I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Rajon Rondo.

There’s no point arguing about whether Rajon Rondo is a great player any longer. He’s capable of things on a basketball court previously reserved only for Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson, and that’s all I’ll ever need to know.

We haven’t seen Rondo at full strength since Jan. 25, 2013, when he dropped a 16-10-11 triple-double and played the final 12 minutes of a double-overtime loss to the Hawks on a torn ACL. How anyone hates on him is beyond me.

Playing at 87 percent health or whatever weird number he assigned to his rehabbed right knee last season, Rondo still averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 33.3 minutes over 30 games. You know who else achieved those averages in 2013-14? Nobody. Not Kevin Durant. Not LeBron James. Not Stephen Curry. Not Chris Paul. Nobody.

Rondo is one of the most extraordinary players in the NBA, if not the league’s strangest bird, and it’s good to have him back. The broken metatarsal in his left hand will prevent Rondo from reaching 100 percent for a week or two, but he’ll be collecting triple-doubles before we know it, ascending everbody’s player rankings all year.

Like it or not, he’ll also be the biggest name on the trade market as the NBA’s highest-profile free agent in 2015 (assuming LeBron and Kevin Love are staying in Cleveland.) There’s simply no way to escape the trade rumors. It makes too much sense for a Celtics team that just drafted its point guard of the future and remains years away from contending to shop a four-time All-Star banking on a big payday come July.

The problem is finding a trade partner. Two-thirds of the league has a point guard in place for the foreseeable future, half of the remaining teams wouldn’t sign him long-term and the other half doesn’t have the assets to meet Danny Ainge’s considerable demands. All that probably adds up to Rondo remaining in green this season. Unless, of course, the Pacers give up Roy Hibbert or the Heat, Kings, Knicks or Lakers  come up with a more enticing package than draft picks and Mario Chalmers, Ben McLemore, Iman Shumpert or the now injured Julius Randle.

The problem comes next summer when Rondo becomes a free agent, and the Knicks, Lakers and Mavericks all have cap space to pursue his services. The Celtics can still offer the most money, but do they want to? And does Rondo want to stay in Boston for a rebuilding project still in its infancy? (A Dallas starting lineup of Rondo, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler is an instant title contender.)

If Rondo returns to form and commands anything close to max money on the open market, then maybe it’s best to re-sign him, keep a valuable asset in the holster and consider trading him down the line. (Great, more trade rumors.) These are questions Ainge must answer before considering lesser offers at the trade deadline.

It’s a circular argument, and we’ll be driving around that roundabout all winter. Buckle your seatbelt. It’s gonna be a weird, wild ride, and at least Rondo is at the wheel this year. Let’s get this Celtics season started.

Asset Rating: A

This has been another edition of Asset Management. Check out more Celtics player valuations below.

ASSET MANAGEMENT: Brandon Bass | Avery Bradley | Vitor Faverani | Jeff Green | Kelly Olynyk | Dwight PowellPhil Pressey | Marcus Smart | Rajon RondoJared Sullinger | Marcus Thornton | Evan Turner | Gerald Wallace | James Young | Tyler Zeller

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

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FOXBORO — Tom Brady is at it again on Facebook.

On Wednesday, his page posted a photoshopped image of him from his childhood holding an old-school Voit basketball. The photoshopped part was the Rajon Rondo-esque headband.

Brady appears a bit chubby in the photo but with an endearing smile.

The post wishes the Celtics “good luck this season.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Dwight Powell.

Dwight Powell

Dwight Powell

Other than looking a lot like Daniel Tosh, what else do you know about Dwight Powell? We’ll still be here when you get back from that interwebs search.

The Celtics have quietly stockpiled high-character, high-IQ players in the Brad Stevens era — through the draft (Marcus Smart) and the trade market (Tyler Zeller) — and Powell certainly fits that mold. The Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior at Stanford this past winter, he brings fundamental defense, sound shooting mechanics and deft passing to Boston.

Powell also brings a 6-foot-11, 240-pound frame to go along with impressive averages of 25.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists per 100 college possessions. And yet the former top-25 high school recruit dropped to the 45th pick in this past June’s NBA draft and has since been traded twice — in packages for a pair of since released players (Scotty Hopson and Keith Bogans).

