Without getting too gloomy or self deprecating; Celtic nation is in mourning after the Doris Burke announcement about the immediate future of Rajon Rondo. The double overtime win against Boston’s bitter arch rivals does little to comfort the dark thoughts of what could have been and is now lost for number 9 and the team he represents.
Alas the Celtic point guard did tear his ACL– and with surgery imminent, will be sidelined for about 10 to 12 months. I don’t mean to rush things, as a proper grieving process allows for an allotted time to reminisce and pay respects to the fallen one, but at the risk of being brash– it is time to begin to look forward.
In the first of what I hope to be many round-tables, the Celtics Town team (Tom, Jordan, and Jesse) will weigh in on a couple of areas where the loss of Rondo may be most felt along with how Doc, Danny, and the gang will adjust.
Who will run this Celtics team?
Jesse: For my money, it’s Paul Pierce. I know this response comes at a time when PP has been less than impressive, but hang with me for a second. In Rondo’s absence Pierce put up a triple double yesterday and became much more of a facilitator. There have been stretches where Rondo has been sidelined for injuries or suspensions and the C’s got some of their biggest wins (vs. Knicks on Jan. 7, and vs. Heat on Jan. 27). This Boston team has a better offensive and defensive efficiency rating while Rondo is on the bench. While I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence, there is some truth to the roles the supporting cast take with Rondo on the court versus on the bench, and I believe Pierce will be the one to step up.
Tom: The wise-guy answer here is Doc Rivers/Danny Ainge, both of whom will be forced to adjust and consider every possible avenue both on the court and player personnel-wise.
Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be opposed to Leandro Barbosa running the point. He’s not an elite facilitator, but neither is anyone else on the roster besides Rondo. What Barbosa DOES bring to the table is the kind of driving and scoring game we often screamed for from Rondo, as well as a fairly solid P&R game. It would be at least worth a shot.
Jordan: Assuming the C’s don’t add anyone? Lowry is the popular rumor right now, but I don’t see it happening. The Raptors gave up a top-8 pick for Lowry this offseason, and will want something substantial in return. I’m not keen on mortgaging this teams future by giving up Bradley or Sullinger for a guard who’s played for three teams in six years, there’s a reason for that. They could try running through Pierce, but point-forward Pierce seems to end in disaster lately (though it might keep him from shooting). I think it’s time for Avery Bradley to show off those point-guard skills he developed this offseason, but really the team will have share the ball and replace him as a unit.
What happens to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?
Jesse: Absolutely nothing. As stated by many public basketball figures– they hold very little value to other teams. Their value is a derivative of the respect and loyalty they have shown for this Celtics team and the city of Boston. Other GM’s recognize this fact and are highly unlikely to offer anyone of real long-term value in exchange for either of the remaining members of the initial big three. I imagine both players retiring in green after their current contracts (at the latest). This is not even mentioning KG’s no-trade clause, which is another hurdle Mr. Ainge will have to jump if he has any expectations of sending the Big Ticket to a different squad.
Tom: Gut feeling? Pierce gets traded, Garnett retires after this year. Moving Pierce is easier than moving KG, and there are more destinations that could use a scoring small forward than a stretch-4.
One trade scenario I would support for Garnett (if the C’s blow it all up): KG to OKC for Perk (for contract purposes), Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III. Garnett would get one more (really good) chance to win a ring, OKC would get an elite defender to back up Collison (who should be starting anyway), and the Celtics get two potentially excellent prospects. But aside from Twitter trade machining, which is where I discovered this idea, there is no indication this deal is being discussed whatsoever.
Jordan: Well I don’t think either of them gets moved this season but beyond that I’m not sure. I know the Pierce-Gay trade has been discussed to death in the blogging community; I just don’t see what the point of that would be. Gay is a better player than Jeff Green, but they’re redundant players–with cumbersome contracts ($25 million just this year). Garnett has a no-trade clause and he’s too loyal to be moved. I think both guys finish out this season and play it by ear, but retirement could be in the cards depending on how things shake out.
What do the Celtics do at the deadline this year?
Jesse: I believe Boston should maintain course: make a small move to bolster their front court in getting a true center, along with acquiring a now desperately needed point guard. After countless hours I was finally able to manufacture this gem, which would address both of those problems, and is not entirely in fantasy land (only partially). I don’t think the Celtics should make a big splash come February 21, as the way I see it, it is hard to get reciprocal value for any of Boston’s current players. Rebuilding will have to be a slow and arduous journey as the Celtics initial pillar, Rajon Rondo, is unfortunately currently unstable.
Tom: I have no idea. But I HOPE the first thing Danny Ainge did this morning was call Pierce and Garnett into his office and ask them what they want him to do. They can’t call the shots, but their preferences should at least be considered. They’ve earned that.
Jordan: I would never bet against Ainge making a move, but I doubt any major pieces get moved. Bass is probably the most expendable player right now followed by Terry/Barbosa, but does anybody want them? Lee is probably the most expendable ‘asset,’ though I’m not sure any teams are head-over-heels for him either. I would guess the Celtics add a big and try to clear out bad contracts and little else. No sense in blowing this team up now unless they have a huge collapse or KG/Pierce asks out. Any huge moves can wait until the summer.
How does this change the Celtics long term plans?
Jesse: The Rondo injury throws a Donky-Kong sized gorilla wrench into the long term forecast for Boston. The way it was set up going into the season was that Rondo was poised to transition the team into its next generation as the centerpiece to attract incoming free agents. The core of Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Fab Melo is significantly less enticing without it’s ‘top of the bill’ point guard. This is a hit I believe the Celtics will just have to take in stride, as it will be difficult to flip any of these core players (sans Sully?) for any sort of double-down on two prospects, and even more difficult to turn any of the aging veteran talent into future assets. Perhaps the British said it best: Keep Calm and Carry On.
Tom: It doesn’t really CHANGE Boston’s long term plans as much as it accelerates them. This team was on the verge of getting blown up anyway if they didn’t turn their season around. Now they have an even shorter leash to do so. Expect Ainge to float every name on the roster around the league, but also expect him to give this unit a couple of weeks to see what they can do before he pulls the pin and tosses the grenade.
Jordan: ACL injuries are tricky. Even if Rondo is ready for the season next year it’s very unlikely he’ll be back to full strength until ‘14-‘15. There’s a lot of optimism around this injury because of Adrian Peterson but 1. Peterson isn’t human, and 2. The Vikings compensated for Peterson’s inability to cut early in the season by running him up the middle (but enough football!). That inability to cut (and the lack of lift on his jumper) will lengthen the time it takes for Rondo to get back to full-speed. I think this expedites the rebuilding process and makes it less likely Bradley or Sullinger will be dealt in some sort of win-now trade.
As you can see we have some different views as to the best course of action for our beloved Celtics. Let us hear what you think in the comments section.
Follow Jesse on twitter: @J_duderanch
Follow Tom on twitter: @Tom_NBA
Follow Jordan on twitter: @OffensiveG