Rondo plays well in surprise return


Rondo plays well in surprise return

By A.Sherrod Blakely

INDIANAPOLIS Celtics coach Doc Rivers had his mind made up.

Rajon Rondo was not going to play against the Indiana Pacers.

Missing a second straight game, Rivers reasoned, would give his point guard plenty of time for his banged-up pinkie finger to heal some before the Celtics play at San Antonio on Thursday.

But between the time Rivers told the media that Rondo was out, and the actual game ball being tossed up, things changed and Rondo went from spectator to his usual spot as the Celtics starting point guard.

And while the Celtics lost 107-100, Rondo's return was solid.

He finished with 22 points to go with 8 assists, and showed little to no signs of needing to work his way back into being an effective player for the C's.

It wasn't so much that he was scoring, but rather the way he was getting his points that was similar to how he scored at the start of the season, when he was among the top players in the NBA.

"That's the way he has to play every night," Rivers said. "He attacked. His speed was a factor. We haven't seen that in a while. That's terrific. It's amazing when he does that, what it does to our offense. We're really good."

Rondo said he wasn't sure if the day off helped him have fresher legs against Indiana, but it did allow him to make a greater impact as a scorer.

"I just think I moved better without the ball," Rondo said. "Guys found me."

Rivers said the decision to change course and play Rondo was made after Rondo came to him prior to the game, and said he felt good enough to play.

After consulting with team trainer Ed Lacerte, Rivers had heard enough to believe that Rondo could, in fact, return to action.

Rondo's argument to Rivers was that while recognizing Rivers' desire to sit him, Rondo didn't see any benefit in him sitting out another game because whether he returned on Monday or later this week against San Antonio, if he got hit on the pinkie a certain way it was going to hurt.

"He's right," Rivers said. "I told him to bring Eddie Lacerte in, and Eddie agreed. Once he agreed, I was good."

And while Rondo's play was good, it wasn't good enough to win.

Like most of his teammates, Rondo is getting sick and tired of the disappointment that comes with coming up short against teams that aren't as talented.

When asked about his level of frustration, Rondo said, "It's frustrating just losing."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Five reasons standing pat may be Celtics' best move


Five reasons standing pat may be Celtics' best move

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Report: Pacers taking offers for Paul George

Report: Pacers taking offers for Paul George

In a good example of both strong reporting and stating the obvious, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Wednesday that the Pacers are “gauging the trade market on All-Star forward Paul George.”

The only team mentioned in Wojnarowski’s piece as a suitor via trade is the Celtics. Wojnarowski writes that if the Pacers trade the 26-year-old George to Boston, they might be motivated to do it sooner to make sure the C’s don’t move those assets to Chicago for Jimmy Butler first. 

Writes Wojnarowski: 

The Pacers are working the trade deadline on parallel fronts: Pursuing deals that will bring talent into Indiana to sell George on signing a long-term extension -- and soliciting deal offers on George that would signal a rebuild around center Myles Turner, league sources told The Vertical.

Ultimately, the Pacers will have to evaluate the two paths and make a decision before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline. There’s no urgency to make a deal for George, unless the Pacers fear the Boston Celtics could ultimately provide Indiana the best possible package of assets in a deal -- and think that option could disappear if Boston makes a deal with Chicago for Jimmy Butler.

A 6-foot-9 small forward, George is averaging 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season. 

George’s contract expires after the 2017-18 season, which is also when Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart will be due for new contracts. Wojnarowski writes that trading for the California native would put the team at risk of potentially losing him as a free agent to the Lakers. 

Teams trading for George run the risk of losing the four-time All-Star to a Lakers franchise that will have the salary-cap space to sign him in 2018. The Lakers’ hiring of Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations will be an interesting twist to George’s free-agent recruitment, given that Johnson has been something of a George family icon going back to George’s childhood in nearby Palmdale, Calif.