This is a guest post from Sam Portman.
Time to Move On From Rondo
Boston Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge needs to acknowledge the writing is on the wall and make a bold move to complete his team’s rebuilding process without Rajon Rondo in the picture.
Ideally, the 28-year-old Rondo was supposed to be the centerpiece of a youth movement overhaul that Ainge started in the summer of 2013. All of the experience and mentoring that Rondo soaked in from the “Big Three,” along with his undeniable talent, made him the natural piece to build around. Easier said than done. While Ainge trusted that his four-time All Star would make a steady cornerstone piece during a tumultuous rebuilding period, Rondo has fallen short of Ainge’s expectations.
Last season Rondo didn’t have the opportunity to grab the reins of the team’s vacant leadership role because he was sidelined for more than half of the season recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in the middle of the 2012-13 campaign. As a result he only played in 30 games last season.
Even though last season’s Celtics team finished with a 25-57 record and didn’t qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007, valuable experience was gained. In the absence of Rondo, the young team did experience growing pains but also found a silver lining with the newfound leadership from Jeff Green and Avery Bradley. Green finished with a career high 16.9 PPG and was a force at both ends of the floor. Avery stepped comfortably into Rondo’s point guard position and flourished as a starter. The fourth year player raised his 9.2 PPG in the 2012-13 season to a career best of 14.9 in 2013-14.
Even though Avery had his best season as a pro and Rondo still under contract, the Celtics interestingly decided to use their two first round draft picks this summer on guards, taking Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State with the No. 6 pick and Kentucky guard James Young at No. 17. Could this be a sign that Ainge is preparing his lineup for the departure of Rondo?
Drafting Smart, a sleeper for Rookie of the Year, seems like an obvious insurance policy in for Ainge and the Celtics. In fact it has already paid off because Rondo is starting the season on the injury list once again. This time he broke his hand falling in the shower. It was first reported that he would miss six to eight weeks but Rondo is optimistically pushing to get back in time for opening night. With Rondo on the shelf again, the door is open for the rookie Smart to benefit with starts at point guard.
— Only In Boston (@OnlyInBOS) October 2, 2014
Maybe worse than Rondo’s durability issues is the nonstop contract and trade rumors which have been lingering for over two years. This distraction is the last thing the young Celtics need hanging in the air. Rondo’s contract is coming to an end this season and will be asking for a max deal when he hits free agency.
Ainge needs to play his hand wisely and get something for Rondo instead of nothing. Boston will be better off in the near future by finding a trade partner that can land then more pieces to build on than one liability.