Monday, July 28, 2014

Danny Ainge not focused on Celtic fan's, but on the bigger picture of staying patient




Staying patient can be hard. It's even hard in everyday life at times. As a fan you want to win every year, and winning in 2008 was a much needed win, but of course we want that high again. Danny Ainge will stay patient. Will he stay patient with Rondo as the Celtics franchise player? That's one of the big questions this coming season. You know me. I hope Danny can build around Rondo. But the clock is ticking on Rondo. Being patient when you have a star to build around can be a hard task.


Boston Herald

“Danny has been very disciplined,” Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca said. “He could have made a lot of deals by now, but not for the kind of player we want.”

That would be a rising star to pair with Rajon Rondo or, in the event of trading the point guard, another cornerstone player.

“I can’t control that,” he said of a restless public. “Typically — and you see it with all of the teams here — Boston fans understand what’s going on. Everyone wants to win, but I can’t let these things impact what we’re trying to do. You can’t force this.”

This isn't easy. I wish the Celtics were in the thick of things against LeBron and Cleveland. I do think the East is wide open, but do I think any team in the Eastern Conference will win it all next year? I don't think so. I wouldn't be shocked if the Cavs do, but I don't expect them to win the Finals. The clock it ticking on Rondo, and Ainge doesn't have the urgency to build a team around him, but it's not easy either. Danny can't force teams to trade their best players. Being patient is hard, especially for Rondo fans.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Should Jared Sullinger's weight be a concern?



Sullinger's weight has been a big topic for the past two years. His history of back issues kind of go with the weight you could say. I'm not a Doctor, but weight issues and back issues don't mix. I said a week ago that I'm okay with Sully's weight. In the past, before I said that. I thought Sully should cut the weight down, if not really work on his shaping. First of all. I'm not a health nut, and it's been awhile since I've played sports. So, I'm not in perfect shape. But Sully, in a recent video looks good playing, but very rough physically.

In parts of the video he looks in good shape. In other frames he looks rough. I'm a bit concerned, but he's also said that he's been focused on conditioning. Which doesn't mean you need to be rock hard or cut like a god. Charles Barkley at a point wasn't. Even when he was league MVP in 1993 Barkley was a bit thick. So for me the jury is out on his thick frame.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Who will have a breakout year for the Celtics?




With the free agency period losing it's luster. Along with the NBA waiting for the Love trade to happen. Things have slowed down, and the latest big news should come soon when the NBA releases the 2014-15 schedule. Until then, I will do my best to write some articles that spark your interest. A question going into the coming season that I have? Who will be the Celtics breakout player. Not so much the go-to guy. I will to that sometime this week. But who will come to play this season. I personally believe Avery Bradley needs a breakout season.

He just singed on for the next four seasons for over 7 million a season. Avery Bradley showed a great deal of growth last season, but injuries still plagued him a bit. Bradley had a career year with 14.9 points per game, along with a new weapon the three-point shot. Bradley nearly made 40% of his three's last year. But as I said, injuries derailed a possible better season after he missed 22 games.

Bradley may see some competition next season with the Celtics drafting Smart. Bradley as earned the contract, now it's time to work even harder. I also wonder if Bradley will look to regain some of his defensive intensity. He was still great on the end that made him a key player for the Celtics in years past. But Bradley has learned to calm down a bit on defense, and not over playing.

Avery will be 24 in November, and I think this is the year that will determine who he will be in the NBA. The next step for Bradley would be becoming a 17-20 point scorer a night. Along with a guy who can takeover at times. His defense will be there, but this is the year that will tell me who Bradley is as an NBA player.