That’s because, according to DraftExpress, as a senior he lacked toughness on the boards, couldn’t consistently knock down jump shots and didn’t protect the rim, even if he earned another First Team All-Pac-12 selection. Powell showed more promise as a junior, when he logged a respectable 54.2 true shooting percentage, grabbed 24.0 percent of available defensive boards and submitted a 23.3 player efficiency rating a few months after his mother (living in Melrose, Mass.) died of cancer. Talk about toughness.

The Celtics apparently saw enough of Powell to choose him over a handful of other training camp invitees. He started alongside Kelly Olynyk during the Canadian national team’s tour through Europe. In 89 minutes over nine summer league and preseason games, Powell totaled 25 points (6-19 FG, 0-1 3P, 13-15 FT), 18 rebounds, nine personal fouls, eight turnovers, five steals, three blocks, three assists and a partridge in a pear tree.

Powell’s a work in progress, even if he’s already 23 years old, and the only reason he’s more valuable than Phil Pressey at this point is because he’s a foot taller and his NBA ceiling is a mystery. Athletic 6-foot-11 dudes who understand schemes and possess floor-spacing shooting potential don’t grow on trees, only up to the branches.

Then again, every other team passed on Powell once, half did twice and both the Cavs and Hornets did a few times.

Asset Rating: D

This has been another edition of Asset Management. Check out more Celtics player valuations below.

ASSET MANAGEMENT: Brandon Bass | Avery Bradley | Vitor Faverani | Jeff Green | Kelly Olynyk | Dwight PowellPhil Pressey | Marcus Smart | Jared Sullinger | Marcus Thornton | Evan Turner | Gerald Wallace | James Young | Tyler Zeller

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Boston Celtics season is upon us, and our WEEI.com roundtable of Ben Rohrbach, Mike Petraglia, Kevin O’Connor, Julian Edlow and Sam Packard weighs in on five questions facing the C’s this season.

1. What will be Rajon Rondo‘s fate this season?

@brohrbach: We’ve seen “National TV” Rondo, but we’ve never really witnessed “Contract Year” Rondo, and that could be an awful lot of fun. He’s almost two years removed from the ACL surgery, and the broken bone in his hand appears to be only a minor setback. I’m on board with Celtics president Danny Ainge’s assessment that his four-time All-Star point guard will enjoy a career statistical year as the most exciting player on a blah team. Even then, haters will find something to complain about.

As for whether he’ll be traded or not, the Celtics will sure as heck try, but the number of teams in need of a starting point guard, willing to meet Ainge’s asking price and lining up to pay Rondo max money isn’t a long list. It’s a coin flip, but I’m now leaning more toward no deal than deal.

@Trags: Traded by January.

@KevinOconnorNBA: For Rondo to be dealt by Boston, another team needs to get desperate close to the trade deadline. Looking around the NBA, I don’€™t see many teams willing to cough up what it’€™ll take, so for now I think he’€™ll remain with the Celtics all season.

@julianedlow: Rondo plays the year out in Boston. If he was ever going to be traded, it needed to happen by draft night. There are just no realistic packages out there that make sense for Ainge to deal Rondo. I won’€™t venture a guess as to what happens after this season, but I guarantee it won’€™t be boring.

@SPackGuy: Starts over 75 games for the Celtics. Re-signs in the offseason after not being offered a max deal by any other team.

2. Which newcomer will have the greatest impact?

@brohrbach: Evan Turner seems like the logical answer after his preseason, but with Rondo returning to run the offense, I’m going with dark horse candidate Tyler Zeller. The 7-footer had his ups and downs in eight exhibition games and still walked away with 36-minute averages of 15.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks to go along with a 17.1 player efficiency rating and 64.1 true shooting percentage. His ability to run the floor pairs well with Rondo.

@Trags: Turner by a smidge over Marcus Smart.

@KevinOconnorNBA: Turner, since he will fill up the box score on a nightly basis. I fully expect Turner to redeem himself in Boston.

@julianedlow: Smart is going to have some terrible games shooting the ball, but his electrifying defense should be enough to keep him on the court on those nights. He has been underrated as a ball-handler and a floor general, but realizing what his true strengths are will define his season. Smart needs to stop relying so heavily on the 3-point shot and look to get into the paint where he will be far more effective this season (and has been in limited preseason numbers).

@SPackGuy: I want to say Marcus Thornton because he seems like a cool dude, but it’s pretty clearly going to be Smart.

