We knew the Celtics didn’t stand a chance tonight, not on the road against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, not against a team that is finally getting its act together. And not without Rajon Rondo, suspended for going bad boy on the ref in Detroit. And certainly not without Kevin Garnett, out dealing with personal issues. We knew a loss was inevitable. Yes, we knew that.
Brandon Bass wasn’t going to play in this game, and that didn’t help, either. And then Jermaine O’Neal goes out with a wrist injury and things only got worse. And then Chris Wilcox goes out with a groin injury. So no, there really weren’t any expectations in terms of getting a W tonight.
But what we’re now forced to confront is the fact that Danny Ainge has done a disservice to the Big Three, to head coach Doc Rivers, and to Celtics fans everywhere. The Boston Celtics as we know them are a mess. They can’t stay healthy, they can’t keep up, they can’t keep their opponents off the glass when it matters most. And in the middle of the maelstrom is Ainge, the architect of this house of cards, the man who started the season by privately shopping Rondo and then publicly saying that Rondo should feel good about being mentioned in trade rumors involving Chris Paul. Really? Really?
Are you kidding me? Listen Danny, our man Rondo isn’t exactly stupid. If you were convinced Rondo was the answer at point guard you wouldn’t have put Rondo on the block. You would have – should have – been trying to trade Garnett, or trying like hell to convince Dwight Howard that Boston might not be such a bad place to play after all. And if you come up short at the end of the day, so what – at least you’ve shown your commitment to Rondo, and you set your sights on rebuilding next year with Rondo the catalyst for a new breed of Celtics.
But what you’ve done is try to compete this season with an eye on next year, and in the process you’ve failed at both. This team ain’t going anywhere, m’man. It just ain’t. And the loyalty that you’ve shown your only in-his-prime superstar? You’ve pretty much said there isn’t any loyalty, that you’ll drop someone like Rondo like a bad habit if there’s something better around the corner.
Well, guess what? Rondo is among the leaders in technical fouls this season, and something tells me that he’s acting out. Why? Because he’s fed up with someone he can’t trust. The man dislocates an elbow in last season’s playoffs, only to return and play with one arm…and you’re shopping him? Really?
It’s a business, right? That’s your pat answer. It’s a business, and no one on the roster is safe. Well, there’s something to be said for doing things the right way, and in the case of Rondo you didn’t handle it well at all. You had to know that, in this day of social media, the very thought of trading Rondo would leak out to the real world. So you don’t even go there. You leave that one alone. You’ve got your guy at the point – he may not be perfect, he may not ever develop a consistent jump shot, but Rondo is not the problem and trading him wouldn’t be the answer.
And you’ve somehow convinced yourself that the Big Three have one more title run in them, that things will somehow work out in the end. If I’m you, I don’t make that Perkins trade. I trade one of the Big Three, even if that means parting ways with Paul Pierce, and I find a way to throw money to keep Kendrick Perkins. Perk might not have come at a discount, but you lock him up the way you’ve locked up Rondo and you’ve got a couple of guys to build around. You don’t think Perk would have thought long and hard before bolting for greener pastures? The man was tore up when he heard the news. You had to have known that. You’re close enough that you should have known that. And that’s why you have to roll the dice and try to keep Perk in Celtic green.
So, we’re left looking forward to next season, hoping that Jeff Green comes back healthy and that we can keep him in the fold. You’ve got a couple of promising rookies in E’Twaun Moore and JuJuan Johnson, and you’ve got some flexibility in terms of the salary cap. You may land a big name free agent this summer - I hope that you do – but I’m not confident that you know what you’re doing. I think you’re an excellent evaluator of college talent, and that’s where your real skill lies. I think you got lucky with the Ray Allen – Kevin Garnett trades, and I think you spend too much time throwing crap at the walls and seeing what sticks.
Does that make you a bad basketall prez? No, of course not. But in my mind you’re not that great, either.
And neither are the Celtics.