Of course Olynyk, or Sullinger could breakout, and even Smart. As for Green or Rondo they could breakout in some ways as well. Rondo could lead Boston to the 7th or 8th seed maybe. Green is someone who will have breakout games, as usual, but he is who he is. Bradley, Kelly, Sully, and Smart could have breakout seasons.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bread and Butter Rondo



Finally someone has written a reasonable and thoughtful article about Rondo...


http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/86219920/nba-boston-celtics-rajon-rondo-point-guard-value#!bmbc90

It isn't surprising that people like to talk about Rajon Rondo. He's a complicated, unique, sometimes-dominant basketball player who currently doubles as the face and captain of an iconic NBA franchise.
He's also a polarizing dude -- in a world where that adjective gets tossed around far too often -- who once induced compelling discussion from those who truly enjoy NBA basketball. Watching him can be an absolute blast and a frustrating mystery at the exact same time. He's as fascinating as he is great. But when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the discourse plummeted into a pit of hackneyed interrogation, where it tragically lies to this day. "Will the Celtics trade Rondo?" "Why haven't the Celtics traded Rondo yet?" "Wait, did the Celtics just trade Rondo?"
This overshadows a far more interesting set of rhetorical questions: What is Rondo's absolute ceiling from this point forward relative to other point guards around the league? Can he still crack an All-NBA team? Assuming he's 100 percent healthy heading into Boston's training camp in October, is it reasonable to expect Rondo leads the NBA in assists for a third time? Will his range finally stretch out to the three-point line? Is he good enough to drag bushy-tailed teammates into the Eastern Conference playoffs as an eight-seed? What about the year after, when Rondo is presumably on the first season of a pricey multi-year contract, or two years after that, when he's entrenched in his early 30s. When will he stop getting better? When will he decline? Where do things go from here?
These questions aren't easy to answer, but Rondo is good enough of a player for them to deserve a solid debate ...
At times, everyone involved in the Rondo debate seems to have some kind of axe to grind.  Personally, I love the way Rondo refuses to bow down to authority figures and this is a non-basketball reason for my liking him.  A Rondo hater such as Bob Ryan seems to hate Rondo for the same reason I like him, so fiercely that he seems to want to bully Rondo, as if to prove to Rondo that even a has-been writer can make things difficult for an athlete who doesn't pay respects.  But even minds that aren't trying to prove some point can get confused over Rondo.  Few athletes seem to pose so many riddles within riddles.

Take Rondo's scoring.  Rondo is a spectacular scorer. In virtually every game, Rondo makes terrific scoring plays and on a regular basis, Rondo makes highlightfilm - worthy plays that match career highlights of not just other players, but HOF stars:  the mid-lane hook shot  over a seven footer;  the dribble drive that starts at half-court and ends in an epic throw-down;  the scoop shot that seems to meander all over the glass before spinning lazily down into the twine, like a basketball caught in a giant pin-ball machine;  the pass fake that freezes the entire defense in its tracks as Rondo waltzes to the basket.  These and many other plays aren't just beautiful.  They are often downright uncanny.  A guy blocks Rondo's shot, but Rondo redirects the ball into the basket.  With a playoff series on the line, Rondo looks down at the three point line, and then steps three feet further back, before unleashing a perfect splash.  Falling out of bounds, and  with an opposing Big all over him, Rondo arcs the ball high over the backboard from behind for another perfect splash.  Not only does Rondo make great plays, but he makes creative and unexpected plays that mess with the minds of opponents.

What Rondo has never been able to do is develop a bread and butter scoring play that he can consistently rely on.  Every top scorer has one or several of those.  Rondo can make spectacular scoring plays with the best of them.  It's the unspectacular play that holds him back.  He doesn't have one.  It's not that he hasn't tried.  He's tried the elbow jumper.  He's tried to post up other guards.  This last season he even tried to own the three.  Rondo just can't find that one 'bread and butter' scoring option.

So Rondo isn't a scoring machine, but he's an uncanny scoring threat, whose forays to the basket draw ridiculous amounts of attention from defenses.  How can a conversation about Rondo take the measure of his impact, even in just one aspect of the game, such as scoring?  And how can one ascertain what he is capable of?  If Rondo's confidence in his shot continues to sag, he may struggle to score 10 ppg next year.  If he finds a bread and butter shot, though, he could push 20 ppg.  Is Rondo worth the max?  Can you build a championship team around Rondo?  Can you see the future?
 
