Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

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Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by 112288 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:37 pm

Yahoo Sports

Adrian Wojnarowski

BOSTON – Out of the raucous arena and through the tunnel hurried Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, his arms wrapped around Rajon Rondo and tears glistening in his eyes. In a conflicted instance of double-overtime euphoria and season-crushing defeat, the moment inspired a measure of chaos within Rivers' mind.

At its essence, this felt like the last stand of these Celtics, a prideful, painful final gasp for the franchise's championship core. When everyone had come to measure the return of the Miami Heat's Ray Allen in the context of the Celtics' demise, his nemesis, Rondo, did something that Allen had to have desperately wanted to do, in a way that he wished didn't happen.
Even now, Rondo had ripped the drama out of Allen's return to Boston and made the storyline about how Rondo's the talent that the Celtics can't live without.

Boston desperately misses Allen, and the loss of Rondo to a torn ACL in his right knee leaves the Celtics at a crossroads within weeks of a Feb. 21 trade deadline that could change the course of the franchise. Clinging to the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, losers of six of their last seven games, the predictable calls of "blow it up" begin again now.

Here's the reality: No one in the NBA is waiting with a fistful of talented young players and draft picks for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. No one mortgages franchise futures for aging thirty-something stars. Yes, "let's blow it up and start over" sounds noble in theory, but mostly leaves franchises in a hazy state of disarray for years to come.

"We aren't going anywhere," Rivers told Yahoo! Sports outside his office. "I don't get that thinking. You couldn't get what you wanted [in deals]. I still like our team. We're going to figure it out."

Part of Rivers' words were a natural defiance, a fight-or-flight response out of a most competitive basketball soul. Nevertheless, the financial reality of the NBA has changed the way franchises have to inspect the trading away of assets for futures. When the lottery balls don't deliver LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Derrick Rose, rebuilding can be a long, painful and expensive process.

These Celtics owners had years of bad lottery teams and the empty luxury suites and arena seats that come with it. The Celtics weren't competing for a championship with Rondo this season, but they could still make the playoffs without him.

This is a different day, a different era, a different financial landscape in the NBA. No one gives up packages of good young players and draft picks for All-Stars in the advanced stages of careers now. Those days are gone. In a quiet corner of the TD Garden on Sunday, Ainge understood it was impossible – never mind futile – to make a sweeping declaration about his intentions.

"In our situation, you can't just philosophically say, 'We're going to do this,' " Ainge told Yahoo! Sports. "You have to tell me what it is. You have to tell me what opportunities we have."

"Here's the thing: If I wanted to say, 'Hey, let's play for the future,' that's hard to do. And if I play only for the 'here and now,' that's hard to do."

Those kinds of trades are hard to do, Ainge meant.

"I'm going to look and see what opportunities are there, like any other year," Ainge said. "Last year, I was close to making a change that I felt would give us a better chance in the here and now, and in the future. And those are hard to do."

This was a reference to the near O.J. Mayo-Ray Allen deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, a trade that fell apart minutes before the deadline. The Celtics had told Allen that they believed the deal could happen, that he was gone, and it ultimately played a part in the acrimony surrounding his departure. Looking back, it would've been a prudent move for the Celtics. Looking back, it still bothers Ainge that it didn't happen.

Ainge has always insisted that his mentor, Red Auerbach, made a mistake staying too long with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, that he should've moved them when they still had value. Everything's changed now, though. No one plays for the "Let's go for it this year," deal and risks long-term franchise viability. There are point guards available to get the Celtics through the season, and Ainge says he'll meet with his front office and coaches on Monday to begin discussing them.

Outside the locker room late Sunday, Ainge excused himself when a young point guard walked past him on his way out of the arena, "Hey Avery [Bradley]," Ainge called to his new starting point guard. "I need to talk to you."

Between now and the trade deadline, Rivers will be reminding these Celtics over and over how magnificently the Chicago Bulls have played basketball without Rose. The Celtics aren't winning a title with or without Rondo this year, but the days of Auerbach picking up the phone and hustling the draft rights to Bill Russell and Kevin McHale and Len Bias are long gone.
"Draft picks are hard to come by now," Ainge said.

Boston has an elite coach, a determined roster and some guards – Bradley and Jason Terry – to keep pushing for the playoffs. This is a lousy NBA draft coming, and those playoff gates are still sizable. "Blow it up" sounds great on the barstool, but this is a different reality in the NBA, a different day.

