Boston Celtics Won’t Give Up on Season After Rajon Rondo Trade

BOSTON – No player on the Boston Celtics roster has spent more time alongside Rajon Rondo than Avery Bradley. The former backcourt starting mates have played the last five seasons together in green, through both the highs of a playoff run and the lows of rebuilding.

After Boston’s 114-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, Bradley was understandably emotional about the team’s trade of Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

“Rondo’s someone I’ve been seeing every single day for the last four-and-a-half years,” Bradley said in his first public comments about the deal. “He’s like an older brother to me, but all I can do is wish all the best for him, tell him I’m going to miss him.”

That kind of reaction was common throughout the Celtics locker room Friday night when Rondo’s name came up. The entire roster respectfully paid tribute to its former captain who was shipped out alongside rookie Dwight Powell for Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and Jameer Nelson. Despite politely wishing their ex-teammate well in his new home, the tenor of the team seemed unaffected by the move.

Many outsiders believe that the Celtics are, in essence, giving up on their season by trading away Rondo, but no one in the Boston locker room was willing to acknowledge that this team is even taking a step back without the 28-year-old point guard.

“In the trade, we got three great players,” Kelly Olynyk said enthusiastically. “We got Brandan Wright, who is super-athletic and can do lots of things to change a game on both ends of the floor. Jameer Nelson, who is solid and can really shoot the ball. Jae Crowder is an energy guy that can make a difference. For us, I think it’s great. I love our team right now. The guys in here are working really hard and going in the right direction.”

“This team is going to prepare everyday to win the game,” Brad Stevens declared Friday night. “There is a group in there right now that I can tell is ready to compete. [Without Rondo,] there has to be some ownership taken and some verbal leadership taken over by some of our younger guys that may or may not be considered old enough to do that.

“That’s the situation we are in. The deal is, this is our team. This is how we are getting ready to win every single night. We are building every single night to be the best we can be. I’m excited about the guys in the locker room. Time will tell how we will do.”

Stevens’ positive outlook has carried over into the locker room as well, as the team prepares for a variety of new roles, both on and off the floor, without their captain.

“I wouldn’t say we are taking a step back, because we are in a good situation,” Bradley said after the game. “We have a lot of talent. The main thing is we know what we need to do in order to be successful.”

Just how can the Celtics remain in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt without Rondo manning the point guard? Evan Turner got the start on Friday night alongside Bradley, but the team appears ready to hand the job to rookie Marcus Smart when he shows he’s capable of staying on the floor.

The 21-year-old has looked promising in his time on the court this season, but he has been plagued by injuries that have forced him to miss significant action in the past couple of months. On Friday night Smart scored eight points in the fourth quarter in his return to the court from an Achilles injury, helping the Celtics pull away with the win over Minnesota.

For his part, Smart is embracing the challenge of additional responsibilities without Rondo in the fold.

“As a competitor, you are your own biggest critic, so I think every last one of us in here is going to step up and put a lot more pressure [on ourselves] than we used to. We just know that it’s going to be there,” Smart said.

Smart’s teammates are also showing confidence that he can fill Rondo’s void on the floor.

“He plays with confidence, but off the court, he knows he needs to learn,” Jared Sullinger said. “When he’s out there, you couldn’t tell if he’s a rookie or not with all the plays he is making. We just want him to play his best basketball as we move on during the season.”

One reality that will make things easier for Smart and Co. is that the team has amassed some experience playing without the four-time All-Star already this season. Rondo missed all of the preseason due to a broken left hand, which allowed for Smart, Turner and Phil Pressey to handle point duties for eight games in October.

“I really haven’t had to communicate anything different to any of those guys,” Stevens said of his guards’ duties.  

While Smart, Turner, Pressey and Nelson may be filling Rondo’s shoes on the floor, the team still needs to fill Rondo’s leadership presence in the locker room. Almost universally around the young squad, players acknowledged that it couldn’t just be one person that steps up.

“It’s a lead-by-committee thing,” Olynyk said. “We are a community. We are a team and everyone is going to hold everyone accountable. I think that’s the best way to build a team.”

