Once peers, Chris Paul remains a star while Rajon Rondo looks for work

Once peers, Chris Paul remains a star while Rajon Rondo looks for work

The Celtics were not just a Big Three in their heyday of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. They had an emerging star in Rajon Rondo who quickly was no longer emerging. He was arguably a top point guard in the NBA. 

In fact, when Rondo said he was the best point guard in the league back in 2012, it was a far cry from Dee Milliner calling himself the NFL’s best cornerback. Unlike Milliner, who was not only the best, but kind of the worst, Rondo had an actual case. Depending on who you asked, it was either him or Chris Paul. 

In 2011, the Celtics reportedly tried to trade Rondo for Paul, but were unsuccessful. The Hornets projected correctly. 

Roughly the same age (the 32-year-old Paul is less than a year older than Rondo), the two are no longer peers. Case in point: One of them was traded this week in a move that legitimizes the Rockets. The other was waived after playing for his fourth team in three seasons. 

This doesn’t say anything about Paul other than that he’s had a very consistent carer. At 31, Paul averaged 18.1 points and 9.2 assists per game last season, which is nearly identical to what he’d averaged through his age 27 season (18.6 points, 9.8 assists). He’s still got it. 

Rather, it highlights Rondo’s fall from stardom. Though he gave the Celtics a run for their money through two playoff games before he was hurt, his lone season with the Bulls was the worst of his career. He started just 42 of the 69 games he played, averaging just 7.8 posts and 6.7 assists per game.

Rondo was a four-time All-Star in Boston. From 2008-09 to 2013-14, he averaged 11.9 points and 9.2 assists a night. Though he posted numbers better than that two seasons ago in Sacramento (11.9 points, 11.7 assists), he’s been hardly steady. Between Dallas in 2014-15 and Chicago last season, he had just 8.38 points and 6.62 assists per game. If Rondo does still have it, he certainly doesn’t always bring it. 

The Clippers got Patrick Beverley and a protected first-round pick as part of the trade package for Paul last week. The Bulls were unable to find a trade partner for Rondo before waiving him. 

While Rondo has not been able to last more than one season with a team since leaving Boston, the Celtics eventually moved on quite well. Jae Crowder has been a serviceable starter and Boston used the 2016 first-rounder it acquired in the trade on Guerschon Yabusele. Just two months after trading Rondo, the C’s secured what’s proven to be an upgrade at point guard in Isaiah Thomas. 

Rondo can still take over games, but his star has fallen. Depending on where he lands next, he might again find himself in and out as a starter. Thus far, he’s been linked to the Knicks and Lakers. 

Yet wherever he ends up, his addition won’t leave many thinking their team bolstered its roster. Paul still has that kind of effect. 

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.