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What awaits Rondo when he recovers from surgery depends on these 3 things

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) February 8, 2013 Celtics News, Rajon Rondo 50 Comments

After a brief burst of “maybe Rondo will return quicker than we think” stuff last night, it’s now obvious his season is over.

Spears added that Rondo has “spoken to three doctors, one in person, and will decide as early as Friday” which one will perform his surgery. According to Spears, Rondo also will not attend NBA All-Star weekend in Houston Feb. 15-17 because he won’t be able to travel so soon after surgery.

With this being on the less severe end of a severe knee injury, the recovery time for Rondo won’t be as long as, say, Derrick Rose.  Remember, Rose’s knee injury was pretty catastrophic, and involved multiple ligament tears.  Rondo’s ACL suffered a partial tear.  Still, it’s going to take a while for him to get back to form.

What will happen between now and when he does get back to form?  That’s anyone’s guess.  We have a lot to consider.

First:  What will happen with Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett this summer?

Paul Pierce has one more year on his contract, and that’s only partially guaranteed.  You can see a guy sticking around for $15 million, but when that number is just (I know, “just”) a few million, and that few million makes you a popular potential trade target, and your team has a recent history of slow starts that have people begging for trades… you wonder if this is it.

He’ll be 36 next season.  If the C’s do nothing significant to upgrade the team… which will be tough to do and keep Pierce… you start to wonder.

KG is adamant that he’s going to retire here.  He’s got $24 million coming to him over the next two seasons.  But he’s made plenty of cash and he’s said he doesn’t want to imagine life without Paul Pierce.  If Pierce retires, will that spur KG to do the same?  Or will it make him re-think his stance and open himself up to a trade to L.A.?

If they both return for next season, then we’re looking at the same team trying it again.  Which brings us to…

Second:  Can Rondo seamlessly return to this team as currently constructed?

Ah, this debate again.  The fact of the matter is this debate can’t truly be had until we have a better picture of what this team truly is without him.  They have a 6-game winning streak without him.  But they had one with him too.  And the schedule has been quite favorable for this team so far.  Sacramento, Toronto, and Orlando are horrible.  The Clippers are not good without Chris Paul and the Lakers were missing Pau and might as well not have had Dwight Howard.

But those are the games they were supposed to win, and they did.  Which is great.  What we haven’t seen yet is the adversity.  We will, though, with two games against Denver, a game against Chicago, and the post-All-Star road trip that includes stops in Utah and Portland.  If they can roll through that portion of the schedule, it will certainly give more credence to a re-evaluation of how things were run before the injury and how they are being run now.  If they hit a wall and return to struggling, then that presents a different set of challenge for Doc and crew.  And beyond that, if there’s a stark difference between the regular season Celtics and playoff Celtics, it’s yet another challenge.

As the sample size grows and we get more information, the more we can determine about what will face the Celtics in the off-season when it comes to the offense and defense.  Everyone involved here is learning lessons.  Doc is learning lessons about what he allowed on and off the court.  Rondo is learning lessons about how he ran the team and trying to be a leader.  And the guys on the floor now are learning about their own strengths and weaknesses and what’s allowing them to succeed.  When it’s all said-and-done, everyone’s going to have to sit down and discuss what they’ve learned, and figure out how to make it all work.  Unless…

Third:  Will Danny decide it’s the end?

Danny Ainge, the ownership group, and Doc Rivers will most certainly have a gathering when this season is over.   The result of that may depend on how the season ends.  If the Celtics continue on a magical run in the regular season, but fall flat in the playoffs, then they may keep this team as is, figure out how to make Rondo work in it for 82 game and then let Playoff Rondo carry the team like he’s done in the past.  If the run continues through the playoffs, then maybe Rondo becomes expendable.

