|Irish Coffee: Celtics rookie Marcus Smart isn’t ready to start and other things we learned from Rajon Rondo’s China tour||08.27.14 at 1:55 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo is in the midst of his annual trip to China, which means more exchanges between the Celtics point guard and a media contingent that probably understands his dry humor better than Boston’s. Take this, for example.
- Hoop China: “Who’s the next Rajon Rondo?”
- Rondo: “Nobody.”
- Hoop China: Straight face.
- Rondo: “Nobody.”
- Hoop China: Smiles all around.
The folks at Red’s Army deserve an award for keeping up with the four-time NBA All-Star’s Anta tour, and fan extraordinaire @KWAPT has more Chinese sources than the CIA. For the most part, Rondo provided the same stock answers we’ve grown accustomed to — “My leadership role has grown each year” and Kevin Garnett‘s “like a big brother to me” — but his answer to a question about whether Marcus Smart could start in the backcourt this season provided some insight into his feelings about the Celtics drafting another guard with the No. 6 overall pick.
“No,” Rondo said flatly. “He’ll play a lot of minutes, but starting as a rookie at the guard position is probably impossible or one of the toughest things you can do. Only so many guards have done it in the past, especially playing at that high level, but he’ll be ready. He’ll come in ready. He seems pretty humble, and we’ll get to work.”
Avery Bradley is probably Rondo’s closest confidant on the team, so it should come as no surprise he knocked Smart down a notch, but his response also suggests he fully expects to start the season on the Celtics. Still, the roster’s youth with the additions of Smart and James Young seems to be a sticking point for Rondo.
|Celtics coach Brad Stevens accepts Ice Bucket Challenge||08.12.14 at 12:02 pm ET|
On Sunday, I issued the Ice Bucket Challenge to Celtics coach Brad Stevens in hopes of raising awareness about ALS and benefiting The Pete Frates #3 Fund‘s mission of finding a treatment and cure for the disease. Within the allotted 24 hours, Stevens accepted the challenge in an email Monday with the subject line, “On its way tomorrow …” Sure enough, the Celtics posted their coach’s response on the team’s YouTube account Tuesday.
|What Kevin Love trade means for Celtics||08.07.14 at 11:29 am ET|
Mercifully, the Kevin Love drama has come to an end, and as expected in recent weeks he will not be wearing a Celtics uniform next season. Love will be donning wine and gold alongside fellow NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers will be really good for a really long time.
In exchange for the last two No. 1 overall picks — Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett – and a 2015 first-round pick, the Cavs acquired Love from Minnesota and received a commitment from the 25-year-old that he will sign a max contract next summer, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
There will be those who claim Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge facilitated the LeBron and Love pairing by dealing a trade exception for Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton and a first-round pick last month. And there will be those who say Love used his Boston visit to help the Timberwolves drive up the bidding war for his services. And they will not be wrong.
But once LeBron returned to Cleveland, nobody was stopping this trade. So, let’s not go around criticizing Ainge for acquiring three more assets and not offering enough to get a Love deal done. Once LeBron made the Cavaliers a destination attractive enough for Love to sign longterm and Wiggins became available in return, no combination of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and No. 1 picks was going to convince Flip Saunders otherwise.
|How Tony Parker’s extension affects Rajon Rondo’s contract situation||08.01.14 at 5:41 pm ET|
Tony Parker inked a three-year contract extension with the Spurs for an estimated $43.3 million, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but does it have any bearing on Rajon Rondo‘s current status with the Celtics?
In roughly the same salary situation — Parker will make $12.5 million to Rondo’s $12.9 million this season — the former chose the max extension available to him right now, a presumed 7.5 percent annual increase averaging $14.3 million from 2016-18.
Rondo can accept a similar deal now or wait until next summer, when he could max out at an estimated $20.9 million annually from 2015-20. It’s easy to see why Rondo has stated his intention to fulfill the final year of his deal and become a free agent in 2015.
Parker, 32, is four years older than Rondo and will have already made $107.5 million when his extension kicks in next year. He’s also quite comfortable in San Antonio, where he has won four NBA titles and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has created an atmosphere that keeps stars coming back for below market value.
Of course, Rondo also inked a team-friendly deal when the Celtics were winning, signing a five-year extension worth $55 million in 2009, but he doesn’t quite have that same motivation to stay in Boston now.
Even if he won’t consider an extension now, one reason Rondo should at least think about it is his ability to play his way into another big payday at age 32 — as the Spurs point guard just did. In 2018, Rondo would be eligible to receive as much as a third of the salary cap two years after the new TV deal sends the league’s figure soaring. If he signs a four- or five-year deal next summer, he’ll be pushing 34 after the deal and more likely facing a pay cut.
