Rajon Rondo, Celtics Playing Nice for Now, but Divorce May Be Inevitable

Is Rajon Rondo soon to be on the move…or isn’t he?   

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has repeatedly dismissed trade rumors involving Rondo. Yet practically every NBA executive outside of Boston I’ve spoken to says Ainge has made Rondo available to them. Rondo, meanwhile, has repeatedly said how much he treasures being a Celtic, but he’s never hid the fact that if the franchise doesn’t want him he’d be OK going elsewhere.

Can all these things be true?   

Strangely enough, yes, and the reason is fairly simple: Ainge and Rondo, whose only predictable characteristics are their unpredictability. Ainge is a quirky combination of Celtic Pride traditionalist and restless spitballer. Rondo can be equally confounding, giving his all to lead his team in turbulent times and yet going AWOL, physically or emotionally, at other times.

“We love Rondo and Rondo loves us,” Ainge told the Boston Herald last spring. 

While that may be accurate, it still begs the question: Are they made for each other or are they simply not ready to break up?

If nothing else, this should be the season they pull the trigger or the rip cord.

Rondo is in the last year of a five-year, $55 million deal. He will turn 29 this season, which means his next contract should be his last of any significance. If the Celtics are going to build around him, it’s now time to commit to that; if not, it’s time to move him.

“There’s no one who is a bigger fan of Rondo than Danny Ainge,” says one of Rondo’s former Celtics teammates. “What better guy to build around? But it’s more about the timing of the situation. He really doesn’t fit in with Brad Stevens’ approach—everyone touches the ball, everyone’s equal. Rondo is like Chris Paul or Steve Nash, he can’t play off the ball. And coming into a contract year, he wants to be in a million pick-and-rolls to prove he’s worth a max contract.”

Ainge, as is his way, defied the notion that the college and pro games have veered too far apart for a coach from the former to succeed in the latter, plucking Stevens from Butler University and going all-in by signing him to a six-year, $22 million deal at a time when more proven coaches were lucky to sign for half that.

Ainge had to know how challenging the relationship between Stevens and Rondo would be. Aside from importing his egalitarian philosophy with the Bulldogs, there’s no way Stevens could learn on the fly and satisfy Rondo’s exacting nature at the same time. Rondo not only wants to know the thought process behind every drill, offensive set or defensive scheme, it had better make sense to him. Consistent, unerring sense.

“He will remember exactly what you told him on Oct. 10,” the former teammate says, “and if you tell him something different in February, he will say, ‘That’s not what you told me in October.’ If you don’t know your stuff, you’re done.”

That is no secret within the league’s coaching ranks, which is why, despite Rondo having all the tools of a point guard worth building around – great handles, a pass-first mentality, exceptional court vision and the wingspan and agility to defend either guard positionopposing teams have been reluctant to give Ainge the promising young prospect and/or high first-round pick to build around instead. The thinking seems to be that if a first-rate communicator such as former Celtics coach Doc Rivers and a disciplined veteran such as Ray Allen found Rondo aggravating at timesand they both didit’s almost a certainty they’ll have trouble with him.

There’s also a lingering question of exactly how good Rondo is without Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the three Hall of Fame-caliber teammates he collaborated with to win the 2008 title. Last year was his first without them and a torn knee ligament limited him to 30 games. Just how much the knee injury took from him remains a concern as well, seeing as the Celtics were 6-24 in the games he played, a .200 winning percentage, vs. 19-33 (.365) without him.

One Eastern Conference GM listed Ainge’s demands, Rondo’s health post-ACL tear and questions about his temperament and coachability as the offsets to teams who would love to acquire a pass-first point guard with Rondo’s defensive abilities and the mental toughness to run point for a championship-caliber squad.

“If you polled the league, my guess is two-thirds of the GMs would say they’d love to have Rondo and one-third would say, ‘I’m not so sure,’” one Eastern Conference GM said. “Then it comes down to, ‘But at what cost’ and it finally reverts to, ‘What is perception vs. reality’ when it comes to his personality’ and ‘How is he going to behave not surrounded by three Hall of Famers’? If your coach isn’t sure he wants to deal with him, that might be enough to convince you he’s not worth it.”

There is a belief around the league that had the Celtics been able to move up from sixth to third in the draft and land Kansas center Joel Embiid, Ainge would’ve been ready to commit to Rondo as the yin to Embiid’s yang. That didn’t happen, of course, so now Rondo simply remains more valuable to the Celtics than what the market will bear for him.

