GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 8, 2013

How about building team around Rondo?

On Basketball
Bill Burt

---- — This column might be a waste of space. The new Red Auerbach, Danny Ainge, may have already decided that Rajon Rondo might as well have already packed his bags.

In fact, I wouldn’t blame Ainge. If there was a Rondo Ride at Canobie Lake Park, it would be hybrid of between the Corkscrew Coaster and Crazy Cups.

There have been more high moments than low moments. There have been some big-time immature moments. But the ride has been exciting, nevertheless.

Let’s make believe that Ainge will have trouble getting equal value for Rondo and that new coach Brad Stevens is telling the whole truth when he says there is no bigger Rondo fan than him.

That means the new Boston Celtics will be built around their new franchise player, Rajon Rondo.

Enticing, isn’t it?

This is not new grounds. Paul Pierce went through the same ordeal, with not so many ups and downs. In fact, he was the quiet one and Antoine Walker played more of the Rondo role. But Pierce stuck it out, became a superstar and MVP of the NBA Finals, and leaves Boston as one of the best pure and clutch scorers in franchise history.

That is saying something, considering names like Sam Jones, John Havlicek and Larry Bird are at the top of that vaunted ex-Celtics players list.

Rondo has a chance to be ... ahem!! ... a leader.

He has a chance to prove that he was every bit as important to the Celtics’ success the last half-dozen years as Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Pierce were.

This won’t be easy, though. The Celtics are at the infancy of this rebuilding mode, with nine first round picks and enough 22-and-under players to fill a bus station. Ainge will have to provide Coach Stevens with another franchise player, in his prime, and then find, deal or mold a third guy to the rotation.

Rondo has two years remaining on his deal, at $11 million per year. He could suck it up for two years and see if he likes the direction of the franchise and become probably the top free agent in the 2015-16 class.

Maybe he could pull a Kevin Garnett and recruit a “big guy” to Boston who would like a very talented “little guy” to get him the ball in the right places and make him a Hall of Famer?

Doc Rivers has called Rondo the most intelligent player in the league (not kidding!). He has a coach’s mind and architect’s vision.

Rondo has a chance to become one of the greatest Celtics that ever lived, if not the best point guard (sorry to one of my all-time favorites, Bob Cousy). He has a chance to have his number retired for one of the greatest franchises in all of sports.

Am I 100 percent sure he’s a perfect fit and any of the good stuff I mentioned will actually happen? No.

But it is worth a shot.

(Please note that if Rondo is traded in the next week, this column will disappear as if it was never written.)