Andris Biedrins

NBA Tuesday: Should the Warriors go after Rajon Rondo?

I’m not going to go all draft crazy tonight. I just can’t. There’s only thing we know about the who the Warriors are going to select is that it won’t be Jordan Hill. The Warriors already had two young 6’10” forwards that Don Nelson didn’t really like using last year, why would they want another one?

Nice of Larry Riley to run interference, by the way. “He’s ready to play in the NBA right now. He shoots the ball well, plays on the block and really goes after the boards. He could play for us,” Riley said of Hill. Right, Larry. And here I thought you were burning the midnight oil, trying to trade up to draft Hasheem Thabeet.

If the Warriors hold onto the No. 7 pick, picking Stephen Curry would make sense, but you never know with Nelson. Latrell Sprewell was chosen out of nowhere in 1992. I could see Nellie going with anybody from Brandon Jennings to Austin Daye on Thursday. That is, if they keep the pick.

Two big trades already occurred today, as the Spurs got Richard Jefferson (who will end up playing for at least eight teams in his career, trust me) for Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas. Now it looks like Minnesota agreed to trade Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizz for the No. 5 pick, Etan Thomas’ contract, Darius Songaila and the greatness that is Oleksiy Pecherov.

But much crazier than all that was the Yahoo Sports rumor that the Pistons were talking to the Celtics about acquiring Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen for Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey. I can almost hear Bill Simmons screaming obscenities at his 98″ plasma screen all the way from Los Angeles (Simmons has been railing about the overratedness of Stuckey for quite a while, recently writing in his MVP column, “The Billups/Iverson salary dump would be more defensible if Stuckey ran Detroit’s offense better than Will Bynum does. It’s unclear if Stuckey is even a point guard.”).

Now I’m hardly a Rondo fan, but if you’re Nellie you at least have to be intrigued that he could be available, in part because of his “maturity” (reading between the lines: his teammates can’t stand him) and some punctuality miscues in the playoffs. All these trade rumors could be B.S., but Yahoo Sports has been at least somewhat trustworthy over the past few years…well, at least when they’re reporting rumors of improprieties at USC, anyway.

Ainge has made some great moves (like drafting Rondo, for instance), but the reason he was able to bring a title to Boston had to do with his relationship with Kevin McHale as much as the combined effect of every other move he’s made with the Celtics. Plus, Ainge has shown some signs of being fallible lately. Remember, he was the guy who signed Patrick O’Bryant to a free agent contract and focused way too much of his and the team’s attention to signing Stephon Marbury, as if he’d be some sort of head-tatted savior.

So what I’m saying is, while the idea of Ainge trading Rondo and Allen sounds ridiculous, it could mean he wants to start the rebuilding process early. If Kevin Garnett’s knee injury has put his next season or his career in jeopardy, Ainge might want to do whatever he can to get rid of Allen and his $18M per over the next two years.

The Warriors are on the outside looking in when it comes to getting a point guard, and Rondo is one of the league’s best and cheapest. He doesn’t shoot well, but he can pass and defend — two things nobody on the Warriors can currently do at the same time.

Ray Allen would be a perfect Nellieballer (I think that’s what Dirk Nowitzki’s business card says, by the way: “Dirk Nowitzki — Perfect Nellieballer“), and would be professional enough to put aside the horror of going from the Celtics to the Warriors. Publicly, anyway.

Problem is, the Warriors would have to give up quite a bit to get Rondo and Allen. How about Monta Ellis, Brandan Wright and Corey Maggette, three players Nelson would probably enjoy being relieved of at this point? That would leave Boston with Monta, Marbury and Gabe Pruitt as their point guards, but they’d get a power forward who could become awesome with KG yelling at him all the time instead of Nellie, and the scoring Maggette and Monta provide could allow Paul Pierce to get a little rest — which the Celtics will be in need of if KG can’t go next year.

Imagine the Celtics are enthralled with this trade for whatever reason (and it would be pretty easy to imagine how they wouldn’t, like Maggette and Monta’s long contracts and poor defense, but work with me here): the Warriors would be left with this lineup:

PG: Rondo

SG: Allen

SF: Jackson

PF: Randolph

C: Biedrins

Bench: Turiaf, Morrow, Azubuike, Watson, Belinelli, Davidson (who isn’t really that different from Wright), Crawford and the two draft picks (including a much more useful Curry without Monta around).

That’s kind of a wicked starting five, one that gives you a little of everything: length at every position except SG, a consistent shooter in the starting lineup that puts Azubuike on the bench (where he should be) and a team that will defend a lot better than they would have with Monta at the 1.

Is the fear of a Warriors season where Monta is the starting point guard enough to do whatever it takes to get Rondo? How about trading Monta, Belinelli, Wright and Jackson for him? Too crazy? Well, cover your eyes with your “We Believe” shirt if you must, but the Warriors are going to need to gut the core of this team to make put themselves in a position to get out of the rut they’ve again fallen into.

The Warriors aren’t going to sign a huge free agent in 2010. Not with most star players and even a few agents unwilling to even give Robert Rowell a second look after how they’ve treated Monta, and botched the Al Harrington situation (and continue to botch it by ostracizing Jamal Crawford, the useless asset they got for him).

They can go ahead and play next season with the same team as last year and simply do the predictable and draft a combo guard at No. 7 and some power forward project in the second round if it’ll make them happy. Then morons can keep calling Fitz and Brooks and calling for the Warriors to trade for Andre Miller, and the people who know that has absolutely no chance of happening will write off the Warriors in 2009/10 before they even start playing Summer League games.

Ant Randolph is the one player the Warriors have with a chance to become a top-10 player in the league. They need to be creative in their efforts to put a team around his unique talents (best rebounder in the league, shot-blocking master, and what the Warriors have to hope will be an expanded offensive repertoire after this offseason), and they could do worse than pairing him with Rondo. That doesn’t mean it has even 1% chance of happening, but if I were Riley Nellie I’d at least give Ainge a call.

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