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Rondo says Celtics are one of five contenders (and other stuff)

Sep 26, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

Rajon Rondo AP

How many realistic NBA title contenders are there right now?

Rajon Rondo thinks there are five, and he plays on one of them. Here is what he told Marc Spears of Yahoo in an interesting interview.

“We won a championship and that’s great, but I don’t want to settle,” Rondo said. “I have a lot of NBA time left on my clock and I got the talent around me. Everyone can’t say they can compete for a championship each year. With the talent around me now with the Celtics, it’s time to obtain that goal.

“There are only five teams right now that can say they can compete for a title realistically. And we’re one of them.”

Who are the five? Miami and Oklahoma City, obviously. The Lakers moved into most people’s contenders list with the Steve Nash and Dwight Howard acquisitions. The Celtics would make it four. Who is No. 5? The Spurs or maybe Clippers out West? Who else in the East fits the bill, the Pacers or Knicks or Sixers?

My two cents, there are only three — Lakers, Thunder and Heat. Boston needs a little slip from Miami to catch up, they are half a step behind. In the West the Clippers, Spurs and maybe Nuggets are in the same boat of “darn good but not quite good enough without some help.”

But we will see, there is a long season to prove those theories right or wrong.

Rondo talked about a few other things of interest, including being a leader and getting Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and the rest of the Celtics core together in Los Angeles to workout, eat and play together for a week. To bond.

“I wanted J.T. to play with Kevin. I wanted Courtney to see how Paul likes to play. I wanted Paul and Jeff Green to go at each other,” Rondo told Yahoo! Sports. “I wanted to play with those guys. It was getting guys away from our actual training facility to get a new view.

“I wanted the guys to have fun. When you’re with me I want you to say, ‘Man, I had a good time with Rondo.’ And I think that’s what they did.”

It’s going to be a while, but we’ll see if that time spent in the enemy territory of Los Angeles helps the Celtics be better prepared.

  1. thetruth702 - Sep 26, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Uh… The bulls would be the 5

    • drunkenjunk - Sep 26, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      they’re not goin anywhere without D Rose.

      • nycalldayz - Sep 26, 2012 at 8:03 PM

        And there bench was gutted. The Bulls had one of if not the best bench during 2012 regular season and now they’re bench has been broken up. Also Rose’s health will still be a major concern if or when returns in mid-season.

    • passerby23 - Sep 26, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      I think even a healthy Bulls team has seen their window close. Their starting five, with a healthy Rose, certainly makes them pretty good. They just have the feeling of a team that had their chance. You wonder if/when Boozer will succumb to a timely injury. Hamilton is a year older, injury-prone, and less effective. Hinrich helps, but they’ve lost their bench. I’m not convinced they’ve really improved their ability to score, which has been a lingering problem the last couple of years. I think they slip to the 7th seed with Rose missing time.

      I think Boston is in the mix as a contender even if Miami is the favorite. Say what you want about injuries, but a team that took Miami to seven games who got significantly better is a threat. I still think Miami is the team to beat, but Boston is the type of matchup that can beat them.

  2. adiddie - Sep 26, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    T’wolves ya dummy

  3. money2long - Sep 26, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    being a half step behind another team who is a contender doesn’t make the team who is a 1/2 step behind NOT a contender. it just means they aren’t as good, or their chances aren’t as good as a team who looks more formidable. not every team competing for a championship is on the same level talent wise.

    number 5 can be anyone’s guess. but that’s just rondo’s thoughts. someone with more basketball expertise may feel there are actually 6 or 7 teams who can realistically contend. no need to box ourselves in rondo’s thought process (or Doc’s, who is probably the one preaching some of this stuff to his team).

    • nycalldayz - Sep 26, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      @money2long being a half step behind another team who is a contender doesn’t make the team who is a 1/2 step behind NOT a contender. it just means they aren’t as good, or their chances aren’t as good as a team who looks more formidable. not every team competing for a championship is on the same level talent wise. no need to box ourselves in rondo’s thought process (or Doc’s, who is probably the one preaching some of this stuff to his team).

