|Rajon Rondo: ‘I play the game hard, I play with an edge every night’||11.29.12 at 3:21 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Rajon Rondo spoke for the first time since being ejected from Wednesday night’s game for fighting. Rondo said he spoke with the NBA office about an hour before Thursday’s practice and made his case for his involvement in the altercation with Brooklyn’s Kris Humphries, after Humphries fouled Kevin Garnett in mid-air on a baseline drive to the basket with 29.5 seconds left in the second quarter.
“I talked to the NBA,” Rondo said. “They recorded the conversation. I just explained what went on, what happened [late] in the second quarter. I told them the truth. I don’t know what’s going to happen. They haven’t made any decisions yet. I’m just waiting to hear back from the league. I went through practice hoping I’ll play [Friday] but you never know.”
Before getting suspended two games without pay ($268,000), Rondo said he was prepared to accept whatever penalty was dished out.
“You never know, you just never know,” Rondo said. “It’s out of my control. Whatever the consequences are, that’s what they are. I don’t think I did anything dirty. I didn’t try to start a riot. I don’t think it was more than a pushing war. That’s about it.”
What Rondo did insist was that he was just standing up for Garnett, and not trying to project a bad-boy image.
“I thought the play on Kevin was a malicious play,” Rondo said. “I got hurt last year on a similar play like that, a guy going up in the air defenseless, on his way down. I just pushed Humphries and after that it was a pushing war.”
Rondo was fouled hard by Humphries in the first quarter but insisted that had nothing to do with his run-in with the Nets forward.
“I’ve been fouled by plenty of bigs,” Rondo said. “It had nothing to do with that. I wasn’t frustrated at all throughout the game. I was frustrated at myself but there weren’t any dirty plays up to that point that I thought made me do what I did. It was just a bad foul on Kevin, that’s all.
“I know I have to be out there for my teammates, that’s the only thing about it. But I was sticking up for my teammates. I didn’t try to start a fight. I’m not trying to be a bully. I just didn’t think the play was fair that he made on Kevin.
“This game is a contact sport, it’s an emotional game. I play with an edge every night. I think that’s what separates me from a lot of guys. I’m not going to let that be taken away from my game. I didn’t do anything dirty. This is a new day and era, the style we play the game. Back in the day, the ball would’ve been checked up, some free throws would’ve been made and we would’ve kept going. But this is a new era and we have different rules now.”
As for being worried that he is building a negative reputation in the league office, Rondo said his incident Wednesday had nothing to do with his previous two suspensions, when he was disciplined for run-ins with NBA officials.
“[Wednesday's] actions were completely different from the other two I believe,” he said.
Rondo laughed when asked if he’s worried that he’s looked at as a “repeat offender” in the league’s eyes.
“Repeat offender? Is this a trial? But to [the NBA office], I think I play the game the right way,” he said. “I’m not a dirty player. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me but I have no intentions of hurting anybody out there. I go out there and compete every night. And that’s how I play the game. I play the game hard, I play the game with an edge. I’m not a trash-talker. I don’t play the game dirty. When one of my guys is disrespected, I just retaliated. Not in a bad way.
“Just shoved, which led to… some guys are calling it a fight [but] no punches were thrown, it wasn’t a brawl. It was just five guys on the court, breaking each other up.”
|At least Rajon Rondo delivered an early Christmas present: The newest Boston-New York rivalry||at 12:41 pm ET|
If nothing else, the brawl between Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and Nets forward Kris Humphries gave birth to a brand new Celtics-New York rivalry.
“Anyone know where I can get a quick Tetanus shot in Boston?” Humphries tweeted along with a picture of his battle wounds after Rondo shoved him into the front row.
The C’s response? “Some guys are tough,” answered Jason Terry. “Some guys pretend to be. He’s one of those that pretends to be. I played with him. Maybe that’s the role [Brooklyn coach] Avery [Johnson] wants him to have, but he could leave that to somebody else.”
Terry dubbed Humphries “soft,” a term coach Doc Rivers used to describe his Celtics. Added Terry: “Humphries might as well come play with us then, if that’s the case.”
Meanwhile, Reggie Evans, who beat out Kevin Garnett for the title of “dirtiest player in the NBA” in a Sports Illustrated poll of players last season, lobbed this grenade at Rondo via the New York Daily News: “That’s just like a mosquito in your face. Eventually, you are going to swat at the mosquito, right? You aren’t going to let mosquitos in your face. You are going to get bumps all over your face. So, you have to knock the mosquito down.”
