Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
It certainly hasn’t been the best decade in Celtics history, but it’s been an interesting one. It’s time to put together the all-decade team featuring five starters and seven bench players. We had to make some tough calls, especially toward the bottom of the roster — feel free to roast us in the comments.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
This was was by far the toughest position to decide. Thomas and Irving each can make cases. Each made the All-NBA second team once with the Celtics, which Rondo never did. Injuries eventually hampered Rondo’s impact, but at the outset of this decade, he was a triple-double maestro with unparalleled court vision. He set the top four assists per game totals in Celtics history … during the first four seasons of the decade. He established the franchise steals-per-game record in 2009-10 and almost broke it the following year. Rondo led the NBA in assists in 2011-12 and 2012-13. He had several of Boston’s most memorable playoff performances of the decade, including a 29-point, 18-assist, 13-rebound outing against Cleveland in Game 4 of the 2010 second round. That game, which evened the series at 2-2, helped guide the Celtics toward the finals. He was less effective after returning from a torn ACL in 2013 and developed some bad habits even before that, but at his peak, Rondo sometimes looked like the best player alive. He made four All-Star teams, two All-Defensive first teams, one All-Defensive second team and one All-NBA third team during the decade, barely enough to earn him a starting nod.
We’ll start with the point guard position on Jay King and Jared Weiss’ all-decade Celtics team, because that’s the position that sparks the most debate (and really, I’m good with their other choices: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, KG and Al). The three point guards from which to choose are King and Weiss’ choice, Rondo, Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving (both of whom make this ballot’s bench).
My vote would be for Thomas. Rondo would be a close second and Irving would be a distant third. I’d vote based on impact and while Rondo’s impact was crucial in getting the Celtics back to the NBA Finals in 2009-2010 and to the doorstep of the finals in 2011-12, Thomas made the Celtics relevant again after what fans all figured would be a lengthy rebuild. The Cs were headed to the lottery for a second straight season in 14-15 until IT showed up in February. And two years later he lifted the franchise on his 5’9 frame and submitted a season for the ages. Rondo was an absolute magician, and the perfect point guard for the Big 3 era Celtics, but Thomas was the team’s heartbeat for two and a half years. And whereas Rondo mailed things in at the first sign of a rebuild in 2013-14, IT’s dedication to the Celtics never wavered. That may sound hokey, but when the two players are that close for point guard of the decade, I’ll use those character traits to break the tie.
Then there’s Sean Grande who kept Rondo and Irving off his list entirely?!?!?
On page 2, where Danny throws some shade at Jaylen?
“He came and sat behind me, and he said, ‘Do you think we’re as good as the 1986 Celtics team?’ ” Ainge told host Michael Holley. “And I went, ‘Oh my gosh. He’s so young.’ “
Brown wasn’t even born until 10 years after the ’86 Celtics steamrolled to a championship after a 67-win season. And to Ainge, Brown’s comparison was a sign of naivete.
“I mean, I just don’t think they could even grasp that 1985 loss to the Lakers and the torture of that series and what that led (to), and Larry Bird was in his prime, one of the greatest Celtics of all time,” Ainge said. “But it was just fascinating. (Brown) was looking at it like matchup to matchup to matchup, like you’re doing a video game. That was a real awakening to me — just the perspective of guys.”
So, Danny Ainge definitely did say, as the headline suggests, that Jaylen handled adversity well last season.
But that’s not what jumps off the page.
You can use this anecdote to sum up what was at the heart of the Celtics’ issues last year — they thought they’d already arrived, or you can use it to shake your head at the youngster, who clearly comes from a different era that never got to grasp just how dominate the mid-80s Celtics were.
I’m focused more on Ainge putting the story out there for all to see.
Because then there was this tweet from Jaylen Brown last night:
That could be about literally anything. But cryptic tweets from NBA players are usually in response to something they aren’t thrilled about. Personally, I wouldn’t be thrilled with Ainge airing that conversation if I were Jaylen. He comes off a naive and young, and that’s not the way a fourth-year pro in the league likely wants to be portrayed.
There’s also the issue of some of Brown’s peers from his draft class, including fourth overall pick, Jamal Murray, receiving a contract extension while Brown waits things out until October.
Maybe I’m making something out of nothing here, but something to monitor.