|With Rajon Rondo gone, Marcus Smart still isn’t quite ready to be ‘the guy’ yet||12.26.14 at 11:25 pm ET|
Friday marked just the second start in the NBA career of 20-year-old Marcus Smart.
Smart worked hard Friday (5 points, 6 assists in 31 minutes) but it wasn’t enough in the end as the Celtics fell to the Brooklyn Nets, 109-107.
“A lot of confidence, actually,” Smart said. “It just shows I’m getting back to the player that I was in the preseason and getting back to what this team needs, energy-wise, on the defensive end, and just trying to help my team.”
But asked if he’s ready to assume the role of Rondo, Smart stopped short of that complete commitment.
“Not really. I don’t feel like there’s a guy on this team,” Smart said. “Everybody’s the guy because you never know on any given night, it can be somebody’s night.
“It’s a lot. It’s a lot that comes with it but obviously, I’ve done a lot in my life and throughout my whole career through basketball to prepare me for this type of situation and to just to do whatever I can to help this team come out with victories.”
Still, only at 20, he’s earning the respect of his peers around the NBA. Take Kevin Garnett. KG fell on top of him while scrambling for a loose ball in the third quarter. After Smart got the ball ahead on the break, Garnett tapped him on the backside for his hustle on the floor. Afterward, Garnett said he was “trying to trip his ass.”
“Knowing KG, I wouldn’t be surprised,” Smart said. “The guy goes hard. That’s who KG is and that’s why a lot of guys respect him.”
Smart could laugh because he’s becoming more and more comfortable assuming command of his team.
‘Felt very comfortable. Practiced the other day helped that. Went over some plays and getting guys in the right spots so I was able to know where guys were going to be and try to find them today.’
Smart found out on Christmas Day that he was starting on Friday.
“Coach [Brad Stevens] called me before practice and told me that I was going to be starting and just to keep bringing the energy,” Smart said.
“Both, practice time and conditioning. With an injury you tend to sit on the sideline and your conditioning goes and its easy to get out of shape then it is to get into shape. Getting those minutes and practice time has put me back into the shape that I was in in the preseason.’
|Report: Julius Randle’s exclusion stalled Rondo-to-Lakers talks||12.23.14 at 3:46 pm ET|
In his weekly power rankings, Yahoo! Sports reporter Marc Spears dropped an interesting nugget.
Likewise, USA Today’s Sam Amick reported an offer that would have sent Jordan Hill, a first-rounder and presumably Nash to Boston in exchange for Rondo and Jeff Green going back to L.A. (although Hill owns Bird rights approval of a trade and can’t be dealt until Jan. 15).
Either way, it’s noteworthy that the Celtics discussed trading their captain to the rival Lakers before ultimately sending him to Dallas. The trade talks also suggest Rondo’s breakfast with Kobe Bryant during the Lakers’ most recent visit to Boston was more than “just two [expletives] having breakfast.” It would’ve been fascinating had the Lakers been willing to include Randle in a potential deal.
|Rajon Rondo thanks Boston on way out of town||12.19.14 at 9:03 am ET|
Rajon Rondo, who was singing Christmas carols with his Celtics teammates at Boston Children’s Hospital on the evening he was traded to the Mavericks, expressed heartfelt gratitude for his time in the city in a series of tweets.
“My time in Boston has meant so much,” he wrote. “I’ve grown up with this city both as a basketball player and person. The love I have for the most loyal and supportive fans in the league is unmatched. My teammates have shown nothing but heart the last couple of seasons. They are some of the hardest working guys I have played with and I wish them the best. I’ve experienced my most successful and challenging years with the Celtics, fans and city.
“The opportunity to play with guys like Dirk [Nowitzki], Monta [Ellis], Tyson [Chandler] and the young talent of Chandler [Parsons] is exciting. I look forward to building something special in Dallas.”
|Report: Rajon Rondo ‘open’ to re-signing with Mavs, Rockets if dealt||12.18.14 at 9:43 am ET|
The news is trickling out in waves now, and the latest on the possibility of the Celtics trading Rajon Rondo comes from CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger, who reports the C’s captain is ‘open’ to re-signing with the two teams rumored to be in hottest pursuit of his services — the Mavericks and Rockets.
While Rondo expressed publicly his desire to remain in Boston following Wednesday’s game, he’s apparently reached a point privately we had not heard in years past. The writing, as they say, appears to be on the wall.
In his weekly interview with CBS Sports Radio, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge conceded there have been trade discussions with multiple teams, as there always are at this time of year — while not specifically citing the rumored Dallas and Houston interest — didn’t exactly give his point guard a ringing endorsement when asked if the team would be all that different without Rondo.
“I don’t know,” said Ainge, stumbling for phraseology. “That’s a good question. Rajon has been a big part of our team, not just this year, but for the past years, as you know, but Rondo — because we don’t really see what Marcus Smart has been able to do yet, because he hasn’t been healthy; he’s got such a shortage of minutes and opportunities to play with the ankle sprain, so it’s a good question. I don’t think any of us know the answer to that.”
