Is Rondo fit to lead the Celtics?

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

Cassidy switches up Bruins lines tonight against Lightning

Cassidy switches up Bruins lines tonight against Lightning

BRIGHTON, Mass. – After his Bruins scored just two goals in each of the past two games with a distinct lack of finish around the net, Bruce Cassidy has made some slight tweaks up front with his wingers. 

Drew Stafford has been bumped up to the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey has been dropped to a new fourth line with Dominic Moore and Riley Nash.

The hope would be that Krejci and Pastrnak could help get Stafford going after he’s gone scoreless in his past three games, with just two shots on net, and been pretty quiet since a couple of strong games right after the trade.

After a couple of active games for Noel Acciari, the gritty Rhode Island kid was skating on the third line with Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner in an interesting combination of players. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday morning, so it looks like he’ll be starting his third game in four days tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning at a time of year when bubble teams can’t afford to rest anybody.  

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on morning skate:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Stafford-Krejci-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Spooner-Acciari

Beleskey-Moore-Nash

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

C. Miller-K. Miller

 
Rask

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.