are young, have room to grow, and are relatively cheap.

I can see two road blocks, one on each side.

On Detroit's side: this draft isn't particularly strong, but there are rumblings that some of the better prospects might drop (think Trey Burke). If a player of Burke's caliber is available via the draft, it doesn't make much sense to part ways with that pick. To which I say, there's no reason a deal like this has to happen today. A draft-day trade might make perfect sense for both sides.

Aside: It's also entirely possible that Joe Dumars thinks Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey are equally productive to Rondo, to which I have no response other than this.

On Boston's side: Rajon Rondo emerged as one of the truly elite PGs in the NBA this season. With Allen's departure and nagging injuries to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Rondo proved that he could produce like an All Star in the absence of others. The obvious question is whether Boston could get more for Rondo than a deal like this. To which I say, ACL injuries are serious, and full recoveries aren't guaranteed. More than a few teams will be hesitant, and a haul of young, cheap assets might be the best Danny can do.

Maybe this is a homer's dream scenario to get a pet player. It might be. But even if this particular trade never sees the light of an NBA front desk, it's the type of trade that Joe Dumars ought to be exploring with all that cap space.

Now, your turn to put me through the ringer in the comments.