Add it all togetherthe hiring of Stevens, the exploration of Rondo’s value, the overall youth of the Boston rosterand it seems pretty clear Ainge has positioned himself to move Rondo for the right price; he simply hasn’t come anywhere close to getting it.

Rondo, conversely, would be far better served at his age to join a team where his postseason experience and distribution skills would have far more value.

Hence, the trade rumors that neither completely go away nor reach fruition. They won’t, either, until Ainge or Rondo acknowledge that while they might love each other, they’re not exactly soulmates. Shared traits aren’t always a sign of compatibility. Sometimes they’re simply a sign that both parties are equally capable of driving the other crazy.

 

Ric Bucher covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

 

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Divorce for Carmelo, Knicks May Be Painful, but It May Also Be Smart for Both

What does Carmelo Anthony want? Is it money? Is it fame? Is it the warm glow of the Broadway spotlight?   

What does Carmelo Anthony need to consider his career a success? Another scoring title? A trip to the NBA Finals? A championship?

Does his role matter? His shots per game? His scoring average? Must he dominate the ball to be happy?

How would Carmelo Anthony like to be remembered? As an elite scorer? A gunner? A great teammate? A winner?

Does his legacy matter?

All of these questions matter–now, more than ever–as Anthony contemplates the next, and perhaps final, significant move of his NBA career.

As expected, Anthony is opting out of his contract with the New York Knicks, making him an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He officially informed the Knicks of his decision in writing on Friday, according to league sources.

This will be Anthony’s first experience in free agency–and most likely his last as an elite player. He turned 30 last month. His next contract will likely cover four to five years. If ever there were a time for Anthony to reflect and reassess, to consider the totality of his career and what he wants from it, it is now.

If the money matters most, the decision is simple: The Knicks, by rule, can offer Anthony the most dollars ($129 million) over the most years (five). Rivals can offer no more than $96 million over four years. And the Knicks’ chief rivals for Anthony–Chicago and Houston–probably cannot even offer that much, because of salary-cap constraints.

Even if the Knicks ask Anthony to take a pay cut (and they absolutely will), he will still probably make more in New York, by virtue of the higher raises and the extra year the Knicks can include in the deal.

But if winning matters most, then Anthony is almost certain to leave. In fact, if winning is his highest priority, Anthony absolutely should leave. It’s the best option for all parties, the Knicks included.

Anthony could join Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago and contend for the Eastern Conference title immediately.

He could join James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston, forging the most powerful trio in the West.

Or he could stay in New York with J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Andrea Bargnani.

Yes, the Broadway lights are alluring, but in this case they’re more like a bug zapper, frying any living thing that wanders in.

Putting aside the money and the New York glitz, why would Anthony want to stay? Given the results to date, why would the Knicks want him to?

The Knicks have gone nowhere with Anthony dominating the offense and the payroll for the last three-plus seasons–unless you consider two first-round exits, one second-round exit and a 37-win season a success.

Even with Anthony posting one of his finest seasons in 2013-14, the Knicks finished ninth in a horrendous Eastern Conference. And their prospects for next season are dim. The Knicks have no salary-cap room, no first-round draft pick and a roster packed with overpriced and/or unwanted players.

Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, the new team president and head coach, respectively, are savvy enough to turn this around. But it won’t happen until at least July 2015, when Jackson will have the cap room to make wholesale changes. By then, of course, Anthony will be 31, another year lost to the Knicks’ perpetual dysfunction.

If his legacy truly matters, how many more seasons can Anthony afford to sacrifice?

Sacrificing money, on the other hand, is something Anthony surely can afford. He’s earned $136 million in his NBA career, and millions more in endorsements. Trading dollars for glory seems like a smart move at this juncture.

With a little cap maneuvering, the Rockets can offer Anthony a starting salary around $19 million, about $3.5 million less than his maximum. The Bulls can open up about $17 million, possibly more, depending on how many rotation players they’re willing to unload.

And really, Anthony might not be sacrificing much if he leaves. Jackson has said he wants Anthony to take a pay cut to stay, so he won’t be making the max in New York, either. For the Knicks to gain any significant flexibility, that pay cut has to be at least a few million per year.

This is, by the way, the only sane position for Jackson to take. If the Knicks are ever going to contend, they cannot afford to devote 35 percent of the salary cap to a single-minded scorer who doesn’t play defense, doesn’t elevate his teammates and will soon be moving out of his prime years.

