5-on-5: Rondo, Lin & Should The C’s Buy Or Sell
Posted by Ryan DeGama on Feb 16, 2012
It’s Thursday so we’re back again with Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston to field questions on the state of the Celtics, tonight’s rematch against the Bulls, and that PG that’s making so much noise around the league.
As with last week, we’ve got (great) reader contributions. Thanks again for your submissions. Keep them coming! We’ll do it again next week.
1. Are you concerned with Rondo’s media boycott this week?
Hayes Davenport: I’m not worried about one game, but if it continues? Yes. Not the media boycott itself, but the larger problem it represents. The best player on the Celtics feels so maligned by his own coach and the local media that he’s chosen to shut down all communication with his fans. This is not a positive sign. I’m struggling to remember a media boycott from anyone other than Gilbert Arenas, who’s not somebody you want to share any decision with.
Chris Forsberg: No, the whole situation has been blown out of proportion. While it was surprising that a player that produced a triple-double in a quality win over an opponent with the best record in the league didn’t want to talk to the media, not every player talks after every game and it’s not unusual for Rondo to skip a postgame session. Given that Kevin Garnett suggested Rondo had a “rough day,” maybe he didn’t want to say anything that could have been perceived as critical of others. It’s a long, game-heavy season and guys simply don’t feel like talking everyday. It happens.
Brendan Jackson: Not in the least. We can speculate about the contributing factors to Rondo’s “media boycott” (if you can really call it that) but I’m not sure that’s a) fair to do, or b) going to get us anywhere. He usually takes his time after games — between showering and visiting the training table — so I don’t really blame him for being tired and unwilling to speak to a group of people paid to make inferences.
Brian Robb: Nope. It helps that he ended it last night, but an unwillingness to speak with the media is par for the course with Rondo. Plenty of Celtics players (including Paul Pierce a year or two back) go through stretches where they decline to speak with the media. As much as we want to hear from these guys, after you speak night-after-night over the course of a condensed season, it can get a little cumbersome. Taking a couple nights off shouldn’t be a big deal, just don’t do it after your best game of the season.
CelticsHub Reader Adam Moskowitz: No. Rondo is saying two very exciting things by the way of this boycott. First, he’s saying, “No matter what I do, I get no attention from the media unless I go negative, and thanks for the All-Star snub.” Second, he’s saying, “Look what I just did against the Bulls. That would be me every night if I had a fast-paced team around me who did not live and die by half-court sets. Put me with any group of young athletic players and I will be putting up triple-doubles every night.”
2. The trade deadline is less than a month out. Are you inclined to buy or sell?
Davenport: Sell. Without sacrificing Rondo or the Big Three, any pieces the Celtics could actually add or trade for wouldn’t be enough to put them over the top, so there’s no point in buying. Either keep the team together for the fans or start building for the future, but don’t pull the trigger on a deal unless Otis Smith is involved.
Forsberg: Neither. I think the Celtics learned last season that, sometimes, there’s a great value in just sticking with what you’ve got. That could be especially true this season given the game-heavy schedule where continuity and chemistry is even harder to produce on the fly with limited practice time. Unless there’s a way to maneuver for an experienced big man that doesn’t rock the core (the Big Four, Pietrus, Bass, Wilcox), then I think Boston might be resigned to ride it out with what they’ve got (or a very minor, end-of-the-bench tweak with high-reward potential). The only way I see this team becoming sellers is if it bottoms out, which isn’t impossible, but simply doesn’t seem likely.
Jackson: Both? I think the one thing the Celtics can’t do is stand pat. Many believe that the C’s would have been better equipped to combat Miami in the playoffs had they left their phone off the hook during the trade deadline. Well, this year, no one is coming back from injury and no one is miraculously going to become a notable contributor.
Robb: Talk to me at the All-Star Break. I know that’s a bit of a cop out answer, but I need to see how these guys play competitive teams on a road trip before passing complete judgment here. We’re nearly 30 games in here, and it’s getting pretty close to put up or shut up time for the key components of the entire roster. At this point though, you can’t help but lean to the sell category given Boston’s inconsistent road play.
CelticsHub Reader PJ Gaudie: I’d be inclined to stay put. Outside of the Lakers and Raptors games last week, we seemed to have gotten back to Celtics basketball where we can be as good as anyone (on the right night), so let’s see how this season plays out. Whatever we do, it can’t sacrifice the cap space we’ll have for potential free agent prizes this summer.
3. Could Chris Wilcox supplant Jermaine O’Neal as starting center?
Davenport: Yes. Could and should. He already plays more minutes than Jermaine does, and he’s not a total offensive space-sucker like Jermaine is. Wilcox’s record on defense isn’t as polished, but he’s much faster and stronger than O’Neal, qualities that might make up for his lack of height and awareness. He plays well with Rondo, so they should share as much court time as possible.
Forsberg: The only reason I say no is that there’s a great value in bringing Wilcox, with his energy and athleticism, off the pine and leaving Jermaine O’Neal with the comforts of the Big Four around him. That said, watching Rondo and Wilcox run the floor together lately has me wondering if it’s better to maximize the time that duo spends together on the court (especially when you still have Bass and Pietrus bringing energy and scoring off the bench). If Jermaine O’Neal continues to battle injuries, it might be worth exploring simply for continuity value, but I think we need a larger sample of Wilcox with the Big Four to know for sure if it would work.
