It’s official, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. His immediate departure negates any postseason hopes the team may have had after an emotional 100-98 win over the conference-leading Miami Heat.
Despite the team’s big win, head coach Doc Rivers was bombarded with questions concerning Rondo during his postgame press conference. “Well, you can write the obituary,” he said sarcastically (per espn.com, via nesn.com). “You can go ahead, but I’m not. We won tonight, and so the way I look at it is; we’re going to stay in there. In my opinion, we’re going nowhere.”
Rondo’s injury serves as a catalyst for Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who once seemed on the fence, but now has no choice but to blow up the team.
Some analysts have taken the stance that Rondo’s absence can motivate the underachieving club. By having his season cut short, the team could rally around his loss the way the Chicago Bulls did of Derrick Rose.
To quote Nick Fury from the the 2012 summer blockbuster The Avengers: “They needed a push.” This was in reference to the various Marvel superheroes who needed to set aside their differences and work together as a cohesive unit after tragically losing one of their own.
Could that be the case with the Celtics?
I don’t see it. Yes, Chicago is having a decent season, sitting third in the league at 26-17, despite not having their former MVP point guard. But Boston has struggled all year and that was with Rondo in the lineup. It doesn’t make much sense that the C’s will suddenly start performing better without him.
Sure, a team can ride an emotional wave for a short amount of time—but half a season? Forget about it. It’s simply not sustainable.
So where do the down-but-not-out Celtics go from here?
The inevitable major roster changes will soon be made. Fans should brace themselves for a whirlwind of change. The February 21 trade deadline is fast approaching, and the organization may be forced to bid farewell to franchise cornerstones and sentimental figures such as Paul Pierce (35 years old) and Kevin Garnett (36) in an attempt to build for the future.
Several teams (such as the Memphis Grizzlies) are rumored to have an interest in Pierce. Despite his age, he still fits the profile of a solid perimeter shooter who can also penetrate off the dribble.
However, trading Pierce—who has spent his entire 15-year career with the Celtics—would be a gutsy move, and it will be interesting to see if Danny Ainge pulls the trigger. He has not been shy about controversial trades in the past, shipping out fan favorite Kendrick Perkins in a deal two years ago.
Kevin Garnett’s situation is a little tricky. He has a full no-trade clause and is unlikely to part ways with the organization by waiving it to go play for a non-contender. But with about two years of playing time left, Garnett may consider accepting a trade to a team that is playoff bound.
It appears the players with the most trade value are not surprisingly the ones who are still in their 20s—Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Fab Melo.
As of right now, it’s just speculation, but in the coming weeks it could very well become a reality. After February 21 the Boston Celtics will most likely look noticeably different.
The 2012 season has been riddled with adversity and Rondo’s season-ending injury is just another obstacle.
Unfortunately, this may be the straw that breaks Danny Ainge’s back.