Chris ‘my sources are telling me’ Broussard, amongst others, have reported and confirmed that Celtics GM Danny Ainge is looking to shake things up and are openly shopping star point guard Rajon Rondo.
Earlier in the week it has been revealed the Celtics offered Rondo and former Thunder player Jeff Green for OKC’s Russell Westbrook and former Boston favourite Kendrick Perkins. Perkins and Green were the center pieces of a trade between the two last season, a move that created a lot of controversy within the locker room of the Celtics, but that is not the most interesting component of the proposed trade.
It should be noted OKC pretty quickly rejected the deal, most likely because they traded for Perkins for a reason, to create a defensive identity similar to how Boston used the shot blocker, and take pressure off the offense to bail them out at the other end of the court. But for the life of me I cannot understand why the Thunder do not seem more interested.
Russell Westbrook is another of these new age point guards that run the floor in the blink of an eye and are regular features of Sportscenter’s Top 10, whether it be cross overs, chase down blocks or dunks. John Wall and Derrick Rose, along with Westbrook, are the leaders of this new point guard phenomenon that perhaps will be the catalyst for a change in the way teams are run. Personally I do not like it. Whilst Westbrook, Wall and Rose all offer a greater individual offensive threat, their playmaking, their decision making and notably with these three, their defense, is much less than that of the tradition point guards like Paul and Rondo.
I have been overly critical of Derrick Rose and his inability to share the ball, make his teammates better and basically run the team like all point guards should. Russell Westbrook is very much the same. In the playoffs last season Westbrook went from hero to villain very quickly, and was one of the main reasons for the Thunder somewhat underachieving, as many had them pegged for the Finals.
Westbrook’s shooting percentage in the playoffs dropped 5% from 44 to 39 from the field, from 33 to 29 from three point range and his assist totals fell almost 2 per game.
Forgive me if I am incorrect but the best players usually lift their game in the playoffs, and particularly when you play alongside arguably the best offensive player in the game, Kevin Durant, there should be a greater opportunity for you to improve on those particular numbers. in the Conference Semis Westbrook was taking the ball from Durant in the big moments, continually attempting game tying and winning shots from long range, an area where he is greatly ineffective, leaving Durant calling for the ball open on the wing. It was revealed that Westbrook’s overwhelming personality was starting to frustrate the very considerate and calm Durant, and the two had clashed over their roles in the team. Westbrook believed he was the star and that it was his team, thus he should be taking the big shots. I don’t think there is any of us out there who agree with that.
John Wall, Derrick Rose and clearly Russell Westbrook are fan favourites and starting to become the most sought after styled point guards, and I think this is all wrong. These players are always in the spotlight and it is purely because of the new pop culture that has emerged that if you can make the Top 10, you are a good player. Do you think Rose would have received any of the attention last year if not for those (admittedly) ridiculous dunks he was pulling off? Absolutely not. Yet these players are being rated higher than your Chris Pauls, Rajon Rondos even Steve Nashs and it’s all wrong. I would much rather my point guard dish 20 assists than score 40 points. Point guards are the quarterbacks of the team, do you want your quarterback throwing the ball or do you want him running the ball?
So that brings us back to the trade. Danny Ainge is never one to stray away from controversy and this is another example. Ainge supposedly wants a scoring guard to take the pressure off Paul Pierce, without losing the youth factor. It’s no secret the Celtics are past it and their window is closing, if it has not already closed. Rondo is one of the very few pieces they have for the future and few would argue that he has been their most important player the past couple of seasons.
Pierce, Allen and Garnett are all the wrong side of 32, which is traditionally the age of significant decline within most sports, notably the NBA. I say without a shadow of a doubt that Rajon Rondo is the main and perhaps only reason for the prolonging of those three players high levels of productivity. We are yet to see a major drop off in numbers from either of the three and Rondo is the reason for it. He has timed his rapid growth with their age related decline to perfection and has meant that their roles within the team remain the same as much earlier in their respective careers. He was second in the league with 11.2 assists per game (.2 behind the incomparable Nash), second in steals to the record breaking Chris Paul but perhaps most importantly has something no statistics can determine, his will, his toughness and his never-ending motor.
His performance against the Heat in the Conference Semis last season after having dislocated his shoulder was as incredible as I have ever seen on a basketball court. Why you would want to trade away someone that has given the franchise all that and more is beyond me. Especially for a player that has had issues with coaches, systems and identifying his role within the team and the locker room. That attitude is not going to go down well in a new environment, especially one that includes veterans like Garnett and Pierce. Westbrook does not make his teammates better, rather restricts their involvement with his lack of playmaking ability and constant poor shot selection.
Ainge clearly has the ambition to take the scoring load off his ageing stars and feels that Rondo is not the man to do so. He is a rather unaccomplished offensive player in terms of scoring, but the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. He knows the team, he knows the system, he knows how to win and he is as good at the fundamentals of playing point guard as anyone in the league. I cannot say any of that for Russell Westbrook.
Chris Paul has been another name thrown around by the media and I can certainly understand that. In my opinion he is the best point guard in the game, just ahead of Rondo, and certainly offers a more rounded game than Rondo without sacrificing much of Rondo’s playmaking and defense, if any. Whilst New Orleans may not get a better offer for their star, who seems a certainty to leave, Boston won’t commit to Paul unless they are sure he will sign an extension, and if you believe what you read or the small signs you see, his heart seems content on joining Carmelo and Stoudemire in New York, regardless of the near $40 million he will likely surrender.
No matter what happens, Rondo will now be aware that he is not only expendable, most most certainly on the market. Coming off the longest lockout in league history and a truly tumultuous period of all NBA players, the last thing you want to hear when you get back to work is that you’re no longer wanted.
I think it would be interesting to see what Pierce, Allen and Garnett felt about this. Although Ainge and the Celtics made it clear they do not consult nor care what their players want when they traded Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder.
Tags: Amare Stoudemire Basketball Boston Celtics Carmelo Anthony Chicago Bulls Chris Paul Danny Ainge Derrick Rose Finals John Wall Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett Lebron James Miami Heat NBA New Orleans Hornets New York Knicks OKC Thunder Oklahoma City Thunder Paul Pierce Pheonix Suns Playoffs Rajon Rondo Ray Allen Russell Westbrook Steve Nash Washington Wizards