Playing Panic or Patience with Boston Celtics, Post Rajon-Rondo Injury

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJanuary 30, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 24:  Head coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics yells to his team during the game against the New York Knicks on January 24, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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The Boston Celtics are entering dangerous territory.

After losing Rajon Rondo for the next eight or so months, the Celtics will be faced with obstacles now and in the future. I'm no doctor, but when you lose your best player to an ACL tear, and the next two guys in line are both at least 35 years old, it might be an appropriate time to panic.

The Celtics have to figure out how they want to handle this pickle they find themselves in. Nobody in Boston wants to hear the word "rebuild." But is it the only solution?

Without Rondo in the lineup, the Celtics realistically can't compete against the big dogs in the league—and they don't have many trade chips outside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

If Boston plans on keeping both players, then this is likely the roster they move forward with. Considering Jeff Green's salary and a slew of washed-up combo guards, Boston's role players won't generate much interest on the trade market.

If Boston chooses to blow up the team—and by team I mean dealing Garnett and Pierce—then there's likely to be a few down-years of Boston Celtics basketball.

It's just the price you pay for constructing a win-now roster, which is what Danny Ainge did when he acquired the Big Three. Winning now usually means losing later. The Spurs will eventually have to go through the same process in the near future.


Short-Term Challenges

Boston doesn't even have a true point guard to throw out there while Rajon Rondo recovers. Leandro Barbosa, Avery Bradley, Jason Terry—these are shoot-first combo guards that lack the instincts of a facilitator.

Doc Rivers has no plans of tanking the rest of the season and will likely look for an alternative answer for a new lead guard. It was originally rumored that Boston had interest in Kyle Lowry, but with Toronto on the verge of dealing Jose Calderon, this option doesn't seem likely.

The Celtics have enough talent and a smart enough coach to overcome such a devastating loss—but only to a point. I don't necessarily think Rondo's injury automatically knocks them out of playoff contention, but it does prevent them contending for a title.

And there's nothing worse than being dead money.

Without Rondo, Boston's 2013 ceiling is the second round of the playoffs. That should be good enough for a draft pick in the 20s, when the Celtics desperately need some young promising talent that you typically find in the lottery. 

This brings us to the Celtics' long-term challenges moving forward.


Long-Term Challenges

You won't find too many keepers not named Rondo on this roster. Other than Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger, both expendable role players at the right price, Boston doesn't have many building blocks to work with.

Keeping Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett could really delay the rebuilding plan this team will inevitably have to follow. Otherwise they'll be stuck in limbo as a perennial six-through-eight seed.

The Rondo injury ultimately eliminates Boston from relevance, at least until the 2014-2015 season when he enters the final year of his contract.

If Boston really wanted to blow this up they could deal Rajon Rondo, which is the only way they'd be able to attract substantial offers on the trade market. However this wouldn't make sense until after the 2013-2014 season, when Rondo can regain value and prove his knee injury is a thing of the past.

Given the circumstances, this injury was catastrophic to the organization. It's one of the few instances where one player affects the entire team both now and in the future.

It might be time for Boston fans to start redecorating their rooms with Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins gear.