But if the run ends after the All Star break when road games and better teams come along, then the brass has to figure out if they want to keep paying taxes on a team doomed to fail.  And this isn’t your daddy’s dollar-for-dollar tax.  The Celtics are facing this:

  • For 2011-12 and 2012-13, teams pay $1 for every $1 their team salary exceeds the tax level. There is no repeater rate.
  • For 2013-14 teams pay an incremental rate based on their team salary. There is no repeater rate.
  • For 2014-15 teams pay an incremental rate based on their team salary. They pay the repeater rate if they also were taxpayers in all of the previous three seasons.
  • For 2015-16 and all subsequent seasons, teams pay an incremental rate based on their team salary. They pay the repeater rate if they were taxpayers in at least three of the four previous seasons.

Follow that link to see the chart, but you’re looking at Boston paying up to three times the tax bill they’ve been used to paying.  They won’t, though, if they go a couple of seasons under the tax threshold.

If the Owners and Danny Ainge don’t think this team is championship caliber, they might make decisions for Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo or others.

Yeah, that’s the nuclear option.  And it’s a real possibility.

Will Rondo survive a nuclear winter in Boston?  He might, considering he’s making $11.9 million next year, well below what he could command as a free agent.  Then again, he might not, if the Celtics strip this thing clean a start over.

I’d expect Rondo stays, if only to show potential free agents that they’ll be playing with a young, pass-first point guard that goes out of his way to get you shots.  If you’re a big-time scorer, do you want to fill the lane with Rondo, or Eric Bledsoe?

What will await Rondo when he’s healthy?  The forecast is hazy.  And only this team’s play for the rest of the season can snap it into focus.

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  • LA Flake

    Yeah. The Celtics beat some horrible teams. When they beat good teams it’s because they were missing some key players. Unlike us.

    • http://redsarmy.com John – Red’s Army

      you just won’t be happy unless someone tells you every single problem with this team can be pinned on Rondo, will you?

      • LA Flake

        John, why don’t you try to enjoy the run instead of trying to find excuses for Rondo on every.single.occasion?

        Oh, we won but it’s because they sucked.
        Oh, we won but we for sho’ could’ve used Rondo!
        Oh, we’re winning despite ourselves!
        Oh, I know we’re winning but just wait…until we lose. Then I’ll be able to tell better.

        Dude, we ARE better already. Enjoy it. Embrace it.

        • http://redsarmy.com John – Red’s Army

          I am enjoying the run. It’s amazing.

          What makes it much less enjoyable, though are knee-jerk reactions. What makes it less enjoyable is when people say “it’s too early to tell what’s really going on here” you (and others) characterize it as excuses.

          Are you telling me the Lakers with Pau & healthy Dwight are not better? Are you telling me that the C’s didn’t catch a break there? Nowhere did I say that’s the ONLY reason they won, but it sure as hell helps.

          I wrote a long piece that takes all possibilities into account, acknowledging many different scenarios that vary depending on how this team plays for the rest of the season… including making Rondo expendable… and all you want to focus on is the factual statement that the schedule broke their way. We could have had the ’86 Celtics on the floor and the schedule still would have broken their way.

          What’s so wrong about waiting to see how this team performs on a long road trip… against better teams? Why are you in such a rush to stamp the Celtics as “BETTER OFF WITHOUT RONDO” without seeing how they do with the rest of the schedule.

          Just because someone can hit an 80 mph fastball doesn’t mean they can hit the 95 mph fastball. All I’m saying is (in part, by the way, because this conversation is a response to maybe 10% of what the piece is about) let’s see if they can hit the 95 mph fastball. You just want to declare it so.

          • LA Flake

            Fair enough. But you know, we’re missing our best rebounder, too, who also happens to be one of our best post players. And Rondo. Even though his impact is highly debatable. Chuck in his recap earlier also pointed out the Flakers depleted lineup as if that’s one of the reasons why we got the W and I just think that’s really disrespectful to our current squad who’s playing their asses off, hustling, playing mad D and running and sharing like they’re the 80s Celtics or something. Seriously. I haven’t seen this type of basketball being played in Boston since the 80s!

            Injuries are part of the game, brah! No excuses. For us or the other team. We spanked their ass and we’re going to beat Denver’s ass to the ground, too!

