For the sake of this column, lets assume that Rajon Rondo stays in Boston.
Of course, with Danny Ainge, to assume anything is to set yourself up for massive embarrassment. But at this point, with Chris Paul destined for one of two Staples Center locker rooms (or a crawl space in David Sterns basement), and the season less than two weeks away, lets go out on a limb and say that Rondo will be here on Christmas Day, Valentines Day and every day until the season ends.
If not, well at least we had this conversation.
As you know, on Tuesday morning, the Boston Herald ran a story on Rondo in which, among other things, Steve Beatlemania Bulpett detailed a behind-the-scenes altercation during last years playoffs.
It was an off-day in the Miami series, with the Celtics trailing 0-2 and Rondo a few quarters away from the most gruesome elbow injury this side of Andrew Bogut. As it goes, the team was watching film and Rondo was getting torched. Then
According to multiple sources, Rondos errors were being pointed out when he arose and began discussing the mistakes of his teammates. Loudly. Using harsh language.
Coach Doc Rivers got up and fired back, and Rondo threw a bottle that shattered the video screen. He bolted from the practice facility and was prevented from returning when he tried later.
Rondo eventually apologized, and later atoned with his Game 3 heroics, but the damage was clearly done. Someone wanted it out there.
Now it's in the headlines, and we're forced into another round of: What's wrong with Rondo?
(First of all, let me say that I don't really care what happened in that video room. Of course, it's an interesting story; it's always fun to look behind the curtain. But in general, it's not an enormous deal. This sort of thing happens all the time. (For instance, last Sunday on the Patriots sidelines). But seeing that this is hardly the first time we've heard something like this about Rondo, it's hard to ignore.)
On the court he's fine. Foul shots aside, he's a Top 5 point guard (Paul, Rose, Williams, Westbrook, Rondo) and still getting better. For 37 minutes a night, there are very few guys you'd rather have running your team. The Celtics are lucky to have him.
The problem is that Rondo hasn't matured off the court as much or as quickly as anyone would like. From the moment he signed that extension in 2009, he was pegged as the future of this team. He became the captain in waiting, and was expected to act as such. But two years later, he's still not there. There are still reasons to question whether he'll be able to become the face of the Celtics when the Big 3 fade away.
But more than "Can he lead the Celtics?" the more troublesome question is: "Does he even want to?"
Later on in Bulpett's story, Rondo talks about ways to improve his attitude:
Im not going to point the fingers on anybody, he said. Any relationship problems I have with anybody on the team or anybody on the coaching staff, I have to do better as a player and as a leader. You know, I didnt ask for this role, but its part of it for one, being a point guard, for two, the way I play. So I just have to embrace it better.
And that's my biggest fear right now for the Celtics.
That Rondo sees his leadership role as more of a burden than a passion. That leading the Boston Celtics is just something he has to deal with, as opposed to something he's dying to do.
With that attitude, it's very easy to say the right things in training camp, but when another thing entirely to step up when it matters. And only time will tell if Rondo has that in him.