At least let's discuss these matters in a constructive way.  Rondo has at least earned that much respect.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sullinger working hard in hopes of breakout season



Will he, or won't Sully slim down? Is he able to stay healthy? Is he a center or power forward? There are many questions when it comes to Sullinger, but one thing is for sure. Sullinger does have a ton of potential, and he showed that last season when he averaged 13.3 points per game, and when he grabbed 8.1 rebounds a night.

CSNNE

While dropping a few pounds is certainly something that Sullinger and the Celtics know can only help him, all agree that improving his game and not just his girth, should be the focus.

"Not really focusing on weight," Sullinger said earlier this month. "It's more shape, how long can I run, how fast can I run. Pretty much how long I can stay on the court without passing out. I'm working on that every day."

Going into this third season, he has gone back and forth this summer between Boston and Columbus, Ohio for workouts. Recently he participated in the Columbus Pro-Am along with his brothers.

While Sullinger's conditioning is indeed worth monitoring and trying to improve, it's only part of what will ultimately define him as a basketball player.

"This is the NBA, not the Olympic decathlon," his agent David Falk, told CSNNE.com. "I don't think Larry Bird was a great athlete, but he was one of the greatest basketball players of our time. Jared has a chance to be an outstanding basketball player in the NBA."

It's too soon to say for sure what role Sullinger will play for Boston this season. But among the positives he has going for him, is the confidence of head coach Brad Stevens.

"He's accomplished a lot in his first two years as far as what he's been able to do, from a scoring standpoint," Stevens said of Sullinger. "He's shown the ability to rebound. I think that he's in that group of guys that could be a great player. It's a bigger group than actually are great players, just because it takes age, it takes experience, it takes opportunities to become that."

I have become comfortable with Sullinger and the extra weight. I wasn't big on Sully packing the pounds, but if he's able to stay in shape with the weight. Than I have zero issue with Sully's weight issue, if it's really even an issue. I believe that Sully will take the extra step. I think he should play more on the block in the coming season. I like his three-point stroke, but he needs to score in the paint more.

Cleveland signs Wiggins, can't be traded for 30 days

ESPN
The Cleveland Cavaliers officially signed No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins to a contract Thursday, meaning he cannot be traded until at least Aug. 23.

Wiggins has been involved in trade discussions between the Cavs and Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a deal that would send Kevin Love to Cleveland. Because of league rules on rookie contracts, such a deal now cannot be completed for 30 days. Wiggins, who signed a four-year deal, will have a starting salary of $5.5 million after the Cavs gave him the allowed 20 percent premium on the rookie scale, sources said.

Cleveland's decision to sign Wiggins makes it easier for them to trade him. Before his deal, he had zero value on the salary cap but his contract - worth $5.5 million - could allow the Cavs to clear enough room to take on a Love contract, who is set to earn $15.7 million next season.

Some teams have hope with the 30 days thing, but these two teams can agree, and then strike the deal officially 30 days from now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Danny Ainge has moved on from Kevin Love, and so should we



I honestly gave up hope on Love once the Celtics drafted Marcus Smart, and once James signed with Cleveland. It was a nice thought for a while. Love and Rondo connected at the Red Sox game. Love also took pictures at Red's statue. It was a dream, and the deal could have happened. It had some teeth. But now, Danny is willing to aid the Cavs and Wolves in a potential deal. The white flag has been waived, as it should be waived.


CSNNE

If the Cleveland Cavaliers do get Kevin Love and win an NBA championship, Danny Ainge may just get a ring, too.

Having already played a big part in allowing the Cavs to sign LeBron James by clearing cap space (the Cavs traded three players in total to the Celtics and Nets), more help could be on the way from Boston - if it's up to them, anyways.

According to Sean Deveny of Sporting News, the Celtics are one of many teams trying to get in on a three-way trade that involved Kevin Love going to either Cleveland, Chicago, Golden State, or anywhere else.