Added Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams: “We’re not going to back down. It’s not about being tough guys or anything like that. But we’re not going to back down.”
And newest Nets star Joe Johnson, who also witnessed Rondo’s last suspension-worthy act in the C’s-Hawks playoff series this past May, to The New York Times: “We’re trying to hold our own at this point. If you want to do anything special in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics are in the way.”
As Garnett said, “This ain’t the Girl Scouts. This ain’t the Boy Scouts. This is the NBA.” And this is Boston-New York. If nothing else, Rondo gave everyone an early Christmas gift, because the next meeting between the Celtics and Nets — at noon on Dec. 25 — just got more interesting. Get your Girl Scout cookies ready.
|Irish Coffee: Summer of Rajon Rondo gives way to winter||at 2:12 am ET|
If this is what Rajon Rondo thinks of leadership, the Celtics are in big trouble.
All summer, everyone from president Danny Ainge to coach Doc Rivers and on down the line told anyone who would listen that this is the 26-year-old point guard’s team now. No longer Paul Pierce‘s. Not Kevin Garnett‘s. But a matured Rondo’s. Then, Wednesday night’s Nets game happened.
Just as he did last season, when he thew a ball at one referee and chest-bumped another, Rondo let his emotions get the best of him, completely overreacting to a hard Kris Humphries foul on Kevin Garnett late in the first half.
As referee crew chief James Caper said after a home Celtics loss to the Nets that was much uglier than the 95-83 final at the TD Garden, “Rondo initiated everything that proceeded after the foul.”
In other words, just as he was last season, Rondo will be suspended, especially considering he threw closed fists as he shoved Humphries into the stands. His history won’t help, either. Speculation sets the over/under on games the Celtics will be without their so-called leader at 3-5 games, but as New York Times reporter Howard Beck suggested, “Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith got 10 games each because they continued fight into the stands.”
Just like his legendary 37-game double-digit assist streak of John Stockton proportions, Rondo’s maturation process came to a screeching halt against the Nets. With it, probably, goes his Most Valuable Player aspirations. When’s the last time an NBA MVP was suspended for fighting during a season? This was the year he was supposed to make the leap. Instead, he takes a step backwards. After the game, Rondo left without speaking to the media, leaving Pierce, Garnett and the rest of his Celtics teammates to face questions only he could answer.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo ejected, streak ends and Celtics lose||11.28.12 at 10:09 pm ET|
The Bruins aren’t playing, so somebody had to fight at TD Garden.
Rajon Rondo shoved Kris Humphries into the stands, resulting in dueling ejections, and Kevin Garnett manhandled Gerald Wallace, drawing double technicals (Wallace’s second, earning himself an ejection). More on that in a minute, but the Celtics and Nets also played basketball.
Andray Blatche (13 rebounds) and Jerry Stackhouse each scored 17 points, and the Nets owned the Celtics, 95-83. Meanwhile, Rondo departed with just three assists in 18 minutes, effectively ending his 37-game double-digit assist streak and leaving him tied with John Stockton for the second-longest such stretch in NBA history.
If you’re looking for positives, Kevin Garnett (16 points, 10 rebounds) recorded his second straight double-double.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Streak stopped: Where to begin? Starting with a brawl seems appropriate. With 29.5 second remaining in the first half, Humphries gave Garnett a shoulder shove. Rondo came to his defense, thrusting Humphries into the first row. Behind them, Garnett and Wallace got into it. Punches appeared to be thrown. Rondo, Humphries and Wallace all received ejections. Garnett got a technical. And suspensions will follow. Just like that, the streak ended. Rondo returned to the locker room with only three assists, seven shy of a 38th consecutive game with 10 or more assists.
BlatcheHouse: One’s 38 years old and the other was benched by the Wizards for the final month of last season for lack of conditioning. Of course, we’re talking about Stackhouse and Blatche, who somehow combined for 16 points and 10 rebounds before halftime. Before the break, the former’s shooting (3-4 3P) and the latter’s offensive rebounding (5) helped the Nets establish a lead as large as 21.
99 problems: We could be talking about any number of issues here. Brooklyn’s 3-point shooting and offensive rebounding or Jeff Green‘s apparent knee injury, Courtney Lee landing hard on his elbow and Chris Wilcox‘s illness, to name five. But with Jay-Z in attendance, the Celtics had 99 problems, and turnovers most definitely was one. They committed nine in the second quarter alone, including five in a span of seven possessions.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
|2012-13 Celtics free agent options at power forward||06.27.12 at 6:17 pm ET|
Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett to Keyon Dooling can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap, expected to approach the 2011-12 number of $58 million. We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Power forwards (Also see: Centers and shooting guards).