          • Caterpillar from Italy

            To be fair, you should then mention that last year we were able to get to game 7 of ECF only because of Derrick Rose and Chris Bosh injuries, if you wanna see it that way.
            After Rondo went down, the C’s dramatically changed their style of playing, and won again 6 in a row. Some players seem like re-born, Jeff Green and Jet above all. O and D are much better, and if we say that the C’s are playing a better basketball overall than one month ago, it’s hardly debatable.
            I’ m not saying all the problems rely on Rondo, but sure he was part of our troubles.
            LA is terrible this year, but they were coming from 3 wins in a row; we destroyed them playing a sensational match. I can’t accept a recap like the one you did, two lines to tell me we beat a crappy team and the rest of the article to tell me if Rondo will be back 1 month before or after.
            We’re rolling high, and til it lasts, it’s fair to stick with it and point it out.

          • Frank A

            We were up by 30 points, I don’t think Pau would have made a difference, nobody was beating us that night.

        • Greenmachine

          so true!

  • stephanie

    Being that his knee injury isn’t that severe, the C’s could perhaps trade him now and still get full value for him. Seeing the C’s play so good without him maybe Danny should pull the trigger on a Rondo trade.

    • http://twitter.com/alilburne Ash Lilburne (@alilburne)

      But as the article said its still going to be interesting when this rondo-less team faces adversity

    • simms

      no way you know how severe it is. he would have to the surgery, rehab come back and show he is the same.. it could be successful like A. Peterson or not so much like Rubio. You would not be able to get full value right now for him. He is seen as damaged goods unfortunately.

    • Reggie35RIP

      Three words. Small sample size.

      I think it might be a good idea to see just a few more games (read rest of the season) before coming to the conclusion that – we’re better off without Rondo and he’s tradable. smh

      Lets not forget Green, Lee and Terry were all playing like shit at the beginning of the season when we were losing. They were just coming into form when Rondo went down. Which was lucky for us because if they were still playing like they were at the beginning of the season we’d be screwed.

      The only reason that these guys seem to be playing better without Rondo is that Doc and his staff have thrown the playbook out. When Rondo plays they want the ball in his hands as much as possible and they run a very structured – and maybe predictable – offense. Turning everything into predominantly catch and shoot and potentially stifling certain players games. Now that Rondo’s out it’s run and gun wild west style out there. Multiple pick and rolls, swinging the ball, driving, slashing, cutting etc. All the tape opponents have watched on the C’s is now redundant.

      The thing is you can’t blame Rondo for the system that the coaching staff has put in place. There’s no reason why they can’t play a similar style of offense to the one they’re playing now with Rondo. But that’s up to Doc and Co.

      • Garnett’sGrl

        Finally someone that get’s it. How dare people say that Rondo was the problem, did you watch any of the games they lost???? How is it Rondo’s fault when he’s getting you the ball in your sweet spot and you can’t make the shot or when he hits you with the perfect pass in transition and you miss a wide open 3. It’s a dam shame how people are so quick to turn on you when your down. Like Reggie35 stated above, Rondo does what Doc and his staff asks of him. As much as I dislike Kobe I agree with everything he had to say about Rondo including the part about us sending him his way, I’d bet anyone that if Rondo went to the Lakers they’d be contenders once again and I’m talking top 3. Any takers?????????????

  • Brick James

    “Sacramento, Toronto, and Orlando are horrible. The Clippers are not good without Chris Paul and the Lakers were missing Pau and might as well not have had Dwight Howard.”

    Thank you for taking out the Green / Anti-Rondo lenses from your glasses. Not that you had them to begin with, but the objectivity is a breath of fresh air.

    • LAF

      it must suck that we’re playing so great, huh? i sure really miss the days when we were losing to bad teams. smh

  • Astarot

    I agree with what John wrote here about the streak and what Steve Kerr said yesterday, wait until they go against good defensive teams like Miami who can jump into the passing lanes and waint till playoffs cuz to me I wish them well I wish them playoff run but saying they are better without Rondo is either you don’t like Rondo or you can’t see what he means to this team and what kind of a player he is. The best woud be to modified the system to fit Rondo in (so he wouldn’t dominate the ball that much) or to play the way they play now with the 2nd unit (without Rondo – on the court)

    • stephanie

      Um we beat Miami without Rondo.