Jackson: Definitely. Rondo and Wilcox are starting to develop a great chemistry and would really benefit from an uptick in shared court time. I think it will (or should) really depend on match-ups going forward.
Robb: He could, but I doubt he will. O’Neal can’t do much anymore but he does serve as a nice defensive anchor to the starting five. Wilcox has started to build a nice connection with Rondo so I do think Doc will make an effort to get those two on the floor together after the first six minutes of each half to take advantage of Wilcox’s ability to run the floor. O’Neal’s flaws are further magnified when he’s playing hurt and not playing with an outside shooter like Kevin Garnett, but for now he stays put.
CelticsHub Reader Christopher Lawrence: No. The second unit needs a guy with Wilcox’s energy. He’s shown us that he can run the floor and finish powerfully and he’s also a solid rebounder. Keep Jermaine paired with KG on the first team to hide his deficiencies.
4. Around The NBA: What’s your reaction to/prediction for Jeremy Lin?
Davenport: I have been on Jeremy’s bandwagon for a very long time. I went to college with him and saw him play there. The abilities he’s showing now are absolutely not new and not going away. He’s always been skilled, athletic, intelligent, and a hard worker, and the only reason the league slept on him for two years is that he didn’t fit the profile. Lin is going to start for the Knicks for the rest of this season and beyond, because they’re going to throw a bunch of money at him when the season’s over.
Forsberg: Any time the NBA is in the headlines, it’s a good thing for the league (yes, even when it’s for The Decision and other sideshows). As Doc Rivers pointed out before Wednesday’s game, Lin is a story because he is helping the Knicks win games (and it doesn’t hurt that he’s doing it under the Big Apple spotlight). If he was putting up these sort of stats in, say, Sacramento and the Kings were 4-3 over their last seven games, no one would care. The only questions now are: 1) How long can he keep this up? 2) How long until we reach over-saturation (if we haven’t already) and people start rooting against the Knicks in hopes of making it a non-story? Either way, a nice out-of-nowhere story in an already-crazy season.
Jackson: Unlike many people in NBA circles, I was in a unique position in that Jeremy Lin didn’t sneak up on me. I watched him completely undress Tyrese Rice and Reggie Jackson at Conte Forum on separate occasions. I did not, however, see this coming. I absolutely love what Lin has been able to do but a production plummet is my biggest fear going forward. I have deep reservations about how Lin and Carmelo Anthony can coexist without completely destroying all of the cohesion the Knicks have created.
Robb: It’s been a pleasure to watch. I had a sneak preview, having seen him destroy the Boston College Eagles on their home floor the last two years of his college career. I do think he will level out a bit in the coming weeks when he faces tougher defensive teams and there’s a better scouting report on him. However, this sustained stretch has me convinced that he’ll have a starting point guard job in New York for as long as he stays in town.
CelticsHub Reader Jason Beck: Am I in on Jeremy Lin? Let’s just say that I watched the last five minutes of the Raptors game and I now have a full head of hair for the first time in 20 years. Did you know that If you say ‘Jeremy Lin’ five times in a row, a magical pixie appears and gives you a Knicks jersey (game worn)? Am I in? Yeah. I’m ALL the way in.
5. Bulls-Celtics Round Two. Your predictions, please.
Davenport: It comes down to whether Rose and Garnett are going to play, for me. I think KG will and Rose won’t. Boston 92, Chicago 90.
Forsberg: A tough turnaround for Boston (though if they get Kevin Garnett back, that’d be a nice boost, especially given his fresh legs after a night off on Wednesday). If the Celtics don’t have KG, it could be a long night, because Wilcox has been playing high minutes and would be going up against a very energetic frontcourt. The Celtics would need not only another big effort from someone like JaJuan Johnson, but for Jermaine O’Neal to give quality minutes as well. That’s asking a lot of this frontcourt on the tail end of a back-to-back (even if Rondo goes off again, which is also asking a lot after two big efforts in a row). Signs point to a Bulls win, which, since this Celtics team is impossible to get a read on, means Boston will find some way to win a game they probably shouldn’t.
Jackson: The Celtics will give a better effort than they did last night against the Pistons but I don’t think the outcome will be much different. I see a shortage of killer instinct with this squad that won’t be remedied soon. 96-86 Bulls.
Robb: The Bulls will likely be missing Derrick Rose once again tonight, giving the Celtics a chance to compete on the road. With that said, a lot hinges on Kevin Garnett’s ability to play tonight, as last night we saw just how crucial he still is to this team’s defense. We know Chicago will be motivated after a sub-par game defensively on Sunday, but the question may be will the C’s will come out hungry after an unexpected loss last night to Detroit, or prove unwilling to compete with tired legs? We’ve seen both kind of games in back-to-backs this year, but I don’t expect the C’s to have energy and personnel to rise up to the challenge. Bulls 87, Celtics 81.
CelticsHub Reader Michelle Trybulec: I don’t know what will happen, but I hope Rose feels good enough to play. I want to see the two matadors do their thing under lights far brighter and scrutiny more intense than Linsanity could even imagine. You want to see the great ones do great things.