I preface this column surmising the Boston Celtics have come to the conclusion that Rajon Rondo does not have the mental makeup — is a big-time diva — to be the cornerstone of the next Celtics' reclamation project.

That, and the fact that you can't have your "best" player giving up the ball in the final minute because he can't make shots from 15 feet and further (including foul shots).

That being said, I am a bit surprised what I'm hearing. Rondo breaks some made-up. albeit impressive, statistical record — 15 points, 15 rebounds and 20 assists — and now everything is great again? Now he's one of the best point guards in the NBA?

To quote the legendary (but-not-yet-hall-of-famer) Bill Parcells, "Hell no!"

Rondo's talents as a quarterback will never be challenged here. He's unlike any other player in the league in more ways than one. He sees the court exceptionally well. He is very quick. His body contorts like Gumby when he needs to avoid a defender. He's got very long arms. And, from all reports, his basketball IQ is in the top one percent of players in the game.

That has never been the problem.

His problem is his ability to make those in authority very upset. He, apparently, doesn't like to be told what to do (Welcome to the club, Rondo!).

But what is keeping him from being the best of the best, beyond his attitude, is his ability to shoot the basketball. Sometimes, his shot is remarkably smooth and sweet. Most of the time, though, it is dreadful.

And when you can't shoot the ball, your importance at the end of a game lessens. Teams back off and double-team or fill the lane with defenders, making it harder for everyone on the team to score.

Aren't most basketball games won and lost in the final minute?

But we've known that since he's been here.

Which brings us back to the main point of this column: Trade Rondo before his warts are exposed again.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson both, in separate moments on Sunday, called Rondo's one of the best players in the league and that the Celtics would be crazy to trade him.

Personally, I wonder why Rondo doesn't have more games like he did on Sunday against the Knicks. He obviously wanted to shut up the heart-warming "Lin-sanity" (Jeremy Lin for president) talk that has surrounded the resurgent Knicks and he did just that.

He should have 15 assists every game and shoot jumpers only when the shot clock is under five seconds. He should be running every possible second (even if the old Big Three are a step or two behind). He has the tools and length to get more rebounds and steals every night.

Maybe the Celtics, winners of four straight, are having second thoughts. Maybe they are the team that should be "buying" on the trade market, trying to add another piece for one last run with this tremendous foursome. I could be sold on this premise.

Or maybe there is simply not enough value on the market for Rondo's services, which is what we've been told lately.

If Celtics president Danny Ainge believes there is a way to make the Celtics better next year or the year after by trading Rondo, say, for one or two young up-and-coming stars, then the Celtics have to do it now.

Thanks to the Perfect NBA Storm — a nationally televised game against the Knicks, croaking "Lin-sanity" and lauding by Bird and Magic — his jump shot is forgotten and his value will probably never be higher.

Trade Rondo now, while he's a "future" Hall of Famer.

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

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