Retaining Rondo: A Comprehensive Examination

The rumours never end. Ever. Rajon Rondo has been the point guard of the Boston Celtics since 2006, and has repeatedly attracted trade speculation over the bulk of his career. And yet, here he is, a rarity in the league as a player who has remained with the same team since his rookie year, eight years on.

Then you realise why the rumours have been around for so long. To put it simply, he has immense talent, an NBA championship, and plays the game to make his teammates better by sharing the ball – an uncommon trait for point guards in the NBA. Then when you dig even further, you are reminded of his ability to step up his game in the postseason, of his drive to win at all costs, to sacrifice life and limb (literally) for his team. Of course other teams would be interested, there’s no doubt about that.

When you put all of this together, you really wonder why ‘experts’ are so keen to offload a player of this calibre. Allow me to analyse exactly why the captain of the most storied franchise in the game will remain in Boston not only for this season, but long enough to see that number 9 hanging in the rafters next to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.


The Mutual Attraction

In any long-term relationship, both parties need to remain interested and enthusiastic about one another. Firstly, Rajon himself has repeatedly stated that he loves the Celtics, the city of Boston and the fans that occupy it. Here are some of his more recent quotes;

“The fans, the people here make me want to stay,” Rondo said at that time. “The organization has been great. I can’t say enough about Danny (Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) and Wyc (Grousbeck who co-owns the team), but when I walk down the street the fans have embraced me from Day One. These people know the game; you can’t fool them. The love I get is kind of overwhelming. I want to stay here.”

“Regardless of what’s going on with the season, my position hasn’t changed,” Rondo said on Wednesday. “I love being a Celtic.”

It’s always encouraging when the player loves the team he plays for, however the feelings need to be shared by those running the organisation too. When the owner, GM and coach all like what you bring to the table, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that the organisation would like to see you stick around.

The relationship between coach Stevens and captain Rondo is as strong as any Rondo has had with any coach. Mostly it seems as though the reports of Rondo being hard to coach are blown way out of proportion, but we’ll get to that later. NBA.com’s David Aldridge outlined the kind of rapport shared by the duo before the season began, exploring Rondo’s appreciation for how Stevens is the most positive coach he’s had in his entire career, and the values of playing hard and the will to win are shared between the pair. Having analytical minds and confidence in your star player to execute the plays drawn up in timeouts, are attributes any coach would love to have in their point guard.


The Business

With salary cap restrictions, pending free agency, and a team in rebuild mode, the final year of Rondo’s contract was always going to draw attention from reporters. While we won’t delve too far into the financial side of basketball, it actually makes sense to wait until the end of the season to re-sign him.

Due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement rules, Boston is unable to offer a five-year extension to Rondo until the end of the season. The Celtics are the only team able to offer a contract with the length of 5 years as they hold Rajon’s Bird Rights. In addition, the team can’t offer anywhere near the same amount of (possibly maximum) money until season’s end as well. Also in the Celtics’ favour is their ability to offer higher increments of pay per season than other teams once free agency does hit. It appears both Danny and Rondo are on the same page already, when Ainge was quoted on media day agreeing that a player set to reach his prime is probably worth the big dollars:

“I think a four-time All-Star by the time he’s [28] years old would qualify for max based on what we’ve seen in the marketplace,” Ainge said. “If I were Rajon and I were Rajon’s agent, I would definitely say that.”

While a maximum contract may sound a bit steep to Rondo critics, there is one very important thing to remember where the salary cap is concerned. The NBA is set to triple their national TV revenue in their next television rights deal for the season beginning 2016-17. While there is still this season and next to get through, this deal is expected to increase team salary caps by $25.8 million per year.

What this means for Rondo is that a maximum contract signed next year, won’t actually hurt the team’s cap room nearly as much after the first season. To put it simply, the current salary cap’s maximum will pay Rajon handsomely for the next five years, but it won’t destroy the Celtics’ long-term spending on other pieces. The percentage of his contract next to the salary cap will actually be comparable to his current team-friendly deal.


The Drawcard

There are many stars in the NBA, but how many of those play alongside someone who could actually make them even better? Building a roster that is strong right to the end of the bench is becoming increasingly important to building a championship team. Rondo is a distributor by nature, and has proven his ability to put the ball to his teammates that amplify their strengths. So the question is; why would you trade someone that can make their teammates better, and be appealing to potential star recruits?

