If it’s any consolation to Rajon Rondo, he’s going through a Celtic Icon initiation rite that began with Paul Pierce.
To win you must first face defeat. And suffer.
Like a class act who refuted ESPN’s news that he had asked for a trade, Rondo goes all in with Danny Ainge’s rebuilding an by breaking his hand.
Cool You don’t need me to be good now, I get it.
For better or worse, Rondo remains the only Celtic that proves the team isn’t going rock bottom the way the Sixers have gone.
As long as Rondo remains, the specter of a winning season looms over the short horizon.
Take him out, and it’s going to be a long slog.
Boston didn’t lose enough to get Wiggins, Parker or Embiid, any of which would have facilitated Kevin Love’s arrival. Instead Love is playing with LeBron, after making it publicly clear he didn’t mind going to Boston.
Like a wrecking machine the Celtics must soldier on. Despite the Eastern Conference’s relatively lack of strength left even more wide open by Paul George’s injury, expect this ship to miss the playoffs, and struggle to win 20 games.
There will be close losses as head coach Brad Stevens establishes a system. As polished as top rookie Marcus Smart is, letting him play alongside Rondo full-time is somewhat of a revolutionary concept that could fail. James Young could make Avery Bradley expendable.
There’s a lot of guards and potential at the wing positions, but no one’s expecting anything more than positive development from the whippersnappers that must surround Rondo.
Ainge has asked for the sky in Rondo talks, waiting stone-faced for another franchise to call his his bluff. One year removed from free agency in what’s now a discount rated rookie extension, the Celtics will own the right to give him one more year at the league maximum. To wit, his franchise credentials have been in doubt. Phoenix (with Goran Dragic) and Toronto (with Kyle Lowry) proved you don’t have to pay a premium for a non-All Star all star at the position.
Both teams almost made it to the playoffs as the best players on their young teams. The Lakers with Kobe and the Celtics with Rondo didn’t.
Half of that isn’t fair, as both stars spent 2013-14 recovering from injuries. Their front offices had clearly punted, and have resulted to patching up Dwight Howard’s hole with Carlos Boozer.
Rondo will be surrounded by rookies, playing for a coach he hardly got to know last year. He came back in part-time duty but save for a handful of games, Boston wasn’t any better.
The Celtics’ meager per-game shot at winning actually depended on Jeff Green, who foreshadowed 40-point games with eye of the storm eight-point outputs.
Green’s $10 million per multi-year deal is one-year shorter, and he could hold the most value as a trade candidate. Ainge may not get a choice first rounder, though teams have gotten desperate in the past.
Green’s deal would have been an absolute deal in a future of increased TV revenues and rising cap spaces. For now Green remains a potential cap killing move, for a potential short-term gain, in exchance for a lottery or mid first rounder.
The Sixers traded the only semblance of rotation players it had mostly for second round picks. Where Thad Young goes, so does Green.
It’s also unfortunate that expiring deals aren’t as valuable. Teams are hesitant to pare cap space down by taking on a one-year $10 million commitment to someone like Gerald Wallace. That’s a potential cap hold that’s been offset by the increasing use of non-guaranteed deals, usually awarded to second rounders and undrafted talent.
We’ll see. But I see a giant tank on the horizon. Stevens’ coaching and the kind of young talent will at least make it bearable. Lots of close losses. Eh. What’s one more year.