There’s also an argument that Rondo won’t fetch a max contract next summer. Only Chris Paul ($20.1 million), Deron Williams ($19.8M) and Derrick Rose ($18.9M) will make more this season than the $18.2 million Rondo is expected to seek in 2015-16. If his agent believes he won’t fetch more than $15 million annually on the open market, Rondo might be wise to accept a Parker-esque extension now. Unless, of course, he plans to obliterate the league in his first full season since ACL surgery and vault himself back into conversations that include Paul and Rose.
|Revisiting the Rajon Rondo conversation||07.25.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
It’s been a strange summer for Rajon Rondo.
Trade rumors have surrounded Rondo for years, but for maybe the first time in his career the Celtics captain has said only the right things. Rondo claims to not only be happy in Boston but also to have complete trust in general manager Danny Ainge to put the Celtics back in contention.
In a day and age when stars seemingly text each other to join the next super team, shouldn’t we embrace a star who wants to remain in Boston?
It would be nice if we could. Unfortunately, the Celtics find themselves in no position to do so. Between today and the 2015 NBA trade deadline, Rondo must go, and here’s why.
It appears we can wave farewell to any hopes of Kevin Love landing in Boston. According to numerous reports, the Cavaliers are not only the frontrunners for Love, but a deal that would send him to Cleveland is all but done. If that isn’t convincing enough for you, our own Ben Rohrbach has thrown in the towel himself, declaring Love will never be traded to the Celtics.
It comes down to the fact that no star player is going to come to Boston. No star wants to sign in Boston and there are none on the trading block to make come to Boston. Valiant effort, Danny, but you’re out of luck.
Ainge is stockpiling assets, and doing a phenomenal job of it. Most have assumed the idea is that these assets will be traded for talent (ideally to pair next to Rondo). They may have to come to the realization that the assets will be used to select and develop talent.
Which leaves them with Rondo, and, frankly, he just doesn’t fit with what they are left with.
Everyone has their own theory as to how to handle Rondo’s situation. There are two questions worth asking yourself to come to an answer. Does Rondo fit with the current core? Are you prepared to let Rondo walk?
The answer to both questions is no.
Rondo is not the ideal player to have on the Celtics during an effort to develop guys like Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart and James Young. That doesn’t mean he has to leave for nothing, though. Ainge might as well collect a return on Rondo, a return that likely would add to the young players and picks already in Boston’s possession. A return that would help build the team in the direction it’s currently trending toward — the future.
The ironic part? If Rondo is so confident that Ainge will do the right thing, then he is counting on Ainge shipping him out of town while he still can.
|Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins calls Rajon Rondo best PG in NBA||07.16.14 at 1:52 pm ET|
Cousins said Celtics star Rajon Rondo is the best point guard in the league, saying, “Absolutely” when questioned on it. He denied that his team’s feud with the Clippers and Chris Paul had any role in his thinking.
There have been rumors that the Kings were interested in trading for Rondo, although there hasn’t been much speculation lately.
Rondo and Cousins both went to Kentucky, although they were separated by three years.
|Where 2014-15 Celtics roster stands||at 10:52 am ET|
As the clock struck midnight, Phil Pressey joined a list of 14 Celtics under guaranteed contract, leaving only one roster spot for summer league standouts Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, Colton Iverson and Mike Moser.
Obviously, Danny Ainge could have a trade or 10 coming down the pike, but the Celtics president of basketball operations currently has more than enough players available to fill out another hodgepodge of a roster in 2014-15.
Barring another deal, here’s the current salary structure for the coming season.
Rajon Rondo: $12.9 million
Gerald Wallace: $10.1M
Jeff Green: $9.2M
Marcus Thornton: $8.6M
Avery Bradley: $7.2M
Brandon Bass: $6.9M
Keith Bogans: $5.3M (non-guaranteed)
Joel Anthony: $3.8M
Marcus Smart: $3.2M
Vitor Faverani: $2.1M
Kelly Olynyk: $2.1M
Tyler Zeller: $1.7M
James Young: $1.7M
Jared Sullinger: $1.4M
Chris Johnson: $0.9M (non-guaranteed)
Chris Babb: $0.8M (non-guaranteed)
Phil Pressey: $0.8M
TOTAL: $78.7M ($71.7M guaranteed)
While Ainge will do his darnedest to pair Kevin Love or another franchise-altering player with Rondo before conversely considering deals for his All-Star point guard, it becomes more likely with each passing week that the Celtics will enter the season with 15 of these 17 players under contract.
Even without the trio of Bogans, Johnson and Babb, the Celtics are $8.6 million over the salary cap and $5.1 million under the luxury tax level. (Ainge would love to deal Bogans’ attractive $5.3 million non-guaranteed contract before cutting ties with the veteran waste of cap space.) Unless the C’s somehow become playoff contenders, they’re not paying that tax, leaving only the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum contracts to add free agents.
Unless Ainge can work his magic on a sign-and-trade for Greg Monroe, the Celtics will whiff on the NBA’s impressive 2014 free agent class. That’s strike two after the lottery pick came up sixth in the equally remarkable 2014 draft class, by the way. The trade market is all that’s left before the C’s strike out looking this summer.