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

3. Which returning player will make the biggest leap?

@brohrbach: It has to be Kelly Olynyk. While Jared Sullinger looks to be improved, he was nearly a double-double machine as an NBA sophomore last season. Would you be at all surprised to see Olynyk average an efficient 14-7-3 this season? That’s a 50 percent increase in production across the board.

@Trags: Olynyk.

@KevinOconnorNBA: Sullinger. The addition of the above-the-break 3-pointer will do wonders for his game, and his conditioning looked much improved during the preseason. Olynyk is right there with Sullinger, as both of them should make a big leap.

@julianedlow: Third-year bigs Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond are expected to have breakout seasons this year. Sullinger is capable of making the same type of jump as he begins his third NBA season. He had a very strong preseason, and looks to be showing the type of growth he was expected to make when he was considered a No. 1 overall pick during his freshman season at Ohio State. Sullinger could flirt with an All-Star appearance and the Most Improved Player award.

@SPackGuy: Avery Bradley. This team will shoot a lot of 3’s, and AB will make the most of them. Can we get him a new nickname? AB lacks all creativity.

4. Who will be the biggest disappointment?

@brohrbach: It’s hard to be a disappointment when there are already low expectations, so I’m ruling out Gerald Wallace and Vitor Faverani here. Instead, I’ll go with Smart, just because the forecast has been so hot on the rookie. There’s no doubt he’s an NBA ready defender, but his propensity for turnovers and 3-pointers on the offensive end is a concern, at least this season.

@Trags: Jeff Green.

@KevinOconnorNBA: Thornton, only because expectations are unreasonably high after the preseason. His scoring will win Boston some games, but it’€™ll lose them a lot of games too. He’€™s an on-off player that I really like, but if things go south for the team, his production could drop, much like Jordan Crawford’€™s did last year.

@julianedlow: Has the time passed where Green can still be the answer? Look, Green is a great guy, a unique talent, and an elite athlete that also comes with an amazing story. I want to like Jeff Green. But his inconsistencies will always hold him back from becoming the star many hoped he would. In a 17-day span last year, Green had three different games in which he scored 27 or more points. He followed each of those games by scoring in single digits in his next game. Enough said.

@SPackGuy: Sullinger, only because the hype is out of control. I have seen people picking him to be Most Improved Player, which is totally absurd.

Brad Stevens has his hands full again this season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Brad Stevens has his hands full again this season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

5. What’s your prediction for the Celtics this season?

@brohrbach: 29-53. The evolution of Sullinger and Olynyk, return of Rondo and additions of Smart, Thornton, Turner and Zeller make this an improved roster, for sure, but with the possible exceptions of the Magic and Bucks the C’s are decidedly better than only the 76ers in the Eastern Conference. Even a four-game improvement is asking a lot from Brad Stevens.

@Trags: 36-46. Top-10 scoring team in the NBA. Lots of uptempo and fun to watch.

@KevinOconnorNBA: 30-52. This team is going to be a lot better than it was last season, especially on the defensive end of the floor. If you plugged this Celtics team into last year’€™s Eastern Conference, they’€™d probably win more than 35 games, but this year’€™s East is much improved. I’€™ll put them at 30 victories, but the record isn’€™t as important as the development of the young players and the system, which will be immense.

@julianedlow: 35-47. Much of the Celtics’€™ fate lies in what trades Ainge decides to pursue, but I have seen a lot of improvements since the summer and believe that it will reflect in Boston’€™s record. They finish with 35 wins — which would have missed the playoffs by three games in the East last season.

@SPackGuy: 30-52. Miss the playoffs and get an average lottery pick. REBUILDING CONTINUES!

Blog Author: 
WEEI
Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart’s shooting was a topic of many discussions during the preseason, to the point that it has begun to steal the spotlight from exactly what kind of player Danny Ainge and the Celtics may have acquired in Smart.

Smart is a premier defender and an elite athlete who may be much more talented on the offensive side of the ball than we give him credit for. We still need to see Smart play alongside Rajon Rondo, but so far Smart is the one who has been keeping himself from being far more efficient.

Ben Rohrbach wrote a well-researched piece earlier in the preseason that focused primarily on Smart’s poor 3-point shooting — something that Smart should try to stay away from early in his career. As Ben points out in his piece, Rondo and Avery Bradley both have significantly improved their shooting in one way or another since the beginning of their careers. So as a long-term goal, Smart never should give up on developing a shot from downtown in the NBA. But now is not the time to pretend to have one already.

