What Boston Celtics Need from James Young This Season

Head coach Brad Stevens’ second season with the Boston Celtics should feature plenty of question marks, and rookie swingman James Young might actually be the biggest.

Young, who ended up in green after falling to No. 17 in the 2014 NBA draft, is a high-upside swingman but is just 19 years old.

On top of that, Young missed the entire Orlando Summer League, so he’ll be heading into his rookie campaign with just the preseason under his belt.

In years past, this would not be that big of a deal. Under Doc Rivers, the Celtics rarely relied on rookies, preferring to let them develop slowly.

However, the mid-rebuild C’s are going to try a variety of lineups and will likely look to get Young and fellow first-year guard Marcus Smart immediate minutes in the rotation.

This means Young will be facing expectations right away. 

He may be raw, but if Young hits the ground running, he could potentially help Boston exceed expectations in what many anticipate to be another lost year.

Let’s take a look at what Stevens and the Celtics need out of the Kentucky sharpshooter and whether it’s possible he delivers.

 

Any Semblance of Outside Shooting

If there is one thing Boston absolutely needs from Young, it is three-point shooting. 

With Rajon Rondo, Evan Turner and Smart all set to see major minutes, the team’s outside shooting could be grizzly. 

Both Jeff Green and Avery Bradley can make open threes, but neither are volume shooters who should be jacking up five or six triples per game.

Young only shot 34.9 percent from three in college, which is troubling, but he’s a threat from anywhere beyond the arc.

He’s equally adept above the break as he is from the corners, which is key.

He can’t necessarily nail tough off-the-dribble shots, but as a rookie, he’ll be doing the vast majority of his work without the ball in his hands. 

Young has the potential to be a legitimate catch-and-shoot threat who can help create driving lanes for players like Bradley and Rondo.

Boston was tied for 27th in overall three-point percentage at 33.3, something that must improve.

The Celtics aren’t suddenly going to become the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors with Rondo and Turner throwing up bricks, but if this offense hopes to show any sign of life, it will need more perimeter shooting.

Even if the other aspects of Young’s game don’t come together in year one, his season will be a success if he can log 12-14 minutes and hit 35-plus percent of his threes.

 

A Positive Disposition

Let’s be realistic: Young could exceed all expectations, and the Celtics would still wind up losing a lot of games in 2014-15.

Going from the NCAA national championship game to the NBA lottery would be a rough adjustment for any player, especially a teenager like Young who has been a winner his entire career.

On another level, Young will have to go through the same trials and tribulations as any first-year player.

When asked if he would be comfortable going to the D-League to receive heavy minutes, Young told MassLive’s Tom Westerholm, “Definitely not.”

He elaborated, “If it happens, it happens. But I just want to stay here and get better like that.”

Wanting to stay around the Celtics makes sense, but his aversion to the D-League is troubling.

A raw athlete like Young, who needs to work on his strength, defense and playmaking, would be wise to log some time against lesser competition. 

As a 6’6″, 215-pound wing, Young would be eaten alive by some of the league’s bigger 2s and 3s.

Had Young actually been drafted by a playoff team, he likely would see very sporadic playing time and potentially an extended stay in the D-League.

Just because the Celtics could struggle this season doesn’t mean Young deserves to get starting or sixth-man minutes. 

Boston also simply has a logjam in the backcourt, and Young is near the bottom of the food chain.

According to ESPN’s depth chart, Young is the C’s third 2-guard behind Bradley and Marcus Thornton.

If that stays the same, he will likely be seeing sub-double-digit minutes for much of the season.

Obviously, a potential injury could bring Young to a more prominent role, but overall, he needs to stay patient during what could be a rocky rookie year.

 

Consistent Aggression

Even if Young winds up receiving consistent minutes from the beginning of the season, there is still serious potential for him to drift in and out of games.

That simply cannot happen.

While Young is commonly known as a sharpshooter, he is at his best when he’s attacking the basket.

As you can see by his shot chart (below), Young is roughly as effective shooting from mid-range and driving to the hole as he is gunning from distance. 

Obviously, it will be harder for him to get into the paint against NBA defenders, particularly with his scrawny frame, but he needs to attack as much as possible.

