Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“What you saw in the playoffs is what we’ve known for a little while about Rajon, is Rajon,” Ainge said. “A lot of people will say Rajon’s had success because he’s had three superstars and Hall-of-Famers playing with him, and what we saw in the playoffs is that Rajon’s the best player on the team. Even the game that Paul [Pierce] fouls out, Rajon goes and scores nine straight points and was more aggressive where he probably wouldn’t have been that aggressive had Paul still been on the court.
“That’s going to be sort of the next phase for our team, is when does Rondo take the game over as opposed to waiting for Ray [Allen], Paul and [Kevin Garnett] to take the game over. Rondo’s our best player, and I think everybody knows that and he proved that in the playoffs this year.”
The Celtics are making it a point to talk up Rondo right now, which is nothing we haven’t seen before. They’ve called him their best player in the past, and you’ll hear guys talk about it again more this year. And it does foster a bit of debate around here.
Rondo is certainly the Celtics’ most talented player right now. He’s still 26, he’s a wizard with the ball, and he can make impossible plays. But he has his dark side too. He gambles too much on D, he is still way to inconsistent with his shot, and he tends to brood on the court when something isn’t going well.
For someone like me, the negatives are correctable and far outweighed by the positives. This past playoff run doesn’t happen without Rajon Rondo. It also doesn’t happen without Kevin Garnett… which is where the debate over “best” or “most important” starts to rage a bit.
You guys can hammer it out among yourselves. Going back to Rondo specifically… I’ve long thought that there is a path that he’s going to follow from “overly-emotional guy who draws some fans’ ire” to “consensus fan favorite.” I’ve said this before, but I compare Rondo to Dennis Johnson in that way. Rondo, at 26 (going on 27 in February) is indeed growing up before our eyes. And that’s not to say he’s reached full maturity at the moment. I don’t know many 26 year-old who have. But each year there are signs that he’s doing more to be a responsible leader on this team. The biggest sign at the moment is the organization of team workouts.
“Rondo has been great, just terrific this summer,” Rivers said. “He reached out to all the players and got every single one of them to fly to L.A. and practice together. They put in about four or five hours a day. Paul and KG were already out there, but Rondo got Jason and Courtney Lee and all the other guys on board too.
“He called and asked me what I thought of the idea. I loved it, especially because it was him that organized it.”
The “especially because it was him” speaks volumes. Doc knows what Rondo’s been. But Doc also knows what Rondo can be. And if you don’t believe Rondo organized it, the flag football should be a dead giveaway. The C’s playing football has Rondo written all over it.
Everyone here knows I’m a Rondo fan, but I try to be realistic about the whole package. I obviously don’t like the ref bumping and I hate the gambling on D. But I see that playoff run (and others, by the way) as the reason to be patient as he grows out of some of this other stuff.
As for the Celtics making it a point to talk him up? They know they need him. They know that, no matter who the personnel and who is making the plays, they need Rondo to be at the center of that. Kevin Garnett, as important as he is, needs someone to give him the ball in the right spots in those pick-and-pops. Paul Pierce is going to need a little more help than he used to. Guys like Jeff Green and Courtney Lee are going to need every advantage (Green especially) to succeed on the offensive end… and the Celtics know Rondo is the one guy on the team that can make this happen.
Rondo may have been the subject of trade rumors, but he’s more than likely the future of this franchise. If the gamble on Green pays off, if Lee is a solid contributor, if Jared Sullinger plays like the lottery pick he could have been, and if the Celtics can continue to re-load as they rebuild… Rondo will be the glue to hold it all together. Sure, maybe he’ll be gone if a few of those things don’t pan out and Danny decides to trade all assets in a “blow it up and start over” move. But if Rondo truly continues to blossom off the court half as much as he does on it, there won’t be much any reason to see him in a different uniform.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Did the Celtics improve most in the frontcourt or backcourt? | ESPN Boston: Collins realistic about role with C’s | Quick hits from Doc | Quick hits from Danny | WEEI: Jason Terry: My mission is to kill | C’s not looking for another guard | Herald: Paul Pierce, Ed Norton, play ‘Words with Friends’ for charity | Celtics wonder about Darko | Globe: Roster focus: Courtney Lee | MWDN: Terry a good fit for Celtics | Scoring not exactly the point for Collins