The Boston Celtics are just chock-full of surprises lately, aren’t they? Starting with the blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets last summer, GM Danny Ainge has made multiple decisions over the past eight months that have left Boston fans with more questions than answers. The team’s lack of direction and organization in regards to their rebuilding effort is — and should be — an area of concern for Celtics-faithful.
Ainge hasn’t been consistently sticking to any particular rebuilding plan; he has loaded up on draft picks, but has also elected to keep around all of the Celtics’ “win-now” players — guys like Jeff Green and Brandon Bass — as well as all four of the team’s expiring contracts. His dormancy at the trade deadline was curious choice to say the least. The Celtics are in desperate need of a starting-caliber center, and the cutoff would’ve been the perfect time to swing a deal to acquire one — perhaps a certain Omer Asik from the Houston Rockets.
According to multiple sources, no player on the roster is untouchable, not even star point guard Rajon Rondo. Knowing Ainge’s tendency for pulling the trigger on unanticipated trades (see Green-Kendrick Perkins swap), this shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ainge has gone on the record claiming that he would only trade Rondo for an irresistible yield, but then again, there is a pretty large grey area within that statement. Nobody outside of the organization really knows how much it will take to pry Rondo away from Beantown, which leaves many questioning the point guard’s longevity with the Cs.
Nobody — the Celtics’ front office included — knows Rondo’s on-court value for that matter. He has yet to prove the capability to be a team’s lone superstar, and has actually made the Celtics considerably worse in the games he has played in this season, at least record-wise. The team is now 2-11 with Rondo in their lineup and is in the midst of a five-game losing streak. As far as individual statistics go, the 6-foot-1 floor general is having a solid season, especially in his last seven games, in which he is averaging 14.3 points, 9.7 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game in 32.9 minutes per game. But then again, Rondo’s ability to stuff the stat sheet has never been questioned. The biggest knocks on him have been his leadership skills (or lack thereof) and his reliance on other elite talent surrounding him, both of which haven’t been fully addressed thus far.
Even if Rondo does prove to be a legitimate superstar, there’s no guarantee he elects to stick with the Cs once his contract expires after the 2014-15 season. He turned 28 last weekend and is entering the prime of his career. If the Celts don’t get their act together by the summer of 2015, Rondo could very well decide to test the market. He’s sure to have plenty of suitors.
The Celtics’ future is far from set in stone, and if Ainge wants the Cs to embark on the journey back to contention sooner rather than later, his best bet is to completely map out his approach to the rebuild. Until he demonstrates a firm grasp on just what kind of approach that is, Celtics fans have every right to feel a bit uneasy about the team’s shaky future.