One of the knocks on Rondo was that his productivity would drop off once his star teammates in Pierce, Garnett and Allen left. Overall his statistics point to someone that has remained just as effective in scoring and passing, while his rebounding numbers have actually improved since the departures of the Big Three. His maturity levels have increased, and he seems to be excelling as a leader since their departures.

If anything, he has become more of a focal point on offense, and finally plays with teammates young enough to play the running game he has always craved. Last season the Celtics ranked 12th for possessions per game while posting 96.2 points. Through this year, they rank 8th in the league for possessions while posting 104.6 points – good enough for 6th in the league. A fit Rondo is showcasing how easily he can run an offense that plays his style of run-and-gun basketball.

From an individual perspective, Rondo’s performance through 6 games this year has yielded averages of 10.8 points, a league-leading 11.3 assists, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. The man is almost averaging a triple-double. While it’s a small sample, not many players in the league can point to those numbers.

Looking into the history books, Rondo has demonstrated that he can take his game to another level once the playoffs hit. First there was holding the keys to the 2008 championship team (of course), but it was over the next few years he really began to shine. The 2009 series against the Bulls was a coming out party for Rondo, playing a starring role in the 7 game series. He almost single-handedly took his team of stars to the championship in 2010 with the way he played in the Finals, and he played out the series against Miami in 2011 despite a dislocated elbow. Then in 2012, he helped take the soon-to-be champion Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, including that 44-point game that almost ripped Miami’s heart out.

He has proven to the league that he is capable of stepping up when it matters most in the postseason, something his contemporaries have no doubt noticed, but also respected immensely. Keeping in mind that the Celtics are primed to make a charge at the 2015 offseason, in both free agency and trades, Rondo is a pretty handy individual to help sell the Boston Celtics franchise to prospective players.


The Silencing of Detractors

Where to begin? Rondo is in the final year of a contract, which makes him an easy target for trade speculation, even by his standards. We often see players step up their games when playing for another contract, then drastically dropping off in the following season. Danny Ainge summarises where Rondo would fit into this topic:

“I don’t think that’s what drives Rajon. I think that he’s motivated because he didn’t play to his standards coming off the knee injury. He doesn’t like to not be good. He doesn’t like not being considered one of the best point guards in the game. I think that’s what drives him, that’s what motivates him, and that’s what drove him to hard work this summer.”

Even if the C’s were looking to offload Rondo, the issue of placing a value on such a unique player opens up a whole new can of worms. People say he’s a hard individual to deal with, which would automatically be used against the Celtics in any negotiations to trade for anyone of equal talent – especially when the team is taking a risk to convince him to stay if he’s only been there for half a season. I believe a trade is even more unlikely now than it was at any point last year.

The perception that Rondo is a tough personality to deal with is unfounded. He’s the ultimate competitor who loves to win, and I can only recall one occasion in his entire career where there has ever been any issues with teammates. That teammate happened to be Ray Allen, who was more upset with Doc Rivers’ decision to put the ball in Rondo’s hands more than Rondo as a person. Kobe Bryant, one of the fiercest competitors to ever play in the NBA, has had his fair share of issues with teammates – but I don’t see anyone kicking him out of LA, and he’s had several more indiscretions than Rondo ever will. I’m not comparing the two from a basketball level, as Rondo is more a likely to form a star duo, but it’s a good comparison when it comes to competitive personalities.

If anything I would say Rondo is one of the more loyal individuals when it comes to his teammates, when you consider his lasting friendships with past Celtics such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Keyon Dooling, Jason Terry and Kendrick Perkins, just to name a few. With these players now all departed, Rajon can seek advice from his former teammates about parting from such a great place. If he values Kendrick Perkins’ guidance, then we shouldn’t be worried about the number 9 leaving any time soon

“I think it’s a great place for him. I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay,” said Perkins. “If I was him, I’d stay.”

The current roster is shaped by a strong guard rotation of Rondo, Avery Bradley and rookie Marcus Smart. On draft night, many people began pointing at Boston’s selection of Smart as the end of Rondo’s time in a green uniform. While Smart has already shown his potential as a capable player, it would actually seem that these three guards could co-exist with one another as the C’s build a deep roster. Who’s to say the Celtics won’t look to offload one of Bradley or Smart if the right deal presents itself? It’s never nice to think about, but there is always the possibility.

Lastly, our friend John from Red’s Army made a great point about a potential Rondo trade at this season’s deadline:

“I don’t think Danny Ainge is going to lesson, lower his price, I don’t think he wants to become the GM that becomes known as the guy who lowers his price when his back’s against the wall.”