      That’s an interesting argument. Maybe u should be writing on this website instead of guys like Kurt Helin, because that is a great point. You can relate that argument to Rondo’s statements, because Helin’s words are more opinions than facts. Going into the 2013 season one can assume Miami is the fav which is true, because they won the 2012 title, but it’s no lock Miami or OKC makes a return to the finals.

    • davidly - Sep 27, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Well said. My thoughts exactly.

  4. steelerfanforlife - Sep 26, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    “My two cents, there are only three — Lakers, Thunder and Heat.”
    And this is what sucks about the NBA, the season hasn’t even started and there are a legit 3, maybe 4 teams who can win the title! Just because the finals do well in the ratings does not make for a successful league. I love the NBA(Bulls fan) but the disparity between the top and bottom is ridiculous and I can’t see how this formula will help grow the league.

    • money2long - Sep 26, 2012 at 4:11 PM

      in any sport (not cheerleading), isn’t there always going to be a disproportionate disparity between top and bottom? i’m genuinely asking because i really don’t know.

      if the nba postseason were setup like that of the NFL or college hoops, where it’s one and done each round, the disparity wouldn’t matter.

      besides, all the bottom teams get the best rookies lol. that has to be some sort of consolation. well…until that player bolts for the limelight in the pretty cities.

      • tcclark - Sep 27, 2012 at 11:06 AM

        Not necessarily. The NHL has a great system that creates a lot of parity. An 8th seed just steam-rolled the competition through the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup. Any team, any given year, can win the Stanley Cup and it makes everything so much more exciting.

        They are a 7 game playoff series system just like the NBA and teams with stars have an advantage, but the one difference is the Hard Salary Cap. Teams who have stars with big contracts can’t afford to give them much help so they are still very beatable to teams with no stars, but still a lot of really good players. It would be like having Kobe and the Lakers with not much help around him against the Nuggets. That is a much more interesting match-up than a stacked lakers team of stars against the Nuggets.

    • eventhorizon04 - Sep 26, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      It’s been that way for a long time. If you want parity, you have to go with the NFL.

      Smaller market teams like Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona (Phoenix) Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all played in a Super Bowl since 2000.

      Could you imagine the Suns, Bucks, Hornets, and Pacers in the NBA Finals this year?
      Probably not, since they’re “smaller markets and can’t attract stars” – a problem that those markets’ NFL teams don’t seem to have for some reason (hard cap anyone?)

      • kinggw - Sep 26, 2012 at 5:18 PM

        That’s an incredibly asinine claim. Players want to play for successful teams and get paid market size is largely irrelevant. Both Miami and OKC are small markets and they won’t have any trouble attracting talented players. Conversely, Houston is the 3rd or 4th biggest market in the country and nobody of consequence wants to play there. Again, market size has very little to do player movement. The owners willingness to spend money, thats a different story.

      • passerby23 - Sep 26, 2012 at 6:12 PM

        San Antonio (which fields only one professional team) has won 4 of the last 13 championships. Utah (also only one pro team) had a streak of nearly two decades of playoff appearances, including two Finals appearances. The Pacers got to the Finals in 2000, maybe would’ve won a title in 1998 if not for Jordan, and were perennial playoff contenders. OKC is a contender. Small markets can compete just fine.

        Meanwhile, New York, the biggest market of all, suffered from 10 years of playoff obscurity. The Celtics had a string of awful years until the Big 3 arrived. Why have the Clippers been the laughing stock of the NBA for 3 decades (until recently)? Certainly, LA should have no trouble attracting stars. You can even see a problem with the Knicks now – they were able to attract stars, but at a huge price tag that still cripples their ability to find the needed supporting players. A big market can’t make Melo and Amare play well together.

        Big markets do not guarantee dominance. It helps, but at the end of the day, it’s about how well the franchises are run.

