I could probably get used to these overtime wins, even if the Celtics offense wasn’t exactly humming. More to come later. Maybe in the morning. Sorry, I had to work and still have yet to catch up to the entire game.
Rarely does Rajon Rondo reveal many of his feelings, at least publicly. Most of the time he speaks to the media, it’s with short answers or thinly-veiled sarcasm, like the reporters are pests he would rather flick away than speak to — and to be fair, reporters can be quite annoying, hovering around lockers in swarms, shoving their recording devices in players’ faces.
But Jessica Camerato has an ability to encourage players to open up about their emotions, and even Rondo — whose own sister calls him “Oscar” after the Grouch — is susceptible to her magical powers.
Rondo emerged from his emotional cocoon briefly during an interview with Camerato. You should read the entire piece (there are also some interesting quotes from Ray Allen and Rondo’s high school coach), but the most intriguing quotes involved Rondo’s relationship with Doc Rivers.
“I try to keep it even keel on the court, even demeanor, never too high, never too low. But off the court, I think I’m a fun guy to be around, especially if I like you,” he said with a laugh. “I’m pretty much like a go-with-the-flow guy. I’m laidback, I’m very competitive. I pretty much think I can do anything if you put the challenge to me, so I just try to have fun while I’m doing it.”
“Actually, my sister, she calls me ‘Oscar’ like the grouch because I work her a little bit,” Rondo continued. “They get on me, call me a ‘divo.’ Doc (Rivers), KG, they got on me, say I’m high maintenance. I just try to fly under the radar. I just tell them they’re the same, obviously I’ve learned from guys that’s in front of me (laughs). My coach is a leader, Kevin’s my vet, so if I get it, it’s from them (smiles).”
Said Rivers, “He’s just trying to be a better leader. He’s being consistent at it, he’s doing a great job. I think he’s trying to be [more outward]. People forget about how young he is. It just takes him some time. We call Kevin that (a divo), we kid around with that. But he has a chance to be better than just a great player. He can be a great leader too. If he can do both, that’s big for our team.”
I could be reading too far into Rondo’s quote, but it sounds like the rumblings of Rondo’s attitude are overblown: If he really is such a huge nuisance, there’s no way Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers would joke around with him and call him a “divo.” Right? Garnett doesn’t exactly seem like one to joke around about a serious problem.
We hear a lot about Rondo being difficult to handle, but rarely do we hear details of his attitude problems. Every once in a while a story emerges — like when we hear that Brandon Bass told Rondo to shut up during the Knicks game this weekend, or when we hear about Rondo throwing a water bottle off a video screen during a fit of rage in the Celtics facilities.
Last week Rivers came out and said his relationship with Rondo had never been better. He’s defending his point guard, and Rondo does seem to be progressing, at least from what we hear. At the very least, he’s shown maturity in dealing with all the trade rumors. He hasn’t said a single wrong word publicly, even though being included in 25 bazillion trade rumors per day cannot be enjoyable.
If you haven’t already, read Camerato’s entire piece. Now.
Sports Illustrated recently polled 137 NBA players to determine which player they would select first if they were picking a team from scratch. Not surprisingly, Lebron James was first, Dwight Howard was second and Keyon Dooling was not third.
Boston Celtics fans might like to know that Rajon Rondo — that occasional pariah who has been mentioned in more rumors than the captain of the cheerleading team — is No. 12 as voted by his peers, higher than Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and just about everyone else in the NBA.
The full list follows:
1. Lebron James
2. Dwight Howard
3. Kevin Durant
4. Kobe Bryant
5. Derrick Rose
6. Chris Paul
7. Dwyane Wade
8. Steve Nash
9. Blake Griffin
10. Deron Williams
11. Pau Gasol
12. Rajon Rondo
13. Eric Gordon
14. Ricky Rubio
15. Andrew Bynum
You might look at this list and say, “Okay, cool, Rondo was voted to some list that really doesn’t matter.”
But with the Celtics entering the summer of 2012 (and possibly beyond) looking to woo high-profile free agents to Boston, Rondo’s standing among his peers matters.