Veteran Jeff Green concurred with Olynyk: “It’s a team effort, it’s a team game. Not one person can do it [alone], we have to do it as a team.”

In his role as the longest-tenured member of the Celtics, Bradley acknowledged he has to step up as well. 

“It’s kind of hard to replace someone who was a leader like that,” Bradley said. “I’m going to try to come in here and continue to lead by example. I’m going to try to talk even more and encourage my teammates to go out and play as hard as I can every single night for them.”

Despite their confidence, the Celtics will have a steep hill to climb to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference over the remainder of the season. For the time being, the Celtics are in the hunt. After Friday’s win, Boston is riding a three-game winning streak that has put them in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings with a 10-14 record. With the constant struggles of teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets in the bottom half of the East, Boston will have a chance to remain afloat. 

With that modest goal in mind, Stevens’ positivity and focus appears strong, and for at least one night, an overwhelming amount of optimism is present during the start of a post-Rondo era in Boston.

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Rajon Rondo after trade: My love for Celtics fans is ‘unmatched’

A reflective Rajon Rondo took to Twitter late Thursday night.
 
 
Rondo, who was traded to the Dallas Mavericks hours before, professed his love for the Boston Celtics organization and its fans through a series of tweets. The All-Star point guard spent the first eight-plus years of his career in Boston, winning an NBA championship in 2008.
Rondo now will join the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis with the hopes of bringing a title to Dallas. It’s clear he’ll never forget the time he spent in Boston, though, even if it involved both highs and lows.

My time in Boston has meant so much. I’ve grown up with this city both as a basketball player and person. The love I have for the most loyal
— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) December 19, 2014

And supportive fans in the league is unmatched. My teammates have shown nothing but heart the last couple of seasons.
— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) December 19, 2014

They are some of the hardest working guys I have played

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Rajon Rondo Unleashes 3 Passes You Never Saw Him Make with Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo may have just been dealt to the Dallas Mavericks, but Boston Celtics fans will have fond memories of the star point guard.

Rondo spent one of his final days in Boston showing off three passes he has yet to unveil in an NBA game.

Which is your favorite? Do you think he’ll try any of these with the Mavericks?

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Blueprint for Marcus Smart to Become Boston Celtics’ Next Great Point Guard

And just like that, the Boston Celtics have a new franchise point guard.

Or at least that’s the hope with Marcus Smart after ESPN.com reported that management shipped off Rajon Rondo in a trade to the Dallas Mavericks.

You’d like to imagine that when general manager Danny Ainge drafted Smart with the No. 6 pick in 2014, he did so knowing that Rondo likely wouldn’t be back, given his status as an impending free agent and the team’s current rebuilding efforts.

Unfortunately, Smart has already missed 12 games with an ankle injury and a couple more as of late with Achilles pain. Quite frankly, he didn’t have the greatest summer league or preseason, where he shot below 32 percent from the floor in both settings.

But the Oklahoma State product flashed a few can’t-miss qualities that fueled his strong NBA appeal, along with some weaknesses that would need to be ironed out over time.

At 220 pounds, Smart isn‘t your traditional point guard. He’s built more like a diesel NFL running back than a ball-handler.

He played mostly the 2 in high school, while he wore just about every possible hat for the Cowboys during two years in college.

Smart has terrific passing instincts, which is ultimately what drives his potential as a facilitator.

I wouldn’t put too much stock into Smart’s so-so 4.8 assists per game as a sophomore, given how much he was relied on to score.

In the limited action we’ve seen him in since being drafted, he’s been more than willing to put his teammates first. Smart isn‘t the most elusive off the dribble, but he sees the floor extremely well, while his ability to put pressure on the defense as a driver leads to kick-outs for shooters and drop-offs for finishers.

However, one of the areas in which Smart’s track record and projection are cloudy is executing pick-and-rolls.

According to Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress, only 21.2 percent of his possessions at Oklahoma State were used on pick-and-rolls, which ranked “well below average” among point guard prospects. He only knocked down 36 percent of his shots dribbling over those screens.

