Rajon Rondo

Many NBA teams played their first regular season game Wednesday night. The results were pretty mixed with all-star-like and poor showings. It’s just the first game of the year, but here are how some former Texas Longhorns opened their seasons.

Avery Bradley – Boston Celtics point guard

He will get a ton of playing time over the next few weeks, as star point guard Rajon Rondo patiently recovers from a torn ACL from last season. So don’t put too much stock into his relatively average offensive display against the Toronto Raptors. In 31 minutes against Toronto, Bradley recorded eight points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals on 4 for 13 shooting.

Bradley has always been a defense-first guard, even at Texas. He can score but anything too much more than his career average of 6.9 points per game is an added bonus. Bradley did a nice job of limiting explosive, all-around-scoring guard Kyle Lowry. Expect his defensive efforts to be a constant for Boston all season long, even when Rondo returns.

D.J. Augustin — Toronto Raptors point guard

The total opposite of Bradley, Augustin won’t be seeing too much court time anytime soon, simply because starter Kyle Lowry is just a better, more proven NBA point guard right now. Augustin wasn’t too efficient with his 13 minutes Wednesday night. He needed seven shots to score five points, and he only added two dimes to his stat sheet. Much more efficient, distributive play is required to be a starting point guard in the NBA.

The best news about Augustin’s performance Wednesday night? His Raptors are 1-0.

Tristan Thompson — Cleveland Cavaliers power forward

Thompson turned in the first stud performance by a Longhorn so far in this infant season. He is the Cavs’ best player by far, and led his team to an impressive win against the newly-powerful Brooklyn Nets. In 35 minutes, Thompson put up 18 points and 9 rebounds on an efficient 8 for 13 shooting performance. He made Kevin Garnett work on the defensive end, and the expended energy took a bit out of Garnett — who was really a non-factor Wednesday — on offense.

If Thompson puts up these numbers consistently, this upstart Cleveland squad just might make a return to the playoffs.

LaMarcus Alrdridge — Portland Trail Blazers power forward

I’m saving the best for last here. After all, it’s indisputable that Aldridge is the best former Longhorn in the league right now. He didn’t really need last night’s all-star performance to prove or even reinforce that status. He played huge minutes, but as the face of the Blazers’ franchise, he is expected to carry this burden. He poured in 28 points on 12 for 22 shooting, along with four rebounds and two assists in 39 minutes.

Aldridge will need to be a more consistent rebounding machine if Portland wants to sneak into the west’s top eight in April. But the scoring will always be there, and he has plenty of mates to help him on that front all season long.

 

This is the third edition in a series previewing the seasons NBA teams with former Texas Longhorn players.  

So far I’ve previewed the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors.  Today I’m looking at the Boston Celtics.

Boston Celtics

Last season: 41-40, Lost in first round to New York Knicks, 4-2

**Note: The Celtics only played 81 games, rather than 82. One of their games was cancelled due to the Boston Marathon bombings in April.

Longhorn player: Avery Bradley, point guard

The Celtics will be one of the most interesting teams to watch this season. Over the summer, they made a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics sent longtime franchise player Paul Pierce, along with streaky guard Jason Terry, forward/center Kevin Garnett and forward DJ White to the Nets. In exchange Boston received swingman Gerald Wallace, forward Kris Humphries, guard/forward Keith Bogans, guard MarShon Brooks, forward Kris Joseph, three future first round draft picks and the option to swap first round picks with the Nets in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Whoa. That was a mouth full. Still with me? 

With that massive deal, the Celtics are committed to shedding salary and rebuilding with youth. It was brilliant for Boston. They realized that Garnett and Pierce were aging rapidly and winning just 41 games and losing in the first round with those players was no longer economical. So, they are officially in rebuilding mode this year.

If you take a look at their roster now, you’ll see only two players over the age of 30: Bogans and Wallace, two of the guys the Celtics acquired in that deal. You’ll also no longer see Doc Rivers on bench. The Celtics hired Brad Stevens, former head coach at Butler University. This team is an extremely challenging situation for Stevens to step into. But I think he’s up to it — he more than proved himself by leading the Butler Bulldogs to two national title appearances. At 36, Stevens is now the NBA’s youngest coach.

This is still Rajon Rondo’s team. A glut of unproven players and journeymen will surround him this year. Rondo is Boston’s best offensive player by far, followed by Wallace. MarShon Brooks has potential to be an explosive scorer in the future.  

Former Texas Longhorn guard Avery Bradley will be Rondo’s primary backup and figures to get decent minutes behind him. He could even play some two guard.  Last year, he averaged 9.2 points and 2.1 assists in 28.7 minutes per game.

Overall, this year won’t be pretty for the Celtics. Expect a lot of pains offensively — this team will struggle to score. Rondo is not a score r— he’s a creator, and it would not be wise for new coach Brad Stevens to attempt to change his style. Defensively, there is a ton of athleticism on this squad. The Celtics will be a fast and long team. They should force quite a few turnovers and get Rondo out on the break.  