Granting Anthony the max would strangle the Knicks’ payroll for five years, limiting their ability to sign a bigger, better star (or two). The investment would only get worse over time, with Anthony making nearly $30 million at age 35.

Anthony likely won’t age well. He has already logged 31,417 minutes over 11 seasons, and he has never been known for stellar work habits or his conditioning. He hasn’t played a full 82-game season since his rookie year. He missed 11 games in 2011-12, 15 games in 2012-13 and five games last season.

If the Knicks are faced with paying Anthony the max or losing him, the decision is clear: They should let him walk.

But if Anthony will accept a meaningful pay cut, the Knicks should keep him. For all of his flaws, Anthony is still an elite scorer, and he’d surely become a more selfless player under Jackson and Fisher’s tutelage. (Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant both became better team players in the triangle offense.)

It’s generally easier to recruit star players if you already have one on board, so Anthony has some incidental value. He also loves New York and handles the spotlight well, and those things count for something, too.

So, what does Anthony truly want? What does he value? In 2011, it was clearly the money and the fame.

Anthony forced the Denver Nuggets to trade him to New York–a deal that cost the Knicks all of their best assets–rather than wait for free agency. Why? Because Anthony wanted to lock in a $65 million extension that he worried would be reduced under a new labor deal.

The trade hamstrung the Knicks’ ability to surround Anthony with decent talent, as Anthony himself admitted last December, saying, “I knew we took a step backwards as an organization for me to get here. So we had to rebuild.”

The Knicks are still paying for that ill-conceived trade. Their draft pick this year, 12th overall, now belongs to the Orlando Magic, who obtained it from Denver.

The Knicks-Anthony partnership never blossomed the way they all hoped back in 2011, when Knicks owner James L. Dolan hijacked negotiations and forced his front office to make the deal. Since then, the Knicks have posted a ho-hum .546 winning percentage, with a series of forgettable postseasons.

No one should be satisfied with the results, and no one could be blamed if they decided to part ways now.

It’s time for Anthony to prioritize legacy over riches. His playoff record is dismal. He has been to the conference finals just once, in 2009. If he retired now, he would be remembered as great scorer, nothing more.

He will soon have brighter options on the table –in Chicago and Houston, perhaps in Dallas and Los Angeles. He should pursue those options.

And the Knicks should let him.

Howard Beck covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @HowardBeck.

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Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian Reportedly File for Divorce

Former Los Angeles Clippers forward Lamar Odom‘s year just got more tumultuous.

According to ESPN, the 14-year NBA veteran and Khloe Kardashian, his wife of four years, have reportedly filed for divorce:

After months of speculation, Khloe Kardashian is ending her four-year marriage to former NBA player Lamar Odom.

The reality TV star filed for divorce Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. She also wants her last name restored to Kardashian from Kardashian Odom.

The filing comes after Odom pleaded no contest Monday to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge.

The 34-year-old athlete was arrested in August after his Mercedes-Benz SUV was seen weaving on a Los Angeles freeway.

There were rumors of the couple’s potential breakup in late 2012. In September 2013, Odom’s reported drug habits surfaced, and things began to deteriorate further. 

Days after Odom was arrested on suspicion of DUI, TMZ reported that Kardashian had kicked him out of the house and vowed not to bring him back until he completed rehab. A week later, Odom checked himself out of rehab just a day after checking in, according to People.com

report from NESN also stated that Odom spent more than $50,000 on cocaine over the past three years. In late November, he was filmed performing a freestyle rap, in which the lyrics appeared to claim that he cheats on Kardashian, via TMZ.

His legal problems continued on Dec. 9, when he pleaded “no contest” to one count of driving under the influence. He was sentenced to three years probation, according to CBS Los Angeles.

After one of the least productive seasons of his career with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011-12, Odom enjoyed a bounce-back of sorts, establishing himself as a solid defender and rebounder with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012-13. 

In 82 games, he averaged 10.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes, all marks that were close to the best of his career. 

He remains unsigned this season, and his recent guilty plea for a DUI certainly won’t help. After adding divorce onto his long list of problems, one can only hope that Odom is able to get whatever help he needs moving forward. 

