RAJON RONDO, Celtics
Even if you don’t think Rondo is the best player of the Celtics right now (although he is), he will only keep improving as KG, Pierce and Ray get older and fade away. Yes, Boston will have to surround Rondo with good scorers and the team can’t depend on him to put up 20 points a night, but there are only one or two PG’s in the League who run an offense better than Rondo. It would be like the Colts trading Peyton Manning.
LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE, Trail Blazers
With their history of injuries, the Blazers have to hang onto LMA as long as he’s healthy and looking like he can be a franchise guy. This season he’s been at his best and is playing like the true low-post threat Portland wanted in the first place.
DWIGHT HOWARD, Magic
Even as the League is increasingly designed for guards and wings, the franchise big man is still like a winning Powerball ticket. Especially now that he’s showing marked improvement in his offensive game, Dwight is staying in Orlando as long as he wants to be there.
AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE, Knicks
He wanted to come to New York and take on the challenge and stare down the spotlight. No matter what system the Knicks are running or who is playing point guard, they won’t give away a big man who can hit threes, create his own shot and demolish any defense in between him and the rim.
LEBRON JAMES, Heat
Why not Dwyane Wade? Because LeBron is the best player on the team, he’s younger, and he doesn’t have a history of injuries. If the Heatles ever start feuding and it came down to a “him or me” situation, Wade would end up leaving town.
ROY HIBBERT, Pacers
This spot used to be reserved for Danny Granger, but Hibbert is a young 7-footer who has shown enough improvement to where Indiana wouldn’t take a chance losing him anytime soon. Granger may or may not have plateaued. The exact location of Hibbert’s ceiling is still undefined.