The Final Word

All dialogue from both Rajon and the Celtics organisation appears to be heading to a contract extension in the summer of 2015. Again, Danny Ainge has prepared for the Celtics to make a full tilt at this year’s free agency, and has a ridiculous amount of young players and draft picks at his disposal via trades, to get this team back to the top end of the Eastern conference. If Boston is looking to attract big names to the city next year, having a player as special as Rondo waiting to play alongside you has to make the team more appealing. Four-time All Stars and NBA champions don’t grow on trees, trading away a player at the peak of his powers doesn’t make sense to me.

Rajon Rondo is a loyal person, and I have no doubt he wants to become a Celtic for life. He is the captain of the team for a reason. He is respected right around the league, and I believe he is a key component to bringing banner 18 to the city of Boston. Thank you for reading.

- Michael Tarran

(@mickyt34)

Green Runs Deep #1 – Ms Samantha May

GreenRunsDeep#1

Green Runs Deep #1 – Ms Samantha May

Unless you’ve being living under a rock, there’s a great chance you’ve seen the now infamous photo of a Boston Celtics fan wearing a green “LeBron is a Bitch” t-shirt, whilst standing next to All-Star Celtics point guard, Rajon Rondo. Well, the lady in that great photo is none other than Ms Samantha May, a lady who could just as easily tear you a new one, as enjoy a great game at the TD Garden watching her beloved Boston Celtics. Sam is an amazing, head-strong person, and we’re honoured to have her feature in ‘Green Runs Deep’. -AusCelticsFan

Sam, sporting her now famous shirt, next to Rajon Rondo

Sam, sporting her now famous shirt, next to Rajon Rondo

Please tell us a little about yourself:
Samantha: @MsSamanthaMay on Twitter & @MsSamanthaMay9 on Instagram.

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How did you first become a fan of the Boston Celtics?:

When I was little, I used to watch Celtics games with my grandmother. Her passion for this group of guys just playing Basketball was mind blowing to me. When she passed away, she was buried in a Larry Bird jersey. The Celtics are more then an NBA team to me now; they’re in a way affiliated with her, and I wholeheartedly understand and have attained her sense of passion for this group of guys just playing Basketball.

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When did you first see the Celtics play (television)? When did you manage to see your first live Celtics game?

I’m going to be real honest. I grew up in the ‘90s. Outside all the time. Watched my occasional Basketball game here and there, but it escaped me for a few years until I found out about Allen Iverson. I was obsessed with the way he played. So for my sweet 16th birthday, my parents bought me tickets to the Celtics vs. 76ers game so I could watch him live. When we got to the game, Iverson was injured & it was announced that he wasn’t going to play.

I was devastated. My parents asked if I wanted to leave, but we stayed regardless, and I watched this other man. This guy had an ‘aura’ around him. He was the star of the game. I watched the fans eyes fill with the same passion my grandmothers did when she watched Larry Bird play. Every time this man that wore #34 sunk a bucket, the Fleet Center (at that time) went crazy. Paul Pierce single-handedly made me fall in love with the Celtics from that day on.

Samantha's colourful commitment to her Boston Celtics.

Samantha’s colourful commitment to her Boston Celtics.

Who is your favorite Celtics player? Past? And present? And what do they/have they meant to you?

Favorite Celtic? Of all time? Easily: Paul Pierce… I’ve watch this man since I was 16… Grow… Cry… Struggle… Succeed… And I felt all of these things with him… Ball really is life lol …. Oh then there is KG. The intensity this man brought to the garden every game… His passion… He if he epitomized ‘bleeding Green’ to me… A few honorable mentions I would have to say Tony Allen, Perk, Dooling…  Oh…and you all can’t expect me to forget Rondo, where do I start.?! My god…. I just adore him. Period.

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Australia has such a tight-knit Celtics ‘family’, as do so many countries around the world. But obviously, the greatest Boston Celtics community is in the great city of Boston itself. Can you tell us about how these Celtics communities, whether globally, or in Boston, make you feel a part of such a large, and loving sisterhood/brotherhood?

Doc said it best… “This is such a neat place. People don’t get Boston. They don’t understand. It is a special, different place. They cheer for their teams . . . It’s just such a classy place”. It’s hard to describe the camaraderie and unity Boston sports teams have… It’s such a passion and love. It’s just amazing to be a part of. Nothing compares to being at a game and everyone is up and dancing and cheering and yelling because we win… a game… One game…(not a practice .. A game)  It’s just fantastic.

