It has been reported that Rajon Rondo withdrew from Team USA due to family matters and to take care of some things. But certain factors lead me to believe that Rondo was not acting entirely of his own accord when he decided to leave the team and return to the United States.
In addition to the evidence we pointed out yesterday, the Globe wrote that Rondo “[sensed] the writing on the wall as coach Mike Krzyzewski began to test different backcourt combinations minus Rondo.” And yes, Rondo’s uncle passed away a week or two ago… but Rondo flew to Spain and then Greece to be with the team after the passing. Additionally, Rondo’s brother — who presumably would know about any family matters that would cause Rondo to skip out on the competition — “wasn’t sure about the reason for Rondo’s withdrawal.”
Doc Rivers, according to the Boston Globe, believes that Team USA needs played a part in Rondo’s decision. But he also thinks that Rondo’s own desire to return to the Unites States was another factor.
Whatever the reason, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Rondo, whether forced or by his own decision, is no longer a part of Team USA. And Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers seem pretty pumped up about it. (Boston Globe)
Though he knew the experience would have helped the 24-year-old guard, Celtics president Danny Ainge breathed a sigh of relief at Rondo’s withdrawal.
“You’re always worried about the injury factor and the getting worn down factor,’’ said Ainge. “But I think that there is some good that can come from it as well, particularly with young players.
“Rondo played late into the season and it was a long season. He carries a pretty big load for our team. So I can’t say that I’m disappointed that he’s coming home.’’
“I know that initially Rajon was not really overwhelmed with the opportunity,’’ Ainge said. “It was not something that he was thrilled with doing.
“It was something that he did because he was kind of being told it was the right thing to do by those trying to get him to do it. But it wasn’t something that he was dying to do. So I’m not surprised. And I’m happy to see him finish the summer experience being healthy.’’
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was glad that Rondo got the experience, traveling to Spain and Greece, and competing in practice against some of the best in the NBA. In the end, Rivers said, the team needs played a part in the process, but so did Rondo’s desire to return to the States.
“In a lot of ways, he gets the best of all of it,’’ Rivers said. “He got to compete against the other guards. He knows shooting was a premium on this team, so he clearly knows that’s an area he has to keep working on to improve, and he gets to come home and spend some time with the family.
“It played out the way it played out, and I think everybody’s pretty satisfied with it.’’
I know I said the reason doesn’t matter, but here’s my latest theory: Rondo had never wanted to participate in the World Championships in the first place, and it took some serious convincing for him to join the roster. All was gravy as he started the first few games Team USA played. He wasn’t overly enthusiastic about playing for the team, but the competition was good and Rondo was starting. Coach K and other players praised the point guard, and Rondo thought he had made the right decision to spend his summer with the team.
Then Rondo had one bad game, against Lithuania. Suddenly, Coach K took an indirect shot at Rondo through the media. He said that the first team didn’t have energy, and that Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook (the two guards who relieved Rondo) brought the team back. After Rondo’s poor performance, Coach K decided to give other guards a shot. There is a lot of overlap on Team USA’s roster, especially at the point guard position. Rose, Westbrook and Rondo are three absurdly athletic playmakers, but they have very similar strengths and weaknesses. There wasn’t room to play all of them together.
During the next game, Rondo received a DNP. When that happened and the other guards all played well, Rondo realized he was on the bubble to be cut. He hadn’t wanted to participate on the team in the first place, and now he could potentially spend his summer riding the pine for a team he hadn’t been completely sold on to begin with. He lollygagged through practice for a day or two afterward, looking (in the words of ESPN reporter Chris Sheridan) “like a man with a lot on his mind.”
Knowing that he might get cut, and that he might actually want to get cut if his minutes weren’t assured, Rondo decided to leave the team. His heart wasn’t fully in the team from the start, and that DNP sealed the deal.
I don’t know. Just my latest theory. As you can tell, I probably spend WAY too much time thinking about the Celtics.