Young only got to the line 4.4 times per game at Kentucky, a number he must improve on if he hopes to become a starting-caliber player in the league.

Boston already has players, like Green and Bradley, who have a tendency to settle for tough, long two-point jumpers instead of driving to the hole, a habit Young cannot get into early on.

If he runs the floor hard alongside Rondo, he should find himself with some easy looks, and while he’s not an elite dribbler, he has a decent enough handle to create some of his own offense.

If Young truly wants to avoid a prolonged trip to the D-League, he must be aggressive on offense at all times even if it hurts his field-goal percentage and leads to some questionable decisions.

Boston was 26th in the league in points per game last season (96.2) for a reason, and the biggest thing Young can do to fix that is to just to look for his shots when available.

The Celtics lack a clear first option offensively, and while Young won’t take on that role, he could alleviate some of the pressure faced by Green, Rondo and Jared Sullinger

 

Overall

Young is not going to be the Rookie of the Year or anything close to it, but he’s far from an afterthought.

The Celtics are talent-strapped enough that every player has the potential to play a major role, and Young’s upside makes him highly intriguing.

His skills, in theory, could help Boston’s woeful scoring issues, but only if he can make the most of his limited action and be prepared for trips to the D-League to see some extra burn.

Figure Young plays in roughly 55 games and averages something along the lines of 6.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 17 minutes per night.

In the end, Young will have a turbulent first season but will show enough promise that he becomes a key cog of Boston’s rebuild.

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Rajon Rondo Says He Wants to Remain with Boston Celtics Long-Term

Rajon Rondo knows what he wants. 

Now it’s up to the Boston Celtics to figure out what they want.

Speaking with reporters at the Celtics’ media day on Monday, the All-Star point guard declared his loyalty to the city of Boston, per The Boston Globe‘s Baxter Holmes: 

Rumors have swirled about in recent months and weeks, which makes Rondo’s sound bite all the more valuable.

This comes straight from the floor general’s mouth. No gimmicks, no anonymous sources, no lines to read between. Just Rondo, talking about his unequivocal desire to remain in Boston, absolving himself from forthcoming chatter that might portray him as unhappy, shifting the burden of decision-making onto the Celtics.

There’s no telling what Rondo’s future holds. But if he wants to stay, it’s now on the Celtics to sever ties or keep them intact. And if it’s the latter they prefer, well, it’s going to cost them:

Nothing like convoluting an already complicated situation.

The market for point guards can only be described as weird. Expensive contracts aren’t handed out as readily because there are so many talented floor generals (see Kyle Lowry and Isaiah Thomas). At the same time, they are not unheard of (see Eric Bledsoe). 

Everything comes down to how much the Celtics value Rondo internally, which is a conundrum in itself.

Putting an exact price on his head is impossible at this point. He appeared in just 30 games last season after recovering from an ACL injury, and his recurrent bouts with health haven’t yet ended, per Holmes:

Amid trade rumors, injuries and towering contract demands, how are the Celtics supposed to render any kind of verdict on Rondo’s future?

As Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal detailed when discussing Rondo’s broken hand, they aren’t: 

As of now, ‘tenuous’ is still the word of choice when describing Rondo’s status with the Celtics. The trade rumors are going to pop up incessantly now, but there’s still too much uncertainty swirling around the organization for anything to become even remotely definitive.

Until a certain rookie point guard (Marcus Smart) shows what he can do during his first go-round in the Association, the smart decision for every party involved is to hold tight, remain patient and see what develops.

The status quo won’t change until the Celtics get a better feel for the player Rondo is when he returns. The only thing in store for now is lots and lots of waiting commingled with some rumor-mill surfing. 

For what it’s worth, the Celtics haven’t ruled anything out. Not even, it seems, offering Rondo a max deal, according to the MetroWest Daily News‘ Scott Souza:

“Fair” doesn’t imply one direction. It’s an admission that Rondo isn’t being ridiculous. Beyond that, there’s nothing more to do or see here.

Resolution will be reached in due time. Until then, we wait.

 

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Rajon Rondo Trade Will Be More Difficult Now Than Ever for Boston Celtics

The rocky road ahead for the Boston Celtics and franchise face Rajon Rondo just grew even more treacherous.