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Can you tell us about your proudest, or most memorable moment that’s occurred whilst being such a loyal member of the Boston Celtics fan base?

I’ve had several moments in being a fan… I have one fan contests at games… Walked on the parquet floor… And met several players… But honest to God, the one thing I am most blessed for experiencing is meeting these other people on Twitter that share the same passion that I do for this team. I met amazing people but no one can compare to Olivia… I have to mention her in this as she has been one of the best things to ever happen in my life… All because of the Celtics… I love you little sister!!

Sam & Olivia. Boston Besties!

Sam & Olivia. Boston Besties!

Whilst already being a well-known, and well-liked person, did you feel that your exposure from wearing your “LeBron is a Bitch” t-shirt in a photo with Rajon Rondo has increased your admirers on Twitter, or even in the public domain?

That picture. (*Shaking my head). I still can’t believe it went viral. I wish I got paid for that haha!! I have clearly received my fair amount of Twitter ‘fame’ and hype from that picture, from daily marriage proposals to daily death threats from bitter LeBron fans, it blew up far more than I ever thought possible. It was everywhere. But I believe the reason I have all these followers is not really due to that pic, I think it has to do with my smart mouth, my unfiltered attitude. And being a female that actually knows a thing or two about basketball is a rarity these days.

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Can you tell us your experience being a female fan in a mostly male-dominated Sports industry? My understanding is you’re as strong and as confident as they come. Any interesting stories you care to share with our readers?

I love being immediately disregarded from any sports knowledge considering the fact that I’m a woman… It makes it so much better when I completely ‘own’ these ignorant people in a basketball discussion.

One of Sam's many Celtics tickets | Sams 2013 'Rondo' Birthday cake.

One of Sam’s many Celtics tickets | Sams 2013 ‘Rondo’ Birthday cake.

How do you see the team holding up over 82 games, against tougher opponents? Which team match-ups are you looking forward to?

The home opener was amazing… I was sitting back & enjoying every minute of that blowout… And seeing KG didn’t hurt either (actually it did) I think the Celtics need to learn how to be consistent… We always go in so hot and then lose our lead in the second half… We’ve been doing that for a long time now and we really got to figure it out haha we absolutely struggle with any west team which is immensely concerning to me… Thank God all will be around next year too, because this year will be tough.

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Can you share your thoughts on our Celtics community down here? Do you see a lot of the Celtic Pride in our many members? Any plans to visit us one day? You’ll be welcomed with open arms by all.

When my picture with Rondo went viral, The Celtics fam from down under were one of the biggest supporters. I’m so proud of y’all for the way you rep in this team… Makes me proud that were in the same C’s fam :)

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My partner and I are planning our trip to Boston. Care to show us the local Pub and have a drink with us?

Let me know when you’re around! Of course! :) Thank you!!! Xo!!


Celtics Down Under would like to thank Sam for taking part in our ‘Green Runs Deep’ Fan Q&A.
Nominate a loyal Boston Celtics fan at: @AusCelticsFan or justin@CelticsDownUnder.com.

The Road Ahead – How will the Boston Celtics go this season?

With our first proper look at the roster after an impressive season opener, what is to follow for the Celtics in 2014-2015?

In a preseason where fans expected fireworks and a top 3 pick, there was disappointment as the off-season brought the Celtics the 6th pick and low-key opportunistic moves.  This wasn’t from lack of trying by Danny Ainge and management as the Celtics were one of the most active, trying to land a big fish to pair with Rondo to turbo-charge the rebuild.  Once it became apparent that our assets were not as highly valued as we thought, the Celtics held steady – finding bargains wherever they could.  By doing this, Ainge has been able to put forth a roster that is more balanced than last year, while not sacrificing anymore cap space beyond this season.  Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Celtics in season #2 of the rebuild:

 

Front Office:

With the roster looking more rounded, Danny is still a fair way away from the finished product.  What he has done so far is just collect assets, and flipping them for more valuable assets.  The hope here is that these young assets turn out to be legitimate players and once this occurs, he can then decide on whether or not he builds around the young core, or sells the farm in hope of landing other stars.  All options are currently still open – much like Houston before they landed James Harden, which is where the Celtics are at right now.  Houston had a young, gritty team that remained competitive, but, because they kept their options open, they were able to swing for the fences and land James Harden, followed by Dwight Howard.