  5. yomarianob - Sep 26, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Obviously the fifth would be the Spurs.. no doubt

  6. ohsoblessed1 - Sep 26, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    Oklahoma City did not draw big names to came play there. They drafted those great players. I live ion Houston and it is a cool city, but no free agents seem to wanna come here.

  7. nycalldayz - Sep 26, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    How many realistic NBA title contenders are there right now? Rajon Rondo thinks there are five…See, Kurt Helin is a fan boy of gilts and glamour so I disagree. Reading Kurt’s articles, he tends to be disingenuous.

    Realistic NBA Title contenders
    5. Spurs

    The Lakers are a big if, because they’ve performed poorly over the past 2 season especially in the post-season. And just, because they added Howard(back surgery) doesn’t guarantee they’re a lock. The Lakers are much older than some of the other veteran teams going into 2013.

    Boston needs a little slip from Miami to catch up, they are half a step behind. Wrong again, Kurt. You don’t need to be a genius to see that Boston’s upgraded bench is much better than Miami’s bench. Boston’s only concern is limiting Lebron especially with Pierce being a yr older.

  8. bigbamboom1 - Sep 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    My list is bigger than 5 teams. I think this is going to be much more competitive than sme people think. Because there is great balance all over the NBA. Some teams are talented but old (Lakers). And with at least 8 teams, no one is afraid of anyone else. Meaning a Detroit Pistons type team could explode in the playoffs and take it all. Like Memphis almost did 2 years ago. SO here are my picks.
    1. Heat-champs until somebody beat them. But Wade injury gives me pause.
    2. OKC-If Westbrook matures, look out
    3. Celtics-Great young talent on a dynasty team with prideful vets
    4. Lakers-Could vault to #1 if Howard is ok and hits free throws. Need a Kyle korver type too.
    5.Spurs-talented and never out of it. If Tiago Splitter develops, could be dangerous.
    6. Memphis-Can beat any of the above if healthy and focused. Need a 3 point shooter
    7. Philly-Bynum or bust! Because they have the young motivated studs to mesh with him.
    8. NY Knicks-Will be dangerous with Shumpert and a full year together.

    The Bulls are pretty much toast if Rose is out for the year as some speculate. Denver, Utah and Milwaukee will make some noise. But don’t have the horses like the top 8. Bottom line is this. Any team in that top 8 believe they can beat any of the others in a 7 game championship series. And belief is half the battle once you get there. Just ask Dallas from 2 years ago.

  9. davidly - Sep 27, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    I hear ya, Kurt, but: What do you call a team that is not one of your three and which knocks off one of them before the finals? Might one – purely for the sake of definition – consider that team a contender, even if you don’t think it is likely to happen?
    You said:
    “But we will see, there is a long season to prove those theories right or wrong.”
    That sentence, in and of itself, seems to me to be a clear indication by the definition of the word, that there are more than three contenders. In other words: Somebody has got to play the Heat before they get to the finals. What. Are you already calling “Miami in five” in every playoff series in the East? And you really think that neither the Spurs, nor Clippers are going to extend a series against the Lakers and/or Thunder? I mean, the Lakers roster isn’t even healthy, ie. together yet. Surely that puts them a half step back on the same level with the other half step backers?

    But I understand that we b-ball fans have gotta talk about something. Kind of makes me appreciate the all out sports fan, and how, say, the relevance of discussion is supplemented by hockey… doh!

    • passerby23 - Sep 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      It means can you picture a team beating them in a 7-game series? Can you picture Dallas knocking off the Lakers, or the Hawks knocking off the Heat? If not, they aren’t contenders RIGHT NOW.

      I still think the Lakers are too big for the Spurs and the Thunder are too young and fast for them. With some favorable matchups and a bit of luck, I could see the Clippers, Nuggets, Pacers, and Knicks being on the next tier of teams that could surprise, but right now, I have trouble seeing many teams beat the Heat, Celtics, Lakers, and Thunder.

  10. mrbiz8505 - Sep 27, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Get rid of some teams……. 80% of the league has no chance

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