In meeting with local media for the first time in months on Monday, Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was left to discuss the massive re-shaping of the Boston Celtics’ roster, from the loss of players like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, to the switch out between former coach Doc Rivers, and rookie NCAA call-up Brad Stevens.
Rondo, who could be out until December as he recovers from ACL reconstruction, kept up a poker face when asked if he took an emotional hit upon finding out that Rivers would be joining the Los Angeles Clippers, and that Garnett and Pierce were ostensibly traded on draft night. From Gary Dzen at the Boston Globe:
Asked about the departures of Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, Rondo was unemotional.
"It wasn't difficult at all," said Rondo. "I didn't feel anything. I actually landed in LA the night of the draft. I had 45 text messages come through the phone. I thought I was traded.
"It's not the first teammates that I've been close to who were traded away -- Perk, Tony Allen. It's part of the process. This is a fresh start for us, a new coach and a new team. I'm excited about the fresh start."
We respect the heck out of Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen, but comparing the dealing of former MVP Kevin Garnett and Mr. Modern Celtic Paul Pierce to losing Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen is stretching some credibility, there, Rajon Pierre Rondo. Fine improvisational work, but we’re not buying it.
There’s no way that Rajon Rondo (a competitor who has played NBA minutes immediately after tearing his ACL, or mangling his arm) did not have any reflex at suddenly turning into a lead dog on a rebuilding team that may have to scrap its way toward 25 wins, just 12 months after playing a Game 7 for the chance at the NBA Finals. Rondo is cool, but he’s nowhere near that dispassionate. The guy wants to win, and the Celtics (in one era-killing move) took that chance away from him. For 2013-14, at least.
This is what you’re supposed to say, though, if you’re in Rondo’s position.
You don’t send KG, Truth and JET off with a “good riddance,” or type up some pathetic, comic sans-penned retort, and on the other end of that spectrum you certainly don’t shed a tear in public. Save that for the texts, or phone calls, between you and your former teammates in person. And Celtics fans aren’t going to think Rondo is being disrespectful toward the players he fought with between 2007-2012; they want to know they have a tough bugger in place to line up against the Nets four times during the 2013-14 regular season, someone that’s not going to bow down in the face of rebuilding.
Rondo, based on the initial stages of his career, doesn’t seem like the sort of guy that would bow down when it comes to raise Paul Pierce’s jersey to the rafters. It may take him a while to return to the court as he mends from ACL surgery, but the Celtics have a gamer on their hands. The perfect point guard to hit new teammates like Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans in rhythm on the break.
(This is where Rajon Rondo, upon reading that, turns away so that you can’t see him cry.)