The first part of the season was cute, right? A bunch of dudes just playing really hard before the reality of the season set in, and the full weight of a rebuilding season crushed their playoff hopes. Then, a month or two into the season, they would start losing and keep losing until a top five draft pick was all but insured.
December and January saw the plan begin to unfold, but it will stop there if Rondo has his way. Chris Forsberg on ESPN Boston:
Call them disillusioned, but with Rondo back — and looking more like his old self during Sunday’s win — these Celtics have talked themselves into the possibility that they could make an honest-to-goodness playoff charge.
“[Rondo] lets us know that anything is possible,” said Bradley. “If we come out strong [in the second half of the season], we have a chance to break off a run and win eight games straight if we play harder than everybody else.”
This could be a problem.
Don’t get me wrong, the Celtics aren’t going to make the playoffs. But, realistically, the 8-13 range in the draft isn’t going to do anything for Boston. The 1-5 range, however? That could make a significant difference, whether the Celtics decide to keep the pick or deal it for a disgruntled star somewhere around the league. (You know all of this by now, of course. Please don’t take our continued repetition of it here at Celtics Hub as insulting to your intelligence).
This story wouldn’t be a big deal if it was anybody besides Rondo — a force of nature who can single-handedly drag his team to wins they have no business earning. But after a good performance Sunday, it will be interesting to see how Rondo’s return affects Boston’s record as the team enters an extremely soft month of February.
Johnson has been absurdly effective for the Cs in a small sample size, with a true shooting percentage of 62.1 percent, 41 percent shooting from 3-point range and 13 points per 36 minutes. A D-League call-up, Johnson may be a diamond in Boston’s rough rebuilding year. So they will sign him to a contract for the rest of the year, right?
Well, not so fast. Here’s CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely:
As much as the Celtics like what Johnson has done so far, there’s a very real chance his contract won’t be picked up for the rest of the year when his current 10-day deal expires on Thursday.
“But it’s a complicated time of the year for us with the trade deadline coming up,” Ainge told CSNNE.com. “We like everything about Chris. We’re hoping to keep him around, but there’s a lot more that prevents that from happening or could prevent that from happening.”
Hey, Danny? WHY DO YOU HATE ALL OF US AND ALSO NICE THINGS?
Obviously, there are cap and roster space implications to be considered, and certainly Danny has considered them and will weigh them appropriately. This isn’t a complicated decision like what to do with Rondo — there are no max contracts upcoming for Johnson, no teams offering first-round picks for his rights. Johnson isn’t transforming these Celtics into a contender, no matter how excellent his performance has been so far. This is pretty black-and-white: Either keep Johnson or release him.
Releasing Johnson may have other implications. The trade deadline is February 20, and Ainge may be eyeing Johnson’s roster spot with eyes toward a future move. If a trade presents itself that would significantly help Boston, giving Johnson a contract for the rest of the year would clog up one roster spot, which would complicate matters. So if Ainge decides to pass on Johnson, it would be an understandable decision.
That being said, Johnson has been a shining bright spot in a season with precious few of them, and he has inarguably earned an NBA contract. Whether the Celtics have that contract to offer him or not, it would be a shame to see him sent back down to the D-League after this performance.
In lighter news, Washington-native Avery Bradley has been keeping a diary on ESPN Boston, and he used this platform in his latest post to gloat (just a little bit) about Seattle’s Super Bowl beat down of Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
I was so hoping Seattle would win and go out there and play a complete game, which is exactly what it did. I would have been really upset if Denver had won. I’m not a Peyton Manning fan. I never have been.
There’s a mystery going on in this locker room. I wore my Seahawks hat to Sunday’s game, and someone put masking tape over the logo and wrote Broncos on the tape. I haven’t found out who the culprit is yet. Everybody denied it.
Let’s do some process-by-elimination (or, by its more accurate name, total guesswork): We can rule out Gerald Wallace, a Patriots fan who would never stoop to anything pro-Denver. Joel Anthony and Kelly Olynyk are Canadian, so frankly, I doubt they cared about the game. Same goes for Vitor Faverani, minus the Canadian part. Rondo, who knows a little something about quarterbacking, probably appreciates Manning’s skills, but he would have come up with something better than masking tape.
Frankly, to me, this smells of a prankster who doesn’t have money to blow on a brand new Broncos hat. That, of course, rules out Kris Humphries, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass, and points to our most viable suspect (in my humble opinion): Phil Pressey. Pressey is fresh out of college, a place notorious for pranks, and his $490k contract doesn’t really allow for expenses like a $40 brand new New Era fitted.
Here’s hoping Bradley keeps us updated on his investigation. Just a tip from Celtics Hub, Avery: Keep the heat on Phil.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.