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.
Boston sees something in this 6-foot-6 swingman out of Dayton. There’s potential there, exactly the sort that a team in transition can help nurture.
Sunday’s game is a perfect example. Boston was lifeless in the third quarter and watched Dallas blow open the game. The Mavericks were up 23 with 9½ to play when Johnson subbed in to play shooting guard next to Rajon Rondo.
On that first possession, he missed a shot, hustled for his own rebound, and made the first of his four 3-pointers. Johnson was unrelenting throughout the frame. Like when Devin Harris got a step on him driving the lane late in the fourth quarter, Johnson recovered and blocked his shot.
[...]Johnson has already endeared himself to Boston fans. Everyone likes an underdog, but his full-throttle style of play is exactly what many fans yearn for from some of his teammates who have the security of bloated, long-term contracts.
The Celtics used a piece of their mid-level exception to ink Johnson for up to four years. The fact that they were willing to sacrifice a little bit of roster flexibility and tip-toe a little closer to the luxury tax line to keep him here is no small reflection of what they think of him.
We joke about Chris Johnson’s impact on the C’s, like tweeting fake outrage about him not making the All Star team, but all of those jokes are obviously based in the fact that this kid is REALLY helping this team. He currently has the third highest PER on the roster (15.8, behind Kris Humphries’ 17.9 and Jared Sullinger’s 17.3) and his true shooting percentage is a team-best 62.5%.
Last night he did all of his damage in just 15 minutes of play, leading Brad Stevens to lament “maybe I should have played Chris Johnson more and earlier” after the game. And he’s right. He probably should have.
Chris Forsberg nails it in the piece: The key thing that makes Chris Johnson so likable is that “full-throttle style of play.” I can’t help but think the line about other Celtics “who have the security of bloated, long-term contracts” is a not-so-subtle dig at Jeff Green.
There have been whispers on the internet that the Celtics should just consider starting Johnson, which would send a message to the team that hustle gets rewarded, and it would give the team time to properly evaluate what kind of player this kid can be. Unfortunately, the team can’t do that without destroying whatever trade value Green has. You don’t (allegedly) aggressively shop a guy and then bench him.
Still, the fact that Johnson continues to fuel such comments is impressive. No one expect him to become a star player, but he’s demonstrated the ability to be a viable NBA player. And in case you’re worried that Johnson is going to ease off that throttle because he has three more years left on his deal, you can forget it. Not a penny of that is guaranteed, so if Johnson eases up, he can be cut with little to no impact on the finances.
It’s a win-win: The Celtics have potentially locked up a good, young player for three more years at a huge bargain while leaving themselves a very easy out if things don’t pan out.
Page 2: No more minutes restriction for Rondo
“Time limit’s off, yeah,” said Stevens. “(Rondo) probably will be cleared to play in back-to-backs again very soon. I asked the question right after we met prior to the game and it sounds like, again, that’s sooner rather than later, but no time issues.”
In Rondo’s mind, though, the restriction isn’t completely off.
“I wouldn’t say completely off, or I would be playing 40,” he said. “But I feel fine.”
Rondo’s sitting tonight, but pretty soon he’ll be back to playing the minutes he’s used to playing. And shortly after that, he’ll be back in the cardiovascular shape he’s used to being in.
All he’s done over his last three games is nearly get three triple doubles. He was 4 rebounds short against Orlando, a basket and a rebound shy against Philly, and 2 rebounds short last night. The 37 minutes he played last night was 5 more than he’s played all season, and 10 more than his average so far. He’s almost all the way back.
By the way, congrats to Rondo for his 4,000th assist, which came in last night’s game. He’s now fifth in team history with 4010. Bob Cousy (6,955) is first, followed by Larry Bird (5,695), Paul Pierce (4,305) and Bill Russell (4,100). Rondo is sitting out tonight, but if he averages 10.2 assists per game over his last 29 games (assuming he plays them all), he’ll pass Pierce this season.
One quick note about Cousy’s assist numbers: He’d have a lot more if he played today. They are a lot more generous with the crediting of assists nowadays. It used to be that if a guy took a dribble and pulled up and made a jumper, no assist would be awarded. How many times did Rondo get the ball to KG over the years for a one-dribble jumper and get the assist?
It’s not a knock on Rondo’s numbers, it’s just a commentary on how the game’s scoring has changed. I’m sure Cousy would have had hundreds more assists in today’s NBA.
We talked a bit about Rondo, Chris Johnson, and a lot of other things pertaining to the construction of the C’s roster last night on Celtics Stuff Live. If you missed it, here’s the show:
Related links: CSNNE: Managing Rondo’s return | No more minutes restriction for Rondo | ESPN Boston: Rondo says goodbye to minutes restriction | WEEI: On milestone night, Rondo closer to where he wants to be
If you didn’t see what the Clippers did to Philly last night… here it is.
WARNING: These images are not for the faint of heart.
The final was 123-78, but trust me when I say it wasn’t that close. It was 46-15 after the first quarter. The Clippers could have put up 140-150 points if they really wanted to.
The rest of the links
Herald: Crashing back to earth | Celtics encounter big chill | Globe: Olynyk gets to see Dirk up close | Fans get a good look at legendary Nowitzki | CSNNE: Rondo would only be moved in “irresistible deal” | Bradley finds himself on the bench after tough shooting night | Cuban: Don’t give worst teams top picks | ESPN Boston: Bradley not himself