Two of the biggest stars who can’t seem to escape trade rumors are Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.
While both technically find themselves at the heart of the NBA’s widespread trade speculation, one possesses enough clout and influence to control his team’s destiny for the next five years and the other has to prove he’s still an All-Star caliber player.
The 28-year-old Rondo has brushed aside trade talk for several seasons now, but this year is different as he comes back from a torn ACL that sidelined him for nearly a year. In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Rondo said he realized his window of youth was closing after last weekend’s All-Star Game but that he also wants to remain with the Celtics through next season.
“It didn’t motivate me, but I plan on being back there next year,” Rondo said of an All-Star Game that featured many stars far younger than him.
“That’s an individual goal of mine. At the end of the day, I just want to get back to 100 percent. And continue to improve my game. The rest of this year and this summer, just get better, become a better player.”
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Celtics team president Danny Ainge has publicly stated the team is not interested in trading Rondo and even said they approached his representation about a contract extension, but the rebuilding franchise may have some concerns about whether Rondo can return to All-Star form after suffering such a debilitating injury.
Since making his season debut last month, Rondo’s averaged 9.8 points, 7.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Head coach Brad Stevens has limited Rondo’s minutes to 27.2 per game, but as he gains more confidence in his knee the four-time All-Star should see an uptick in his numbers.
Many teams are interested in Rondo for his skills, but will be hesitant to make a move for a player whose still recovering from a major injury and whose contract expires in 2015. According to ESPN, the Toronto Raptors would “love” to trade for Rondo, but the franchise doesn’t believe he’d sign a long-term deal.
Rondo has especially been a target of Anthony’s and the Knicks this season, even before he made his return to the court.
Perhaps no other player holds the keys to his team’s future than Anthony, who is the second-leading scorer in the NBA and can opt-out of his current deal to test free agency this summer.
As reported by the New York Post, Anthony wants to be consulted on any major move the Knicks and team president Steve Mills makes.
Earlier this season Anthony reportedly lobbied Rondo to push for a move to New York, and the Post stated that the Knicks have stepped up their efforts to land Rondo in the hopes Anthony will stay beyond this season. Rondo also would like to play in New York so he can directly challenge former Boston teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who have taken up residence in Brooklyn.
The Cetlics are seeking a package of draft picks, which New York cannot offer since their next available first-round pick is for 2018.
Anthony himself has been tied to a trade to such teams as the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, but more specifically the former. Chicago has cleared cap space to sign Anthony outright this summer, but with the Knicks vertically integrating Anthony in personnel decisions it appears they are doing everything possible to keep him in orange and blue for the rest of his career.
New York fans shouldn’t completely worry if Anthony does opt-out however, as he can sign for an extra year and $30 million more under a new deal rather than his current one.