Trading the mercurial floor general  was never going to be easy. Not with his troubling track record that includes run-ins with coaches and teammates, a torn ACL that plagued his production last season and stats that might not be as strong as they seem.

But moving the obstreperous point guard has never been as difficult as it is now that he’ll be sidelined for the next six-to-eight weeks with a broken left finger. He was still working to repair his reputation after last year’s disappointing showing, and now he’ll have to do so without the benefit of training camp, the preseason and possibly as much as the first month of the 2014-15 campaign.

Considering the package the Celtics would need to receive in return for a trade to pay off on their end, Rondo’s trade value is a long way from where it has to be. This latest setback could drag it down even further, as it might be a while before he starts rubbing elbows with the NBA elites again—assuming he even gets back to that level.

While the time frame is an estimate, CelticsBlog’s Kevin O’Connor found that the five players who underwent surgery to address a metacarpal bone injury in recent seasons missed an average of 41.6 days. Of those five—Carlos Boozer, Kevin Love, Hedo Turkoglu, Patrick Beverley and Manu Ginobili—two of them (Love and Turkoglu) reinjured their hands after their initial return.

Love was plagued by the injury throughout the 2012-13 season, shooting just 35.2 percent from the field in his 18 games, though he did suffer two separate fractures during that year. Ginobili lost a little over a month the previous season to his injury, but he showed no lingering effects and compiled a .513/.384/.859 shooting slash after his return.

Rondo went under the knife last Friday. A six-week absence would cost him four regular-season games. An additional two weeks out of action would keep him out of another six contests.

In the context of an 82-game campaign, this might seem like minimal damage. But with so much riding on this season for both Rondo and the Celtics, this has the potential to become a crushing blow.

“The beginning of the season is the worst time to sit out, especially when it involves losing out on those crucial team-building opportunities that come just prior to the first game’s opening tipoff,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal.

For Rondo, this won’t be as simple as getting back on a bicycle after a lengthy layoff.

There are new players around him, including his potential replacement in lottery pick Marcus Smart. Rondo will miss out on head coach Brad Stevens’ training camp for the second consecutive year, and that could prove problematic as Rondo said Stevens has a new system to put in place, per Scott Souza of the MetroWest Daily News:

There is no way to get that developmental time back.

He can keep himself in shape, but none of his workouts can replicate NBA game speed. He will have to attempt to hit the ground running with and against players who could have as much as an entire month of regular-season contests under their belts.

That transition won’t likely be a smooth one. He had 30 outings to find his form in 2013-14 and never did seem particularly comfortable. He shot 40.1 percent from the field in his first 15 games back and 40.4 percent in his last 15.

The Celtics can’t afford to have him stumble out of the gate this time around. While they technically have until next summer to decide his future, February’s trade deadline looms large as Boston’s last possible chance to bring back something in return for its franchise face.

That is when the Celtics must really make their call, assuming that bridge hasn’t already been crossed, of course. There has been some speculation over whether Rondo or the Celtics have left the door open to a potential long-term relationship.

Publicly, both have stressed it’s still an option.

“We expect Rajon to be in Boston for the long term,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said, via Comcast SportsNet. “Does that need to be asked anymore by anybody every again?”

Consider that latter portion wishful thinking on the executive’s part. Those questions will persist until something official comes across the transactions log, be that a blockbuster trade or a significant contract extension.

At Celtics media day on Monday, Rondo expressed his desire to stick with the team going forward, per ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg:

It’s all very definitive—except, it isn’t that at all.

Consider the current situation.

Boston is Rondo’s current home. Until he officially has a new one lined up, there is no incentive for him to start distancing himself from the city.

Unless, of course, he can do so behind closed doors. According to ESPN Boston’s Jackie MacMullan, Rondo has already started putting his exit in motion.

“He’s told them he wants out,” MacMullan said during a behind-the-scenes portion of ESPN’s Around The Horn, via CBS Sports’ James Herbert. “And no one believes me, but that’s the truth.”

If that’s the case, the Celtics have reasons to quietly shop Rondo. But they need to prize him publicly until something takes place, or they risk seeing his value plummet to the point that any trade is no longer worth their while.