Of course, Smart’s teammates will need a proficient pick-and-roll setup man, but for his own sake, the pick-and-roll is arguably the most ideal playmaking opportunity for a point guard in the half court.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s an opportunity he’s going to have to learn how to capitalize on—Smart’s shot selection in terms of creativity is currently lacking.

Of Smart’s 60 shots in preseason, 44 of them were three-pointers. And that’s with shooting as arguably the biggest hole in his game. He hasn’t quite figured out yet just how to go about seeking quality scoring chances, and as a result, he’s been forced into taking too many low-percentage shots out of his range.

In 10 regular-season games, his shot selection has been a little better, but he’s still taken 37 threes to 20 two-pointers.

The sample size is tiny, but of the 19 shots he’s made so far, only three have been jumpers off the dribble outside 10 feet.

Ironically, Rondo might be one of the only point guards in history to successfully get away with not having a pull-up in the arsenal. But Smart isn‘t Rondo. This is a shot he’s going to need, whether it’s over ball screens out of pick-and-rolls or just as a weapon to use in space, given the heavy rim protection that exists at the NBA level.

Last year, Smart knocked down just 28.4 percent of his jumpers in the half court, per Kamalsky.

The good news is that he’s proven himself capable as a shooter. Smart has made 10 threes in 10 games so far, and he hit 49 total a year ago.

Though streaky, he’s got the ability to catch fire, as he recently did against the Washington Wizards on December 8, when he knocked down four triples, with three of them in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The next step is becoming more consistent, which these extra minutes and reps should ultimately help him achieve.

If there’s one thing we don’t have to worry about with Smart, it’s confidence. He touched on his shooting stroke earlier this summer when speaking with Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

I’m a good shooter. Even though the percentages say different, that’s because I took a lot of bad shots in college. I’m not worried about that. You can see that there’s nothing wrong with my shot mechanically. It’s all about staying balanced, and it’s repetition. I’ve worked every day on it. My shot isn’t falling . . . and my shot is going to fall.

At this point, Smart’s core strength revolves around his NBA-ready defense, and it’s probably going to carry him through the offensive growing pains early on. Smart is tenacious on the ball, where his length, strength and lateral quickness can overwhelm on the perimeter.

His defensive IQ shows up off the ball, where his hands are active in passing and driving lanes.

If there’s an NBA point guard out there for Smart to try and emulate, it might be the Toronto Raptors‘ Kyle Lowryanother physical bulldog in the backcourt whose floor game and jumper have both steadily improved.

Looking ahead, Smart should be locked into regular minutes for the Celtics, assuming coach Brad Stevens won’t waste too much time on newly acquired veteran Jameer Nelson.

Between Smart’s defensive presence and offensive feel for the game, you’d like to think he’ll more than hold his own once he builds some rhythm following his time on the injury shelf.

But this is about Smart’s long-term outlook as a potential franchise lead guard for the Celtics.

From a glass-half-full perspective, he excels in areas of the game you can’t teach, from his physical tools and vision to his killer instinct and energy, while he’s shown promise in other places where there’s plenty of room for growth.

He also couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than the one he has in Boston, where there’s an open path to the starting lineup and no real immediate expectations to win.

However, he’ll still have some major adjustments to make if he plans on convincing fans and management he’s the point guard to build with.

Either way, the Marcus Smart era has officially begun in Boston, and hopefully it’s one that will last as the franchise takes its next few steps in restoring its NBA credibility.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of NBA.com and RealGM.

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Rondo’s exit marks end of Celtics era

The greatest Celtics team since Bird saw its last member leave town on Thursday.

