Thursday, August 7, 2014

Scal Wants to Build Around Rondo (But Does Danny?)




Scal has burst back into Boston Celtics media, and of course, he's been asked about Rondo.  As always, Scal talks more sense than almost anyone else around, and I think he sounds a theme that we've talked about often here:
 If you build a team around Rondo, you have to be fully committed to that.
I just think that is such an obvious thing, and it's equally obvious - something Scal evidently doesn't want to say - that Danny has not been willing to do this.  This blazingly obvious fact has become the elephant in the room that no one dares to discuss, the burning bed that everyone expects us to go ahead and sleep in.  Scal himself goes on as follows...
4. Rondo will be a free agent next summer, leaving his Celtics future in question. If Scalabrine had the choice, he would build around the point guard in Boston.
"I would," he said. "I enjoy playing the game of basketball that way. I enjoy having a ball-dominant point guard and a lot of shooting. I would think that that would be my focus. But that's just my own perspective. Somebody else's perspective could be, I want a bunch of guys that can have the ball in their and and go to the basket, go to the basket. Or shoot pull-up jumpers, whatever their philosophy is. I just really enjoy guys that can get to the paint and then make the right decision. And there's a handful of guys who can do that." 

Did Scal pay attention to his own words?  What he described as 'somebody else's perspective' was pretty much what Brad Stevens has described as his hope for the Celtics.  Brad has never said 'I want to build around a brilliant ball-dominant pg'.  What he has said is that he wants to create a team where everyone handles the ball and where anyone can be the guy who makes the play, a team where if a guy goes down, someone can come off the bench and fill in for him with no drop off.   I think maybe Scalabrine does listen to his own words, knows exactly what he is saying, and is putting out a pretty loud hint that he thinks the Celtics need to make up their minds and either trade Rondo, or really build around him.
Look at last year's team. The Celtics were rebuilding. I think he would be very difficult to coach during that rebuilding process, and he was coming off the knee (injury) and everything like that. But put a team around him. And I think Danny (Ainge) and the whole organization will try to do that. Or they'll move him. It will be one or the other.
Where I would go further than Scalabrine is that I think it is clear now, and really it has been clear for a while, that the Celtics  are not going to build around Rondo, and probably they never were  going to build around Rondo.  Scal says that you have to have the perfect setup around Rondo, and that that is a roleplaying defensive center and a bunch of catch and shoot guys.  Well, I don't agree with any of that, but I think it is fair to say that there is no sign that Danny, as he churns through players, is showing any indication of thinking about how to build around Rondo.  The latest report is that he has been 'desperately' trying to get rid of Bass.  I mean I understand some of the 'youth movement' reasons for that, but it almost seems like it's the kiss of death for a Celtics player to play well off Rondo (not true in Bradley's case, though).  Want a hot ticket out of town on the Ainge Express?  Just show an aptitude for scoring off Rondo's passes...

Kidding.  Sort of.

Speaking of the Celtics 'youth movement', the current Celtics situation must be  heavy with irony for Rondo, in a peculiar way.  As a key member of the Big Three Celtics, Rondo was a kid surrounded by grizzled old vets who seemed unable to entirely overcome patronizing attitudes toward him.  After Perk left, the situation became really intense, I suspect.  The starting lineup always seemed to be four grizzled vets and The Kid.  I think this was actually what led to the final bustup between Rondo and Ray Allen, which - as I recall - had something to do with Rondo pushing for Bradley to become a starter.  I think Rondo had to have been desperate at that point to start transitioning towards a younger team.  But now look - he's in the same situation in reverse.  Instead of the being the young player isolated on an old team, he is the old player isolated on a young team!  He never got to experience anything in the middle.

As I've said before, I'd love to see this team gel around Rondo, with Smart and Rondo getting along great.  I'll eat my hat with mustard on top.  But I doubt it will work out that way and I doubt that Ainge or Stevens expects it to.   My guess is that they hope Rondo will play well enough in the early going, on an individual basis, to bump his value a little bit for a trade.

If the Celtics did decide to build around Rondo, I think they could potentially do it in any number of different ways.  Scal suggests that it has to be done a particular way, but he's really just describing the Big Three Celtics.  The way I see it, that was Rondo, as a brilliant pg, adapting to the situation he found himself in and the players he had to work with.  I think that Rondo could adapt his game to almost any situation and almost any group of players.  Ideally, you'd like to start with a  five who can rim protect on one end (so Rondo can gamble to his heart's content) and finish on the other end (with Rondo attacking the lane and looking to pass, he'd get plenty of chances to do that).   I suppose any team would ideally start with such a player at the five, Rondo or no Rondo.

I think a lot depends on rapport and chemistry.   I'd like to hear what Rondo might have to say on this topic.