 

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Khloe Kardashian expected to file for divorce from Lamar Odom Friday

This has been discussed since June of this year, but it looks as if it’s finally going to happen. Khloe Kardashian is expected to file for divorce from Lamar Odom today. The couple married in September of 2009 after only knowing each other a month. Things seemed to turn south two years ago following LO’s trade from the Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks. Lamar is alleged to have gotten heavily involved into drugs and multiple incidents of infidelity. Per TMZ, Khloe will be citing irreconcilable differences in her legal docs. The split should be pretty cut and dry — an ironclad prenup which kept all their assets separate … and no kids. Bye Lam Lam

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Khloe Kardashian reportedly ‘anxious’ to divorce Lamar Odom

Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom have reportedly been living separate from one another for quite some time. A divorce almost seems inevitable at this point, which had led many to wonder what the hold up is. Would it be messy? According to a recent report from TMZ, a split between Khloe and Lamar would be […]

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Eva Longoria still supporting Spurs despite divorce from Tony Parker

Eva Longoria is still supporting the San Antonio Spurs despite her highly-publicized divorce from the team’s star point guard, Tony Parker. After the Spurs beat the Miami Heat 99-88 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, the actress tweeted her support for the team and predicted they would win the series in five [...]

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Tim Duncan’s Divorce Possibly Involves Sordid Affair

The news of San Antonio Spurs superstar Tim Duncan’s divorce surprised many when it broke recently. As a few details start to emerge there are bound to be even more surprises–like the fact that Tim Duncan felt the need to hire a private investigator!

According to a report in the San Antonio Express Tim has had doubts for some time. About a year ago he hired a private investigator to tail her and see what she was up to. Typically its the other way around with wives hiring PI’s to tail there professional athlete husbands who can’t do without a little love and affection on the road!

Tim Duncan is known for being a pretty stand up guy so it would have been pretty shocking had it been him that was fooling around. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the whole mess is that she moved out of the family home weeks ago.

And this is the first we’re hearing about this?

Come on tabloids! Where are you guys at? Yeah, Tim Duncan may not be as flashy as LeBron James or garner the attention

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Report: Tim Duncan Delaying Divorce Proceedings Due to NBA Playoff Run With Spurs

It’s never a great time to get divorced, but there probably isn’t a worse time for an NBA player than in the middle of a playoff run.
That’s why Tim Duncan is trying to delay his divorce proceedings while he attempts to capture his fifth ring with the San Antonio Spurs, according to TMZ. Duncan’s wife filed for divorce back in March.
The way that excuse is worded in Bexar County, Texas legal documents is that Duncan’s employment ”is currently making extraordinary demands on him and hopefully will continue to make those demands for the next 30 or so days.” Surprisingly, it doesn’t say “Go Spurs” at the end of that sentence.
Duncan and his wife signed a prenuptial agreement before they got married in 2001. Legal documents state that Duncan wants that prenup enforced.
The Spurs are currently two games up on the Memphis Grizzlies in the conference finals. The Spurs and Grizzlies will face off in Game 3 on Saturday night.

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Report: Spurs’ Tim Duncan has filed for divorce

Tim Duncan has been dominant in the 2013 postseason thus far and is one of the main reasons the San Antonio Spurs are poised to challenge for another NBA championship. He is averaging 16.2 points and 9.1 rebounds in 12 playoff games against the Lakers, Warriors and Grizzlies. And it appears this may all be happening while dealing with some off-court distractions. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Duncan and his wife Amy may have recently filed for divorce. A divorce case was filed in a San Antonio court two months ago that includes only the initials A.S.D and T.T.D. Duncan’s middle name is Theodore. To make matters even more curious, a request was reportedly filed last week asking that a legal discovery be postponed until after the Spurs last playoff game. Either the nation’s biggest Spurs fans have filed for divorce, or Duncan and his wife are splitting. The Express-News also pointed out that the paperwork says the couple married around July 21, 2001, which was when Tim an…

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Tim Duncan’s Wife Reportedly Files For Divorce

Tim Duncan and his wife are reportedly in the process of divorcing.  Duncan’s wife, Amy, who he met at Wake Forest initiated the proceedings in March.  The couple have two children, Sydney (7) and Draven (5).
According to San Antonio Express-News:
A divorce case filed here two months ago that bears only the initials of the husband and wife has all the hallmarks of being that of Spurs star Tim Duncan and his wife, Amy.
The case is playing out in Bexar County District Court. Court papers filed last week include a request that legal discovery in the case be postponed until after the Spurs’ last playoff game.
[...]
A.S.D. initiated the divorce proceedings on March 27. T.T.D responded with a counter petition that was filed Monday.
Richard Orsinger, one of A.S.D.’s divorce lawyers, wrote in an email that he had nothing to say on the subject.
 

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