The obvious theme heading into this next year is centered around Rajon Rondo. All eyes will be on him. When will he be back playing? Will he have the same burst or will that take more time? Will he mesh well with new coach Brad Stevens? And so on and so forth.
But the biggest question on peoples minds is a much more fundamental one. Is Rajon Rondo ready to finally be the face of the franchise or is he really better suited to be more of a complimentary star player?
To add another layer, even if he is ready to be the star, is he patient enough with the rebuilding process to stick it out for the long haul or will he wish to be the next out the door?
The emotional letdown a left-behind player experiences when his team trades away or allows an important member of the team to walk away and takes a few steps backwards in order to move forward is tremendous. "Future" is a word that fans love, but it is not one that an in-prime player wants to hear. For the player in his prime, the future is now. That same belief led Kobe Bryant to wanting out of Los Angeles at one point and that same belief has LaMarcus Aldridge at the end of his wits in Portland.
So much attention is being focused on what Danny Ainge wants to do or will do with Rondo, that perhaps the other side of the equation is being skipped. Of course Rondo and his agent are going to say the right things in the offseason and profess to be on board with the Celtics plan going forward. The real test, however, is when the losses start mounting (assuming they do of course). That's when we'll see if Rondo can play nice with everyone around him.
As a Rondo fan, I'd like to think that he can. He's a smart guy and I think he understands that the best situation for him would be right here in Boston where he can sign a lucrative extension sometime during the year and establish himself as one of the true stars of the game.
Not every star that forces his way out of town finds the other side of the fence to be greener. Just ask Dwight Howard. Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are both where they want to be now, but neither has sniffed a title yet. Rondo has a young nucleus around him, a creative GM that has built a winning core in the past, and time on his side.
Hopefully he'll be on board with the plan going forward, but I guess you never know. He will be very interesting to watch to say the least.