Celtics guard Rajon Rondo is now Rajon GONEdo.
Rondo made an effort to play in yesterday’s matinée game against the Miami Heat, but he was sent to the hospital after complaining of leg pain during the pre-game warmups, where he was later diagnosed with this serious injury.
Losing Rondo for the rest of the season could be the final nail in the coffin for Boston’s championship aspirations in 2013.
He was averaging a double-double of 13.7 points and 11.1 assists (best in NBA), as well as 5.6 rebounds a game before he got hurt. He will now likely join Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Chris Paul as the only players in NBA history to average 13/5/11 (points/rebounds/assists) in a season.
By the way, he’s also leading the league in triple-doubles (5), which is three more than the next guy.
You can’t just replace that kind of production overnight.
The Celtics will likely use a three-man rotation of Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry at point guard for the time being. All three individuals are more or less shooting/hybrid guards, so it will be interesting to see if one player can stand out and become a facilitator at the point for the rest of the season.
On a surprising note, Boston has actually been quite successful over the past four seasons without Rondo in the lineup, achieving a record of 20-13, which is a slightly better winning percentage than when he’s on the court. That also includes the Celtics big 100-98 victory over the defending NBA champions yesterday afternoon.
That’s just one game. A season was never made or broken in January.
Even with a record that’s two games under .500 at 21-23, Boston still holds a two and a half game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The roster remains talented enough to qualify for the postseason, but without Rondo, their ceiling is probably the second round at best, and even that might be pushing it.
Is it time to blow things up? Should Danny Ainge perform a fire sale on the roster? Everything must go? Of course, by everything, I really mean aging Celtic players like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Rondo was just voted in as a starter for the Eastern Conference all-star team, so losing him is obviously going to hurt, but the Celtics aren’t screwed.
Life has become more difficult, but it’s not a lost cause.
This team won’t go down without a fight. Their veterans won’t allow that to happen. I’m positive of that.
Neither will coach Doc Rivers. He’s a proud man who has seen this team overcome far worse circumstances in the past.
Besides, this summers NBA Draft isn’t worth tanking away the year for and selling your parts. From what’s being predicted, there aren’t a heck of a lot of franchise-changing talents entering the draft, so what’s the point?
Boston needs to stay the course. Maybe a small roster move to acquire a true point guard could be in the cards, but I don’t see this team going on a mission before the February 21st trade deadline in order to keep the team afloat just because Rondo is gone.
The Chicago Bulls found success without former MVP Derrick Rose, so why can’t Boston do the same with their point guard on the sidelines too?
For the past few seasons, the Celtics have come out of the gate rather slowly, but always seem to turn it on once All-Star weekend has come and gone. I expect to see the same sort of results this season too.
There will no doubt be some pains along the way. Rondo made this offense run. Garnett/Pierce aren’t in the position to be creating their own offense anymore at this stage of their illustrious careers. Rondo made life easier for everyone, and him not having the ball in his hands directing the flow and pace of the game for Boston is going to suck, plain and simple.
However, it’s not season suicide, so let’s get that straight.
They won’t be contending for an NBA Championship, but they certainly won’t be an easy out come April.