Which leads us to this summer’s recruiting pitch, assuming that Rondo doesn’t get traded:
“Come to Boston, y’all. It has great chowder, an awesome history of organized crime, players’ coach Doc Rivers, a famed organization with more titles than any other, and miserable weather. It’s not quite so racist anymore and it’s the home of Mark Wahlberg, who was particularly badass in Four Brothers and Shooter, though he was particularly god-awful in Invincible. Plus, it’s the home of Rajon Rondo, the No. 12 best player to build around in the entire NBA.
“You’re coming, right Dwight? RIGHT????”
Bonus link: Don’t let Rondo become another team’s DJ (Chad Finn, Boston Globe)
Celtics not actively shopping Ray Allen, not fielding many calls about Big Three, according to reports
It has been reported in multiple outlets that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — rather than Kevin Garnett or Rajon Rondo — have the highest trade value on the Boston Celtics. I’m surprised Greg Stiemsma isn’t drawing more interest on the market, but otherwise that makes some amount of sense.
What contender isn’t looking to add a professional scorer or the greatest shooter of all-time, especially when the price is essentially a draft pick and a young, undeveloped player with upside? Rajon Rondo is more valuable than either of his star wing teammates, but the Celtics also won’t part with him for such a measly package of future gifts — they would likely need a star in return.
But according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, who cites multiple league sources, “there just hasn’t been much call for the Big Three.” It’s surprising that Allen and Pierce, with smaller contracts and games adaptable to any system, would not draw much interest, though Pierce’s contract (two years, $32 million left after this season) could serve as a repellent. But it makes sense in Kevin Garnett’s case — at any rate, it’s difficult to match salaries for somebody making $21 million, especially when the Celtics, who are looking to build for the future, would refuse any deal that left them with long filler contracts, like the one the Magic assumed when they traded for Gilbert Arenas.
Danny Ainge is smarter than that; he knows that any potential trades made this season are about the future rather than winning a title. That is why he will accept calls about anybody on his roster; it is also why he should be selective in dealing away any of his core players, since the Celtics are already well-designed for a rebuild (or, in a perfect-case scenario, reload) prior to this season.
Bulpett goes on to suggest that Ainge would consider trades that might leave the Celtics out of the playoffs this season.
The belief here, too, is that the Celtics wouldn’t mind getting worse to get better . . . you know, buy a lottery ticket. If they could find a deal that got them something for the future (a draft pick or the rights to a currently entwined foreigner) but hurt them this year to the point they missed the playoffs, a lucky bounce of the ping-pong balls might be the best thing that could happen to this club. Or do you forget what a Mr. T. Duncan did for San Antonio’s fortunes?
Keep in mind: making the lottery this season will be incredibly difficult, even if the Celtics are gutted at the deadline. With 30 games left on the Celtics’ schedule, they are currently five games ahead of Milwaukee, the East’s No. 9 squad. Unless the Celtics start drinking beer, playing video games and eating chicken on the bench, they should be able to qualify for the postseason — even if they trade, let’s say, both Pierce and Allen.
But keep in mind the type of deals being offered for those two: the rumored Clippers deal for Allen included Mo Williams (a reasonably talented bench player who plays Rondo’s position, shoots 43 percent from the field and makes $8.5 million next season unless he waives his player option, which would be quite foolish), Eric Bledsoe (a 22-year old who averaged 6.7 points per game last season, but hasn’t played more than 14 minutes in any contest this season) and presumably some draft pick the Clippers would conjure out of nowhere.
That trade would certainly make the Celtics worse this season. But it’s not what they’re looking for. At all. I hope. Please lord.
Though I would hate to see Pierce or any of the other Fabulous Four members in another jersey, I’m not opposed to the Celtics getting worse now to improve in the future. That’s always, always, always the point of rebuilding, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Sam Presti. Considering that the Celtics have approximately zero chance of winning a title this season, keeping an eye on the future is important.
Keep an eye on the future. Think about the rumored trades that have surfaced. I love Pau Gasol’s game, but he’s a 31-year old big who’s already showing signs of slowing down. Why trade a 26-year old, three-time All-Star for that? I like Eric Bledsoe’s talent, but if you have to keep Mo Williams and his $8.5 million for next season, it simply doesn’t make sense — why waste cap space on Mo Williams when the plan for four seasons has been to have loads of cap space after 2012?
Ainge will be looking for deals. He’s always looking for deals. The key is accepting the smart ones. And the smart ones build for the future while maintaining all the cap space Ainge worked so diligently to clear.