If something did crop up that would bring in a young potential superstar, the Celtics would have to reconsider their stance against dealing Rondo—but with Rondo posting only so-so-numbers as he completed his rehab last year, his value is relatively low just now,” wrote Sporting News’ Sean Deveney.

That’s what makes Rondo’s latest injury so deflating. He needed this season to help him cash in on the free-agent market next summer. The Celtics had to have a strong year from him to either feel good about keeping him for the long haul or, more likely, furthering their rebuilding plan by getting a collection of future assets in return.

Ideally, Rondo would have proved himself last season, and the Celtics could have flipped him over the summer to avoid a year-long media frenzy.

That obviously never happened, and now there are some serious concerns over whether it ever will. If it takes some time for Rondo to find his groove, the Celtics could have a hard time moving him even if that is their desired outcome.

“Teams want to see him perform before putting much into a trade offer,” noted NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin. “Now they are going to wait longer and be watching two injuries.”

It’s almost impossible to find a silver lining in this injury.

If one does exist, it’s probably the added exposure Smart should receive in Rondo’s absence. Even then, it’s hard to say what the best-case scenario would be.

Say Smart explodes out of the gate and creates some offensive harmony with his teammates. Then, what happens when Rondo comes back? Would Smart’s development be stunted in order to help Rondo’s trade market? Or would the four-time All-Star be trapped behind the rookie, watching his potential free-agency earnings diminish in a reduced role on a team that could struggle to win 30 games?

Or what if Smart cannot rise to the occasion and looks incapable of ever effectively replacing Rondo? Would that motivate the Celtics to keep a 28-year-old whose best days may be finished before the team’s even start?

Ainge already told reporters at media day he knows it’s going to cost whichever team winds up paying the point guard, via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:

The Celtics don’t need a max contract on their books. Not one who clearly needs to find his way to a win-now roster, at least.

It’s hard to say if Rondo can perform at a level high enough to warrant that type of financial commitment. No matter what type of offers get put in front of him, though, he seems eager to explore all of his options in free agency.

“It’s kind of like college all over again, with recruiting,” he told Washburn. ”Only times 50 because they have a ton of money to throw at the guys and they don’t have any restrictions on what they can do.”

If the trade deadline passes without any movement on the Rondo front, the Celtics will have completely lost control of this situation. Even if there is mutual interest of keeping the relationship alive, it might not be enough to keep him from being overwhelmed by another suitor.

There are risks involved with either outcome, and Rondo’s injury only further complicates the matter. That’s a potentially major issue, even if the injury itself feels like a relatively minor one.

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Celtics Waive Malcolm Thomas and John Lucas III, Sixers Grab Chris Johnson

In a continuation of the Keith Bogans trade, the Boston Celtics waived Malcolm Thomas and John Lucas III, as expected and Chris Johnson found a new home, also as expected. 

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Celtics’ Rondo breaks hand in fall at home

Rajon Rondo missed 92 games the past two seasons. Marcus Smart now could start.

      
 

 

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Complete Boston Celtics 2014-15 Training Camp Preview

Coming off a season that featured the third-lowest win total in franchise history, the Boston Celtics will head into their 2014-15 training camp licking large, open wounds. 

The Celtics tried hard to turn things around overnight, but a relatively quiet summer yielded no additional superstar firepower. So instead, it’s looking like their fate is the lottery…again.

But even though a championship feels light-years away, things probably won’t be as dire as last season. The team has several fresh faces and a healthy Rajon Rondo, plus the infusion of some serious young talent. 

Here’s a breakdown of each position and every player who’s expected to make Boston’s final roster. They’re ranked by how Brad Stevens should arrange his depth chart, even though things in real life will be much more fluid as the season goes along.

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Fact or Fiction: Making Sense of the Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo Dilemma

Rajon Rondo is once again in the headlines as speculation over his future with the Boston Celtics continues to ramp up in anticipation of the NBA season. How much stock should we put into some of the latest chatter surrounding the enigmatic point guard?

Howard Beck and Ric Bucher try to make sense of the noise when they join Adam Lefkoe for a game of “Fact or Fiction” in the video above.

