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The Big Blue Daily Mail -- Is Rajon Rondo a Problem Child?

Before I get started with this, I will answer my lede question -- no, not by the measure of "problem children" we have seen in the past in the NBA, Rajon Rondo definitely is not a problem child.  But he is also not a man, not yet.

During the time Rajon Rondo was at Kentucky, it was utterly impossible for any basketball fan not to see his extraordinary talent and physical gifts.  From his huge hands to his giant wingspan to the way he seemed to be thinking one step ahead of his opponents, Rondo was always destined to be an NBA player, and a good one.  His physical gifts alone all but ensured that.

But comes now all this trade talk, which, given Rondo's mostly stellar on-the-court performance makes one wonder just what in the name of Heaven is going on in Danny Ainge's mind.  Well, we got a bit of insight into that yesterday from Ainge himself:

During the interview, Ainge commented that Rondo has "got to grow up,’’ and added, "his presence hurt us’’ against Orlando in the Eastern Conference semifinals, that Rondo wasn’t a "max contract player,’’ and acknowledged Rondo was fined for being tardy to postseason games.

Hmm.  So there is some trouble in Paradise, it seems.  The fact of the matter is, Rajon Rondo does have to grow up.  At only 23 years old and while certainly an adult technically, we have seen many players both past and present who were little more than boys trying to be men at this point in their career, and at this tender age.  The problem is, at 23 years old, Rajon Rondo is the starting point guard on one of the NBA's most prized properties -- the Boston Celtics.  I know the guys at Memphis and Charlotte don't want to hear this, but a lot more people care who starts for the Lakers and the Celtics than who starts for your teams.  Ainge gets this intuitively.  Rondo, if these comments are to be taken at face value, does not.

Celticsblog weighs in on on these remarks from Danny Ainge thus:

However, I also think that things like this have the potential to sour a relationship quickly. The last thing you want is a public war of words between your front office and your starting point guard. Not only would that lower Rondo's potential trade value, but most importantly, it could easily lead to resentment. If Rondo really is stubborn and really does have problems hiding his anger / frustration, then calling him out in public potentially doesn't help that.

He's right on both counts.  So why would Ainge fire this cannon shot across Rajon Rondo's bow?  Well, usually when you call a player out in public like this, it is to draw his full attention to the problem and force a response.  Certainly, the method and intensity of Rondo's reaction could help bring to pass just what Celticsblog fears.  If Rondo reacts with impudence and/or irrational anger, it will have the effect of validating Ainge's comment and potentially lowering Rondo's trade value as well as damaging his relationship with the Celtics if they decide to keep him.

But it also has the effect of cutting through the bovine excrement.  Candor like this must be answered with one of three things:  Equal candor, outright anger or contrition.  The way that Rondo responds will give Ainge, in large part, the answer to his problem -- does he deal Rondo and let somebody else mature him, messing up the Celtics chemistry and forcing at least a minor rebuilding, or does he hang on to Rondo and deal with the maturation process himself?  It is also quite possible that Rondo was unaware of the gravity of his situation until just now, and the shock of that could do much to motivate him to grab an oar and begin rowing the same way as everyone else.

Bill Burt of the Eagle-Tribune in Massachusetts takes Rondo's alleged immaturity head on:

Starting point guard for the Boston Celtics. World Champion. Reebok commercials. Triple-doubles galore. Recognition as the next "great" point guard.

All by age 23.

This is the same Rajon Rondo who, on draft day in 2006, drew this comment from ESPN college basketball expert Jay Bilas, "The problem is he can't shoot."

Rondo still can't shoot, but he can run an offense.

Now comes the dirt.

He's pig-headed. He's not a leader. He's been tardy too many times to games, including a playoff tilt. And, maybe worst of all, he wants to be among the richest players in pro basketball.

And lest I forget, he still can't hit the open jump shot.

Ouch.  There is some candor for you.  Rondo, as good as he has been, could be a lot better in any number of ways, and some of his shortcomings will become glaring if they aren't addressed.  His shooting has been a problem since he was in high school, and although he has made some progress, it is clearly not up to the standards of a star NBA point guard right now, and is not improving as quickly as most players do.

But the lack of a jump shot is not a fatal flaw for a player like Rondo, but a bad attitude absolutely can be.  You don't get yours until you deliver the goods, and if this article is accurate, Rajon Rondo is demanding his money before he delivers the goods.  If that sticks, he is looking at a one-way ticket to a small-market team, and even if he gets to the all-star game every year, the likelihood of winding up on a truly championship-caliber team tends to decrease when you are perceived as a problem child.  That isn't always true, of course -- Rasheed Wallace, Dennis Rodman and others have proven it is possible, but the list of difficult players with NBA rings is a pretty short one.

Lets hope it all works out for Rajon and the Celtics.  Now for the news:


UK Basketball News

UK Football News

Other UK Sports News

  • None today.

NCAA Sports News

Other News of Interest

The Daily Schadenfreude

  • Chris Diggs asks a very good question
    My guess is, the answer is no. Coach Krzyzewski is off-limits for criticism by most of the media unless he makes enough a a jerk of himself, in public, to garner criticism.

  • Commentary: Florida coach Billy Donovan's level of comfort still high
    "We all know the success that you had when you recruited Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer and the rest of that group," said a booster who rose with microphone in hand. "Why can't you do that again?" Bwahhahaa! Yeah, Billy, why not? Oh, I love it when Donovan gets slapped around by a Florida fan.