Of course, the Celtics would love to land Love themselves, but it appears they simply don't have the best available package.

So Ainge is going to look for other ways to improve his team, even if it means helping facilitate the Love trade.

According to Deveny, the Celtics would be willing to trade some of their draft picks if it meant bringing in a player who could contribute immediately.

So what can the Celtics get? Anthony Bennet the biggest bust after one season in the NBA? The Celtics still want to snag a game changer in the deal, but how?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Celtics have 18 players, who will make the cut?




Danny does know that you can only have 15 players, right? Of course he knows, but what's he doing with the Celtics roster? He's not setting off fireworks as projected. The minor moves have been questionable, and the plan hasn't been clear this summer. The Celtics have 18 players currently on the roster, with 3 players likely to be cut at camp, if not before camp in late September.

ESPN Boston

Boston still has three nonguaranteed contracts totaling about $7 million headlined by the long-since excused Keith Bogans. If unable to cut costs in any other way, Boston could simply waive Bogans, Chris Babb, and Chris Johnson to get to 15 players and a salary safely below the tax line.

Those three cuts are the likely moves. I would say Bogans without a doubt.

Cap Glance

A look at the Boston Celtics' current salary commitment (with help from salary site ShamSports.com). Note: Evan Turner is omitted while awaiting his official numbers:

Player 2014-15 salary
Rajon Rondo $12,909,090
Gerald Wallace $10,105,855
Jeff Green $9,200,000
Marcus Thornton $8,575,000
Avery Bradley $7,191,011
Brandon Bass $6,900,000
Keith Bogans $5,285,816*
Joel Anthony $3,800,000
Marcus Smart $3,283,320
Vitor Faverani $2,090,000
Kelly Olynyk $2,075,760
Tyler Zeller $1,703,760
James Young $1,674,480
Jared Sullinger $1,424,520
Chris Johnson $915,243*
Phil Pressey $816,482
Chris Babb $816,482*
Totals $78,729,969

The Celtics have some contracts that they can move. The Celtics have Bass, Joel Anthony, and Marcus Thornton to deal with their expiring contracts. Rondo of course falls on that list, but I don't count that. Jeff Green could also be a player that goes on that list, he's owed $9 million in 2015-16, but he has a player option. Wallace has two years to go at $10 million, and it's the one contract that's putting the Celtics back a bit. It's hard to guess in Danny's world when it comes to trades and other Celtic moves.

The Cavs are one step closer to Love, and the Celtics are out of luck



When it came to Danny landing a superstar this summer. It's hard to say if all of his eggs were in the same basket with Kevin Love. I would say so, because no other star right now is demanding a trade. The Cavs have made a minor deal with the Jazz to gain some extra assets to swing over to the Wolves to acquire Mr.Love.







LeBron will get his star player, once again. This time around in Cleveland is different for James. He was unable to get a star player to play in Cleveland. He got Shaq and Jamison when they were past their prime. The Celtics have a roster full of guards, and I just don't know what plan B is.

Of course I know Love isn't, or wasn't the savior. But he was the guy that meant Rondo would stay. As this roster stands. I don't feel confident about Rondo staying.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Evan Turner set to sign with the Celtics

This isn't a bad signing. Evans is a former No. 2 pick from the 2010 draft. But the 25-year-old Turner hasn't had the career as one. I think this is a low risk move that could result in a high reward. The deal will be half of the mid-level exception, which makes this a sound signing.

Turner has averaged 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists over four NBA seasons. This doesn't make Boston contenders, but the Celtics get a chance to revitalize Turner's career.

CSNNE

According to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, the Celtics --using a portion of their mid-level exception. -- will sign Evan Turner.
Turner averaged 17.1 points per game with the Sixers last season before being traded to the Pacers, where he took on a bench role. He's a versatile forward, standing at 6-foot-7, 220 pounds. A former No 2. overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, at the very least he's a young talent that gives the Celtics another option at the small forward spot should Jeff Green be moved.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Celtics owner talks about being patient this summer, after failed opportunities




I think it's fair to say that some fans are upset with the lack of moves by Ainge. I'm just thankful Rondo is still around, but at the same time Ainge hasn't built a team around Rondo. Drafting Smart wasn't a great move in the sense you have Rondo. When the Celtics drafted the point guard that prompted the media and fans to hint about the Celtics want to move Rondo.