Bottom line: I’ll say Boston wins 28 games. Tough. After giving up its best player for the last decade, the Celtics will need to endure this rebuilding process for another couple of years.  But, by then, Rondo might be long gone. Boston has a lot of decisions to make over that time.

NBA trade deadline looms — where is Atlanta's Josh Smith headed?

The NBA trade deadline is 2 p.m. ET Thursday, and this gives us roughly over 24 hours until then.

Around this time every year, NBA fans are bombarded with trade scenarios, rumors and a lot of very unlikely speculation that can cause their blood pressure to spike.

This season is no different of course, so here are the major players involved in rumors and the likelihood you’ll see those respective players actually being traded come tomorrow.

Kevin Garnett: Unlikely

There has been a lot of speculation as of late about what will happen with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston after the recent season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo. The Celtics seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place trying to figure out if they should rebuild or try to win now.

Kevin Garnett has been tossed around heavily in recent days in a trade scenario that would send him to the Los Angeles Clippers in a package revolving around Eric Bledsoe.

It seemed very unlikely all along that Garnett would be traded, simply because it’s hard to imagine a situation where the Celtics' brass parts ways with a player who’s been so loyal to the franchise.

To add to the unlikelihood of seeing Kevin Garnett in any other color than green this season is a report from Adran Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday saying talks between the Celtics and Clippers have died. And among other reasons, Kevin Garnett has a no-trade clause and has stated he doesn’t intend to waive it.

Dwight Howard: Unlikely

The Dwight saga that many fans (including myself) thought would end once he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers surprisingly hasn’t ended. Dwight is still one of the more common words you hear in the news, and simultaneously one of the least common names you see on the stat sheet.

Howard is not going anywhere. A strange rumor involving Howard and Rajon Rondo arose for a few days and died very quickly. It didn’t make much sense for LA to trade with their storied rivals in Boston, and it really didn’t make much sense to acquire an injured Rondo since Steve Nash still has a year and a half left on his contract.

Howard simply won’t be traded because there won’t be a deal worth taking on the table before tomorrow’s deadline. The Lakers appear to be ready to roll the dice and see what happens in the offseason, and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has stated the Lakers will not trade Howard. Fans should start preparing for Howard's Indecision III this summer.

Josh Smith: Likely

I hope this deal is likely, at least for effort's sake. The Atlanta Hawks have engaged in trade talks with just about every team in the NBA. All right, not really, but they have been involved in talks with Boston, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Milwaukee and even the San Antonio Spurs.

It seems likely that Josh Smith will be a Hawk, simply because of how involved the Hawks have been in trying to find a deal for him, joined by the fact that Josh Smith is seeking out a max deal when his contract expires this summer.

Not many teams believe Smith deserves a max deal, but the Philadelphia 76ers have appeared to be one of the most likely places for Smith come tomorrow. Philadelphia is still without Andrew Bynum and will probably be willing to sign Smith in the offseason in order to pair him with Bynum, or give Josh Smith the reins of the team if Bynum is unable to come back from injury. The Sixers are offering Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, two young pieces the Hawks can build around.

If Smith doesn’t go to Philadelphia, you could also see him in Milwaukee, who has offered Monta Ellis, a free agent this coming summer. Monta’s talent and expiring contract could be very tempting for a team like Atlanta moving forward.

If any of these players are likely to be traded by tomorrow, expect it to be Josh Smith. But the most likely scenario is the trade deadline coming and going without any major moves revolving around star players. You’ll probably see a few role players being swapped, but with talks dying down it appears that the big names will stay put for the time being.

Celtics shopping away Rajon Rondo

The Boston Celtics are actively trying to trade their star point-guard Rajon Rondo. The Celtics are shopping away Rondo after his attitude and personality have become too much of a burden on the organization, said an ESPN report.

The three-time All-Star is arguably among the top-five best point-guards in the league averaging a career high 14 points per game and more than nine assists per contest.

His on the court play has remained steady for the aging Celtics, but the off-court distractions have the Celtics front office listening to offers. Rondo’s clashes with Head Coach Doc Rivers have earned him a reputation of being high maintenance.

With the championship window likely shut on their current roster, the Celtics are looking to rebuild. Sources say the Celtics front office believes that Rondo isn’t worth the headaches and are no longer trying to build around the 26-year-old guard.

Golden State has become a likely destination for Rondo if he is traded before the March 18 deadline. The two teams have had discussions about a possible Rondo for Stephen Curry trade, but Curry’s recent ankle injuries have kept the Celtics from pulling the trigger on the deal.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge acknowledged in early January that Rondo’s name came up in trade talks before the season when elite point-guard Chris Paul was on the trade block. Ainge said at that point he wasn’t shopping Rondo he was just trying to acquire a player of the caliber of Chris Paul.

"I was not trying to trade Rajon Rondo," said Ainge. "There's a big difference between trying to acquire a player and trying to trade a player."

Even with the Celtics new stance on the former Kentucky guard, they aren’t planning to just dump Rondo. They would like to receive a high quality player in return for him, similar to what they would have obtained had they landed Paul.

Rondo has three years and $36 million remaining on his contract after this season.