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Word on the street is that Chris Paul wants out of New Orleans, and he wants out now. Being one of the premier point guards in the league, if not the best, he’ll undoubtedly have no problem finding a gig in another city, should this request really solidify. It seems there’s a vibe going around the streets of Boston that giving up Rondo and a little extra company for CP3 isn’t such a bad idea. And maybe it’s not. But there are some major factors that Danny Ainge needs to look at before seriously trying to shop Rondo to New Orleans, even if it is Chris Paul.
First of all, the Celtics need to look at the big picture in terms of the 2010-11 season, namely playoff stats. Chris Paul, in his playoff career, has averaged almost 22 points, compared to Rondo’s 13.8. Paul has an edge in assists as well, with an average of 11 to Rondo’s 8.3. Obviously this looks good on paper, but one would have to wonder how Paul’s numbers would hold together on a team like Boston’s. Paul has had a mediocre supporting cast at best in his time with the Hornets. Rondo plays with three Hall-of-Famers and a bench that has had it’s moments of glory to say the least. His offensive efficiency is solid when you take into account he has virtually no shot beyond 15 feet or so. These numbers also don’t tell the whole story, as Rondo has 64 playoff games to Paul’s 17, making Paul’s playoff experience a drop in the bucket compared to Rondo’s.
Who can be so sure that CP3 wouldn’t crumble deep in the playoffs? He may not, and probably wouldn’t, but people said that about LeBron James, and look what happened when he came to play against Boston…with Rondo as the starting point guard. With the window of opportunity closing as fast as it is for the Celtics, is it really worth rolling the dice when you have a point guard like Rondo?
Another thing to look at, as frugal as it is, is rebounding. This is one of the only spots on the stat sheet where Rondo has a clear edge over Paul. Watching the last Celtic’s season, it seemed Rondo was everywhere, grabbing boards left and right, over everyone, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins included. He was almost averaging a triple double in the playoffs at one point. If the Celtics are relying on their point guard for rebounds almost as much as their starting center, it suggests one thing: the Celtics have bigger fish to fry than upgrading their backcourt.
This brings us to Perkins, who has been mentioned as being thrown in the mix if the Celtics were to seriously go after Chris Paul. This is a scary, scary thought. Perkins is a solid defender and an underrated center in the NBA. Sure, he can’t score, and it’d be nice to see him get some more boards, but he’s a hard worker who’s young and still improving. If Perkins gets a one way ticket to Bourbon Street, that leaves Boston with an aging, injury-prone Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal…and that’s about it for true centers. Seriously? Shouldn’t the C’s be looking at ways to stay young? Nobody on the Celtics does the dirty work like Perkins does, and that would take a bigger hit than most people realize if he went out and nothing came back in return.
Let’s look at the rest of the starting five while we’re on the subject. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and the Big Ticket. The reason Chris Paul wants out of New Orleans is basically the same reason LeBron left Cleveland; he wants a supporting cast good enough to get him to the top, and his team just hasn’t delivered. Boston’s Big Three seems intriguing enough if you’re Chris Paul…right? Three Hall-of-Famers. Three prime-time players. Three elite stars. Three players, however, that are also aging. Let’s face it; the Big Three can’t last forever. It’s supposed to be Rondo’s team when their time is up. When those contracts expire, and they hang their sneakers up for good, who’s to say Chris Paul wouldn’t want out of Boston when they’re gone? He’s complaining now, he can complain later. Who do we turn to then?
If you’re Danny Ainge, you wouldn’t be doing your job if you didn’t at the very least look into the possibility of Chris Paul joining your squad. Everything mentioned above could carry no weight whatsoever, and for all we know, he could, and probably does, have what it takes in the deep rounds of the playoffs. He could stay here with no problem until his days in the NBA are done. But do the pros, as good as they are, truly outweigh the possible disasters that could take place? Everyone knows you have to take risks if you want to win, but sometimes, it might just be best to let the what-ifs pass you buy, and not mess with a good thing.