June 1, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) talks with point guard Rajon Rondo (9) and forward/center Kevin Garnett (5) during the third quarter against the Miami Heat in game three of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo ACL: Does Injury Mark The End Of An Era For The Boston Celtics?


Earlier this afternoon, while the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat were partaking in a double-overtime thriller, it was learned that Rajon Rondo would be out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.

It’s the same injury that hit Ricky Rubio, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose within the past 12 months. The return of Ricky Rubio, while initially promising, came too early as he’s been hampered with minor injuries since. Iman Shumpert on the other hand returned just over a week ago while the Chicago Bulls front office is keeping Derrick Rose away from action for as long as possible.

The difference here is that the injury to Rajon Rondo has far more implication’s for the future of his team, the Boston Celtics. Their victory against Miami marked the end of a 6-game losing streak, one in which they still had his talent to help them.

Most NBA fans would have told you that the Celtics were done before the season started. However, most NBA fans have been saying that for the past three years while Boston has

Jan. 7, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers reacts on the court against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

been the team that just keeps on giving. This year, they ran out of that fuel.

The fact of the matter is that the Celtics had their last hurrah last year during game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, when a Paul Pierce three-pointer stole them a game on Miami’s home court. From that moment on, Lebron James was reborn and he spelled the fate of the Eastern conference for the next few years within 48 minutes.

If there was any doubt regarding whether or not the Celtics should blow it up and start over before today, it’s been cleared away. That is, for anyone that isn’t emotionally invested in the organization. Unfortunately for Doc Rivers and what’s left of the big 2, they think they’ll be just fine. After the teams big win against Miami, Doc said to reporters “you can write the obituary, I’m not.”

However, the sad truth is that while the Celtics looked strong against the Heat, their win was an anomaly. If anything, perhaps it can be seen as a moment of poetic justice, allowing the broken and bruised Boston Celtics one more sensation of triumph before they’re forced to ride off into the sunset. That sunset being the February 21st trade deadline.

Sitting at 21-23, with the 8th playoff spot in the East and a hobbled superstar, the Celtics have nowhere to go but down. It’s in the best interest of Danny Ainge and the organization if that downward spiral starts sooner than later.

Naturally, the first two candidates on the docket for Boston would have to be Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierice. Pierce, who seems like he’d be a natural fit in Memphis and is only guaranteed $5 million next year, could be the piece it takes for the Grizzlies to let Rudy Gay loose. The missing part of the puzzle is the team that takes Rudy Gay on and provides the Boston Celtics with picks, picks and more picks.

The ever-passionate Kevin Garnett is going to be much more harder to get away from the

Jan 23, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett (5) in the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 123-111. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

green and white. With a no-trade clause to go with his 3 year contract, it’s going to take some creativity from Boston’s front office to find a deal that they, another team and KG himself can agree on. The most obvious choice seems to be to flip him to Toronto for either Kyle Lowry or Jose Calderon, but would Garnett take well to that idea? Celtics fans have been advocating for a trade with the Clippers for quite a while now, while the option of trading him to the Warriors for Andrew Bogut is a deal that might work well for all three parties.

Bottom line, if the franchise wants to recover from this terrible blow, they’re going to have to be forward-thinking. Either this team is terrible for a year or two and gets a chance to start over with young pieces and a fully recovered Rajon Rondo, or they’ll spend their dying days yearning for their former dominance, providing fans with a sad reminder of what they once were.

In terms of implications for the rest of the league, the Philadelphia 76ers are probably feeling a lot better about their playoff chances right about now. Elsewhere in the Eastern conference, Brook Lopez might as well start packing his bags for Houston right now, since he’ll almost definitely be playing in the all-star game.

A date for surgery has yet to be set to mark the beginning of Rajon Rondo’s recovery, so making any predictions regarding his return are more than premature. At this point, all fans can do is wish him a full recovery.

 

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