The wheels are turning, and Rondo getting out when they stop seems more likely than ever before.
|Rajon Rondo on trade rumors: ‘It’s a way of life’||12.17.14 at 11:45 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo knows the deal by now.
Every year around this time, the trade rumors start swirling around the Celtics point guard, and this season is no different.
“It’s a way of life since I’ve been here,” he said after Wednesday’s win over the Magic. “It’s just part of it.”
Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, as he so often does, peppered Twitter with a few freshly ground spices as Rondo wrapped up another near triple-double effort — the Mavericks “are serious suitors” for Rondo’s services.
In his postgame press conference, Rondo said he had not spoken to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge about the latest round of rumors, and then proceeded to walk out of TD Garden just as Ainge, Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren and co-owner Stephen Pagliuca were exiting the building. It might’ve been awkward had it not been a way of life.
While the Celtics seem willing to part with Rondo for the right price, Rondo reiterated publicly his desire to stay in Boston.
“How many times do you want me to say it?” he asked. “We discussed it on media day. My thoughts and my opinions as far as the organization hasn’t changed, so … I’m enjoying life. You can’t win ’em all, but these guys are funny, I’m young and I’m doing what I love to do. It’s a dream come true. I can’t be upset about anything, really.
“I just want to be a better person each year, be a better teammate each year, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job so far, just trying to lead these young guys. I’m not that old, but they make me feel like it.”
If something seems different about the rumors this time around, Rondo is remaining as poker-faced as ever.
“It is what it is now, and everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I believe in certain timing and things happening for a reason, so I’m 28 and I’m pretty much the veteran guy on this team and that’s part of it.”
|Magic 9-Ball: Rajon Rondo Trade Barometer v5.0||12.16.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
Let’s face it: This is the season of Rajon Rondo. As interesting as it is to evaluate the frontcourt progress of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley‘s offensive potential and Jeff Green‘s surprising consistency, the biggest questions the Celtics must answer all involve Rondo. Just how good is he? Will he be traded? What can they get in return? In a weekly feature on Green Street, we’ll take stock of the Celtics captain’s status every Tuesday.
RAJON RONDO TRADE VALUE
During a dismal week in which the Celtics lost to the Hornets and Knicks before snapping a three-game skid with a wire-to-wire win over the hapless 76ers, here are Rondo’s three-game totals: 19 points (9-17 field goals, 0-3 3-point range, 1-2 free throws), 27 assists (8 turnovers), 24 rebounds and six steals. He was a minus-26 in 88 minutes.
And here are the combined totals for opposing point guards Kemba Walker, Jose Calderon and Michael Carter-Williams: 40 points (14-36 FG, 3-10 3P, 9-12 FT), 20 assists (9 turnovers), 13 boards and six steals. They were plus-20 in 98 minutes.
Not great, even if Rondo submitted his third triple-double of the season against Charlotte. While he owned a superior true shooting percentage (53.1 vs. 48.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.38 vs. 2.22) with more rebounds and the same number of steals, the C’s captain should wipe the floor with that trio.
As if we expected to solve Rondo over the first six weeks of the 2014-15 season, he remains an enigma. Should he continue averaging 10.6 assists, 8.0 points and 7.5 rebounds over 82 games, Rondo will join Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only players to produce those numbers. Yet, he ranks among the league’s worst shooters from mid-range (30.2 percent), 3-point range (24.1 percent) and the free throw line (33.3 percent).
|5 things we learned in the Celtics’ loss: Al Jefferson upstages Rajon Rondo’s triple-double||12.10.14 at 9:28 pm ET|
Marcus Thornton scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to claw the Celtics out of an early hole in a 96-87 loss to the Hornets .
Rondo finished with 12 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds — his third triple-double of the season — and Jeff Green added 16 points, but the Celtics scored just two points in the final 4:32 against Charlotte (6-15).
Meanwhile, the C’s had no answer for Al Jefferson (23 points, 14 rebounds) in the middle, losing a third straight road game and falling to 7-13 on the season.
For a complete box score, click here.
SLOW START: The Celtics entered Wednesday’s game with one of the NBA’s most efficient first-quarter offenses, averaging 26.7 points on 49.4 percent shooting, but struggled in the opening 12 minutes against one of the league’s worst defensive units. With the exception of Green (3-for-5 field goals), the Celtics started just 4-of-16 from the field, missing all five of their 3-point attempts. The end result was a 22-16 deficit, so rather than protecting an early lead, the C’s found themselves in the unfamiliar position of digging themselves out of a first-quarter hole.
BENCH PRESS: The C’s bench picked up right where it left off in Monday’s second-half comeback against the Wizards, quickly erasing the early deficit and pulling even at 32 apiece midway through the second quarter. Kelly Olynyk anchored the effort, scoring eight points in a span of just more than three minutes. While the reserves battled their way back into the game, the C’s starters couldn’t maintain the momentum, falling behind again 45-40 by halftime.
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