|Posted by paul on May 25, 2013 at 6:30 AM|
Like most Celtics fans, I suspect, I've been having a hard time evaluating last season and next. The results were such a stark contrast from our hopes, from my hopes. Folks seem to be panicking, starting with Danny. Danny says that we are several players away from contention, and that one player will only make us a contender if that is a very special player. While I'd like to see several moves, if they help the team, and while I'd love to see a very special player (JSmoove anyone?) come to the Cs, I don't think we are necessarily in such a hopeless state as presently constituted. Last year's team underachieved. The problem wasn't who we had. The problem was how we played together. We do need a center. Clearly we need a center. Even now, neither Danny nor his defenders acknowledge this, along with its full implications (trading Perkins, at least the way we did it, was a horrible move, and the fact that Green has been looking better - even great at times - doesn't relate to that). WE NEED A CENTER!! A solid center might be enough. Heck, Sully might be enough, if he comes back stronger (though I reckon we'll be lucky if he comes back as strong). It doesn't even have to be a starting center, though that would be great, but it's got to be someone who can help us fight the fight near the basket, ideally on both ends, and someone who can help take the pressure off KG.
The wiseguy crowd seems to have decided that last year proved that Rondo is not a great player and is not a great leader. I just shake my head at times. We must be living in different realities. Of course, last year showed that Rondo was not ready to step up to the next level. But only the future can determine whether he actually does step up or not. There were certainly encouraging signs last year. There's no question that Rondo attempted to take on a more overt and consistent leadership role, and that in some ways he was successful. This suggests that he CAN do it. He struggled at times, obviously, but this was not 100% his fault, nor does it prove that he cannot succeed, unless one believes that leaders are born, not made. There's even a thread over at Celtics Blog claiming, and it doesn't seem to be a joke, that we could once again trade Rondo for Chris Paul!
Thankfully folks are finally coming to Rondo's defense. A year or two ago, everyone seemed to agree that it was an absolute gimme. When I see Rondo, I see a guy who could be a once-in-a-generation player, someone who changes the game - and no, that doesn't mean turning basketball into football, Rondo!!! Yes he's inconsistent. Yes he struggles with some basic things. Yes he is stubborn almost to the point of craziness at times. But he has potential to be great, and THAT I'll take every time. And let's not forget that in six playoffs with Rondo on our team, we've fought our way deep into the playoffs each time he was healthy, and we've been uncermoniously ejected, like a PiddleTown squad trying to win a State Championship, both times Rondo has gone down.
A lot of folks seem to be calling for either a Rondo trade or a Pierce trade. I don't see it. Rondo should be our cornerstone, and Pierce is a living legend, and neither guy is going to bring back equal value anyway. It seems to me that we still have a talented team. Our problem is that we don't know how to play together. Last season was tough, but it can lead to good things if we learn the proper things from it. You can have loads of talent, but the key to success is how you play together. Did we learn that? And it has to start with Rondo. Did Rondo learn that? You can't be so stubborn, Rondo, when folks are giving you constructive criticism. And you can't play your trademark matador/ballhawk defense when we don't have the rim protectors we used to have. You have to take responsibility for every aspect of your team, including helping design the offense, surely. But, just as importantly, did Rondo's teammates learn this lesson? Some seem to have gotten it. The Knicks series seems to have taught the team a lesson about how important Rondo is. Will they follow through? Above all, will Pierce get it?
It's time for co-captains. Rondo, KG and Pierce should be co-captains. This should get done. I was glad to hear that the three guys went on vacation together. Hopefully they discussed this.
This summer, Rondo needs to focus on rehab, of course, and on his shooting, but just as importantly, it seems to me that he needs to forgo a lot of the distractions he's had in summers past, and he needs to spend time with Doc and with his teammates, working out not only relationships for next year, but also redesigning the team. When we come out next year, we should focus other teams to start working on a new book for the Cs. This year, the story begins during the summer more than ever. A lot of work off the court needs to be done this summer, and as important as Danny's moves are, they are, in a way, the least important aspect.