NBA AM: Celtics Aren’t Better Without Rondo
As more time passes, it becomes even more apparent the Boston Celtics’ title window with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce running the show is coming to a close. With the regular season winding down, the Celtics are currently in a rapid free fall, in the midst of a five-game losing streak, and aren’t even close to being considered a serious championship contender.
To be fair, even though the Celtics were underachieving at the time, the season-ending injury to All-Star guard Rajon Rondo in late January all but sealed Boston’s fate for this year’s roster. But with Rondo sidelined, the Celtics responded by running off a seven-game winning streak which included victories over the Miami HEAT, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
The team’s success without arguably its best player in the lineup kick started the chirping from league executives, pundits and fans about how the Celtics just might be a better team without Rondo. Those debates then morphed into a rampant amount of trade rumors suggesting the Celtics’ brass were considering parting ways with their injured floor general.
There was a growing consensus that the Celtics were a better team without Rondo playing due to his penchant for over dribbling, which stifled the offense at times, despite his gaudy assist numbers. The advanced metrics seem to back up this consensus. The Celtics are scoring more points per game without Rondo in the lineup and opponents have scored less per outing versus the team since the injury.
Throw all of that stuff out of the window.
The fact remains, the NBA is a stars league and Rondo, when healthy, is firmly etched amongst the league’s elite. Whether you like, loathe or love the guy, his impact on games on both sides of the floor is clearly evident, as is his proven ability to singlehandedly carry the Celtics on some nights.
So while the Celtics have managed to stray into the lower realm of the Eastern Conference’s playoff hunt, the odds are slim the team can duplicate its Eastern Conference Finals appearance from a year ago without Rondo creating havoc in the backcourt.
Can the club eventually deal Rondo and become better in the process? Sure. But there’s no validity to the argument that Boston organically grew from within and became a better team by losing a four-time All-Star, NBA champion and the league’s reigning assist leader.
The Future Of Vinny Del Negro In Los Angeles
It’s no secret that Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro’s future with the franchise is uncertain beyond this season. The team picked up his option for the current campaign, but has remained mum on the prospect of offering the much-maligned coach a long-term deal despite his success leading the club this season.
Despite not having a strong sense of job security after this season, Del Negro says he is enjoying the pressure of proving his worth and believes his future is bright with or without a commitment from the franchise.
“I enjoy the pressure,” Del Negro told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “That’s what it’s about. I love the competition. Could things be a little bit better in certain areas? Of course. But all those things get answered at the end of the year.
“My future is great. I’ve got a great future, no matter what. I’ve been pretty fortunate, so I don’t really worry about that stuff so much. Like I said, all those things take care of themselves when we finish.”
The Clippers are 48-23 (.676) on the season, which currently slots them fourth in the Western Conference standings. Del Negro has led the team to a 120-99 (.548) mark since being named head coach. He has compiled a 4-7 playoff record with the franchise.
Lakers’ Metta World Peace Out Indefinitely
Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering torn cartilage in his left knee on Monday versus Golden State, according to reports. The Lakers have been inconsistent this season and have underachieved, but at the same time the squad has rarely been at full strength since the campaign began.
World Peace has appeared in 70 out of the team’s 71 contests in a season where Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant have been banged up.
The 14-year veteran is averaging 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals on the season. The point and rebound averages are the veteran’s highest since his 2008-09 campaign with the Houston Rockets, and his steals average is the highest its been since the 2007-08 season when World Peace averaged 2.3 per night with the Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers are 36-35 and own a one game lead over the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
HOOPSWORLD’s March Madness Coverage
We have previewed every single game and you can find all of the previews here. They have in-depth stats, players to watch and a poll so that you can vote on which team will win. Once it tips off, feel free to discuss the game in the comment section.
Are you an NBA fan who only watches the NCAA Tournament to get a look at this year’s draft prospects? Here is a look at 20 players to watch during March Madness.
We will continue to push out NCAA Tournament coverage over the next few weeks so be sure to check back regularly.
There are two chats on the docket today. Alex Kennedy will be holding down his weekly chat at 1 p.m. EST. Send Alex a question here. I will be hosting my weekly chat tonight at 8 p.m. EST. You can send me a question here.