Turns out the Celtics lost far more than a basketball game on Friday night down in Atlanta. A knee injury to All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo has knocked out Boston’s premiere player, possibly for up to a year, and the Celtics’ precarious playoff positioning could be in jeopardy as a result. The injury – an ACL tear – could also have ramifications in terms of how Danny Ainge views this team in terms of both short and long-range viability.
Ainge is a smart man, and I trust that he’ll take a measured approach to dealing with this situation. The first order of business will be scheduling knee surgery and getting a plan in place for Rondo’s rehab.
Next, Ainge must address the point guard situation with head coach Doc Rivers and determine how to best move forward. In the near-term, the key decisions will revolve around point guard rotation with the current roster. Who will step into the starting spot? The smart money is on moving Jason Terry from the bench to the starting rotation, a move that makes the Celtic starting five older, but a move that may also help Terry out of his slump. That would keep Courtney Lee coming off the bench, and would also afford Leandro Barbosa a greater role in terms of playing time. And, in theory, this could potentially help Barbosa in terms of job satisfaction and overall production.
Beyond that, Ainge must decide whether to sign another point guard. This will be one of the more interested story lines to follow this week, because bringing in another guard could involve signing a free agent or pulling a deal with another team. To that end, Ainge will need to reevaluate any possible trades that he has in the works, or at least has entertained. Does it change the timing? Does it change the players possibly involved in a package deal?
Whatever happens, life without Rondo is life on the edge if you’re a Celtics fan.
And, if you’re the President of Basketball Operations, as Ainge is, your world has suddenly gotten a lot more complicated.