Although the roster makes more sense this year, look for Danny to trade away a veteran or two throughout the season, with Bass/Thornton being the prime candidates due to their expiring contracts.  There is also the small fact that our star point guard, Rajon Rondo is in the final year of his contract too, so brace yourself for another season full of Rondo trade rumours – it is difficult to see any team offering enough to Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on any Rondo trade, ultimately keeping him in green.

NBA: Boston Celtics-Brad Stevens-Press Conference

Coaching:

Besides Rondo, the biggest drawcard for potential future free agent signings could very well be Brad Stevens.  He has managed to turn discards such as Jordan Crawford and Kris Humphries into players that other teams wanted and he already looks to be doing the same with Evan Turner this year.  He seems to have the full trust of his squad and enjoys a great relationship with Rondo, who has been reported as ‘difficult’ time and time again.

With his first year now in the rear-view mirror, Coach Stevens now knows how the NBA games go, he knows exactly he wants and what buttons to push with certain players.  His players have spoken about the difference between Coach Stevens this season compared to last and show full confidence in his ability to lead the team as he tries to get this team running like the Spurs “Lite”.

 

Players:

Though starved of top-end talent, the Celtics do boast a legitimately deep squad where we see a minimal drop off between the 4th to 10th player in the squad.  Here are the players to watch out for during the season:

Rajon Rondo: With more time removed from his ACL injury in early 2013, Rondo looks to get back to his All-Star best.  Although he suffered a minor setback breaking his hand, he is ready to prove his doubters wrong and be the leader and star that this team needs.  Being in his contract year, he will be desperate to remind everybody in the league that he is still one of the best point guards in the NBA.  Questions were asked on whether or not he can play in Brad Stevens’ offense and after the season opener yesterday, it is safe to say that he will have no problems in that system.  Rondo’s biggest question mark is injuries – once thought of as durable player, he has missed 29, 44 & 52 games respectively in the previous three seasons, will he be able to stay relatively healthy this year?

ABRondo

Avery Bradley: Can Bradley live up to the 4 year, $32m extension he signed over the off-season?  That will be the question people will ask of him throughout the duration of his contract.  Avery has looked to re-dedicate himself back to his bread and butter, his defence whilst further working on his 3 point shot which is not to be ignored by other defences.  At the young age of 23, Bradley is already one of the leaders of the team as he is entering his 5th season, being the 2nd longest tenured Celtic (behind Rondo).  With Bradley playing exclusively at the shooting guard role, he should further flourish under Brad Stevens – and wreak havoc defensively with Rondo and Smart to play next to.

Jared Sullinger: After his first fully healthy summer as a pro, Sully worked tirelessly on both his fitness base, and his 3 point shooting during the off-season, it showed in the pre-season, as he was the best on the team averaging a double-double in under 28 minutes per game.  Fairly or not, Sully was judged critically last season mainly due to his lack of conditioning after missing a large part of the off-season due to back surgery.  Fans can only hope that he takes the next leap to a double-double machine in the regular season, and even  pushes for a potential all-star selection.  He is one of the most important players on the roster due to his leadership and natural feel of the game – he is the team’s best rebounder and is also an underrated passer.  If his conditioning will allow him to play at a high level for 30+ minutes per game, he could very well be in the running for most improved player, as some experts have predicted.

sully-oly

Kelly Olynyk: Olynyk will be looking to build on the end of last season, where we saw him string together an impressive set of performances averaging 25.7 points (on 53.4% shooting), 9.3 Rebounds and 3.7 assists in just under 35 minutes in his final 3 games to close the season out.  While Olynyk has always been sound offensively, coming into his rookie season, criticism has come from the defensive end of the floor – where people question whether he was quick enough to guard fours, or strong enough to guard fives.  His rookie season did nothing to silence the critics defensively – although he wasn’t as bad as advertised, he clearly needed to work on that end of the ball.  Coming into this season, we can see that Olynyk has worked on his body as he trimmed some fat and added muscle, making him better equipped to handle the defensive duties.  Due to his range of skill, including his shooting/driving and passing ability, look for Olynyk to be a big part of the Celtics revamped offense as he has locked up the starting Centre spot.

Marcus Smart: The Celtics prized rookie has been just as good on defence as advertised, with some experts even picking him as a potential Rookie of the year candidate.  Smart has the tools to be able to contribute straight away on the defensive end, but, his offense has looked shaky at times.  As Smart plays more games, he looks to be getting more and more comfortable with his role and what he is supposed to be doing out on the court.  Will he be able to offensively impact a game and run the team?  If Smart can continue to develop his shot and show steady improvement, the sky is the limit for this prized rookie.  With a healthy squad, Smart looks to be the 6th man for this team.