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Jeremy Gottlieb has a nice article where he argues that Rondo should not be traded:

The Celtics are mired in a web of uncertainty but Rondo is the only sure thing. With a roster full of question marks, why would you want to move your only real answer? And if you did, what are you even going to get for him? Another shooting guard/small forward from Sacramento in Ben McLemore? A clear downgrade from Detroit in Brandon Jennings? Thanks, but definitely no thanks.
Rondo needs to stay. The Celtics must do everything they can to make that happen. The next contending Celtics team may now be a little further away. But that doesn't mean that Rajon Rondo can't still be its leader.
 I appreciate the sentiment, but I think Gottlieb isn't paying attention to Scal's point;  if you are going to keep Rondo, you need to build your team around him.  Gottlieb himself points out indirectly, however, that this is exactly what has not been going on.  As Gottlieb points out, right now the Cs are a grab bag of players.  A motley collection.   Also, both Ainge and Stevens have made it a point NOT to say that they want to build around Rondo.  At times they have said that they see him as an important part of the Cs future - that's as far as they have  gone down that road.  But Rondo isn't like a guy such as Pierce, who can be plugged into almost any team, because he is a scorer, and that's a compartmentalizable skill.

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Blakely wants Rondo gone, calls it the 'bold' move.  I was hoping people had stopped calling everything Danny does "bold".  For my money, though, the gutsy move, and the right move, would be to build around Rondo.

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Adam Kaufman says trade Rondo.   He doesn't think Rondo would re-sign with the Celtics unless they have another big star like Love to pair him with.  I think Rondo would, IF he felt that Danny was serious about building around him.  Kaufman also points out what I think is quite obvious;  the Cs didn't spend their tanked-for pick on a pg just to have him sit behind Rondo.

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Green Street says trade Rondo.

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CelticsBlog splits the difference.

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I think Scal remains the only commentator who has put his finger on the key issue:  do the Cs intend to build around Rondo or not?

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Souza has weighed in and is for trading Rondo.  He says another thing that has become very popular these days - that Rondo can make a good team great, but a weak team worse.  I think it's a little crazy to blame Rondo for the team's losses during a tank season!  If he'd won more games he'd be catching hell for that.  But Souza points out the obvious, that Smart surely wasn't drafted, with the tanked for pick,  to back up Rondo.

Poor Rondo.  He went from being the out of place kid on an old team to being the out of place veteran on a young team.

13 comments:

  1. just to be clear, I think we should build around Rondo, but I don't think the Cs intend to do that

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  2. And if they aren't going to build around him, then they should trade him, the sooner the better, for his sake and theirs. They shouldn't drag this out.

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  3. Build around Rondo please! Love the piece werkshop!

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  4. Thanks Greg - I would love to see that

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  5. I just see Ainge wasting time on Rondo. Ainge wants him to walk, so he looks like the saint.

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  6. This is going to be a very hard season for Rondo, I would guess. We'll see. I'd like to see things really gel. But if they don't, I wouldn't be surprised if what you say has some part in Ainge's motivations. IF this ends up going ugly for Rondo, it makes Danny look better than if Danny trades Rondo somewhere where he thrives.

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  7. I see people saying that we don't know what direction the team is going in, and so we should not be second guessing Danny, but my point is that that is exactly the point. When you have a Rondo, you SHOULD know what direction you are going in. IF you don't, that's a pretty clear sign that your direction is clear in at least one sense - it's away from Rondo. And now that Smart has been drafted? That's even clearer. I guess, though, that if Smart, Bradley and Rondo really gel as a backcourt, that could change all that.

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  8. Nobody in Boston second guesses Danny. The love him in Boston. He can trade Paul Pierce and Rondo in a two year span, but hey it's Danny!

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  9. It's like group think, this Ainge worship. Everyone talks about that Pierce and KG trade like it was a total nobrainer, an obvious big win for us. But if we had KG and Pierce last year when Rondo comes back, what's to say we don't make another run? Maybe that trade was a good move, and maybe it wasn't, but it certainly wasn't a nobrainer.

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  10. I totally agree. Ainge could have patched the team up. Look at it this way. The Pacers fell apart, and the Heat peaked the year before. Rose was out again, so the Bulls had no chance. The Celtics could have made a run, Doc would have stayed as well. Danny could have added players, like he has in the past. Yes, we have assets, like draft picks, but those can be a crap shoot.

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  11. I think the Cs really could have made a run, Greg. And there is no way to put a price on the value of showing loyalty to your best players, to all your players, really. The year Rondo got hurt showed that you can 'upgrade' all over your roster and fall apart because you have so badly lost cohesion. People keep saying that Rondo's return last year was terrible, but his playmaking was better than ever.

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  12. Rondo isn't good enough to build around. He is at best a 3rd or 4th best player on a good roster. Why would you 'build around' a lessor star? The Celtics are doing the right thing - going for BPA.

    Rondo is good but not great. Saying we should build around him is like saying the Celtics should have built around DIno Radja.. He is just our best player (maybe - Smart is here) in a bad era.

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  13. It's just so ridiculous. Rondo has a track record, and he has already led his team deep into the playoffs repeatedly. This kind of comment, that Rondo is at best a third or fourth best player on a good team, isn't even worthy of twitter, but it has taken on a life in the blogs, repeated endlessly as fact. It's already been proven that you CAN build a contender around Rondo. What is left is a choice, and the Cs have chosen not to. I don't think it makes any sense. As for Smart, he does seem to be the chosen leader of the Celtics' future.

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