BOSTON — The big question on most Celtics fans’ minds after the Boston Celtics selected Marcus Smart with the no. 6 pick is simple: What does the pick of the young guard mean for the future of Rajon Rondo? Might the team be looking to move on from their captain with Smart in the picture?
Danny Ainge tried to put an end to those questions Thursday night by indicating moving Rondo was not in the team’s plans. Ainge responded with a simple ‘yes’ when asked if the team will move forward with their veteran point guard on the roster.
Instead of talking about moving Rondo, Ainge was adamant in stating he thinks Rondo, Smart, and Avery Bradley can all play together.
“[Smart’s] a very versatile player,” Ainge said. “Easily those guys can play together. I think they would really thrive playing together, all of them.”
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck and head coach Brad Stevens also addressed questions about Rondo’s future after Boston made their first round selections.
“That wasn’t a topic of conversation tonight,” Grousbeck said when asked about how Smart might fit in with Rondo and Avery Bradley. “We have confidence in Brad that he can manage a roster. We also had confidence in the top six, we were going to take the best available rather than slot in. That’s a strategy when you are rebuilding a team, you take the best available athlete and let it all work out. We got an All-Star point guard so that’s not the question here.”
Grousbeck added later: “I don’t think this has any impact on Rajon at all.”
Like Ainge, Stevens spoke confidently when asked whether Rondo and Smart can coexist on the floor together.
“I don’t think there is any doubt. They can play together,” Stevens said of the pair. “I think it will be great for Marcus to have a guy like Rondo to look up to and learn from. Not many guys get that opportunity, especially early on the draft like this.”
Stevens continued: “Marcus is another guy I was thrilled that he was there at six because he’s physically ready to play and he competes every single minute of every single day. That will do nothing but help your team, regardless of what position he’s playing at. I expect him to play some off the ball and expect him to play some with the ball, but he’s a young guy. He’s going to be playing with a guy there [in Rondo] who has been in the league for a long time and can help him learn about it. I think it will be great for both of them.”
Stevens said during his press conference that the team had not spoken to Rondo yet about the Smart selection, but that Rondo had watched Smart work out with the Boston coaching staff back in June.
“I haven’t talked to him [about Smart]. We talked about him the other day when we were watching the workout together. We were shooting the breeze more than we were evaluating players. I think Rondo can play with a lot of different people. If you can find guys that are tough and versatile defenders, we think Marcus is a better shooter than he shot and he gives you the ability to guard three positions. He gives you a lot of versatility on the wing.”
It’s still early in the offseason, but for the time being it looks like the Celtics plan on moving forward with Rondo, Smart and potentially Bradley playing major roles in their backcourt for next year.