We are poised to be an alltime great misfit team next year, and I love that. When I see all the guys on the internet talking about the great 'pieces' they want to assemble to make a surefire championship team, it makes me laugh sometimes. Sure, sometimes you build a great team by putting a lot of surefire guys on the same team. Ask Pat Reilly and Phil Jackson about that. It's basically what the Cs did in 2008, and what Miami did. No one can dispute the Dream Team approach. But that's not how the truly great teams do it. Ask the old Celtics. Ask San Antonio today. The ultimate point of team sports has to do with the way the team transforms its members. Russell understood that, and it's why his true greatness is still not appreciated today. Building a team isn't additive. It's transformative.
So sure, yeah, we can give up on Rondo. Let's trade him for a bunch of 'assets'. For eight years now we've been talking about how great he could be, how tremendous his potential is, and for eight years we've seen it in glimpses, brutally tantalizing glimpses. So now it's time to give up on him and 'flip' him for assets, right? [Isn't it nauseating when fans talk about players in such dehumanizing ways?] No. Not right. Rondo may be stubborn, but that is part of what makes him a special player. He has consistently shown growing maturity and a desire to improve. He's been the Celtics' best player for four or five years now, and he's led them deep into the playoffs. He has the heart of a lion. If he is willing to make a commitment this summer to take his game to the next level, we should commit to building around him.
We have several other players with lion hearts, but a lot to prove. Bradley has shown that he can be an elite NBA defender, and a strong scorer too, but can he be durable? He and Rondo are fantastic together, but can they stay on the floor? Sully, as I've said many times, reminds me of Cowens. The look in his eye is fierce, and his determination to control things around the basket backs up the look in his eye. What he lacks is the raw power to contend with some of the bigger bigs around the league. Can Sully develop a stronger base? Maxwell said he wanted to see bigger deltoids and biceps on Sully. Well, that might be ok, but what I want to see is the pine trees he stands on turn into oaks. I think that is what could turn him from a promising young guy into a star.
Then we have Olynyk, the smart kid who is all-over the court when his motor starts humming; Green, the perennial disappointment who shows signs of getting in sync with Rondo; Humphries, Mr. Hustle, who can be a difference maker in the right niche; Bayless, the journeyman scorer who hopes he has found a home; Bass, a guy who does a few things surprisingly well; Pressey, undrafted but undaunted; and so on. There are a lot of misfits with a lot of heart on this team. We are nowhere near as bad as we looked at times this year. We might even be as good as we looked at times this year. Or better. A lot depends on how our misfits develop, separately or together, this summer.
A lot depends on what Danny does. I think the ideal person for us to bring in would be a power forward with length and/or athleticism - a Chris Bosh, or a Josh Smith - who has something to prove. Whatever moves Danny makes he should try to make as early as possible. Give this team time to gel. If possible, get your moves over with so whoever is left can settle in and focus on learning to play together.
But the important thing is Rondo, something Rondo is fully aware of:
"He always has fulfilled a series of marketing obligations during the summer, but this time he will only take a trip to China to help promote his shoe brand. The rest of the summer, Rondo will look to improve his game.
“Next year will be fun, it will be a fresh start,” he said. “I’ll be able to go through training camp and my conditioning will be better than ever and I’ll have a full summer to train at full speed, at full strength. [Last] summer I wasn’t able to train. This summer will be a fun summer, probably the best summer of my career. I’m looking forward to it, something to take out of it. Not making the playoffs, I’ll have a lot more time to train and get better.”
Kobe Bryant has said repeatedly he would like to be part of the Lakers’ decision-making this summer, as Los Angeles also tries to rebound from an abysmal season. Rondo has not asked management to be informed of any decisions, but he wouldn’t mind knowing the direction the team is taking.
“I want to be aware of what’s going on, especially if I’m part of the future here,” he said. “And being the point guard, I would like to know what the team has in store or wants to do or the moves they want to make. I think I’ll be around in Boston this summer and I’ll look forward to what’s going to happen. I’m very excited.”"
As a Celtics fan, I'm excited to hear these kinds of words from Rondo. No Red Bull this summer. Rondo in Boston this summer. Rondo wants to be part of the decision-making process. Rondo is putting his words in the right place. If he follows through, and does stay in Boston at least a lot of the time, and does work hard on his game and on gelling with his teammates and Coach Stevens, then the team would be crazy not to build around him. Just crazy. This team of misfits could amaze the league next year. I WANT TO SEE THAT!!!
As expected, the Haters latched onto Heinsohn's strong criticism of Rondo...
The main point Heinsohn was making, as constructive criticism, is that Rondo has a very bad habit of killing the pace, and he needs to take responsibility for breaking that habit. But you don't take the ball out of the hands of a playmaker as brilliant as Rondo, and Heinsohn wasn't suggesting that you should.