Blakely: Is Rondo as Celtics future leader a good thing?


Blakely: Is Rondo as Celtics future leader a good thing?

ATLANTA There's little doubt that Rajon Rondo is in many ways being groomed to be the Boston Celtics' leader of the future.

But it's times like this that may you wonder is that a good thing?

Rondo lost his composure in the closing seconds on Sunday, and the Celtics wound up losing the game, 83-74, as the Atlanta Hawks take a 1-0 series lead in their best-of-seven playoff series.

Making matters worse, his chest-bumping of official Marc Davis, as expected, resulted in a one-game suspension without pay, that will be enforcedultimately resulting him getting ejected, factoring into the Celtics' 83-74 loss, and to make matters even worse, he's now suspended for Game 2 on Tuesday.

Now the Celtics have been a team handling adversity since before the season started. And this, for many of them, is par for the course.

But here's the problem.

It's one thing to handle adversity when it lands in your lap. Totally different matter when you bring it upon yourself and your teammates which is exactly what Rondo has done.

If the Celtics lose this series, you can bet they won't blame Father Time, they won't blame Ray Allen's gimpy ankle, they could care less if Josh Smith continued playing like an All-Star.

It'll be Rondo's fault.

Fair or not, that's part of the deal that comes with being the future face of the franchise. That's part of the deal when you play at a ridiculously high level in games with a national TV audience.

"We've been prepared to play without him," C's Paul Pierce said before the announcement that he would be out. "We've been prepared to play without a number of guys. That's no excuse. It's game two. It's a game that we gotta have."

And if this season is any barometer for what's to come, the Celtics will probably win Game 2 and tilt home court advantage in their favor.

But even if they do that and the C's go on to the next round of the playoffs, Rondo's maturation once again will be an issue moving forward.

The talent that he has is off the charts. You can search high and wide, and you won't find another player in the NBA with his court vision or knack for getting the ball to guys in their sweet spots.

And while he's just 26 years old, these emotional outbursts - and their timing - has to give Danny Ainge and the Celtics' brass reason to pause.

Think back to February when the Celtics were at Detroit and Rondo, upset at an official for what he believed was a non-call - sounds familiar? - then tossed the ball to the official with shall we say, a little more force than needed.

He was ejected from that game and then hit with a two-game suspension.

Oh, the two games he missed?

They were only road games at Dallas - the reigning NBA champion - and Oklahoma City who at the time, had the best record in the Western Conference.

Yes, his timing then - and now - could not have been much worse, all things considered.

But here's the challenge for Boston.

The very thing that got him suspended - strong, passionate emotions - is the very thing he brings to the floor that the Celtics desperately need.

"Rondo's an emotional player," Rivers said. "You know that old saying,'I'd rather kindle a fire than start one?' I like his fire and sometimes it burns you. You know what I mean? But I like the fire that he has. He's a fighter for his team. You don't want him to go that far, obviously. But it's just who he is. It's also part of what makes him great. It's that fine line that you have to walk, and every once in a while he crosses it."

He certainly did on Sunday.

And chances are pretty good he'll cross it again at some point in the near future.

The Celtics can brush it aside to some degree now because they have leaders already in place to handle these kind of situations.

But Paul Pierce isn't going to be around forever. Ditto for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

At some point, there will not be a sharing of power at the top of the leadership board with the Celtics.

This will be Rondo's team.

And while the fire and passion he plays with is certainly a big part of both his success and that of the Celtics, these are the times when we're reminded that his leadership skills are very much a work in progress.

But make no mistake about it.

He will be a leader, the undisputed leader of this team very soon.

But you have to wonder . . . is that a good thing?

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery


Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

PHILADELPHIA --  Only hours removed from surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibia injury, Gordon Hayward’s agent tells NBC Sports Boston that his client is already attacking the rehab process.
“We expect him to have a full recovery,” agent Mark Bartelstein said via phone Thursday.
That said, Bartelstein also noted that it’s unlikely that the 6-foot-8 forward will return to action this season.
“We don’t have a timetable or anything like that for him,” Bartelstein said. “It’s about getting better, healthier every day.”
The Celtics released a statement Thursday afternoon indicating Hayward underwent successful “bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle.”
Performing the surgery was Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, with Dr. Anthony Schena assisting followed by consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
Hayward suffered the injury in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday when he was attempting to catch a lob pass from Kyrie Irving.
On the play, Hayward landed awkwardly on his ankle, which contorted in a way where it was clear immediately that he would be out of action for a significant amount of time.
Since the injury, Hayward has received an amazing amount of outpouring of well-wishes and prayers from Kobe Bryant, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and a cast of other current and former athletes. Both Edelman and Gronkowski know all too well about the challenges associated with returning to play after an injury.
"Go into rehab just like you go into anything else: dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you’re 100 percent. He wouldn’t be where he is now if he wasn’t a hard worker.”
And then there are the Celtics fans, whose support has been impressive.
Hayward delivered a pre-recorded message to the fans at the TD Garden that was aired on the Jumbotron high above half court prior to Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee. Even after the video ended, there was no escaping Hayward’s presence was still very much in the building and on the minds of fans.
At one point in the 108-100 Celtics loss on Wednesday, Boston fans began a “Gor-don Hay-ward!” chant that soon swept its way throughout the TD Garden.
“It has been a bit overwhelming the amount of support that Gordon has received,” Bartelstein said. “It touched him in so many ways. The outpouring he got, certainly all the fans in the arena last night, from players around the league … it meant the world to him. And obviously, going through something like this, it’s devastating. So, to see so many reach out to him, it means the world to him and his family; there’s no doubt about it.”