For the first time in his career, Rajon Rondo is without a mentor.
There is no Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Doc Rivers to guide the 27-year-old Rondo, only the point guard himself. And according to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, that's something the Boston Celtics need to change.
NBA source familiar with #celtics say team desperately needs another asst coach who can bond with Rondo, someone he can relate to and trust— gary washburn (@GwashNBAGlobe) August 18, 2013
Head coach Brad Stevens is helming his first NBA team ever, and he's surrounded himself with assistant and player development coaches like Ron Adams, Micah Shrewsberry, Jay Larranaga, Jamie Young and Ronald Nored, among others. Even holdovers from the Rivers regime like Larranaga and Young don't have the experience as coaches or former players necessary to nurture the ever-complicated Rondo.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman has linked former Celtic James Posey to Boston, and he writes that Stevens is expected to hire an ex-player at some point, be it Posey or someone else. Because he has to.
Former Celtic James Posey among the candidates to fill out Brad Stevens' staff in Boston, source told ESPN. Stevens likely to hire ex-player— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) August 17, 2013
Believing Rondo is prepared to spend the next few years on a rebuilding outfit is one thing, a stretch in itself given he's in the prime of his career. Assuming he can do so without a sideline or in-game presence able to ground and reach him on a series of crucial levels is another.
Since entering the league in 2006, Rondo has always had a veteran like Pierce whispering in one ear or an established coach like Rivers yelling in the other. And sometimes such companions weren't enough.
If the Celtics plan on keeping Rondo, must they add a former player/mentor to the coaching staff?
Think of how risky Boston's current venture then is. Rondo. By himself. Running the show. Without a Rivers or Pierce or Garnett.
Now playing for a rookie coach and slate of assistants unable to reach him on a personal level and tasked with leading a roster as the unquestioned alpha dog, questions abound.
If the going wasn't always easy under the previous reign, how is it going to be now, when the Celtics don't have the instructional assets they once did? How is Rondo going to react, how will he respond to playing without a discernible mentor?
Unless the Celtics are planning on eventually trading Rondo to facilitate their current reclamation project, they shouldn't want to find out.