Three-point shooting is something that Smart should be working on — and has been working on daily behind closed doors. But if he plays to his strengths, Smart can be far more efficient than we saw overall in the preseason. He did give us glimpses, though, and they looked mighty good.

The best example of what Smart is capable of came in the preseason finale against the Nets. Smart only played 16 minutes, but he dropped 16 points to go along with his four assists and two steals. The important part is that Smart shot 5-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-3 in the paint and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. The numbers can’t get any more efficient than that, but they can grow in volume. Smart rarely attempts 2-point field goals. So much so that he only attempted two per game in preseason action.

Are you ready for this? Smart attempted 7.5 field goals per game in the preseason and 5.5 of them were 3-pointers! This is a 25 percent 3-point shooter we’re talking about who attempted a league-leading 44 3-pointers in the preseason (and made just 11, if you’re not good at math).

Marcus Smart is not a bad shooter, though — he shot 75 percent from the free throw line and 50 percent on 2-point attempts over the eight preseason contests. His struggles are purely from beyond the arc. So isn’t there an easy solution to this problem? Smart clearly is at his best when he attacks the basket, something he has done minimally thus far.

Getting into the paint more often not only would provide Smart with shots that are significantly higher percentage for himself but also could help him find ways to raise his already decent average of 4.6 assists that he held in the preseason.

One day Marcus Smart may be a good NBA 3-point shooter, I am by no means saying that he won’t be. However, he certainly is not a good one as a 20-year-old rookie.

Smart looks as if he may already be an elite NBA defender — he averaged 2.4 steals in the preseason while playing hounding defense on opposing guards. If Smart can take advantage of driving his 6-foot-4, 226-pound frame into the paint more often, combine with his defensive abilities, he could immediately be a whole lot more effective and efficient than we imagined him being as a rookie. And even that much more of a threat if and when he does develop a 3-point shot in his promising career.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Vitor Faverani.

Vitor Faverani

Vitor Faverani

Ever since Boston heard Vitor Faverani’s name, he’s been an enigma. The Brazilian behemoth arrived at media day last year and declared, “It’s not difficult coming here; it’s the best team in NBA,” and then amassed 18 rebounds, 12 points and six blocks as the Celtics‘ starting center in their home opener. Only one other player matched that stat line all of last year: Anthony Davis.

A year later, we’ve learned little about the so-called “El Hombre Indestructible.” After losing his starting job to Jared Sullinger and seeing his minutes steadily decline before undergoing season-ending knee surgery on a torn left meniscus, Faverani proved the project many expected when he arrived from the Euroleague.

His averages of 12.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and two blocks per 36 minutes as an NBA rookie remain encouraging, even if advanced metrics (11.0 player efficiency rating, 50.2 true shooting percentage and a minus-5.5 overall rating per 100 possessions) suggest otherwise in a limited 488-minute sample size.

At the very least, we can all agree he’s not Anthony Davis. Who is he, then?

After chronicling his knee rehab, puppy purchase and awesome life on Instagram all summer, Faverani allegedly drove his BMW into a bus while driving with three times Spain’s legal limit of alcohol in his system. It wasn’t a good look for a peripheral player trying to hold onto his spot on an ever-expanding roster.

While team president Danny Ainge said the team would discipline the Brazilian big man, Faverani showed up to his second media day in a Celtics uniform and declared, “Somebody in Spain tried to kill me, but he can’t, so there’s nothing happening. I’m here. Everybody knows in Spain that this is no truth, so I don’t care about this.”

At the start of training camp, Faverani promptly underwent a second knee surgery to relieve inflammation of his surgically repaired left meniscus and missed the entire preseason, if not all of November and beyond.

Plug enigma into your Internet search engine of choice, and this Vitor photo should pop onto your screen. Thankfully, for Viterani’s sake, he’s a seven-foot, 260-pound, 26-year-old enigma making an affordable $2 million this season, so the Celtics kept him around for another year to see if they can make sense of him.

Until the next media day.

Asset Rating: D-

This has been another edition of Asset Management. Check out more Celtics player valuations below.

