|Posted by paul on September 10, 2013 at 6:05 AM|
Because of Rondo's injury, it's been difficult to write about him this summer. We do not know when he will return, and we cannot know what sort of player he will be then, and we don't know if he will come back to the Celtics, and we don't know how well he will fit in if he does come back. Trying to figure out what has happened over the past few months feels a bit like reading tea leaves, as the loudest comments seem to be coming from those whose words are tailored to their agendas. With all this in mind, I thought I'd offer a few bullet points:
-- My favorite thing about this summer has been Rondo's low profile. This contrasts sharply with Rondo's high profile last summer. Last summer, with Rondo globetrotting and otherwise staying in the media spotlight, seemed to be Rondo's introduction to superstar level limelight. When the season came along, though, Rondo seemed to wilt under the bright lights and high expectations. This summer's low profile stokes hopes for the opposite to happen. Last season the cart might have been ahead of the horse. This season, expectations are low, and Rondo seems to be working hard to prepare himself.
--My second favorite thing this summer has been the way Danny appears to have committed himself to building around Rondo. I think that everyone who is not a Rondo Hater hoped that the Big Three era would transition smoothly to a Rondo era, but it just didn't happen that way. Who is to blame? Maybe we were spoiled in the past by the smooth transitions from the Russell era to the Cowens era, and from the Cowens era to the Bird era. Perhaps it's because of medical advances that have allowed great players to linger in the league. Pehaps it's because young talents are coming into the league partially formed. Some of these issues may have been exacerbated on this Big Three team, and by the Perkins Trade, which left Rondo as, basically, the sole Young 'Un on a team of grizzled vets. What was evident before seemed to become impossible not to see last year: for Rondo to lead, Allen, Pierce and Doc would have to go.
--My least favorite thing this summer has been listening to Doc. What is the line from Shakespeare? Methinks the man doth protest too much? Doc powered his way out of town, and it was ugly. I guess he's claiming that he wanted to stay, but he didn't want to rebuild. Everyone says they can understand this. Well, ok, I guess I can too, in a Phil Jackson kind of way. I remember when team building was a lot of the beauty of the sport. Now everyone seems to wait on the 'next Lebron'. Doc seems to see Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as his version of Lebron and Wade. His move to LA puts his ridiculous Heat obsession of last summer into perspective. He wants to join the Phil Jacksons and Pat Rileys' of the world.
-- I'm not sad to see Mr. Smarm go, and I wonder how sad Danny really is. I would guess that, for loyalty's sake, he wanted Doc to stay, but he can't have been happy with what happened last year, where he spent the summer building a strong team for Doc, only to watch Doc seemingly bring the team into the season unprepared. The transition to Brad Stevens says a lot, if you ask me. Stevens is young and hungry. Doc seemed almost to go along for the ride. Stevens emphasizes preparation and process. Doc figures that veteran talents will pull through in the end. Stevens seems to enjoy working with young players. Doc could barely get along with Rondo - and yes, I am turning that one around!
-- It was nice to see Gary Payton praising Rondo. I take this as solid backup for my claim that Rondo could be defensive player of the year! I would contend, as I did last summer, that Rondo will not be able to really take his presumed role as leader of this Celtics team unless he raises his game on the defensive end. At the same time, I think Rondo needs to score more. That's not such a contradiction. Strong defense leads to transition offense and Rondo is a great transition player. I also happen to think that he is a far better scorer than we've seen so far in his career.
-- As the season approaches, unease may be building up around the Celtics. Rondo's return does not seem imanent. Sullinger seemed to be stepping up as one of the young team's stronger leaders, but his life and career seem to be in crisis now. Brad Stevens seems completely overwhelmed and his Gee Shucks b'Golly persona doesn't inspire confidence. That leaves us Jeff Green as The Answer and Avery Bradley as the team leader? This season could be a shattering train wreck. My guess is that it will be a long, grueling struggle, and that we will see some signs of progress as it goes along.
If there is comfort to be found, it's in low expectations themselves. Where little is expected, any accomplishment seems more meaningful.
Categories: Rondo Ravings