OFFSEASON

All on Rondo

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All on Rondo

I mentioned this briefly at the end of one of yesterday's posts, but with Game 6 fast approaching and injury-talk already boring, I figured I'd re-iterate the message one more time.

It's all about Rajon Rondo.

For however long we want to speculate about Paul Pierce's knee, Ray Allen's ankle, Avery Bradley's shoulder and Al Horford's pectoral. No matter what you think about who should guard Joe Johnson, who should play back-up center or who would win a race between Erick Dampier and Tommy Heinsohn. Regardless of anything

If Rondo shows up tonight and I mean really shows up nothing else will matter.

That may be a slight overstatement, but not by much.

By "show up," I don't mean "score points." This isn't a call for Rondo to put the team on his back like Pierce in Game 2, and make a push for 30 or even 20 points. Of course, if it happens, it happens, but more important than scoring points, Rondo just needs to create points. That can come by way of baskets, assists and just as well through rebounds. Rondo's never better than when he's crashing the boards and starting fast breaks by himself; when he eliminates the need for an outlet pass, and has the defense on their heels from the moment they miss a shot.

Honestly, I'm not sure why I'm spending so much time describing this ideal Rondo game, because we all know exactly what it looks like. We've seen it before most recently in Game 3, which was (not coincidentally) the only game the Celtics have resembled anything close to a championship team. The only question is when we'll see it again.

And if the answer's "tonight," here are a few things we won't have to worry about: Pierce's knee. Allen's ankle. Bradley's shoulder. Horford's pec. What do you do with Joe? Hollins or Stiemsma? Heinsohn or Dampier? All we'll care about is this: Chicago or Philly?

But if Super Rondo isn't ready when the ball goes up, then all those questions (and more) come into play for the C's. And the likelihood of heading back down to Atlanta increases by the minute.

I said it yesterday. I said 400 words ago. And I'll say it again now.

It's all about Rondo.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

OFFSEASON

Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

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Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

BOSTON -- When you’re the Boston Celtics and you have your sights set on a star like Kevin Durant, the potential impact on your roster is undeniable.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well . . . not exactly.

One of the options that the Celtics are considering during the free agency period is whether to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before July 3 which would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.

But here’s the problem.

Boston could potentially waive Johnson and Jerebko, fail to get Durant or another elite free agent and see the duo gone for nothing in return while they play their way into a big contract toiling in the NBA’s basement with one of the league’s worst teams.

How you ask?

Multiple league sources contacted by CSNNE.com Tuesday night indicated that if the Celtics waive both players, it’s “very likely” that both will be claimed off waivers.

According to a league office official, waiver priority goes to the team with the worst record attempting to claim a player.

And what team had the worst record in the NBA last season?

Yup. The 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.

And what team was right behind them, or ahead depending on how you look at things?

The lowly, 17-win Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson is due $12 million next season while Jerebko is due to earn $5 million, chump change in this new age of the NBA with the 2016-2017 salary cap expected to be around $94 million.

In addition, both players would join clubs in contract years. Couple that with each being relatively productive and there’s the potential for each player to have a really big season.

Johnson was the Celtics’ top rim-protector last season, in addition to being a solid pick-and-roll defender. He also averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds with 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. 

And Jerebko shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season, and finished up the playoffs in the starting lineup.

The Celtics are well aware of how valuable both players were to Boston’s success last season, and how their production relative to their contracts makes them extremely important to whatever team they play for.

To lose them for what would essentially be a lottery ticket in the Durant sweepstakes, is certainly a gamble that it remains to be seen if the Celtics are willing to take.

Best-case scenario for Boston is to know where they stand with Durant within the first 24 hours of free agency which would then allow them time to make a more informed decision about Johnson and Jerebko’s futures.

As you can imagine, the Celtics are as eager as any team to know what Durant plans to do this summer.

Because the way things are starting to take shape with Boston’s pursuit of the former league MVP, he’s going to have an impact on the Celtics’ roster one way or another.