ASSET MANAGEMENT: Brandon Bass | Avery Bradley | Jeff Green | Kelly Olynyk | Phil Pressey | Marcus Smart | Jared Sullinger | Marcus Thornton | Evan Turner | Gerald Wallace | James Young | Tyler Zeller

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Brandon Bass.

The Celtics shopped Bass at the trade deadline, and over the summer we learned from Grantland’s Zach Lowe that team president Danny Ainge has “tried like hell” to move the veteran forward. Yet, he remains in Boston. For now.

The Bass experience has been a strange one, for sure. He collected 20 points and 11 rebounds in his first game for the Celtics — a Christmas Day loss to the Knicks in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season — and then came off the bench for a few months as he adjusted to Kevin Garnett‘s defensive rotation demands. Doc Rivers finally inserted Bass into the starting lineup around the NBA All-Star break, the C’s won 60 percent of their games down the stretch and they made a surprising run to the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, aided by Bass’ epic 27-point performance in Game 5 against the 76ers.

Boston came to love Bass for his understated, undersized effort. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound brick quietly protected the paint defensively and knocked down mid-range jump shots at a remarkable rate (49 percent) offensively in 2011-12. He was an appropriate complement on a team that still required touches for Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.

The ensuing summer, Bass signed a three-year, $19.35 million contract that seemed appropriate for a 27-year-old starting power forward on an Eastern Conference contender.

And then everything went south.

Allen left, Rondo tore his ACL and the microscope focused on everyone, including Bass, whose numbers almost universally dipped in 2012-13. His interior defense and mid-range jumper came back to earth a bit, and suddenly his ceiling was abundantly clear.

And then the Celtics blew it up.

Gone were Garnett, Pierce and Rivers. In their place were Kelly Olynyk, Gerald Wallace and Brad Stevens, who installed an offense that produced more than half the team’s 3-pointers from the frontcourt. Bass entered last year 0-for-15 from distance in eight previous NBA seasons, converted the first two triples of his career on six tries in 2013-14 and watched his name come up in just about every Celtics trade rumor since.

The Celtics haven’t been able to deal Bass and his $6.9 million expiring contract for the same reasons he’s slipped behind Olynyk and Jared Sullinger on the bigs depth chart. In an age when stretch forwards spread the floor for penetrating guards and post presences — all categories Bass doesn’t fit into — his inability to shoot 3’s disrupts the flow.

Stevens asked Bass to expand his range over this past summer, and the 29-year-old actually converted two of four preseason attempts from beyond the arc, but it’s too much to ask someone who tried one 3-pointer every 27 games in his previous nine seasons to be the next Ryan Anderson.

As Bass approaches his 30th birthday, he could see his minutes dip below 20 per game for the first time since he’s donned a Celtics uniform. The Celtics will continue developing Olynyk and Sullinger, rely on Zeller to protect the paint and give both Vitor Faverani and Dwight Powell a chance to prove their worth, leaving little room for Bass in the bigs picture.

Don’t be surprised to see Bass mentioned in trade talks until February, when a playoff team desperate enough for frontcourt depth and 2015 cap flexibility gives up a draft pick or young asset in hopes he finds the role-playing rhythm that ingratiated him with the Celtics in 2012. Either that, or an already arid market dries up and Ainge lets him walk next summer.

Asset Rating: C-

This has been another edition of Asset Management. Check out more Celtics player valuations below.

ASSET MANAGEMENT: Avery Bradley | Jeff Green | Kelly Olynyk | Phil Pressey | Marcus Smart | Jared Sullinger | Marcus Thornton | Evan Turner | Gerald Wallace | James Young | Tyler Zeller

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

With the Celtics‘€™ season-opener rapidly approaching, the question still remains — will Rajon Rondo be ready to play in Wednesday’s first game of the year?

It’€™s clear that Rondo has been improving, but he still can’€™t resist poking some fun at the media in the process. At Monday’s practice, Rondo gave himself a 79 percent chance of playing against the Nets on Wednesday. Then on Tuesday according to reports, Rondo told Brad Stevens he had upgraded himself to having an 83 percent chance of playing.

Rondo went on to say that he doesn’€™t like being called a game-time decision and he will decide whether or not he plays just a few hours before the game begins when he wakes up from his nap around 4:30 on Wednesday.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Rajon Rondo remains a member of the Celtics, but for how long?</p>
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CHRIS VILLANI

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