ESPN Boston

Grousbeck, who coined the buzzword "fireworks" earlier this year while citing a desire for rebuilding Boston to revert to contender status with impact moves, suggested the team explored potential deals, but couldn't find a willing trade partner.

“We had definitely hoped to try to make bigger moves this offseason, to be honest," Grousbeck told WEEI.com on Sunday from Fenway Park. "Having said that, it takes two partners to make a trade, so we focused on longterm, trying to build the club."

After Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love himself visited Fenway Park in early June -- crossing paths with Celtics captain Rajon Rondo while here -- some wondered if Boston could facilitate a trade to land the 25-year-old All-Star. The two teams reportedly engaged in trade conversations, though little came of it, with Minnesota seemingly more intrigued by other potential offers. Love, who has expressed a desire to become a free agent next summer, remains on Minnesota's roster.

Instead, Boston made a series of quieter moves this offseason. The Celtics drafted Marcus Smart and James Young in the first round of June's draft; re-signed guard Avery Bradley to a four-year, $32 million contract; and utilized a hefty trade exception to facilitate a three-way deal with the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers that brought back guard Marcus Thornton, center Tyler Zeller, and Cleveland's 2016 first-round pick.

"We think we’re a better team now -- positioned for the future -- [with] some new young talent and even more draft picks," said Grousbeck. "But it’s been a patient summer so far, and I'm not always the most patient guy."

The Celtics could be worse off, they could be the Lakers right now. Ainge has made some calculated moves when it comes to cap space and draft picks. Moves that show up years from now, and not right here in the moment. The Celtics have a nice core to build around, but not a title contender by any means. They have great role players that you can build around. The Celtics lack that other star, in which they've missed out on. The growth of three players keeps me intrigued. Will Bradley put together a healthy season, and will his offense reach even greater lengths?

Sullinger as well faces the same issues. Will he continue to grow on the offensive end, and can he remain healthy for the majority of the season. Olynyk is another player that I want to see grow. Will he become the complete player that many think he can be. The Celtics will start the season with Rondo running the show, so maybe the Celtics become a playoff team with the young guys growing up a bit more.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

NBA News and Notes: Irving feeling great about LeBron, and Bynum may sit out 2014-15 season



Andrew Bynum still has knees to go up and down a basketball court? I don't care for the former Laker. He doesn't put in the work, and he's an immature player that doesn't care about safety for others. Do I feel sorry for him about his injury plagued 3 years? It's a pity, but I don't feel for him. He's been quoted about his feeling about basketball. Basically if he wasn't 7 foot tall he wouldn't give a damn about basketball. So do I really care about the chance that he may not play this coming season? No, because I thought he retired already? Oh, that's right he played for Cleveland last year for a second, and he played for the Pacers for around .3 seconds. Just enough time for a tip shot or catch and shoot.

ESPN

The non-surgical procedure uses injections to help grow new cartilage, and requires an extra-long rehab.

Lee said Bynum is considering doing the program with German doctor Peter Wehling, who has worked with Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez in the past.

The procedure is not approved in the United States.

If Bynum successfully completes the program, he could return in 2015-16, according to Lee, who said the Knicks potentially would be interested in the 7-footer.

"If he's healthy, Phil (Jackson) will be interested," Lee told the Post, referring to the Knicks team president who coached Bynum while with the Lakers. "Phil knew how to tap into Andrew. They got along famously."

Bynum, a former All-Star, didn't play in 2012-13 because of bad knees. Last season, he played in 24 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who then traded him to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls eventually waived the one-time All-Star, and he signed with the Indiana Pacers, playing just two games for them.

