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Could the Portland Trail Blazers Trade for Rajon Rondo?

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No, Portland, you're not trading for Rajon Rondo - but someone will. Eventually.

Rajon Rondo plays in Portland sometimes, but not for the home team.
Rajon Rondo plays in Portland sometimes, but not for the home team.
Elsa

Invariably when I first tell a fellow basketball junkie that I'm a recent Portland transplant by way of Boston, I'm hit with some type of follow-up question involving Rajon Rondo. They ask how he's looked in his first months back from ACL surgery, what kind of guy he is in the locker room or, most frequently, what they should expect from all the trade rumors that have recently circled the Celtics' All-Star point guard. A couple of people have even asked what it would take to get Rondo here, to Portland, to play for your very own Trail Blazers.

I find this odd. Because, you know, the Blazers already have an All-Star point guard of their own in Damian Lillard - a guy who's healthier and four years younger and has an incredibly bright future in front of him. Adding Rondo, to me, would seem more than a tad superfluous. Nonetheless, the question gets asked.

"But wait!" you might counter. "You can move Lillard off the ball! You can stagger their minutes and weave together a three-man guard rotation of Rondo, Lillard and Wesley Matthews! You can totally make it work!"

Nope. Sorry. Not seeing it. Rondo and Lillard are both among the 10 best starting point guards in the game, and they both need to be on their own teams where they can hold down that role full-time. Any argument to the contrary is, for me, a nonstarter.

Plus there are the cap issues involved. Rondo's a free agent next summer, and the Blazers are saving up all their 2015 pennies to re-sign LaMarcus Aldridge, plus likely offer a max extension to Lillard, and this isn't the kind of team that wants to carry three max-ish guys given that their middling stars (Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez) all deserve a sizable chunk of the team's cap as well. So... yeah. For a lot of reasons, Rondo to Portland is not a thing that will happen.

Having said all that, there are still plenty of reasons why fans in Portland should be watching the Rondo saga with interest. He's a major figure in today's NBA, so anyone who follows the league should keep an eye on him, and more specifically, he could land somewhere out West and dramatically shake up the playoff picture overnight. Love him or hate him, but don't deny that Rondo matters.

So if you're interested, here are six thoughts on what to expect this season from Rondo, on and off the court.

1. Rondo is back, and he's at full blast.
There's a lot of leeriness out there about point guards coming off of ACL surgeries. People watch Derrick Rose and see the difficulties he's had with making a full comeback, and they worry about Rondo. My advice: Don't. Rondo's a different player, and his physical limitations aren't as apparent. What makes Rose, Rose is his ability to destroy mere mortals with his absurd quickness; no one can stay in front of him when he's healthy. With Rondo, it's different - he's an athlete too, but it's not his greatest strength. He beats his opponents with incredible toughness, both mental and physical, plus his intelligence and creativity. None of those attributes are going anywhere, so expect Rondo to be vintage Rondo in 2014-15.

2. Rondo's trade value will be high.
You know how every time a rumor leaks out about the Celtics seriously considering a Rondo trade, it's one involving a huge megastar player like Chris Paul? That's not just because the big names get clicks - it's because really, truly, that's the word that Danny Ainge's front office is putting out about Rondo's value. He wants only the best offers. You can disagree if you want, but that's Ainge's asking price. If you thought you were bringing Rajon to Rip City for Will Barton and a pick, you may want to think again.

3. Rondo has quite a bit of leverage.
We've seen this scenario play out before - whenever a star player is approaching free agency and angling for a trade first, he gets to veto any destination. Not because of a literal no-trade clause, but because all the star needs to do is say he's not signing an extension, and boom - the team in question will withdraw its offer. This is how Carmelo Anthony forced his way to New York, it's how Dwight Howard made his months-long trade saga absolutely insufferable, it's now Kevin Love narrowed down his possible destinations to a short list and eventually landed in Cleveland. No one's giving up star-caliber assets for a rental, and Rondo has the authority to dictate his staying power in any given city. So when he says he's not going to Sacramento, as has been widely reported, he's probably not going to Sacramento.

4. Rondo wants to win. Badly.
So we've established that Rondo can control where he goes - now where does he end up? It's a tough question, but we can start by establishing that Rondo's desperate to play for a winner. He came into the league in 2006 and within two seasons, got to win a championship alongside three Hall of Famers. He's had that kind of talent around him for most of his career. To go from the Big Three to a team that might pick No. 3 in next year's draft? That's painful, and Rondo is an insanely competitive guy who can't handle that. Wherever he goes next, he wants to compete again.

5. Rondo wants job security as a starting point guard.
This is the problem with finding a potential destination for Rondo - there are only 30 teams in the NBA, and so, so many of them already have fantastic starting point guards. That drastically narrows down the field of potential Rondo landing spots. You can't send him to Portland and put him with Lillard. You can't expect him to coexist with anyone of that ilk. It won't work. Rondo's one of the best floor generals in the league, and the ideal next destination for him is one that lets him show it every night. If only there were more of those...

6. This saga might not be ending anytime soon.
Add up all of the above, and what do you get? A great player, available to be traded for great assets, but only to a team of his choosing that's competitive and has a job opening for him at an already-saturated position. Uhhh... yeah. In short, it's a near-impossible puzzle to solve, even if Danny Ainge is given all year to solve it.

I'm not expecting a deal to go down anytime soon, honestly. Rumors will abound about Houston or New York or Indy or wherever else, but there's likely to be a whole lot more smoke before anyone actually sees fire.

The good news in Portland is you don't have to worry. Whatever happens to the veteran guard across the United States will be compelling drama, but it doesn't change the fact that the Blazers are already set for the long haul. Damian Lillard will be in Portland and playing against Rondo for a long time - we'll just have to wait and see what uniform the latter is wearing.