Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics were dealt a horrible
blow on what turned out to be an emotional day at the TD Bank Garden Sunday.
The worst fears were confirmed when it was announced Rajon Rondo was done for
the season with a torn ACL. He was a late scratch from the starting lineup and
frankly no one on the C's thought it was anything that serious.
It shaped up as an awesome Sunday before the news.
Ray Allen returned for the first time in five seasons as a visitor. He got a
nice ovation after a video presentation, then was appropriately booed out of
the building. Sadly for Boston fans, Allen came back as a member of the hated
Miami Heat and just having the defending champs in the building was buzz-
The Celtics dropped the Heat in double overtime and the mood went from great-
"I just walked in and told them," said head coach Doc Rivers of the Rondo
announcement. "I don't know what else you can do. Guys were celebrating and
then it just ..."
The reality facing the Celtics is a scary one. Few teams can recover from the
loss of their best player, but if Boston fans want reason for optimism, look
850 miles west.
The Bulls have been downright brilliant without former MVP Derrick Rose. The
reason is simple, the defensive system used by the Bulls survived without
That's one of the reasons the Celtics are in serious trouble and it started
long before Rondo went to the emergency room.
Last season, the Celtics finished second in the NBA in opponents' scoring.
This season, they are 11th.
Last season, the Celtics were 10th in the NBA in rebounding. This season, they
These flaws existed with Rondo on the floor. Granted, the situation could get
worse on both fronts without their general. Rondo is still an above-average to
great defender and he is fourth on the team in rebounding.
But these problems have driven the Celtics under .500 and down to eighth in
the Eastern Conference, not Rondo's injury.
If playoffs are what you're looking for, the Celtics are still 2 1/2 games
ahead of Philadelphia for the final playoff spot, but apparently Sixers center
Andrew Bynum could be back before the All-Star break. Much like confirming the
existence of a Yeti, we should believe Bynum's return when we actually see it
happen. But the Sixers could be on the rise.
How will the Celtics replace Rondo? Is it time to blow the whole Celtics core
If a trade is what you're looking for, there's room to wiggle. Paul Pierce is
35 and still averages 18.7 ppg. He is on the books next season for
$15,333,334, but it's a player option and partially guaranteed for $4 million.
Is Pierce willing to move? Doubtful, but would the Celtics even open their
minds to moving him? That's equally doubtful. Pierce has been the face of the
C's in the post Larry Bird era and there's a lot of equity in the bank between
the two sides.
Could they move Garnett? That's trickier. He's almost 37 and has two seasons
remaining on his contract that pays almost $24.4 million. That second season
on the books would be a big hindrance for teams.
Boston could move some other veteran pieces, but it's unlikely the Celtics
would get a lot in return for a Jason Terry (two more seasons under contract)
or a Jeff Green (who has a preposterous three years and $27.6 million left).
Young guys like Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger are in rookie deals still,
but they've emerged as cornerstone pieces.
Truth be told, Rondo was probably the best trade chip for Danny Ainge,
president of basketball operations. He'll be 27 shortly and has two years left
and a very reasonable $24.8 million, which is great for a guy who is one of
the three best point guards on Earth.
Short of moving Pierce, which I think is still unrealistic, the Celtics will
have to survive from within. The problem with that plan is not that there
isn't anyone as good as Rondo on the roster. That's obvious, but Boston barely
has a backup point guard on the team.
Courtney Lee started in Rondo's absence on Sunday. He's more of a shooting
guard, same with Bradley. Terry played point in his youth, but is also now a
two guard. Leandro Barbosa is probably best equipped to play the point for the
longest and he's been underutilized by Rivers. Barbosa could help and the C's
could still make the postseason.
What good is that? The Celtics, even with Rondo, and notwithstanding Sunday's
result, could not eliminate the Heat in a playoff series. Their problems are
too deep on the defensive side, not to mention that Terry, Lee and Green
haven't appeared to fit in very well and we're already at the midpoint.
"Well you can write the obituary. I'm not," Rivers said on Sunday. "In my
opinion, we're going nowhere."
The obituary on the season, in terms of being title threats, was written long
before Rondo went hobbled. The obituary on the Celtics as formidable playoff
contenders past this season is still unwritten.
But the cap is coming off the pen, or, in the parlance of 2013, the fingers
are hitting the keyboard.
- As to who replaces Rondo in the All-Star game, with only three other guards
on the roster, my hunch is Brooklyn's Deron Williams gets the call and maybe
Kyrie Irving starts.
- Chris Bosh told FOX Sports Florida on Friday that he is absolutely a Hall of
Famer. To be specific, he said, "Hell, yeah, of course. I've been a Hall of
Famer like four years ago." That second part is silly, but is he a Hall of
Famer right now? At first, Bosh doesn't pass the first test, which is saying
it aloud and reacting. So, doing research, Bosh has career averages of 19.7
ppg and 9.0 rpg. He posted five 20-plus seasons prior to moving to Miami in
the effort of being a good teammate. Bosh has been to eight straight All-Star
games, but made only one All-NBA team, a second-team honor in 2006-07. That
was the only season he finished in the top 10 of MVP voting. So, to sum up,
hell no, he's not a surefire Hall of Famer.
- Royce White was reinstated by the Houston Rockets and reported to the D-
League. The Rockets met White on some demands, but didn't cave on all of them.
Compromise - it can work.
- Forgive me if I'm not giddy about the Los Angeles Lakers' win Sunday over the
Oklahoma City Thunder. It's one game and they aren't getting any more athletic
as the season progresses.
- Reports say the Texas Legends of the D-League are making a serious run at
Allen Iverson. "The Answer," 37, shouldn't come up to further tarnish his
playing legacy, but money is always an issue for Iverson. No doubt, he still
thinks he can contribute to an NBA team, but reality says almost exactly the
opposite. Veterans are playing more in the D-League to try to get back to the
big show, but when guys like Mike James and Delonte West do it, they have
nothing to lose. When Iverson does it, it gets remembered and could stain what
people think of him as a superstar. If he needs the loot, he shouldn't let
pride get in the way.
- Movie moment - It used to be a fun game when I worked in the golf room to
discuss what media coverage would be like for fictional events. The game was
mostly spawned from "The West Wing," but how do you think the smart phone
footage of a bunch of 10-year-olds drinking beer would play at the end of "The
Bad News Bears?" "This scene from a Little League championship, the losing
Bears seen drinking beer and throwing beer bottles at the winners. Horrifying
as the parents look on."
- TV moment - If you were wondering why the Pro Bowl still exists as I was, I
went searching for answers. Sunday is a pretty big night for television and the
Pro Bowl stills get the ratings. I haven't seen a full quarter of the Pro Bowl
in my 36 years on Earth. Proud of it. So, we have the citizens of the United
States to blame for the Pro Bowl still being a thing.
The Sports Network