In 2011-12, Bynum's last full season, he made the All-Star team, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Phil Jackson can have him back. How did bringing in Odom workout for you Phil? Not very well.. Bynum was lucky to put together a good two year stretch for the Lakers when they won back-to-back titles a few years ago.

So how about the new dynamic duo in Cleveland? James and Irving should have some fun in Cleveland this season. For the first since James was there in 2010. The Cavs are among the elite in the East again. So how does he feel? It's not very shocking.

"It's an exciting time, I can tell you that," Irving said, according to Fox Sports Ohio. "Everything is happening."

James announced on July 11 that he would return to Cleveland after four seasons with the Miami Heat.

"I was excited," Irving said. "You have to empathize with the guy. I think we all felt his emotions with his essay (on SI.com). ... I found out like everyone else found out."

Who wouldn't love playing with LeBron? Not a shocking answer by last years All-Star game MVP..

Rondo to Sacramento is Real?


KHTK in Sacramento, apparently a CBS (radio) affiliate, is apparently tweeting that Sacramento is deep in talks with the Celtics and Detroit, and that offers are on the table, and that the two deals are dependent on each other.

Was told by a lower management Kings official, talks regarding Pistons F Josh Smith are on hold as of now, due to SAC/BOS Rondo negotiations

Was told reasoning behind slow process, due to Kings wanting both Rondo & Smith. Unlikely one comes without the other.Kings torn on Mclemore

Am being told Kings staying put with both offers. SAC offering G Ben McLemore, 1st round pick, & Jason Terry to BOS for G Rajon Rondo.
Kings also staying put with offer to Pistons. SAC would send F Jason Thompson , PG Ray McCallum to DET for F Josh Smith.
https://twitter.com/KHTK1140Callers

I don't know how legit these reports are, twitter being what it is, and rumors being what they are, but it sounds legit to me.  I think that this is the deal that needs to happen, one that will help everyone.  I think Sacramento needs to figure out a way to sweeten its offers a little, but Danny also has to get real about the leverage he no longer has.  Other teams know that going into the season with both Rondo and Smart will be a mess, one way or another.  Danny has to make a move.  This sounds like the move to make.  Rondo has to get real too, I think.  He has to recognize that he is not now, and possibly never was, part of Danny's plan.  He has to recognize that, while everyone wants to go to a major market, the most important thing is to be on a team that wants you, playing with people you want to play with.  As Durant has proven, being in a major market isn't everything.  Ditto Lebron.


I wanted Rondo to be a Celtics legend and I thought he could be one of the greatest.  I think the shabby treatment of Rondo, as I see it,  by Ainge has been a big mistake by Ainge.  But now it really is time for both sides to move on.  Hopefully Rondo can begin to build a new legend in Sacramento.  Hopefully Smart can do the same in Boston.

------------------------

Apparently the Detroit Free Press (via Pro Basketball Talk) says there is no there there...

http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/19/report-no-legs-to-trade-talks-between-pistons-and-kings-involving-josh-smith/

Sacramento was looking to send nothing of value in return for Smith, which almost seems fair when considering he’s guaranteed $40.5 million over the next three seasons.
But there’s a new regime in Detroit with Stan Van Gundy acting as head coach and president of basketball operations, and he obviously wants to see if he can properly utilize Smith’s talents before shipping him out in exchange for nothing more than financial flexibility.

My guess is that there are legs to the story, but that the Kings will have to sweeten both offers.

-----------------------------

The latest from KHTK is that Detroit has agreed to a deal and that everything hinges on Ainge now.    I don't know how valid the report is, but if it is on the money, I hope Danny stops dithering and gets down to making a deal.  It's time for everyone to have a chance to move on.

----------------------------

No progress on the Rondo side, it seems, according to KHTK (assuming it is/has a real source):

 As far as Rondo, that's the trade I'm told is most likely not to happen, but per source, the Kings will NOT make one trade w/o other.
Perhaps Danny is still hoping that Rondo will turn it on as the Celtics leader, though it seems more likely to me that he's continuing to hope that he can bet a 'big haul' for Rondo.