Boston Celtics Unveil New Draft Picks

Evan Turner: There was no real excitement in the air when the Celtics made the low key signing of Evan Turner for 2 years, $3m per.  This was looked at as a low risk/high reward signing after Turner’s value plummeted to an all-time low following his season/playoffs in Indiana.  In pre-season, coach Stevens had Turner playing all positions from 1-3 with great success, can this equate to the regular season, and will Turner be able to run the point as good as he did in college, where he was 2010 NCAA Big 10 top scorer and National Player of the Year en route to being the #2 pick in 2010?  For the relatively low salary he is on, Turner can turn out to be a bargain as he now has a coach/system where his potential could actually be fulfilled.

Marcus Thornton: Marcus Thornton has been a pleasant surprise for the Celtics, being the spark plug off the bench with lights out shooting and deserves a special mention, but given the logjam at the guard spots, and his expiring contract, is he playing his way out of Boston, or will he be a major part of the team for the whole season?

Every player on the Celtics roster has questions against their names.  Can Zeller be the centre that the Celtics so desperately need?  Will Thornton/Bass be on the team after the trade deadline?  Will Jeff Green be more aggressive and average 20+ ppg?  Will James Young show enough to get regular minutes?  Can Vitor come back and excite everyone like he did early last season?


At times this season, this young Celtics team will be fun to watch with high energy D, fast paced action, and 3 point barrages.  Given the average age of the team, there will be games that we would like to forget, but, expect a more competitive team compared to last year.  For this season, the Celtics have a near 100% Rondo, an extra year experience for Coach Stevens, and extra year for our young veterans, and 2 rookies who have tremendous upside.  The Celtics may not be contenders, nor they likely may not make the playoffs (I hope I’m wrong), but there is enough talent there to be cautiously optimistic about this team for the upcoming season.

I predict that the Celtics record for the upcoming season will be: 35-47.

What about you?  How do you think the Celtics will go this season?

Sullinger Is Ready To Star

With the beginning of a new NBA season upon us, it’s that time of year where we can make big statements about what to expect this year. While many people talk of who will win the championship, Most Valuable Player, or who will make the playoffs, I’m turning focus to a third-year power forward that is just primed for a big season.

Jared Sullinger is ready. After showing glimpses of the player he can become in his rookie season, it was ended prematurely by a back injury. He established himself as a consistent starter and important offensive weapon in his second year, which was an achievement in itself. Coming off back surgery, he had a limited fitness base to begin with, and an injury to his shooting hand hampered his jump shot for the final months of the year.

Heading into 2014/15, Sully has been able to get into the best shape of his young NBA career. He has dropped a noticeable amount of weight, and has continued to fine-tune his outside game. Consider this: Sullinger connected on 50% of his attempts from 3-point range this preseason at an average of 3.8 shots per game.

Coupled with his soft touch at the rim, he averaged 14.9 points in just 26 minutes per contest over the past month. Then there’s his average of 10.9 boards per game despite limited minutes. In one game against the Nets, Sullinger produced a game of 21 points and 19 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action. In case those numbers aren’t enough, Sully has become smarter with his defensive work. He no longer commits ‘rookie fouls’ in games, and has adapted well to the pace of his opponents at that end of the floor.

Last season, Sullinger began to receive praise from his peers after he began to rebound the ball at an excellent rate and find a great balance between taking outside shots and knowing when to attack the paint. This resulted in some 20-20 games, while he also displayed an ability to make tough shots in close contests.

Yes, it’s only October, and we have 82 games ahead of us. However, I believe Sully is ready to become an emerging star in this league. I know I can’t wait to find out how well he goes over the next six months.

Share your thoughts with us!

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Smart Move Signals A Changing Of The Guard

First off I would like to congratulate Marcus Smart and James Young on becoming the newest members of the Boston Celtics. I can’t wait to see what both are able to bring to the floor.

We all know that Danny Ainge went in to the draft with the tactic of drafting the best player available, not based on what the team needs right now. This is an obvious thing to do as it is clear the Celtics are a long way from title contenders.

Having said that, by drafting Smart with the 6th pick there is obviously going to be ramifications for the rest of the guards that Boston already possesses.

Credit: Brad Penner

Credit: Brad Penner

Rajon Rondo was the name that many people thought of first.  I truly believe that Smart and Rondo can co-exist. They are both brutal competitors and could form a very dangerous back court duo.

