OFFSEASON

Blakely: Is Rondo as Celtics future leader a good thing?

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Blakely: Is Rondo as Celtics future leader a good thing?

ATLANTA There's little doubt that Rajon Rondo is in many ways being groomed to be the Boston Celtics' leader of the future.

But it's times like this that may you wonder is that a good thing?

Rondo lost his composure in the closing seconds on Sunday, and the Celtics wound up losing the game, 83-74, as the Atlanta Hawks take a 1-0 series lead in their best-of-seven playoff series.

Making matters worse, his chest-bumping of official Marc Davis, as expected, resulted in a one-game suspension without pay, that will be enforcedultimately resulting him getting ejected, factoring into the Celtics' 83-74 loss, and to make matters even worse, he's now suspended for Game 2 on Tuesday.

Now the Celtics have been a team handling adversity since before the season started. And this, for many of them, is par for the course.

But here's the problem.

It's one thing to handle adversity when it lands in your lap. Totally different matter when you bring it upon yourself and your teammates which is exactly what Rondo has done.

If the Celtics lose this series, you can bet they won't blame Father Time, they won't blame Ray Allen's gimpy ankle, they could care less if Josh Smith continued playing like an All-Star.

It'll be Rondo's fault.

Fair or not, that's part of the deal that comes with being the future face of the franchise. That's part of the deal when you play at a ridiculously high level in games with a national TV audience.

"We've been prepared to play without him," C's Paul Pierce said before the announcement that he would be out. "We've been prepared to play without a number of guys. That's no excuse. It's game two. It's a game that we gotta have."

And if this season is any barometer for what's to come, the Celtics will probably win Game 2 and tilt home court advantage in their favor.

But even if they do that and the C's go on to the next round of the playoffs, Rondo's maturation once again will be an issue moving forward.

The talent that he has is off the charts. You can search high and wide, and you won't find another player in the NBA with his court vision or knack for getting the ball to guys in their sweet spots.

And while he's just 26 years old, these emotional outbursts - and their timing - has to give Danny Ainge and the Celtics' brass reason to pause.

Think back to February when the Celtics were at Detroit and Rondo, upset at an official for what he believed was a non-call - sounds familiar? - then tossed the ball to the official with shall we say, a little more force than needed.

He was ejected from that game and then hit with a two-game suspension.

Oh, the two games he missed?

They were only road games at Dallas - the reigning NBA champion - and Oklahoma City who at the time, had the best record in the Western Conference.

Yes, his timing then - and now - could not have been much worse, all things considered.

But here's the challenge for Boston.

The very thing that got him suspended - strong, passionate emotions - is the very thing he brings to the floor that the Celtics desperately need.

"Rondo's an emotional player," Rivers said. "You know that old saying,'I'd rather kindle a fire than start one?' I like his fire and sometimes it burns you. You know what I mean? But I like the fire that he has. He's a fighter for his team. You don't want him to go that far, obviously. But it's just who he is. It's also part of what makes him great. It's that fine line that you have to walk, and every once in a while he crosses it."

He certainly did on Sunday.

And chances are pretty good he'll cross it again at some point in the near future.

The Celtics can brush it aside to some degree now because they have leaders already in place to handle these kind of situations.

But Paul Pierce isn't going to be around forever. Ditto for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

At some point, there will not be a sharing of power at the top of the leadership board with the Celtics.

This will be Rondo's team.

And while the fire and passion he plays with is certainly a big part of both his success and that of the Celtics, these are the times when we're reminded that his leadership skills are very much a work in progress.

But make no mistake about it.

He will be a leader, the undisputed leader of this team very soon.

But you have to wonder . . . is that a good thing?

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics secure meeting with Dwight Howard

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Report: Celtics secure meeting with Dwight Howard

In February, the Boston Celtics were involved in trade deadline talks with the Houston Rockets involving center Dwight Howard.

It appears the team still has interest in the free-agent big man. 

According to ESPN, the Celtics have secured a meeting with Howard after July 1.

Howard, 30, became a free agent after declining a player option that would have paid him more the $23 million in 2016-17 

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.