      
 

 

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Report: Celtics Trade Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks

The highly anticipated deal to send All-Star guard Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics to the Dallas Mavericks has reportedly been agreed to.
ESPN’s Marc Stein was the first to break down the specifics of the deal. 
Rondo, a four-time All-Star who is set to become a free agent this upcoming offseason, goes to a Mavericks team that is now firmly in contention for a conference title moving forward this year.
While Rondo is averaging just over 30 minutes (a career low) and less than nine points per game, he putting up 7.5 rebounds and 10.6 assists per outing. Those are some delicious numbers for a Mavericks squad that already boasts Monta Ellis in what promises to be one of the most electric backcourts in the Association.
Reportedly difficult to deal with at times, a change of scenery could do Rondo some good. It’s been said that he’s wanted out of Boston for some time. And now, going to a contender could be a recipe for success for the All-Star.
Rondo joins what has to be considered one of the best start

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Rajon Rondo trade shakes up both Mavericks, Celtics

Dallas makes big move to compete in West, while Celtics look to the future.

      
 

 

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Celtics trade Rondo to Mavericks (Yahoo Sports)

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 17: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the Orlando Magic during the game on December 17, 2014 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau /NBAE via Getty Images)

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics traded point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Thursday night, cutting ties with the last remnant of their last NBA championship while giving Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks a chance at another title.


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Jae Crowder to Celtics: Latest Trade Details, Scouting Report and Reaction

As part of Thursday’s blockbuster deal that sent All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, the Boston Celtics got a versatile forward in Jae Crowder as part of their return.   

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports provided the full details of the landmark trade:

Boston is in the midst of a rebuilding effort and evidently felt good enough about the assets it was getting in return to ship away such a transcendent talent as Rondo.

Although an expiring contract necessitated a Rondo trade so the Celtics wouldn’t come up empty in the event he walked this offseason, Crowder is an interesting new piece to the Boston equation.

Vice’s Jack Moore believes Crowder is a nice fit for Celtics coach Brad Stevens’ system:

Crowder is known most for his ability to defend multiple positions. He can guard anywhere from the 2 to the 4 depending on matchups, thanks to his length, athleticism and quickness. All indications are that Crowder has a great work ethic, evident in his significant weight drop from his rookie NBA campaign.

Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com reported in October what Crowder had to say regarding his still-developing game, which has to put Boston fans at a bit more ease after losing such a big-time player in Rondo:

I’m trying to make plays on the other end, not just be one-dimensional. I’m a much better player than just a defensive player, but I do bring a lot of defense to my team and that is what has gotten me on the court in my two years in the league. I’m just trying to grow my game and expand my game as much as possible.

That Crowder can also keep opponents honest as a decent and improving three-point shooter (34.2 percent this season) is an added bonus.

Any scoring Crowder can add is ideal, but he’s needed most in his area of expertise as he prepares to join the Celtics’ rotation. Although Stevens is finding ways to have his squad as the sixth-ranked scoring offense in the NBA entering Thursday’s games, Boston is 27th in scoring defense.

A major part of the reason the Celtics engage in so many shootouts is that they deploy the fastest pace in the Association, averaging 100.49 possessions per 48 minutes, per NBA.com.

Crowder’s skill set and strengths fit exceptionally well into what Stevens is trying to get Boston to do. The 24-year-old can be a great energy guy off the bench, play big minutes and continue developing into a better player.

Those are some of the overarching goals for players contributing to Stevens’ reconstruction of a revered NBA franchise. Thus, Crowder is a prototypical new-age Celtic from a schematic and chemistry standpoint.  

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Celtics co-owner: 2024 Olympics would be ‘boon for Beantown’

Bringing the 2024 Summer Olympics to Boston would be “transformative” and would “set the course for what we want our city and the commonwealth to look like for decades to come,” the co-chair of Boston’s 2024 finance committee writes.
 
Stephen Pagliuca, better known around Boston as co-owner and managing partner of the Celtics, wrote an article posted on BankerandTradesman.com outlining his financial argument for the city hosting the summer games. He sought to dispel logistical and economic concerns raised by opponents of Boston’s bid.
Pagliuca wrote that TV revenues have outgrown costs in recent years and that some host sites, such as Salt Lake City, ended with a charitable surplus — despite much of the infrastructure built for the 2002 Olympics now being shuttered.
To join the Boston 2024 governing board, Pagliuca added, members must make a non-negotiable pledge that “tax dollars will not be used to build venues or pay for the operation of the Games.”
Boston is one of four U.S. c

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