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How Does Rajon Rondo’s Injury Affect His Already Shaky Standing with Celtics?

As if Rajon Rondo‘s standing with the Boston Celtics wasn’t already complicated enough. 

While many teams throughout the league were participating in media day, news broke that the All-Star point guard had injured his hand, as first reported by Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe

Well, this wasn’t supposed to happen. 

Rondo’s health was already a major concern, seeing as he spent the second half of the 2013-14 season trying to play himself back into shape following his rehab from the torn ACL he suffered during the previous campaign. In 30 games, he averaged 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 9.8 assists per contest, but he shot only 40.3 percent from the field and 28.9 percent percent from beyond the arc. 

The rebuilding Celtics didn’t exactly commit to him in the offseason, either. 

Not only did general manager Danny Ainge re-sign Avery Bradley to a surprisingly large deal, ensuring that the defensive ace would remain in Beantown for a while longer, but the C’s used their first-round selection in a loaded draft on Marcus Smart, a point guard from Oklahoma State. 

All of a sudden, the backcourt was rather crowded, and that became all the impetus that was needed for Rondo to find himself back in the rumor mill. Now that he’s injured heading into the season, it just furthers that while giving Smart an opportunity to prove his value and simultaneously decrease Rondo’s. 

The whisperings about a trade began when Boston writer Jackie MacMullan said on ESPN’s Around the Horn (h/t James Herbert of CBS Sports), “He’s told them [the Celtics] he wants out. And no one believes me, but that’s the truth.”

That report was rebuffed by some, but it was tacitly supported by others, including CSNNE.com’s A Sherrod Blakely, who explained that a trade could come to fruition down the road: Multiple league and team sources agree the most likely scenario has Rondo beginning the season in Boston. Then, depending on how the team does, both sides will mutually agree to either ride it out or part ways sooner rather than later.”

And how about what was directly said by the Boston front office? 

First, Ainge, speaking with reporters, as relayed by Telegram.com’s Bill Doyle, indicated that he intended to keep Rondo, but he also wouldn’t rule out any alternatives:

The truthful answer is I really don’t know. I have no intention. I’m not trying to trade Rondo, but because he’s a free agent this summer, he assured me that he wants to stay in Boston. We’d love to keep him in Boston.

[...]

The possibility of a trade is not out of the question. Nobody is untradeable, but I don’t see that happening.

And Boston owner Wyc Grousbeck, courtesy of CSNNE.com

Absolutely it’s my goal to keep Rondo here. We all want that, and I actually honestly think—he should speak for himself—I think Rajon wants to stay and would be very happy to stay. We’ll see how the season goes and how the negotiations go, but he’s proud to be a Celtic, I know that, and he’s proud to win that ring, and he deserved it.

Maybe I’m reading too far between the lines, but doesn’t a goal to keep someone in a certain location imply there’s a chance he leaves? And not just any chance, but a greater-than-you-would-find-with-the-typical-player type of chance. 

Additionally, we’ve had speculative pieces about why Boston should move him, like this one from Boston.com’s Jeremy Gottlieb. Marc Stein of ESPN.com has already speculated that the Houston Rockets, who are starting Patrick Beverley at the point, could attempt to acquire the All-Star floor general. 

Most recently—at least most recently prior to the breaking news, injury-related pun intended—Ainge vehemently denied that the Celtics were actively looking to move Rondo, per MassLive.com’s Jay King:

Trade rumors forever shadow Rajon Rondo, and an expiring contract has only added to the speculation about his future.

But at least publicly, Boston Celtics decision-makers continue to agree: They want Rondo around beyond his current contract.

‘Are you seriously asking me that again?’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Tuesday morning before a Shamrock Foundation charity golf tournament at Dedham Country and Polo Club. ‘Yeah, we expect Rajon to be in Boston for the long term. Does that need to be asked anymore by anybody ever again?’

‘I expect the best year of his career,’ Ainge added. ‘He’s worked really hard this summer and I think Rondo’s going to have the best year of his life. That’s what I expect.’

It does have to be asked again, largely because Rondo is no longer going to enjoy the best year of his career. Not with a surgically repaired hand that needed to be rested throughout training camp, causing him to miss preseason and forcing him to the sidelines for the start of the regular season. 

