Rajon Rondo injury opens door for Bucks, Jennings

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

With Celtics star and East all-star starter Rajon Rondo going down for the season with a torn ACL, the Bucks' likelihood of securing their first playoff berth in three years just went up. But could it also mean a late-arriving all-star berth for Brandon Jennings?

Losers of six straight entering Sunday's nationally-televised tussle with the Heat, the Celtics were hoping a confidence-inspiring win over LeBron James and company might kickstart a second-half return to form for Doc Rivers' diappointing bunch. Instead, a season-ending knee injury to backcourt talisman Rajon Rondo will raise questions as to whether the eight-seeded Celtics can make the playoffs at all.

It's not the kind of news the Bucks would wish on even their bitterest rivals, but the reality is that it would clearly seem to help the Bucks and every other team battling for playoff positioning in the wide-open East. For Milwaukee, the impact is more indirect: the Bucks closed out their season series with Boston a month ago (Milwaukee winning three of four) and the seventh-seeded Bucks are already 3.5 games ahead of the Celtics in the standing. But there's no reason to think the Celtics couldn't have turned it around--not with their talent and experience.

Rondo's injury clearly deals a critical blow to the Celtics' relevance in the East, and it also presumably changes Danny Ainge's calculus as he faces critical decisions leading up to next month's trade deadline. Even before Rondo's injury, speculation was mounting that Ainge could opt to blow up the Celtics' veteran core at the trade deadline or in the summer. And while Ainge still has time to assess whether a Rondo-less squad has the ability to hang onto the final playoff spot in the weakened East, in many ways that's beside the point. This isn't a squad built to just make the playoffs--they're too old for that kind of thinking. With the trade value of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce likely to decline quickly going forward and Rondo's uncertain recovery period, there would seem to be a strong case for dealing the C's veterans now in order to expedite the rebuilding process. Will Ainge get an itchy trigger finger? We'll know in about three weeks.

Rondo's injury also means someone will be named to replace him on the East's all-star squad. Could it be Brandon Jennings? Logic would say he has a chance: Jennings has played well enough to at least put himself in the all-star conversation, and the fact that he plays Rondo's position obviously helps. But it will be up to David Stern to select Rondo's replacement, and there's good reason to believe the commissioner will opt for a member of the Brooklyn Nets to fill Rondo's spot.

Brooklyn big man Brook Lopez was widely considered the East's biggest snub when the reserves were announced on Thursday, and it's worth noting that Deron Williams' disappointing play hasn't prevented him from posting numbers comparable to Jennings' across the board. The irony is that Williams has gotten fairly little all-star buzz despite Brooklyn's improved play since Avery Johnson's departure (26-18, third in the East) and the fact that, well, he plays in New York. Goes to show that playing in a big market might only be helpful when you're not disappointing everyone.

My guess is that Lopez earns the nod, and a small chorus of Milwaukee hatred towards Stern follows. But honestly? Lopez is probably the more deserving player at the moment. That said, I hate that playing in Milwaukee probably hurts Jennings' chances of getting Stern's selection, and as a fan I'd love to see Jennings in the NBA's showcase event--heck, you don't have to be a Bucks fan to enjoy Jennings in an exhibition with the world's best players. It wouldn't make Jennings any cheaper to re-sign this summer, but sometimes we can still think like fans, right?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Brew Hoop

You must be a member of Brew Hoop to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Brew Hoop. You should read them.

Join Brew Hoop

You must be a member of Brew Hoop to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Brew Hoop. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker