OFFSEASON

Rondo, Smith ready for friendly rivalry

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Rondo, Smith ready for friendly rivalry

Rajon Rondos friendship with former teammate Kendrick Perkins is well publicized. But before Rondo and Perkins met on the Boston Celtics, Rondo had already developed another close relationship with a player in the NBA, one he will face in the first round of the playoffs.

Rondo and Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith played high school basketball together at Oak Hill Academy. Rondo ran the point while Smith ran the floor, wowing spectators with his athletic moves.

Josh got a lot of attention here because he was a high-profile recruit, Oak Hill Academy head coach Steve Smith told CSNNE.com earlier this season in a telephone interview. He was supposedly going to go straight to the NBA right from high school, which he ended up doing.

Back then the pro scouts could go to the McDonalds games, they could come to our practices, they could come to our games because they could take kids out of high school, that was the last year. And I remember all almost all those guys telling me, Rajon Rondo is your best pro prospect. I was telling them that before they would come in. Then they would come in -- and I think the world of Josh Smith, hes a great player and talent -- I just thought Rajon was that good, too.

During Rondos time at Oak Hill, the team went to Spain to play basketball. Smith recalled a game in which Rondo scored 55 points and drew the attention of scouts, many of whom were there to watch Smith.

He got in foul trouble, Rondo told CSNNE.com. That was a game we needed to win. I had to step up. Our best player went down.

Smith entered the NBA straight from high school in 2004 and was drafted with the 17th overall pick by the Hawks. Rondo went on to the University of Kentucky, where he played two seasons. The Phoenix Suns drafted him with the 21st pick in 2006, and the Celtics traded for him that same night.

Rondo and Smith have battled in the playoffs before. Both were starters in the seven-game 2008 first round battle between the Celtics and the Hawks. Four seasons later, they are meeting again.

Rondo is now a three-time NBA All-Star who led the NBA in assists this season (11.7 apg). Smith is still an athletic threat, averaging 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game.

Were still the best of friends, Rondo told CSNNE.com. We just go at each other.

During the NBA lockout, Rondo invited Smith to participate in his charity basketball game at Harvard University. After a regular season game in Boston, Smith stopped in the Celtics locker room looking for Rondo.

So what is 6-foot-1 Rondos plan of attack against his 6--foot-9 friend?

Im going to try to block a couple of his shots.

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.