This has easily been one of the more suffocating news stories of the 2012-13 NBA season. Rajon Rondo tearing his ACL is not only a blow to the Celtics, but a blow to the league itself. You won’t find another player who has such a glaring flaw in his jumpshot, such a quirky–yet reserve–persona, and one who is as central of an element to his team as Rajon has been for the C’s over the past few years.
Many media outlets have focused on the future. Everyone is asking what are the Celtics do–or what can they do–to stay in the playoff race and keep relevancy in the league itself. People are wondering if the Celtics are going to move, well, Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce. Everyone else has always been available, but those two are guys who are stitched into Celtic lore forever more.
Of course, there is a possibility of those two contracts being moved. However, with the weight of each deal and Kevin Garnett having a no trade clause in his contract, I doubt that anything manifests itself anytime soon. There have been rumors about the Memphis Grizzlies inquiring about Pierce, but those have been shut down repeatedly.
Even though they’ve lost their star player to a catastrophic injury, the Celtics will still have to play basketball. Doc Rivers came out today and gave us a sneak peak about what would be done and how they’d go about playing without Rajon in the lineup. Here’s a quote from NBA.com on how Doc is going to coach the team now.
“It’s just basketball,” he said. “There’s no point guard. It’s just basketball by committee. I don’t want a guy thinking now he’s Rondo.” -NBA.com
That means that other guys will have to step up their game in his absence. Of course, we’ll probably see Pierce primarily on ball–for better or worse. He’s shooting a career low 41% from the field and only 35% from the free throw line. He’s going to have to create for others when he’s struggled to create anything for himself this season as opposed to years past.
Courtney Lee is going to play the other starting guard role for right now. He has some experience on the ball, but that may not be sufficient enough. Lee has been having a down year himself, only shooting 32% from downtown. He was brought here to be a catch and shoot guy in an effort to replace Ray Allen and provide some spacing for the team. The new role that he’s going to play is going to be difficult, but maybe knowing that night in and night out he’ll be a starter is going to help kickstart his play.
Lastly, Jason Terry is really going to have to step his on-ball play up. Rondo’s injury could have a silver lining in it if Terry can become somewhat productive. He’s always been a wing and side pick and roll ball handler because of his tendency to have a quick trigger in the middle of the floor. Since he’s been primarily coming off of screens in Boston he’s struggled. If that change is made, we’ll see how well Terry performs.
Until a move is made, there are a lot of possible options on the Celtics team to pony up and replace Rondo’s production. Whether it works or not is the question. If it does the Celtics will likely maintain their 8th playoff spot. If not, well, we’re going back to the lottery folks.