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NBA Rumors: Rondo Takes Blame for Celtics’ Struggles

Rajon Rondo takes blame for his and the Celtics’ struggles… Phil Jackson under fire in NY and more!

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Rondo takes the blame

“I’ve not been myself,” Rajon Rondo said after a 109-102 win snapped a five-game losing streak. “I haven’t been as aggressive. I haven’t been making shots. I’ve been turning the ball over. So, like I said, a lot of those losses I put on myself, and I’ve got to find a better rhythm.”

How, exactly, does Rondo plan to find that rhythm? He could start by attacking the basket, getting to the free throw line and breaking out of his 30 percent free-throw shooting funk.

“I don’t really have the answer,” added Rondo, who had eight assists against four turnovers. “If I had it, I’d probably figure it out, but I’m still confident in myself. I’m still believing in myself. So, that hasn’t shied away from my game, and I’ll continue to get better.”

Via Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com

With over two months remaining until the NBA’s trade deadline, there’s reason to start wondering whether Rajon Rondo could be on the move eventually. At the beginning of the season both parties were saying the right thing and making it sound like they wanted to stay together long-term, however, it’s still hard to see how that’s in the Celtics’ best interest. Their ceiling as a franchise is obviously a lot lower now than it was years ago when Rondo was surrounded by Hall of Famers, and with top tier free agents difficult to lure over in the open market, trading him is their best way to improve. They’re already loaded in the backcourt with young talent to replace him, it’s just a matter of accepting that it’s time to move on.

That could also be the cure to Rondo’s woes as well. As a pass first point guard, he needs to be surrounded by high-caliber weapons in order to be at his best.

This isn’t one of those instances where it has to get ugly and Rondo needs to demand a trade. Celtics president Danny Ainge simply needs to quietly gauge the market and find out which team is willing to offer the best package for Rondo. The market may be limited by Rondo’s pending free agency, but the Celtics should be able to find a deal that is worth accepting and avoiding the possibility of losing Rondo this summer for nothing in return. The fact that the state of the team is still this bad (the Celtics are 5-11) shows that it is indeed time to make a change.

Jackson: Knicks lack confidence

Phil Jackson doesn’t panic, although he didn’t seem overly thrilled when a reporter stopped him on the way to his car for a comment. Jackson, who isn’t exactly adhering to his promise of an open relationship with the press, simply stated that the Knicks look to be lacking confidence. The Knicks also announced that they were not practicing Wednesday, which seemed off under the circumstances. A more plausible scenario is that the Knicks practiced but wanted to give Fisher and Anthony a day off from the media, which is in fact against NBA rules.
But avoiding the media speaks to Jackson’s analysis of the team lacking confidence. He could have added toughness as well. And he could have mentioned that the team lacks talent, but that would be disrespectful to the current roster, not to mention a self-inflicted jab. Jackson also could have mentioned that the head coach looks a little overwhelmed but that would be a direct shot at Fisher as well as Garden chairman James Dolan, who did everything he could to push Steve Kerr, Jackson’s first choice to coach the Knicks, to Golden State.

Via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News

Ah, life in New York, where if the Knicks aren’t winning, there’s going to be some scathing articles out in the press. This is partly Jackson’s doing, as the more open he is with the media and the more explaining he does about the team’s struggles and plans to recover from them, the more positive the outlook would be. However, from an outsiders’ perspective, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot going right with the Knicks, and quick one-liners about how a lack of confidence is the primary issue isn’t explanation enough to avoid the negativity.

Jackson seems to want to stand in the background during this tough time and let the team grow on their own without having to constantly read about his takes in the media, but articles like this are the price that comes with being standoffish. Until the franchise is back on track, the finger has to be pointed somewhere, and every move will be second guessed.

Byron Scott thinks Kobe will keep playing past 2016

Part of Scott’s optimism about the Lakers’ future stems from Bryant posting a league-leading 25.8 points per game after appearing in only six contests last season with injuries to his left Achilles and left knee. Scott also believes he can convince Bryant to play beyond his contract that expires following the 2015-16 season.

“We’ll talk about that. You guys have watched him play. He has a lot left in that tank,” Scott said before the Lakers (4-13) play the Washington Wizards (11-5) at Verizon Center. “If we put something together that excites him, we’ll have a real good chance of him saying he’ll play another year and give it another shot. That’s what we plan to do.”

Via Mark Medina of InsideSoCal.com

This comes on the heels of Adrian Wojnarowski, one of the few reporters in the league who has a genuinely close relationship with the Lakers star, writing that Bryant was in deed open to playing past 2016. Scott serving as a main recruiter should help the Lakers as they attempt to get Bryant to play into his upper 30s, as long as their relationship isn’t negatively impacted by the Lakers’ lack of success this year, and presumably next year as well if the front office isn’t able to make wholesale improvements.

Bryant’s current contract expires at the end of next season, after which the Lakers will have ample cap space and plan to make a run at Kevin Durant. It’s likely going to take landing a big fish like Durant to ensure Bryant that they’re going to contend in order for him to pass on retirement, something that at times he has seem set on once his current deal expires.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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