Perhaps the most bizarre story in the NBA is centered around Boston Celtics star Rajon Rondo. The two-time assists leader is rumored to have requested a trade, but the details are becoming murkier by the hour.
It all started when ESPN’s Around The Horn uploaded a YouTube video of Jackie MacMullan telling Frank Isola that Rondo requested a trade. The video has since been removed, but Jay King of MassLive.com and Samer Kalaf of Deadspin both caught it and published the comments.
When Frank Isola raised the topic of trading Rondo, MacMullan replied, “Oh, I hope so. Just get it done. And it will happen because he’s told them he wants out. And no one believes me, but that’s the truth.”
The latest development comes from Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald:
Spokeswoman for Rajon Rondo’s agent, Bill Duffy, said both men deny that Celtics guard has demanded a trade.
— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) September 1, 2014
While it’s unclear whether or not Rondo actually requested a trade, it’d be hard to blame him if he did.
Rondo has been a member of the Celtics since he was drafted No. 21 overall in 2006. Since then, he’s won an NBA championship, earned four All-NBA selections, been selected All-Defense four times and has led the league in assists twice and steals once.
Paired with brilliant postseason performances, a legendary 24 consecutive games with double-digit assists and effortless triple-doubles, Rondo is a genuine star.
Over the course of the past year or so, however, the Celtics have chosen rebuilding over surrounding Rondo with the necessary support. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were traded for very little at all and the decisions that followed suggest a split is on the horizon.
The Celtics selected Marcus Smart at No. 6 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft and re-signed Avery Bradley to a four-year deal worth $32 million. Including Rondo, that gives Boston three guards who are undersized for the 2.
A crowded backcourt often results in a trade.
To make matters more complicated, Rondo will become an unrestricted free agent in 2015. An expiring contract is valuable, but not when it belongs to a star who would likely cost a first-round draft pick and a number of other assets.
Rondo has been at the heart of trade rumors for years, but in 2014-15, it may actually come to fruition.
FIBA World Cup Star Eyeing FIBA
The opening weekend of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain has concluded. International stars have been putting on clinics left-and-right, which has many clamoring about their future in the premier basketball league: the NBA.
Few players receive as much attention on the international stage as point guards. Jose Calderon of Spain, Pablo Prigioni of Argentina and Alexey Shved of Russia are prime examples of players who have turned success in international basketball into an NBA career.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Petteri Koponen of Finland is eyeing a jump to the NBA in 2015-16.
“I always said my dream is to play in the NBA,” Koponen said. “Every summer we talk a little bit with Dallas to see what the situation is and what they think. I’ve got one more year left on my contract in Russia and then of course I would like to come over. I hope I get some options to go there and show I can play at that level.”
“I feel I can do something there,” Koponen said, “and I hope I get that chance someday.”
This isn’t his first pursuit of an NBA career.
Koponen, 26, was selected No. 30 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He shined in the 2008 Summer League, but decided to sign a four-year deal with Virtus Bologna of Italy instead of joining the association.
Koponen’s draft rights have been traded to the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, respectively, but nothing has come of it. Yet.
Thus far at the FIBA World Cup, Koponen has shown his strengths as Finland’s floor general.
Koponen opened up the tournament with an extremely tough test against Team USA. Matched up with the likes of Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose, Koponen put up 12 points, four assists and two steals in 27 minutes.
He finished well around the basket and showed his range from distance, but he also committed four turnovers. There were signs of cracking under pressure, but there were also flashes of brilliance.
In his second game, Koponen struggled to shoot, but he dished out nine assists against Ukraine in 30 minutes of action.
The two performances are an excellent display of what makes Koponen such an intriguing prospect. Even when his shot doesn’t fall, his strong court vision enables him to put his teammates in a position to succeed.
Koponen is also a 6’4″ point guard. His size alone creates intrigue.
As previously alluded to, Koponen plays for BC Khimki of the VTB United League in Russia. Stein reports that, once Koponen’s contract is up, the Mavericks may be interested in bringing him over.
Whether Dallas is interested or not, Koponen should have no trouble making the leap to the NBA if he continues to shine at the FIBA World Cup.
Around The League
- Dan Woike of The Orange County Register confirmed that the Los Angeles Clippers are nearing a low-cost deal with Hedo Turkoglu. “The Clippers can only sign Turkoglu to a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, which will be slightly less than $1.45 million for a player with his service time.” At 35, Turkoglu is still a positionally versatile player who shot 44.0 percent beyond the arc in 2013-14. He’s battled injuries and is far removed from his days of consistent production, but is good for depth.
- Woike goes on to report that the Clippers are close to signing swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts. “The team is also close to an agreement with free-agent Chris Douglas-Roberts.” Douglas-Roberts, 27, is athletic and has a strong motor. Much like Turkoglu, he’d be an end-of-the-rotation option.