The Boston Celtics: This is Rajon Rondo's team now

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Thumbnail image for rondo_layup.jpgThe Big Three. KG, PP and Ray Allen. The veteran All-Stars who got together to return Boston to glory. The men that hung a new banner in the Garden two years ago. Three men now part of Celtics lore.

This is not their team any more. This is Rajon Rondo’s team.

If they are going to beat the Cavaliers and crush the Finals dreams of David Stern and Nike executives, it will be because of Rondo, with help from the big three. One of the OG NBA bloggers — Jeff Clark at CelticsBlog —  hit the nail on the head.

After a while you just knew.  It wasn’t a matter of “if” he would take the reigns form the Big 3 so much as it was “when.”

Ray Allen has already accepted his role as a (very good) 2nd option and long distance assassin.  Kevin Garnett has predictably been slow to accept the reality of his once freakish body becoming mortal again.  Paul Pierce still walks with the swagger of an alpha dog, but hasn’t been able to stop the trend of “two steps forward, one step back.”  As a collective group they are still formidable and many times they still take turns playing the hero. But none of them would be blessed with the opportunity to extend their legacies right now if not for Rajon Rondo.

Rondo leads this team because it starts on defense for him. This is a long, lanky defender who gets steals, disrupts passing lanes and contests everything. He has thrown the Cavaliers offensive attack off balance for stretches of this series (the Cavaliers have done it to themselves for other stretches). Rondo was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for a reason.

On offense, he brings much needed speed for easy baskets in transition to the team (Boston got 16 shot attempts up in transition in Game 4, making 10 of them). He is the guy who can penetrate off the dribble and break down the other team, force their defense to lose its shape. He is the energy a veteran team needs.

It took a while. Rondo had to earn this. Last season in the playoffs the Big Three could not see Rondo as a team leader. He was not consistent, not ready Celtics coach Doc Rivers told Yahoo.

“To me, what Rondo has done is this: He’s done it with his play, and he’s done it with his actions. That allows people to buy in, because they have to buy in. You have to sell that to three guys like that. They have to believe in you all the time. That took a lot of work by Rondo. Last year was up and down – even in the playoffs it was up and down.

“This year it’s been constant, and I think that’s been the biggest swing. If you can convince Kevin Garnett to follow you, then you’ve done a hell of a job. And Kevin believes in him.”

He’s ready now. And he may be ready to lead the Celtics to the biggest upset of these playoffs.

Raptors promote Bobby Webster to general manager

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TORONTO (AP) — With rumors swirling about the Knicks chasing Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the Raptors have promoted Bobby Webster to general manager.

Webster, 32 years old assistant the youngest GM in the NBA, replaces Jeff Weltman, who left Toronto in May to become president of the Orlando Magic.

A former staffer at the NBA league office in New York, Webster joined the Raptors in 2013 and was named assistant GM in 2016.

He’ll help decide what to offer All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who opted out of the final year of his contract last month after Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round of the playoffs.

Forwards Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all unrestricted free agents.

Also Wednesday, Toronto promoted Dan Tolzman to assistant general manager.

The Raptors have posted consecutive 50-win seasons and made four straight playoff appearances.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.

Report: Mutual interest between Knicks, Jeff Teague with Phil Jackson gone

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Phil Jackson’s exit is already opening doors for the Knicks.

No position differs more in the triangle from modern spread NBA offenses than point guard. But without Jackson demanding his point guard fit such a narrow profile, New York can pursue greater talents – like Jeff Teague.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

With Phil Jackson out and the triangle de-emphasized, the Knicks, under general manager Steve Mills, have interest in free agent point guard Jeff Teague, league sources told ESPN. League sources say the interest in Teague is mutual.

The Knicks aren’t as desperate at point guard after drafting Frank Ntilikina, but Ntilikina probably isn’t ready to run an offense full-time yet. Teague could be a stopgap – which might be necessary considering New York can’t easily pivot into rebuilding with Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee locked up.

Teague’s future with the Pacers appears uncertain with Paul George on the trade block. A key part of Larry Bird’s retooling last summer, Teague and Indiana might be headed in different directions now.

The Knicks make as much sense as anywhere for Teague – now that Jackson is gone.

PBT Extra: Rockets, with Chris Paul trade, show fearlessness in face of Warriors’ dominance

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The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.

Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.

Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.