Blame It On Rondo


One of the most ridiculous 'factals' that has been propagated into near truth is the claim that Rajon Rondo was awful in 2013-2014.   I suppose that one of the reasons this notion has taken on legs is that the Celtics organization - as is their wont - badly misled people about what to expect from Rondo last year.  We were led to believe that Rondo would be  back by opening day, and that he very possibly would be better than ever.  We now know that return from ACL rarely plays out that way.

If we measure Rondo's return against more realistic expectations, it would make more sense to say it was a great success than to say that it was a failure.  The most important thing that happened was what didn't happen;  Rondo didn't re-injure himself.  Another very good thing was that Rondo shot the ball more, and initially, with much improved success.  He showed better form and more confidence in his shot.  One of this most important tasks this summer has to be to finally get 'over the hump' as a shooter.  Hopefully he is shooting until his arms fall off.  Hopeful signs need to be turned into sustained advances.

Rondo's movement on the court seemed less explosive, but his mastery as a playmaker seemed to be better than ever.  Rondo seemed to be in control of opposing defenses, as if he had opposing players on a string.  Sometimes, as Rondo dribbled around, it looked like he was turning the other team's defense into origami. 
His own teammates seemed slow to understand what he was up to at times, and slow to respond.  This is a sign not of his failure, but of needing better, or more attuned, teammates.  Even so, Rondo basically led the league in assists last year.  If you take out his first month, when his minutes were limited and he was shaking off rust, he averaged better than 11 apg.  That is a genuinely astonishing achievement.

In fact, Rondo has basically led the league in assists for four straight years.  In 2011, Nash barely caught Rondo at the end of the season because injury and team confusion brought Rondo down, and Nash came on.  In 2012 and 2013, Rondo led the league outright.  This last year, Rondo would have led the league if you took away his first six games back and if he had enough assists.  This guy, who has essentially led the league in assists for four straight years, as his team has deteriorated  around him, and despite injuries;   this is the guy who is routinely now almost looked upon as some kind of a joke by many?!  Leading the league in assists is a tremendous achievement.  Moreover, the numbers confirmed what the eye saw - that Rondo's mastery as a playmaker is better than ever.

There were important disappointments.  Rondo's defensive play continued to deteriorate and his shooting confidence, which started out high, collapsed.  Worst of all, Rondo continued to slow the pace down.  This became so bad that Heinsohn, who loves Rondo, publicly called him out for it.  On the other hand, it is absurd to blame Rondo for going through the motions some on a team designed to tank only slightly less blatantly than the Sixers.

Overall, one should grade Rondo's return-from-ACL season as incomplete.   As we now know, that is the typical grade after return from ACL injury.  The fantasy that Rondo would come back and lead the D-league level tankarama Celtics to number 18, like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland showing that a bunch of kids with a little grit and moxy can beat the odds, crashed pretty hard into reality.  Rondo is the wrong person to blame for this.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lakers great Cooper says Bird was harder to guard than Jordan



I get what Cooper says, and he's right. But to be clear. When it comes down to one-on-one, Jordan was better. Jordan was a bit more predictable, and Bird was a free spirit out there. He was unpredictable, and that's why he's one of the best that ever played. I love hearing these old stories. It never get's old for me.

Mass Live

MassLive: I want to start with Larry Bird. He’s said before that you were the toughest player to defend him. Was he the best player you ever had to defend?

Cooper: He was the toughest in the sense that anytime Larry was on the floor, you had to be aware of his presence because he was going to make something good happen. I played against George Gervin, Andrew Toney, Dr. J., a young Michael Jordan, some of the best players that have ever played this game, but Larry would have to be the best. You knew if Jordan had the ball, once he gave it up, you were okay with that. Larry could go get offensive rebounds. He could make a great pass. He was the ultimate offensive threat. Anytime he was on the offensive side of the floor you had to defend him. To me, that makes him the best I’ve ever played against.