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.
Ainge, for his part, knows that having cap space alone won’t be enough for the Celtics next summer, even with a crowded field of solid free agents — one that lost a key member when Kevin Love was traded to Cleveland. There will be a crowded field of teams with cap space, too, and that’s a major problem for a fair-to-middling team like the Celtics.
What could the C’s possibly offer a free-agent big man on the market next summer, apart from money? The opportunity to play for second-year man Brad Stevens, a wildcard coach? The chance to join a team on which Jeff Green and Avery Bradley are the top scorers? Sure, the Celtics have eight first-round picks in the next four years. Try selling that as part of a pitch to a free agent, though.
What the Celtics do have is Rondo, a throwback pass-first point guard and, if fully healthy, a legitimate star at his position. There is no guarantee that Rondo is going to stick with Boston when next summer comes, and how eager either side is to continue the relationship will depend on how things play out this year — how the Celtics’ young players and young coach develop, and how Rondo performs.
Making sense about Rondo is very rare in the media world, yet the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney does a wonderfully balanced job about assessing the Celtics situation without any sort of bias either way.
In this piece (it’s very good, you really should check it out) Deveney basically says both sides are going to let this season play out, and then go from there, which is basically what we’ve been saying would probably happen for quite some time now. It’s the only scenario that makes the most sense unless a team throws Danny Ainge an offer he can’t refuse.
The other thing the Deveney, unlike others, seems to get is the passage I plucked at the top. That Rondo, despite the venom spewed by Tubby Smith personal assistant Jeff Goodman, is a draw for free agents.
Even if you believe that it’s Rondo’s obsession to rack up assists, that STILL means that he’s trying to pass people the ball when they have chances to score. So if your worst (albeit, misguided) barb is “he only passes for assists” then that still means Rondo is waiting for you to get open so he can get you the ball.
WHICH MEANS YOU GET TO SCORE POINTS!!!!
Isn’t that what 99% of the players everywhere in the world want to do? Points=money! Plus, you get to do that slow jog back on defense during that camera iso on you as you point to Rondo as a “thanks” for giving you two points. Eddie Palladino gets to call your name in a long, drawn-out fashion. It’s awesome. Everyone wants that.
Except Rondo. He wants you to have it. Why wouldn’t you want to play next to that guy?
Oh, because he doesn’t text you often enough? Is that it, Goodman? What is this, competition for the middle school prom date, or goddamn NBA?
Players who want to score points in the NBA want to play with guys who will get them the ball. Ainge knows that. And that means if Rondo can bounce back into his All Star form next year, the Celtics might have to pay a little bit of a premium to keep the pass-first triple double threat that will ATTRACT the potential scorers, especially big men, this team needs.
That’s right, I’m talking about potentially giving Rondo a max, or near-max contract. Remember, the Celtics have a LOT of cap space next year, and the following year the cap jumps by nearly $20 million or so when the new TV contract money kicks in. The Celtics won’t kill themselves by giving Rondo that money.
Oh, there you go, John, why can’t you figure out that you don’t give max money to a guy who can’t shoot?
Ah, that’s why headline contained a plural.
Rondo isn’t the shooter that many of the elite point guards are and it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be a big time 3-point shooter. However, that doesn’t mean he’s unable to space the floor and that he’d be a bad fit in a lot of the outside shooting systems that operate in the NBA today. Even if his numbers have been inflated over the years as a result of how defenses have played him, he’s proven that he can knock down midrange jumpers, thereby forcing teams to respect that and alter the way they try to slow him down. (Teams have also learnt that going over screens against Rondo is a death wish, so he’ll likely always get the space he needs if teams continue to go under screens.)
Whichever team lands Rondo — assuming that he does, at some point, leave – will have to adapt their offense to play to his strengths and weaknesses, that’s for sure. He operates mainly in the pick-and-roll and his bread and butter will always be his ability to break defenses down. (So, basically, he wont ever be a spot-up shooter.) But he’s a good enough shooter to give a team a variety of options in half-court sets, and with the right team around him, there’s no reason why he can’t help a contender in a big way.
That piece has scads of statistical proof that your argument that Rondo can’t shoot is invalid. We’ve been saying that for a while now too, but some people still don’t care to listen.
Run a pick-and-roll with Rondo and the defense has two choices:
1) go over the screen, in which case you’ve just willingly elected to play 4-on-5 while also giving Rondo a running start into the lane (which is why it was characterized as a “death wish”)
2) go under the screen and force Rondo to make a decision, which includes pulling up for a mid-range jumper. Teams will back way off of him to make the jumper, the most palatable option for the defense, his top choice.
Is he going to suddenly become Steve Nash? No. No one ever really thought he would. But the empirical data in this piece concludes with little doubt that Rondo can hit enough of them that defenses are going to have to adjust.
At some point, giving a guy wide open jumpers when he can knock down a fair percentage of them isn’t going to be a sound strategy anymore.
It won’t be enough for some people, that’s fine. I’m just happy to see people finally making some sense about the guy. He’s going to play out this season and then we’ll see. He’s not a great shooter, but he’s a good enough shooter that his primary skills, penetrating and passing, will benefit from it.
Page 2: The Celtics are the 4th most popular team!!! … oh, that’s only in Boston.
A recent survey of New England sports fans by Sudbury, Mass.-based Channel Media-Market Research pegged the Boston Celtics as a distant fourth in terms of popularity among the local professional sports teams.
The Celtics garnered only 6 percent of votes among approximately 13,000 sports fans polled last month, well behind the New England Patriots (42 percent), Boston Red Sox (30 percent), and Boston Bruins (21 percent). The Celtics finished ahead of the New England Revolution (1 percent).
Celtics diehards will quibble with the methodology, polling in August — the NBA’s quietest month — and amidst a quiet offseason as the Celtics continue a rebuilding process after winning just 25 games last season.
I’m not even going to argue this. The Red Sox hold an iron grip over Boston and have for decades. They went from lovable losers to perennial contenders and multiple champions, so it’s going to take an EXTENDED drought for them to be knocked off this perch.
Boston was actually once known as a hockey town, and the Bruins recent stretch of success has rekindled that flame. And the Patriots are going to be at or near the top as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are there. They’re also boosted by America’s complete obsession with the NFL. A dog could shit out an NFL logo and it’d be worth money at this point.
So that leaves the Celtics, who in the Big 3 era were probably third behind the Pats and Sox. So be it. I have a hard time believing Boston would ever become primarily an NBA town. If the city hasn’t embraced the Celtics, the most successful of the four franchises, at this point as the best team in town, then they won’t for quite some time.
Honestly, it’s going to take a generational shift to make that happen. Young kids who got hooked by the ’08 championship are going to have to grow up with the Celtics as their top team. And the Celtics are going have to feed that addiction by winning banners 18, 19, and 20 at some point in their lifetime. That’s the only way things will shift.
For now, though, we’ll sit through this rebuilding process and hopefully the Celtics can climb the ranks of popularity by getting really good again, really soon.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Wizards have interest in Ray Allen | Blakeley’s five guards poised for a breakout season | ESPN Boston: Loose Balls: Moser, Thornton, stretch | Boston.com: New Zealand’s haka dance bewilders Team USA | Yahoo!: Tracy McGrady works out with Kobe Bryant as test for possible comeback