Thursday, July 3, 2014

Will Celtics Drag Things Out with Rondo?


Celtics Coach Brad Stevens spoke a little more warmly about a possible Rondo-Smart backcourt combination yesterday on the Jim Rome show,  but even if it wasn't too little too late, such warmth was mitigated immediately by other comments Stevens made.  Asked to discuss Rondo's ACL recovery year, Stevens rightly pointed out that it was  a struggle, in many ways, for Rondo to return mid-season  (and nowhere near 100%), but he failed to point out that, even if Rondo's return was disappointing in some ways, it was breathtakingly successful in others.   Basically  - once Rondo got a reasonable amount of rust shaken off - he continued to lead the league in assists, despite no longer having the famous HOFers around him to pass to.  This was an astounding feat, accomplished by Rondo, and it matched the story the eye told, which was that Rondo's playmaking mastery was even better than before.  Stevens could and should have mentioned this, but he was more concerned to explain that Rondo had not had enough chance to practice with the team and with his new coach, and that therefore some of his habits hadn't been worked on (kudos to Stevens there - Rondo does indeed have some atrocious habits that desperately need work), and that Rondo was not in sync with what the team wanted to do.

Stevens went on to describe his ideal player for his ideal team.  The quality he emphasized in the player was versatility, and team, he indicated, should be like a machine, with players being basically interchangeable.  Now, I'm sure that Brad can make that approach work, and that it can be a winning approach, but it's not a form of basketball that I care to see or root for.  It's fine for a rec team, even perfect, but as I've mentioned many times, what I think makes basketball great is that it is a game rich with player creativity.  The last thing I want to see in Green is a team that is a machine, with players as interchangeable parts.  More importantly, in connection with Rondo, I can't imagine Rondo on such a team.   Rondo is probably the most creative player in the game to day, and the most ball-dominant, and one of the most closely attached to a particular position.  If I were coaching him, my concern would be to help him get more done when he has the ball, to make his ball-dominance more effective, not to take the ball out of his hands, or to blend him into a machine-like team concept, one moving part amongst many, in a sea of 'versatile' cogs.

Meanwhile the Celtics have signed Bradley to a big time contract, according to reports, north of 8 million $ per year.   As this doesn't sound like backup pay - as in, for a backup 2 guard -  it sounds to me like another indication that Rondo is not really in the Celtics' picture long-term.  At the same time, the Cs aren't really acting as though they are eager to make a Rondo trade happen.   Granted, it's hard to know what that would look like.  Did anyone see the Perk deal coming, or the Nets deal?   So I suppose it will go down, when it goes down, without warning.  But there also seems to be some indication that the Celtics actually want Rondo to train up his replacement, Smart.  Is that not the height of gumption?!  Then again, anyone who has worked a crap job in the US has probably experienced that one, being 'asked' to train your own replacement, and since the new CBA, the owners seem to want to treat NBA players like highly paid crap job workers, so maybe the Cs really do intend to hold onto Rondo while he trains Smart.  That would surely be a recipe for disaster for Rondo, almost ensuring that what should be Rondo's best year turns into a train wreck, but it doesn't seem as though the team gives a flip about Rondo's future.

The best deal, it seems to me, would be a three-way trade, in which the Cs send Rondo and Wallace to the Kings for Thomas, Detroit sends Smith to Sacramento, and the Celtics send Green to Detroit.  There would have to be a bit of monkeying around to get the salaries to work out, but it would allow Sacramento to put together a team of misfit toys, it would allow the Cs to clear massive cap space for next year while setting up another epic tank for this year, and Detroit would be able to exchange the PF who isn't working as a SF for SF who doesn't work as a PF.  The trade might work out even better if the Cs send Thomas on to Detroit for Jennings.  Thus Detroit sends Smith to Sacramento and Jennings to Boston.  In exchange they get Thomas and Green.   Boston sends Green to Detroit for Jennings, and sends Rondo and Wallace to Sacramento, along with the trade exception.  Sacramento sends Thomas to Detroit and filler and picks to Boston.  I'm not a capologist or a CBA-ologist, but I wonder if that could be the basis for a deal?

The main thing is that I think it would be wrong for the Cs to hold onto Rondo at this point.  I would go so far as to say that it would be a genuinely terrible thing to do.  They need to move on and allow him to move on.  Don't drag this out, Danny.

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Jay King discusses the Rome interview.  His take is, of course, rather different from mine.   He suggests, as others have also done, that Smart was drafted partly as insurance against Rondo leaving.  Insurance?  You spend the highest draft pick you've had in years, the one you tanked for harder than Fonzi's shark, on insurance?  No, Smart isn't insurance, I think.

3 comments:

  1. jennings for rondo are you f--ked in the head... that is the worst trade suggestion of any I have seen

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  2. Thanks for that lovely comment. The nice thing about Jennings for the Cs is that, like Rondo, he has a contract that is almost up (though he does have two years instead of one - I was thinking that he only had one year left - but he could potentially play a role in future trades) and would help the Cs tank, and wouldn't be an obstacle to Smart stepping into the pg role, while being able to fill it temporarily. I did get mixed up, though, somehow in that I thought Jennings contract was up in a year.

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  3. The lastest rumor seems to be that the Kings are backing off a Rondo trade while the Pacers are stepping up.

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