Much has been made of Boston’s decision to hire analytic-guru and rookie head coach Brad Stevens, no conjecture more powerful than that which questions Rondo’s future in Bean town.
After watching the Celtics trade away Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, Rondo remains the final remnant of a championship team that no longer exists. Boston is embarking on a long-awaited rebuild, which dictates Rondo and the Celtics endure through losing, and a foray of other trials and tribulations.
At 27, Rondo isn’t what you would consider old, but he’s in the prime of his career. Why on earth would he want to spend his golden years playing for a team that won’t be contending for any titles, or even a playoff spot?
Most assumed he wouldn’t, that he would apply pressure to Danny Ainge to negotiate a trade. Rondo’s agent, Bill Duffy, says that Rondo has other plans.
According to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, Duffy says that Rondo has no intention of requesting a trade. In fact, he posits that Rondo is excited for the challenge that awaits:
Duffy said Rondo is excited about his leadership role, but a bit anxious about the responsibility. “When you look at it from a myopic standpoint, he’s probably spoiled,” Duffy said. “It’s very rare throughout your entire career to have [the playoffs] locked. They’ve been very prominent and now it’s a rebuilding stage, and you’ve got to understand what they’re doing but you’re the centerpiece of it.”
Few would have expected Rondo to be so enthused about a rebuild, but what Duffy says make some sense.
Rondo has been spoiled playing alongside all-time greats like Garnett, Pierce and even Ray Allen. Now it’s his turn to step up, to be a leader. This transition has been a long time coming for Rondo and now that his safety nets are gone, he’s officially The Man. Not even Rivers is there to catch him if he falls or shield him from any blame. There’s Stevens, a brilliant mind by all accounts, but someone who isn’t familiar with the intricacies of coaching at the NBA level.
The players, the coaching staff, ownership—they’ll look to Rondo to lead them. Next to Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, Rondo will be asked to carry this version of the Celtics as far as they can go, whether that be the playoffs or not.
Big-picture style, this could be good for Rondo. Finally in possession of the Celtics’ reins, he has the opportunity to prove himself a true cornerstone once and for all. We’ve fancied him a superstar, but have also always questioned his resolve and ability to lead others. Now’s the time for him to show how much he’s evolved, how mature he is.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it has to last. Rondo has just two years left on his deal and could bolt in 2015 if the Celtics aren’t in a position to win. He could also be traded before then at his own behest. We just don’t know.
For now, that doesn’t matter. All that’s important is that Rondo seems to recognize the situation at hand, right down to every sacrifice he’ll have to make, and appears prepared to embrace it.
The Celtics can’t ask for much more than that.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.