The trade rumours are obviously going to be crazy this off season, but I don’t think Ainge will actively shop Rondo. He is a four time All Star and Captain of the team, they don’t just grow on trees. It will take a huge offer for Ainge to pull the trigger, and I hope the offer doesn’t come.

The player I believe the selection of Smart effects most is Avery Bradley, who is a restricted free-agent. If Smart moves to the shooting guard position, and plays alongside Rondo, Bradley is left as the odd one out. Smart’s rookie contract is going to be a lot cheaper than retaining Bradley, who could ask for up to $9 million this off season.

Avery Bradley has always been known for his defence. Much like Bradley, Smart plays great defence and never gives up on a play. Smart is 1″ taller, and has a 2″ longer wingspan than Bradley. This may not sound like much but on the defensive end a long wingspan is so very valuable.  This only adds to the fact that Bradley could now been seen as dispensable by Ainge.

As much as I love what Bradley brings to the Celtics, I don’t believe he is worth $9 million. Sadly, I think we’ve seen the last of Avery Bradley in Boston.

Phil Pressey showed tremendous promise throughout his rookie season in 2013/14. He went undrafted but showed he can definitely have an impact in the NBA.

The drafting of Smart will have a huge effect on Pressey’s minutes going forward. Smart will take a lot of the minutes that Pressey saw last season. That being said, if Smart is moved to the two guard position, Pressey will most likely still see some court time as Rondo’s primary back up.

I think Pressey is definitely worth keeping around, especially due to the fact that he is cheap and is learning from one of the best in Rajon Rondo.

Jerryd Bayless came to Boston in the Courtney Lee trade last season. Mainly seen as a cost-saving move, he did provide some quality games for the Celtics and was a solid contributor once he became familiar with sBrad Steven’ system.

This off season, Bayless becomes an unrestricted free-agent. Unlike Bradley, Bayless could be signed for a reasonable amount. If the Celtics can sign him for a good price I think he will still have a role to play for the team. He could slot in nicely as a sixth man, behind Rondo at the point and Smart at shooting guard.

Marcus Smart brings so much fight and heart to the Celtics. He is mature beyond his years and has an NBA ready frame and mindset. Whilst his selection could be problematic for individuals, the future of the Celtics looks to be in good hands.

Green Kick of the Week ft. Rajon Rondo’s RR1’s

Rajon Rondo has been rocking some great colourways of his first signature shoe, the Anta RR1, in the last couple of weeks, none more so than what he laced up before the final game of the season earlier this week.

This weeks winner of KOTW is Rajon Rondo and his pair of Anta RR1 ‘Boston Strong’ PE. These are more than just shoes, they are a tribute to the victims of last years Boston Marathon bombings.

photo via @RajonRondo's Instagram page.

photo via @RajonRondo’s Instagram page.

Although Rondo didn’t play in the regular season finale, it was great to see him go to the effort to pay his respects to those affected by the bombings.

As you can see the tongue features a ‘BOSTON STRONG’ decal along with the date of the bombings. The shoe didn’t stop there in honouring the victims, the initials of every victim cover the majority of the outer of the shoe. The blue lining and a yellow sole of the shoe matches the colours of the Marathon’s logo.

credit: counterkicks.com

credit: counterkicks.com

To make these shoes even more special, Rondo is donating these kicks to ‘One Fund‘; a charity set up in wake of the tragedy to help those affected by it.

I don’t know about you, but these kicks are my favourite for the whole season. Rondo was a great leader this year, on and of the court. He won community awards and made many young fans dreams come true through charity work. And people think Rajon is a jerk! I certainly don’t.

What are your thoughts on these kicks? Are these your favourite kicks of the season too?

Offseason Dreaming: Gortat In Green

Although the Celtics season of mediocrity isn’t quite over yet, the remaining 7 games can’t come quickly enough in what has been a long 82-game stand. With this in mind, it’s never too early to look towards the period in June and July this year where Danny Ainge is expected to be very active.

Polish center Marcin Gortat displayed his affections for the C’s in yesterday’s game against the Wizards in DC, which grabbed my attention as a fan excitedly looking towards the offseason.

