It’s hard to imagine Rajon Rondo admitting that he respects a previously hated opponent, and somehow it’s even harder to imagine Joakim Noah doing the same.
But according the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy, thanks to a shared agent, the two confrontational stars are beginning to warm up to one another. A little.
And now they respect each other? Noah pushed aside his reluctance and nodded. This mutual thaw has been coming, with agent Bill Duffy as the conduit.
“We have the same agent, and it’s interesting,” Noah said. “I always ask my agent, how is Rajon? How is he? We don’t really have that conversation with each other. I’m sure it will happen one day. As you get older you realize you can compete and still have respect for your opponent.”
There are still limits. Rondo hasn’t gone soft on a Gator, and especially not that Gator.
“We’re not friends. No. He’s not on my team,” said Rondo, channeling his attitude guru, Kevin Garnett, still the best-known Noah hater in the league. “We have respect for each other. We’ve both accomplished things in this league, we’re both competitors, we love to win and hate to lose.”
Rondo and Noah have very similar personalities — probably too similar to ever fully get along. Both are fiery competitors who put a ton of emphasis on loyalty to their teammates, and since they likely will never be teammates, the “thaw” Murphy describes probably won’t ever be truly complete.
That being said, I’m glad to hear that Rondo respects Noah if only because I respect Noah. They may never be buddy cops, but it would be great if they weren’t nemeses.
ESPN’s NBA branch, in an offshoot of the #NBARank, has started ranking front offices. The top three or so aren’t really a surprise at all (although the analytics crowd might argue Houston belongs in the mix), but check out number six.
There are plenty of legitimate questions that could be raised about Chicago’s front office, which might make some Celtics fans chirp that Boston should be higher. But this ranking seems to be taking this year’s success into account, since the Celtics are by far the highest front office not in the playoffs (next on the list is the Lakers at 16). This seems to be a nod to Danny Ainge’s vision, and the way he has executed Boston’s rebuild. It’s pretty interesting to note that the collection of assets and draft picks Ainge has compiled is enough to push Boston’s front office ahead of legitimate championship contenders like Houston and Oklahoma City.
There’s a reason Celtics fans generally trust Danny Ainge. He’s smart, he’s been through this before, and he’s opportunistic. In a season which would require a miracle to reach 30 wins (more on this in a second), sixth seems even higher than even the staunchest Danny Ainge supporter could have hoped.
We’ve covered why losing as much as possible is increasingly crucial down the stretch, as teams jockey for lottery position over the last 7-8 games. The fourth-worst record still has excellent lottery odds, and even better odds to finish with a top-5 pick. Fifth-worst is still decent. But once you reach the sixth-worst plateau, the odds begin to drop off significantly.
At the moment, Boston is 5th, leading Utah by half a game, but the Celtics have played one less game than the Jazz. Playoff contenders talk about being tied in the loss column, meaning that the team trailing controls its fate as long as they win. The Celtics have the inverse advantage — being tied in the win column means they could control their fate as long as they lose.
Losing may not be as easy over the last eight games as it was through the month of March, however. Take a look at Boston’s upcoming schedule.
Yikes. The Wizards should beat Boston, but given how tough Boston has played against playoff teams, that’s no guarantee. Charlotte is quite good this year and really should beat Boston as well, as they jockey to move out of the 7th seed in the East and a first-round matchup with either Indiana or Miami. The Sixers (twice), Pistons and Hawks on the other hand? Those are four potential catastrophic wins.
I don’t have much to add to it, but be sure to read the Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes on Rondo’s obsession with watching game film.
But for as much film as Stevens devours, he has been equally impressed with how much Rajon Rondo watches, too.
“He probably watches more film than most NBA players,” Stevens said. “Almost like a football player, with how much film he watches.”
And Stevens has come to enjoy breaking down film with his cerebral point guard.
“You sit in the film room, you’re talking about something that is part of a system, but there are things that he sees within an action that may or may not have been a part of the original plan,” Stevens said.
Read the whole column. It’s very good.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.