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.
Though Pierce, a free agent to be, walked through the Nets’ practice gym on the team’s breakup day without speaking to reporters, it was impossible to miss the 16-year veteran was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat that seemed to send a loud-and-clear message: His intended audience was Boston. He wants to go back. And he didn’t care if the bad optics offended anyone on his last day as a Net.
Pierce wouldn’t commit to returning to the Nets after they lost their second-round series to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, even though he said he wants to play one or two more years. Yet he had no problem earlier this season speaking at length about how he’d love to finish his playing days with the Celts.
Well he wasn’t going to wear a Yankees hat.
Pierce might… MIGHT… be sending a telepathic message to Danny Ainge to call him by wearing that hat. But let me present an alternate theory.
Maybe he was telling all the Brooklynites in the house that this ain’t Boston. Maybe he was letting everyone in the borough know that a Russian billionaire’s money doesn’t equal the tradition and history that Boston has spent years building. Maybe it was his way of letting everyone know that Brooklyn has a LOT to learn about how to play like a champion, and how to root for one.
I never thought the Nets were going to get past Miami or Indiana. They gave the reins to a “win-now” franchise to a guy who was a player a few weeks before getting the job. A “win-now” team needs a “win-now” coach. It’s the only acceptable time for a so-called “re-tread” to come in and use his experience to guide this talent to it’s best possible outcome.
And the fans? The fans have a lot to learn too. It says something when your team’s own official Twitter account trolls its own fans by comparing them to a raucous Raptors crowd. Kevin Garnett even had to practically beg them to make some noise. Compare that to the noise the Boston crowd made for Pierce just upon his return to Boston this year.
So was Pierce pining for a return to Boston with that “B” on his skull as he walked out the door… or was he pining for the past… while showing Brooklyn they’ve got a long way to go?
Related links: ESPN Boston: Pondering Pierce’s future
Page 2: Ainge says Rondo is awesome and Stephen A. is full of shit
But what we’ve been hearing for a while and in more concerted tones here is that Rajon Rondo may be more available now than ever before. Danny Ainge yesterday dismissed a report that the Knicks had turned down a deal for the All-Star point guard as “maybe the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard.”
The Celts’ president of basketball operations, as well, dismissed talk of Rondo’s obtainability.
“That’s all speculation,” Ainge said. “Those aren’t facts. People don’t know that, so it’s just people speculating on Rondo’s free agency next summer. That’s all that you’re hearing. You’re not hearing any facts from anybody. Those conversations haven’t even been discussed, so that’s just speculation.”
This talk that the Knicks “snubbed” a deal for Rondo is confusing. Did they snub Carmelo Anthony’s request for a deal to get Rondo, or is he suggesting the Celtics had something in place to send Rondo to New York which they refused? There isn’t enough beef jerky in the world to make me believe Screamin’ A. Smith on that one. I can totally see Melo going to the Knicks and saying “hey, trade for Rondo” and them saying “ooooooookay buddy, we’re on it” and doing nothing.
As for how awesome Rondo is:
“I’ve said many times, Rondo’s going to have the best year of his career next year,” Ainge said. “I truly believe that. I mean, he looks great right now. He’s in the workout room every day. He’s shed his knee brace. He looks like the young Rajon. You know, he’s back. His athleticism is completely back. He’s stronger than ever, shooting better than ever. He’s matured a lot as a leader. I mean, I think he’s playing better than he’s ever played.”
He says a lot more in the link, so go check it out.
Ainge could be doing the whole GM “talking up a trade chip” thing, or he could honestly believe all the stuff he’s saying. I’m not sure about any of that, but I really do think he’s planning on keeping Rondo for at least the season. And as I’ve said before, the NBA rules are such that Rondo has to become a free agent to get the max money he wants. And since he has to become a free agent, he can’t give any team the 100% guarantee that he’ll sign there long term. And since he can’t give a team that guarantee, it’s going to be tough for me to believe a team is willing to give Ainge all he wants for a one season and a roll of the dice.
I don’t think Rondo gets traded. I don’t think he wants to get traded. And if ANYTHING, I think he’s looking at the Doc, Pierce, & KG failures in their respective spots as motivation to show them that they blew it by leaving, and building around him was the way to go.
I’ve said it forever and I’m more convinced of it today:
Rondo will do more to become the next-level megastar he so wants to be by STAYING in Boston, and building a contender here. He erases all of the questions about him during the new Big 3 era by STAYING in Boston and showing he can be all the things people thought he couldn’t be.
There is a path to basketball immortality for Rajon Rondo. But the clearest path to that runs through Boston.
Doc and his boys got bounced in the second round….
I don’t think Doc, Pierce, and KG left Boston last season hoping for second round exits. They could have stuck around and done that here.
The rest of the links:
Herald: Combine is a learning process | Napier makes clear points | Globe: Stevens embracing NBA Combine | Exum meets American media | At combine, interviews can be telling | CSNNE: Despite size, teams consider drafting Napier | Exum makes good impression | ESPN Boston: Can’t be frozen, Stevens still at work | Interviews remain highlight at combine | Mass Live: Gordon, Randle, Warren explain level of interest in C’s | Napier: Playing for hometown Celtics would be insane