      • Astarot

        One game at TD Garden – sure, one game in Miami – maybe but in playoff series (let’s assume it happend) – I don’t think so. Cs ajust to play without Rondo but other teams also learn how to play against this “new” Boston squad with new system.

      • Garnett’sGrl

        I’m just sayn…..I guess they forgot????? Still I don’t feel we’re better off w/out Rondo.

        • Garnett’sGrl

          OOooops meant to reply under Stephanie above

    • LA Flake

      You don’t modify the system to fit anybody in unless he is a 27-year-old Michael Jordan or Shaq. If anything, it’s Rondo who needs to “modify” his game so he can fit in with what we’re doing right now. As much as I dislike what he means to this ball club at the moment, I’d be very interested in seeing if he can pull it off when he returns. I have my doubts but it is in the team’s best interest for him to return strong.

      • Astarot

        I think it’d have to be both. Rondo’d have to learn how to play in this system without dominating the ball and coaching staff woud have to change some things so Boston wouldn’t lose adventages that come with Rondo’s ball handling.

  • RedsLoveChild

    KG is not going to retire, and walk away from $24M sitting on the table. Not a chance! I don`t care how much he`s made in his career.

    Also, KG`s “tank” is not yet empty. It`s amazing that he`s still this effective and mobile at nearly 37.

    Pierce is a different story. I can`t imagine them bringing him back at $15M.

    Celtic management is seeing more clearly each day that Rondo is simply not vital to their success.

    They can live without Rondo…but, they cannot live without the young, talented, defense-minded, glass-eater that Rondo could bring them in a trade.

    • LA Flake

      I can see Wyc and Danny honoring PP’s contract in full next year. I don’t think he’ll be worth the money but there’s not another player who can do for us what PP does. And I honestly would like to see him come back and play out his contract like many others. Also, a $15 million expiring is a hell of a chip in any potential trades. Not that I want to see him get traded but there will be teams looking to clear cap space.

    • Larry Legend

      Agreed^^. Even with rondo the celts would struggle on this upcoming west coast swing after all star break. Look, to all the rondo-defenders: the guy is talented. But why can’t people realize it’s possible that this particular group of players are better without rondo? Just sit back and find out. And enjoy what they’re doing right now and how they are doing it. Enough rondo talk. And to ainge: get us a big. Dalembert would be perfect. Thanks.

  • I bleed green in L.A.

    Best article of the season right after the best game of the season. Thank you, all of my whims and worries have been placated for now. It’s good to see lifelong true hardcore fans also see the writing on the wall.

    To be honest, I’ve been calling out other fans for thinking with their heart, and being too loyal and nostalgic, when in actuality, it is me who doesn’t want my heart broken again. I don’t want to go through another 20+ years of not making it to the finals and barely sniffing the playoffs along the way, while the Lakers hoist multiple banners.

    Our stars are getting old, just like the late 80’s, and I never really understand the financials/cap/taxes in sports, but this article shows that’s a glaring issue too. Injuries this year (to our young guys no less) may force our hand a little to start the rebuild, which should happen this year not next. Yeah we can keep trying to make it into the playoffs, but the Lakers aren’t going to suck forever, they will keep getting the high profile stars and challenge our banner record, NOT GOOD.

    • LAF

      you’re SOOOO insecure its unbelievable.

      • I bleed green in L.A.

        your opinion matters to me, smh

  • http://driveittothemoon.com/ Lee in Oregon

    I don’t think DA would trade Rondo while he’s hurt. It’s not cool and guys in the NBA pay attention to how teams treat players. A move like that would not exactly entice free agents to a place with a high state tax and blizzards.

    Having said that- Steve Kerr nailed it last night, the C’s ball movement “has no agenda, it just ends up where it’s supposed to be”. Having said that, let’s not forget that was a sub-500 lottery team we completely destroyed last night.

  • JG

    you DO realize the Celtics were losing to horrible teams with Rondo, right? So saying the Celtics are beating bad teams is entirely irrelevant. And before they were winning these games, you were posting that the Raptors weren’t that bad, and that the Lakers had won 6 of 7.

