BOS G Rajon Rondo’s surgery is expected to be on Feb 12 or 13 and will be a procedure using either his ligaments or a cadaver,source told Y!
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 8, 2013
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.