Celtics stay undefeated in post-Rondo world

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Celtics stay undefeated in post-Rondo world

It wouldn't be right to comment on last night's Celtics win without first commenting on their opponent. It's not that I want to take away from Boston's second straight victory in the post-Rondo era, I just think that it's important to remember that the Kings stink. Very badly. Like Logan Mankins' jock strap after a Training Camp double session in the blistering summer sun.

Now to that, you might say: "Wait a second. Wasn't this the same Kings team that beat the Celtics by 26 points in December?"

And I'll respond: Not really.

The roster is the same, but back then the Kings were at home, and in the midst of BY FAR their best stretch of the season. The win over the Celtics was part of four victories in five games for Sacramento which is the only time they've achieved that all year.

But since then, the Kings have slowly deteriorated into the team that you saw last night. They've gone 4-10 in their last 14 games, with their only wins coming against the Cavs, Bobcats and Wizards (x2). And just for good measure, the entire organization and fan base has been caught in a whirlwind of emotion surrounding the team's potential move to Seattle.

At least for now, it's bad to be the King(s). And that was certainly the case last night.

But with all that being said, there was something truly refreshing about the Celtics' performance. I'm not going to say that it was because Rondo wasn't there, because even if that's the case, it was a win against the Kings. It doesn't prove anything in terms of answering the question: Are the Celtics are better without their point guard?

I'll admit that it's a little strange to hear players like Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Brandon Bass speak on the record about how much more comfortable they are without Rondo on the floor. But at the same time, of course, they're more comfortable. It means they get more shots. For Terry and Lee, they get more minutes. Name me a player who wouldn't be more comfortable with that arrangement. The question is whether, in the long run, the Celtics are better off with Rondo on the floor, or with a happier crew of role players and that won't be answered for sometime.

But in the meantime, no one will complain about performances like last night. Even if it came against the dregs of the NBA, seeing the hometown team click and actually look like they enjoy each other's company is a welcomed sight. And chances are we'll see it again tomorrow night, when the C's host a Magic squad that's lost 18 of its last 20 games and just lost Glen Davis to a broken drum stick. Orlando will be ripe for a Kings-like beat down.

After that? Well, Super Bowl Sunday brings a big time match-up to the Garden: The Los Angeles Clippers.

Granted, the Clips will likely be without Chris Paul, but that only seems fair. It would be even more fair if Blake Griffin hops in that Kia Time Machine and comes back as the 37-year-old version of his current self.

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

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Zach Lowe’s most recent podcast is worth a listen, as it features plenty of talk about what the Celtics may or may not due ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Lowe brought up the possibility of the Celtics top-1 or top-2-protecting Brooklyn’s first-round pick and including it in a deal for Butler. He surmises that the inclusion of the Brooklyn pick -- protected or not -- might not come until the final minutes. 

“Look, if Butler gets traded or if Paul George gets traded, that’s when it’s going to happen,” Marc Stein responded. “It’s going to happen in the last five to 10 minutes, so Boston has to make a decision, and let's see if they’re doing the math that they’ve had these assets for a while and it is time to do something bold and the time is now. Really, I think Boston will do it. The question is what will Chicago or Indiana do? And those are two hard reads.” 

Stein spoke to the Celtics’ lack of activity at certain points, but he said that if the C’s do fail to come away with a star player Thursday, it won’t be for lack of aggressiveness. 

MORE TRADE TALK

“I think the Celtics are taking criticism for waiting, and they’ve had all these assets they haven’t moved yet, but I think the record shows that Danny Ainge in general, in total, is very aggressive, not afraid to roll the dice, not afraid to make the aggressive move,” Stein said. “So I have less doubt about Boston saying, ‘Let’s just do it.’ I have far more questions about what Chicago and/or Indiana would do.” 

Lowe said that he imagines the Bulls would “think about” trading the C's Butler if Boston threw in the Nets’ pick unprotected, but added that Chicago would demand to also take two players out of Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. 

“I think that will be the offer and they’ll get there and Chicago will either have a moment where they say, ‘We walk away or we’ll do it.’ And Boston’s not going to throw in the other Nets pick,” Lowe said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

Rating the aforementioned foursome in terms of trade value, Lowe said that Crowder is the best piece because of his “ridiculously good” contract, followed by Brown, Smart and Bradley. 

Lowe added that he considers Bradley one of the “sneaky interesting pieces at this trade deadline” because his contract is up after next season, which is the same time that Isaiah Thomas’ contract expires. Lowe says that given the uncertainty of his future in Boston, he wouldn’t be overly surprised if Bradley is moved at the deadline. 

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Will the Celtics part with the right to Brooklyn’s 2017 first-round pick in order to get a star before Thursday’s trade deadline? 

MORE TRADE TALK

Citing a pair of NBA executives, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote this week that Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade the pick should be in doubt.

Sola named Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Paul George as potential targets, adding that the C’s might include the latter.   

Wrote Isola: 

Two executives doubt that Ainge, who historically plays it close to the vest, would give up the Nets pick in a deal for Butler. However, Ainge might consider it in a trade for George, the Pacers-free agent-to-be who has expressed doubts over re-signing with the Pacers.

‘With Danny, no one ever knows what he might do,' said the executive. ‘He's one of the best. If he thinks he can make a run at the Cavs this season, considering all the injuries Cleveland has had, I can see him making a move.

‘Everyone is talking about Butler to Boston but Danny and Larry Bird go way back. Paul George could be the sleeper.’

This season, the 26-year-old George is averaging 22.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game.