|Posted by paul on September 11, 2013 at 5:20 PM|
All summer long we have had to listen to the 'wise ones' explain patiently to us that the smart thing for the Celtics to do next season is tank. A key element to the tanking 'strategy' thus offered is invariably either to trade Rondo, or to delay his return as long as possible. Some smart alecks are now even calling for Rondo to miss the entire season next year!
As far as I can tell, the only reason this kind of argument is so popular is that folks feel terribly clever as they spin different ways to say "losing is winning!" That's why I mentioned Orwell in my title. Orwell taught that society - as something capable of functioning separately from corporatist government - would be degraded and destroyed by, among other things, the introduction of 'new-speak', and that many people in society would joyfully embrace their 'new-speak' as a sign of the greatness of the New Age. Their ancestors, they would tell themselves, would never have been clever enough to see that up was actually down, that war was actually peace, that knowledge was really ignorance, etc.. In the sports world, certainly, we now see Orwell's nightmare fulfilled. Many fans and pundits just cannot resist the thrilling cleverness of finding various ways to show that losing is really winning, for those smart enough to see it. They just love their new-speak.
If one tries to somehow analyse what these sages of tanking are offering as rationale, it's quite clear, I think, that they mix issues together into a kind of poisonous gumbo. Rondo's return is a separate issue. How the team should approach games is a different issue. How Danny should make his offseason moves is yet another issue. And so forth. Clearly one cannot say that these issues are totally unrelated. They impinge on each other. But they cannot be folded together into one issue.
In sports, out and out tanking is fraud. Period. It isnt' sort of ok. It's fraud. Yes, the Celtics did it, according to reports, in 2007, and yes that led to a championship, as the resulting draft choice helped the Cs acquire KG, but I think the down side, the karma of tanking appeared quickly. This became a team that was all too comfortable with underperforming. The Big Three Celtics should have won more than one championship. The tank lovers will blame all that on injuries of course. No doubt, injuries did play a role, but this was a team that didn't maximize its potential. And how shameful is it for the same people who praise tanking to fault Rondo for not giving his all?! Who taught Rondo to not give his all? Why, it was Danny and Doc, et al, wasn't it?
The same folks who claim, sagely, that striving to win is something that is to be done at times, but by no means all the time, seem hot to blame Rondo and others for learning that lesson ALL TOO WELL. It's a lesson that folks like Rondo need to unlearn.
It's obvious that maximizing draft position can play a role in a general manager's thought process at times. How could it not? The attitude that Ainge approached last summer with would probably have been grossly misplaced this summer. Last summer Danny was trying to think of every angle he could that would make the team younger and stronger and more likely to be able to make One Last Run. Doing that this summer would be flat out folly, especially now that it looks like Rondo's return is likely to be difficult and delayed. Long term strategy is part of a GM's job. As long as a GM doesn't literally design a team to lose, he or she is not tanking. Choosing not to put all your eggs in a rotten basket is not the same as filling up a basket with rotten eggs and then trying to pass it off as a basket of fresh eggs.
A coach too has more to think about than just Ws and Ls. He or she has to think about developing players and nurturing a strong team identity. It's not tanking, for example, if you play a young player who needs experience at the expense of an older player who could win you more games in the short term, if your goal is to develope the younger player, while hopefully not ruining the older player. It IS tanking, however, if you deliberately give Fab Melo more minutes than anyone on the team, or if you pull a hot player just so the team doesn't stumble into a win, etc..
If the Celtics have decided that they simply MUST have Wiggins or Parker, then they probably should go ahead and trade Rondo. That might look like tanking, but it really wouldn't be. If you want those other players that much then you've clearly already made the decision that you do not want to build around Rondo. On the other hand, if you've decided that you do want to build around Rondo, you would't even consider monkeying around with his return date. His return should be based on his recovery. We should want him back just as soon as he is ready. We really can't ultimately control whether or not we get Wiggins, even if we want him, even if we go to the point of utter ridiculousness towards losing games, but we CAN control whether or not we begin to build an identity as a team.
Categories: Rondo Ravings