    • Danno

      Exactly. In fact, they were losing to bad teams more often than to good teams with Rondo.

      Saying the Lakers w/o Pau or the Clippers w/o Paul are “bad” teams is flat out ridiculous biased nonsense. It’s simply not true. John – you’ve twice recently accused me if “making things up” to back up my argument, but this is exactly what you did here.

      Miami is not a bad team. Neither are the Knicks. We beat both if them w/o Rondo in recent weeks. We lost to them with him in the lineup.

      • simms

        Lakers are a bad team period. They are sub .500 and will likely miss the POs. Stop looking at the jersey.

  • Danno

    Rondo will be traded before either KG or Pierce. He has more long term value and comes with a cheaper price tag.

    • simms

      What team is going to want a coming off acl injury PG who is a locker room cancer? It’s gonna be a hard sell. Ainge will be low balled more than ever now.

  • Stephanie

    How do you know he’s a locker room cancer when his teammates say the opposite?

    • Danno

      Ray Allen disagrees. So does Bass, Terry, and Doc occasionally.

      • Stephanie

        I’m not even going to start on Ray, but Bass and Terry? They’ve been stinking it up since the season started, while Rondo was on/ off the court with them. Especially Bass. They’re the ones that sucked the most so they would be the ones to talk the loudest.

        • Garnett’sGrl

          Dang Step you my girl, I’ve been saying the same thing all season, Bass gotta blame his horrible play on something. With that being said he’s not playing all that great now. If Sully wasn’t out his azz would still be coming off the bench. How you gone KICK a man when he’s down???????? I’m wishing Rondo a speedy recovery!!!!!!!!

  • simms

    They are singing a different tune now that he is injured. Look at what Bass, Terry, and Lee have said recently. Donny Marshall said the locker room is more mentally healthy now without Rondo. What do you think that means?

    • Stephanie

      With Donny it just means that that’s his opinion.

      Quote: “I don’t KNOW if he’s doing that or not, but it SEEMS like that locker room is much healthier”

      I’m not saying he is or isn’t a locker room cancer, I’m just saying that a lot of stuff that’s being talked about is based on outside opinions.

      • Garnett’sGrl

        Once again you my girl. People like to reading more into things than what’s there, Who the H is Danny??? What makes his word bond??????

  • Tom

    The paragraph on what lessons have been learned was spot on. The person with the most lessons has been Doc Rivers. He has handled this team badly and the management team might have made a mistake in giving him a long extension. Rondo is talented but stubborn and moody. His style of play would be great if the Celtics had a true low post threat. But his holding the ball doesn’t work for players that like to run and are good at getting quick baskets in transition. Without Rondo, this team is much more fun to watch; irregardless whether they do well in the playoffs. Doc needs to take Rondo’s high basketball IQ and channel it into something that can work for the team they have assembled now. If Rondo can’t change his stripes, then he will have to go.

  • Larry Legend

    I’m so entirely sick of this topic. Just enjoy the run these guys are on…trade bass+ draft pick for Dalembert and let’s go make a run. Address the major issues this summer. Please no more rondo talk. My god it’s awful

    • Stephanie

      I AGREE! Let’s just wait until the season is over then we can talk about it. Because we don’t know how this season is going to end and all the debate would be useless.

      • Reggie35RIP

        wtf Stephanie… Did you forget posting this yesterday?

        “Being that his knee injury isn’t that severe, the C’s could perhaps trade him now and still get full value for him. Seeing the C’s play so good without him maybe Danny should pull the trigger on a Rondo trade.”

        Either you’ve got a split personality disorder, or you’ve managed to completely contradict yourself in the space of a day.

        • Stephanie

          Wrong Stephanie…there’s more than one in the world..lol

          • Larry Legend

            Oh snap! Well played Stephanie…well played indeed.

          • Stephanie

            I’m going to have to add something to my name because the comments look bi-polar..lol

          • Reggie35RIP

            Sorry, my bad. Thought it was a bit of a turn around.

            Yeh might be worth adding something to your name. The only difference is the other “stephanie” is lowercase “s”.

    • Garnett’sGrl

      Dito!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1