The Celtics began last season with Kevin Garnett as the starting four, but his move to center bumped backup Brandon Bass into the starting position and transformed the team. Both Chris Wilcox (heart surgery) and rookie JaJuan Johnson showed flashes of athletic brilliance as running mates to Rajon Rondo off the bench.
Given his effectiveness down the stretch, Garnett seems the logical solution to the C’s center position, and barring an Avery Bradley-esque leap Johnson appears locked into the back end of the depth chart. That means the Celtics will need two players capable of playing power forward, ideally one who can defend both bigs and another athletic option who can provide an energy boost for the reserve unit. Perhaps Bass and Wilcox are the answers.
The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Paul Pierce, $16.8M; Rondo, $11.0M; Bradley, $1.6M; Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Bass, Wilcox, Ray Allen, Jeff Green, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins and Dooling, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.
As a result, expect the C’s to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at power forward, separating the current free agent players into four categories.
|Fast Break: Rondo, headband of brothers take down Nets||03.02.12 at 9:57 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo has rarely worn a headband since NBA commissioner David Stern issued a rule against wearing the logo upside down (a slight to Lakers legend Jerry West) at the start of last season, but the Celtics point guard sported his good luck charm backwards against the Nets in a 107-94 win over the Nets.
Perhaps Rondo needed a change of scenery after all the recent talk of him maybe getting … well, a change of scenery before the March 15 trade deadline (a notion C’s president Danny Ainge denied on Thursday). Whatever the case, the three-time All-Star floor general submitted his second straight sublime performance, amassing 14 points, 13 assists, five steals and two rebounds just two nights after recording his third triple-double of the season.
Likewise, Kevin Garnett (20 points, 10 rebounds) — one of the few Celtics regulars sans headband — continued his productive stretch, dropping at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in two straight games for the first time in exactly one year. Paul Pierce (27 points) led five C’s scorers in double figures.
The win marked the third straight for the Celtics (18-17), who had dropped seven of eight previously. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 28 points.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Meet the press: As the Celtics outscored the Nets 29-20 in each of the first two quarters, they showed a different look — albeit one most middle school teams run on a regular basis. Still, the C’s 2-1-2 and 2-2-1 fullcourt presses confused New Jersey to no end, resulting in five first-half Rondo steals and a 14-0 advantage in fast break points by the break.
Seeing Green: There’s nothing like a little Gerald Green defense to help Pierce bust out of his recent offensive struggles (39.5 FG% in February). The captain abused the former Celtics first-round draft pick — and any other Nets wing who guarded him — in the early going, finishing the first quarter with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting (1-2 3P) and four assists. When Pierce plays well, generally so do the Celtics, and Friday night was no different.
Ball protection: The Celtics committed just two turnovers in the first half. Repeat: Two, leading to zero Nets points. Considering his team entered the game averaging 15.6 turnovers (good for 23rd in the NBA), coach Doc Rivers had to be pleased his team finally cleaned up an issue he’s had to address after most of its 17 losses.
|Celtics free agent options at power forward redux||12.02.11 at 5:32 pm ET|
Welcome to the fifth and final part of this week’s daily post-NBA lockout position-by-position breakdown of free agent options available to the Celtics. We’ve profiled the C’s biggest needs – at center and shooting guard — as well as two other critical positions (backup point guards and small forwards), so we move to the final piece of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s puzzle: Backup Power Forwards.
The Celtics started this past season with a surefire Hall of Fame four in Kevin Garnett, and backed him up with a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Glen Davis. The C’s version of assistant to the assistant regional manager rotated from Luke Harangody to “We Hardly Knew Ye” Chris Johnson to Troy Murphy, with a dabble of Jeff Green, who played the four for the Thunder but is more suited to the three on the Celtics. Got all that? Good.
As we’ve noted before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million), and should match any offer Green receives — unless another team far exceeds his qualifying offer of $5.9 million.
Davis and Murphy are free agents, and while they might sound like a buddy cop duo from Dublin, they’re actually both pretty darn good for second and third options at the four. The addition of first-round pick JaJuan Johnson — a 6-foot-10 senior power forward out of Purdue — likely makes a Murphy-type expendable. But even with Garnett, Green and Johnson expected to be on the 2011-12 roster, the Celtics should seek one more power forward option, in case Johnson isn’t ready and to leave Green on the wing.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options available to the Celtics at backup power forward, separating the current free agent players into four categories and forgetting about David West, because that ain’t happening.