Is Rondo fit to lead the Celtics?


Is Rondo fit to lead the Celtics?

For the sake of this column, lets assume that Rajon Rondo stays in Boston.

Of course, with Danny Ainge, to assume anything is to set yourself up for massive embarrassment. But at this point, with Chris Paul destined for one of two Staples Center locker rooms (or a crawl space in David Sterns basement), and the season less than two weeks away, lets go out on a limb and say that Rondo will be here on Christmas Day, Valentines Day and every day until the season ends.

If not, well at least we had this conversation.

As you know, on Tuesday morning, the Boston Herald ran a story on Rondo in which, among other things, Steve Beatlemania Bulpett detailed a behind-the-scenes altercation during last years playoffs.

It was an off-day in the Miami series, with the Celtics trailing 0-2 and Rondo a few quarters away from the most gruesome elbow injury this side of Andrew Bogut. As it goes, the team was watching film and Rondo was getting torched. Then

According to multiple sources, Rondos errors were being pointed out when he arose and began discussing the mistakes of his teammates. Loudly. Using harsh language.

Coach Doc Rivers got up and fired back, and Rondo threw a bottle that shattered the video screen. He bolted from the practice facility and was prevented from returning when he tried later.

Rondo eventually apologized, and later atoned with his Game 3 heroics, but the damage was clearly done. Someone wanted it out there.

Now it's in the headlines, and we're forced into another round of: What's wrong with Rondo?

(First of all, let me say that I don't really care what happened in that video room. Of course, it's an interesting story; it's always fun to look behind the curtain. But in general, it's not an enormous deal. This sort of thing happens all the time. (For instance, last Sunday on the Patriots sidelines). But seeing that this is hardly the first time we've heard something like this about Rondo, it's hard to ignore.)

On the court he's fine. Foul shots aside, he's a Top 5 point guard (Paul, Rose, Williams, Westbrook, Rondo) and still getting better. For 37 minutes a night, there are very few guys you'd rather have running your team. The Celtics are lucky to have him.

The problem is that Rondo hasn't matured off the court as much or as quickly as anyone would like. From the moment he signed that extension in 2009, he was pegged as the future of this team. He became the captain in waiting, and was expected to act as such. But two years later, he's still not there. There are still reasons to question whether he'll be able to become the face of the Celtics when the Big 3 fade away.

But more than "Can he lead the Celtics?" the more troublesome question is: "Does he even want to?"

Later on in Bulpett's story, Rondo talks about ways to improve his attitude:

Im not going to point the fingers on anybody, he said. Any relationship problems I have with anybody on the team or anybody on the coaching staff, I have to do better as a player and as a leader. You know, I didnt ask for this role, but its part of it for one, being a point guard, for two, the way I play. So I just have to embrace it better.

And that's my biggest fear right now for the Celtics.

That Rondo sees his leadership role as more of a burden than a passion. That leading the Boston Celtics is just something he has to deal with, as opposed to something he's dying to do.

With that attitude, it's very easy to say the right things in training camp, but when another thing entirely to step up when it matters. And only time will tell if Rondo has that in him.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.