Friday, February 8, 2013
Addition by Subtraction
Post Rajon Rondo ACL tear (which we learned today is only a partial tear), the Celtics have been playing their best basketball of the season. Each win seems to be more impressive than the last, and Doc Rivers has his roster playing as one. The Lakers are not even in the playoffs at the moment, but any team lead by Kobe Bryant is a competitive team... and Boston torched them on Thursday night.
The game was broken open at the end of the third quarter with a Paul Pierce three pointer, coming just after a Jeff Green dunk and block that essentially iced the game. Pierce's three put the Celtics up 95-69 entering the final period, click here for link to sequence. Kobe was able to finish with 27 points, but no doubt Pierce was the star of the night finishing with 24 to go along with seven rebounds and six assists (neither played in the 4th quarter). The upwards production in scoring without Rondo in the lineup has been incredible, especially Thursday night with eight players finishing with over eight points: Pierce (24), Green (19), Kevin Garnett (15), Courtney Lee (13), Avery Bradley (10), and Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass (8 each).
With KG's sixth point of the game, he reached the 25,000 point mark for his career, the 16th player of all time to accomplish the task. There was a tribute in which Garnett acknowledged the crowd in the second quarter. As usual, Garnett was humble about his accomplishment. He attributed it to longevity, hard work and his teammates, click here for his post game interview with TNT. Just another reason it was such a special night in the TD Garden.
Not too long ago Celtics fans were wondering when they would see the day Rondo would return, now some are imagining the possibilities without him. Danny Ainge has admitted it is very unlikely that Pierce and Garnett will be moved to other teams, and both players have come clean that they would rather retire than be part of a rebuilding stage.
Now back to the question that was asked when Rondo went down... where do the Celtics go from here?
The answer: Trade Rondo.
It has become evident that Rondo is a selfish unselfish player... in other words he cares so much about getting the assist that he will go against the team's best interest to get it. If the team needs him to be getting "hockey assists" and keep the ball moving, he has seemed unwilling. The ball was always in Rondo's hands rather than moving to the open man to keep pressure on the defense as it is now!
They almost certainly will not get around to it this season, but over the summer would be a perfect time. Rondo will have 2 years left on his deal (paying him $12M and $13M), an affordable contract that a small market team would LOVE to acquire.
So pretend Rondo is on the block on draft day, here is what Ainge should look to do: It's silly to pretend that I know what players will be in trade talks, but here is an idea of what Boston should demand in return. Boston NEEDS a young big to pair with Jared Sullinger, start here with a young big man that shows potential. Preferably a long leaper that can block shots, the opposite body type of Sully.
Then they will need a true point guard to replace Rondo. Not one that controls the ball as much as Rondo or plays 40 minutes a game, BUT one that has a better handle than the current guards on Boston's roster. Someone that can push the ball up the court, but winning comes first. Someone that has a more natural role in the offense than Rondo.
And finally, it shouldn't be too much to ask for a first round pick in addition when giving up a young star with a great contract like Rondo. As mentioned, small market teams should be lined up to take a deal like this, the key is finding the right players and the right contracts in exchange.
One thing is for sure, if the Celtics keep this up for the rest of the season, the Rondo trade talk can do nothing but heat up...