Talking Celtics

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

A Q&A with Paul Flannery of SBNation about Rajon Rondo, Boston's future and tonight's game.

How has Rajon Rondo looked since coming back from the ACL injury? Should we expect a vintage Rondo performance or is he still somewhat limited?

Rondo's first few games were rough. His shot was way off and whether it was him or his new teammates learning to play with him, the timing of his passes was preseason-caliber. He's looked much more like Rondo in recent games and is beginning to resemble the lovable weirdo that we all remember.

It started with the Magic game on Super Bowl Sunday when he made nine of 11 shots and came up with a key steal at the end of the game. Against Philly he dropped a vintage 8-9-11 line. I expect there will be a few more hit-and-miss performances, but I think we'll see more of the real Rondo over the next few months than the one who first came back.

What are the chances he's traded before his contract expires? Does a 27-year old All-Star make much sense for a rebuilding team?

I don't know. That's the honest answer. The Celtics are not actively trying to trade Rondo, despite what other GMs whisper to their favorite rumor hound. It doesn't really work that way, anyway. If they get an offer they like -- and it would have to be a significant offer -- then they'd trade him. But remember, for all the smoke over the years the only time they came really close to trading him was for Chris Paul and New Orleans wasn't interested. I highly doubt he'll get moved before the trade deadline, but this summer? We'll see. Again, they're not going to give him away.

As for the second part, that's the key question. His contract will be up after next season and you have to think he'll be looking for a max deal or something close to it. For all his inconsistencies, when Rondo is at his best he's proven that he can be the best player on the court in the biggest games. The Celtics value him highly. If I'm wagering on his future today, I think it's in Boston.

With the exception of Rondo, who would you say is the core of this team, going forward?

Besides Rondo the core isn't in Boston yet. Of the current players, I see Jared Sullinger, maybe Avery Bradley and probably Kelly Olynyk as part of the future. The talent is really thin, which explains the record. My hunch is that Danny Ainge will try to pull off a modified version of the Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen trades at some point in the future and the only guys left from those deals were Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and Rondo.

How has Phil Pressey, a Dallas kid who went to ESD, looked as a rookie? Do you think he will be able to stick in the NBA? Obviously, the odds are a little stacked against undrafted 5'11 guards.

Pressey's been great and a total revelation. He's proven he can play in the league, despite his physical limitations. (5-11 is being very generous.) I wouldn't count him as part of the core, but I think he'll stick around Boston for a while. He's signed to very favorable contract and they've been looking for a backup point guard for years.

What's the formula for the Celtics to pull off the upset on Sunday? They've cooled off considerably since their surprising start, but any NBA team can be feisty at home.

Limit turnovers, make shots and play defense for 48 minutes. They have no margin for error. If they do all those things and Rondo plays like Rondo they can compete with anyone. If not ...

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