Between now and the trade deadline, these Celtics get a chance to fight for everything. Perhaps they'll remember this double-overtime victory over the Miami Heat as a last stand someday, or perhaps simply the beginning of a long, arduous grind until Rondo runs back into the Garden next season.
"You can write our obituary," Doc Rivers said. "I won't."
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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by bobc33 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:37 pm

In the long run (assuming the players resign with the Cs when present contracts are up) we have:

Point Guard = Rondo
Off guard = Bradley
Small forward = Green
Large forward = Sully
Center = Melo

Off the bench = Lee, Wilcox, Barbosa, Bass???

Now we know Trader Dan will make moves, but how does that starting five sound two years out? Assuming Melo becomes a decent NBA starting center, I'm not sure it is enough.....

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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by 112288 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:25 pm

Assuming Rondo can be Rondo with no loss of skills i.e. speed and cutting ability, Green growing and playing like he did on Sunday, Melo becoming a serviceable center with good skills, and Sully a year older and a year wiser in skills........we then have a pretty good team.

Lee certainly will be there but Wilcox may not and Barbosa certainly not.

Celtics are in a tough spot right now.

1) It will take all of next year to one get Rondo back, and see if he can come back to near fully strength. Rondo will have about 35 - 40 games to get his game back. Remember the following year he will be in his final year of his contract.

2) Another year older for PP and KG....they cannot wait as time is now against them.

3) With Rondo this year we were 3 games below 500. His injury changes nothing with the Celtics as to where we are as a team. Changes had to be made to get better. The injury may just help define better what Danny has to do.

Bob, I think you are correct in your post...we have a great future of young studs that are going to be good for a long time. The mistake is to ever trade any of them Bradley, Sully, Melo and Lee.

Management is in between a rock and a hard place. You trade KG and PP and the building will be empty next year, that = less revenue and profit. If you do trade KG & PP you risk the chance of going back to the bad old days before 2007-2008. But to be on the brighter side you also may get some pretty good ball players.

This is going to be a tough one for management, coaches and fans alike.

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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by k_j_88 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:36 pm

I say keep KG and trade PP. He still has some value this year and I'm sure that evaporates next year. KG is quite skilled so even though he's getting older he remains quite effective with the system. When you think about it, Boston already has 55% of what they'll need for the future (Rondo, Bradley, Sullinger, Green, Melo, Lee). That's a nice core to build around. Excluding KG, I'd be willing to trade any players I haven't mentioned.

Rondo's injury sure makes the season look bleak, but I'd hate to see them blow up the team as a knee-jerk reaction to it. To be honest, I blame a majority of their problems on Doc. He plays PP and JT too many minutes. Rondo was playing too many minutes, too. This roster has 10 players that can get double figures on any given night, and many teams can't do that.

Against ATL, seven players reached double figures. That shows we have good personnel, which leads me to my main point that I just think Doc doesn't use good rotations. For instance, JT and PP shouldn't really be on the court together. This means you'll have two players that don't play solid defense.

I'm more inclined to see what this current team does without Rondo as opposed to potentially trading away players that could be good for the future.

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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by sam on Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:37 pm

k_j,

Nice to have your very articulate and well thought-out posts on the board.

Your comments on Doc are very interesting. I'm a huge Doc fan, but I've been criticizing him lately for not injecting the offense with enough discipline—namely not having enough set plays that can help to get better shots for struggling players like Green, Bass and Terry.

As for the rotation, I believe that, to some extent, Doc is the victim of too few reliable big men. Over-dependence on KG at the center position (especially when they go into overtime) breeds a ripple effect throughout the squad. For example, one ripple involves the necessity of moving Sully to center. In turn, that means playing either Bass or Green at PF. Playing bass at PF risks some dropoff in defense, which is a real problem—particularly in crunch time. Playing Green at PF means Pierce has to play more minutes at SF.

In short, despite the vaunted depth of this team, Doc is confronted by a lack of viable rotation options—especially down the stretch and especially at C, PF and SF.

Sam

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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by k_j_88 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:19 pm

@sam: Thanks. My Dad (dboss) suggested I join since I watch the games, too.

To be fair to Doc, Boston's lineup does present a few challenges. Unlike the years when they had Glen Davis and Perkins, this team doesn't have the same intimidating presence in the post. So its hard for this team to emulate the same defensive intensity, especially now that Sullinger is out for the year.

Perhaps a brunt of the blame ought to be placed on Ainge for building the roster.

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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by sam on Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:54 pm

RJ,

If this board is any indicator, since members were widely enthusiastic about the roster, I'd say we're all as guilty as Danny. I thought Danny did a super job with the meager resources he had at his disposal.

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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by k_j_88 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:49 pm

@Sam: Quite a valid point Smile Well, either way, this team will still wins some games.

Why blow the team up for now while we already have a head start on the future?

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Re: Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury

Post by 112288 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:12 pm

KJ 88

Welcome to our site.......your now family......looking forward to reading your posts. Your Dad raised you right!

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