Early in the contest, Rondo displayed his signature behind-the-back fake pass that left Gortat with his feet nailed to the floor. Down the other end, Trevor Booker attempted a pair of free throws while Rondo and Gortat shared a laugh over the previous play. This may not seem like much, but there is definitely a mutual respect between the pair, as the Polish Hammer took to Twitter after the game to illustrate this point:

As the 3rd quarter wound down with Jeff Green getting ready to sink some free throws, the Celtics players huddled round for a quick discussion, only to be joined by a certain #4 in a Wizards uniform. It was another mischievous act in yesterday’s game, which was literally embraced by Rondo by having his arm around Gortat as well.

Admittedly, these are only two small things that really don’t point to much on their own. Last year in the offseason, Brandon Bass and Gortat worked out together. The former Orlando Magic teammates clearly share a good relationship to still be catching up and playing ball together, which could work well in any recruitment pitches the Celtics may put to the center.

Becoming an unrestricted free agent after this season, Gortat is earning $7.27 million this year and could demand a similar figure on the open market. While the Wizards are obviously eager to re-sign him, with Marc Stein reporting his signature ‘as a top priority’ for Washington, he has the choice of signing with any team around the league.

The Celtics desperately need a quality center on their roster moving forward, if the Omer Asik trade rumours were anything to go by in December last year. At 30 years of age, Gortat has plenty of good years left in the NBA.

Putting together mutual respect between Gortat and the Captain of the Celtics, his relationship with former teammate Bass, his status as an unrestricted free agent and the Celtics with a plethora of picks and money to make it happen, here’s hoping that fun he had with the Celtics yesterday is the start of something much bigger.

Share your thoughts with us!

- Michael (@mickyt34)

 

Green Kick of the Week ft. Rajon Rondo’s Anta’s

Rajon Rondo ditched Nike before the start of this season and joined Anta, where he got his own signature shoe; the Anta RR1.

He has been switching back and forth between green, black and white colourways of the shoe. Last week he changed things up and rocked a brand new colourway against the Raptors at The Garden.

This week’s winner of Green Kick Of The Week is Rajon Rondo and his Anta RR1’s. This colourway is bright and reminds of the striking Nike’s he wore last season.

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These kicks feature my favourite colourway I’ve seen on the Anta RR1. The bright green pattern almost looks like a salute to ‘The Hulk’.

Unfortunately this colourway isn’t available to the public yet. I really hope they are released, although I highly doubt they will be. If they are, I know I’ll be grabbing a pair as fast as possible.

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I’ve been a huge fan of Rondo switching to Anta since the first rumours of the move surfaced, and its colourways like these that prove you don’t need to be with Nike or Jordan Brand to have fantastic kicks.

What do think of these kicks? Do you think Rondo should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Green Kick Of The Week ft. Avery Bradley’s No Mercy’s

The 2013-14 season for the Celtics is winding down. Whilst their record isn’t pretty, there have been plenty of positives. The return of Rajon Rondo and the emergence of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk have been some of my personal highlights.

Another highlight has been watching Avery Bradley find his shooting stroke. He has been especially terrific in the last week. His game against the Heat was tremendous; draining 6 three pointers, and totaling 23 points. He followed that up with another huge performance against Brooklyn. He scored 28 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.

credit: solecollector.com

credit: solecollector.com

Bradley wore an awesome par of kicks against Brooklyn. This weeks winner of Green Kick Of The Week is Avery Bradley and his very bright pair of Adidas ‘No Mercy’ kicks. He also laced them up on St Patrick’s Day against Dallas.

Bradley has now won back-to-back KOTW‘s after taking out last weeks competition with his Crazy 1’s. In my opinion, the Adidas No Mercy’s were a  great choice by Avery. The bright green and black colourway are a great match with the C’s uniform.

credit: @keezcam

credit: @keezcam

More importantly, Avery has been playing great in these kicks.

Do you think Avery should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Green Kick of the Week ft. Avery Bradley’s Adidas Crazy 1’s

Avery Bradley made his long-awaited return against the Suns last week. Whilst it took him some time to find his groove, he did have a solid hit out for his first game in over a month.

He made his return in a GOLD pair of Adidas Crazy 1 “Awards Season” kicks. These kicks were more than enough for Bradley to claim his first Green Kick Of The Week title for season 2013-14.

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Bradley wore these sneakers earlier in 2014, but there was some tougher competition that week. As you can tell from the photos, these kicks stand out from the crowd with their gold and white outer.

The Adidas Crazy 1 was a perfect choice for Avery; they are a great match with the Celtics new sleeved St. Patrick’s Days uniform.

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What are your thoughts on these kicks? Do you think ‘The Game Changer’ should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

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