As Holmes reported, Rondo is now expected to miss between six and eight weeks with that left metacarpal fracture. Six weeks from the initial news puts us at Nov. 7. Eight weeks pushes us all the way back to Nov. 21. 

If the former is the case, Rondo would return against the Indiana Pacers‘ suffocating defense, which leaves him missing the first four games of the regular season. The more conservative estimate has him playing his first game against the Memphis Grizzlies, once more boasting a devastating defense. In that scenario, he’d be sitting out for the first 10 contests of the year. 

Either way, that’s not a lot. At least, it wouldn’t be if these missed outings were scattered throughout the campaign or coming in a block during the middle of the year. But the beginning of the season is the worst time to sit out, especially when it involves losing out on those crucial team-building opportunities that come just prior to the season’s opening tip-off. 

There are plenty of new faces in Boston, as well as young ones with whom Rondo’s previous injuries have prevented him from establishing chemistry. He’s still such a good facilitator that he’s able to rack up the dimes, nonetheless, but it was abundantly clear last season that the Celtics offense wasn’t operating at 100 percent, even with him on the floor. 

The key behind all of this is Rondo’s contract, which has already made his future in Beantown tenuous at best.

It expires at the end of this year, and there will be little reason for a then-29-year-old point guard to return to a rebuilding organization with a promising prospect at the same position. Loyalty would be the biggest motivating factor, but that didn’t keep Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen in town after they hit the open market during the post-ring portion of their careers. Yes, Pierce and Garnett were technically traded, but it’s not as though they didn’t want to leave.  

And that’s why Boston has to look into moving him now. If the team was passively answering the phone and hoping for a convincing offer while maintaining that the long-term plans involved keeping Rondo on the roster, it’s now time to actively seek out trading partners and deal him while he still has the most value. 

Even with an injury, Rondo is an appealing product, simply because he’s an established commodity. The increasingly fragile nature of his frame is a concern, but what he can do when healthy is just too tempting. He can recover, then help out a new team down the stretch run, playing himself back into shape on a stronger roster. 

Of course, Smart’s play is likely going to determine the course of action the Celtics take. With Rondo sitting on the bench, the former Cowboy should take on the starter’s role, as John Lucas and Phil Pressey don’t offer nearly as much upside. Bradley, meanwhile, isn’t suited for running the point.

If Smart struggles immensely, proving that the NCAA-to-NBA transition is a tough one for him, Rondo has a lot more value to the Celtics. He can serve as a mentor to Smart while keeping the seat warm for his younger teammate. But if Smart comes out of the gates strong, much like Michael Carter-Williams did last season en route to Rookie of the Year honors, then Rondo becomes exponentially more expendable during the rebuilding process. 

As of now, “tenuous” is still the word of choice when describing Rondo’s status with the Celtics. The trade rumors are going to pop up incessantly now, but there’s still too much uncertainty swirling around the organization for anything to become even remotely definitive. 

Until a certain rookie point guard shows what he can do during his first go-round in the Association, the smart decision for every party involved is to hold tight, remain patient and see what develops. All this injury to Rondo does is give Smart an opportunity to reveal whether the best course of action is sooner rather than later. 

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Cavaliers acquire Bogans from Celtics

Cavaliers acquire guard Keith Bogans from Celtics

      
 

 

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Report: Celtics’ Rajon Rondo suffers broken hand

Rajon Rondo might not be on the court when the Boston Celtics begin training camp Tuesday, but not because he’s been traded. The point guard underwent surgery Friday to repair a broken hand, sources told The Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes. His “return timetable is unclear,” per Holmes. This obviously is a huge loss for the Celtics, as Rondo was expected to enter the season at full strength for the first time since 2012. Rondo played in just 30 games last season after returning from an ACL injury and saw limited minutes down the stretch. The reported injury also likely will affect Rondo’s trade stock. Many predict Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will deal the 28-year-old at some point during the season as part of the team’s ongoing rebuild. Boston was set to enter camp with a deep contingent of backcourt players, but losing Rondo for any significant length of time would mean greater responsibility for some of the team’s younger guards — most notably, top draft pi…

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