Ssssoooooo…one more day has passed. My ire from what the Boston Celtics did at the draft almost a week ago has continued to subside. Of course, it helps when the Red Sox are playing listless ball against one of the worst teams in baseball. It also helps when the Bruins’ front office seemingly is rolling along with the continued incompetence it has shown in recent years. But these are stories for some other day. And I promise that day will be soon. Because of course I would love to share my anger with you. Most of you anyway, since I know at least one person out there (Keo!!) who is sick and tired of all the negativity in this town, to steal a classic from Rick Pitino.
Getting back on track, we all know the “rebuild” of the Celtics has been slow and deliberate. Ok, so the Brad Stevens era has been only 3 years. Which is not really a long time, relatively speaking. Some teams have been “rebuilding” for decades. So it could be a lot worse. Doesn’t it seem longer though? I think that is simply because Danny Ainge has been gathering “assets” from the time he shipped away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets. And Doc Rivers to the Clippers too. Among all the other moves he has made to bring the roster to its current state. With that, ownership has promised “fireworks” and we are all ready for them to occur. Ready for them to take the next step.
This is why on draft night we were all pissed. Not even a single firecracker to be heard.
Upon reflection, I have accepted the inaction. Below are the majority of the reasons why, once again, in no particular order:
*The #3 pick simply did not have the value that we hoped it might have. We heard the rumors and got excited. But in reality, I’m not sure there was a ton of demand. Sure, Philly made a decent offer. But it wasn’t an earth-shattering one. Is Nerlens Noel a nice player? By all indications, yes he is. But is he truly a “game-changer?” That part may yet to be determined because he is young and certainly has time to evolve into one. But judging by the fact that Noel was deemed to be the one expendable by the Sixers with their glut of big men, they at least do not think he will be THAT type of guy. Worth noting.
*Kevin Durant is not coming to Boston. This year anyway, though probably never. As previously stated, I expect him to sign a one year deal to stay in OKC. This also seems to be the consensus opinion as well. Why? A few things. They have a legitimate championship contender there right now. They came close together this past year and based on the state of their roster, he may feel like they have one last run in them at the very least. Russell Westbrook has one year left on his deal. There’s probably a good chance he bolts at the end of his deal and KD may want to line his contract up to coincide with RW’s for that one last run in OKC.
There are probably a few other reasons, but for this purpose there is one more. It appears that if Durant signs for that one year, he can get over 100 mil more in next years’ free agent market. You read that right, 100 mil. Now, I don’t know all the particulars of the salary cap and all that nonsense. But that is what’s being reported out there. An extra 100 million is nothing to sneeze at. Obviously.
It’s great that Danny has a meeting with Durant soon. But perhaps its true purpose is to grease the skids for next year? Never know.
*The apparent cost for other “franchise” players was way too high. I referenced the proposed package for Jimmy Butler. Ridiculous. 4 draft picks and three of your best current players? No thanks. I’m guessing that if/when Ainge inquired about other studs, he received similar proposals. Too prohibitive.
*Unimpressive other available free agents. Sure, there are some decent players out there. But I’m not handing max contracts out to any of them. Al Horford, Mike Conley, Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside, Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons…you name it. The Celts have the ability to offer 2 max deals. If Durant isn’t taking one of those slots, is it worth it to offer one to two of the rest of the lot? I don’t think so.
*Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m going to assume that LeBron stays in Cleveland. Even if they trade Kevin Love and shuffle some of the other bodies on the roster, these guys are still going to be the team to beat. By far.
*The Western Conference. Still superior. Unless the C’s get Durant and another stud, not only are they still behind the Cavs, but they are still behind Golden State, San Antonio, OKC, the Clippers and perhaps others.
These are the reasons that lie in the forefront for me. It takes time to build a consistent winner, not to just try to assemble a great team, win once and then go back through a cold spell for several years. The timing…still…does not seem right to me to see those “fireworks”, based on all I have seen and heard. Perhaps we all should have taken it as a sign when Stevens and Ainge signed their extensions that this was the route the Celtics themselves were taking and that there is more patience needed from the fan base.
Gathering more assets never hurts. Trades will be available again at some point for sure. Maybe there will be a better free agent crop next year. Maybe Durant comes over then. The salary cap is supposed to explode as well. Maybe then the C’s have room for three max deals. Ultimately…what’s another year? As long as they continue going in the right direction of course.
There are still plenty of lesser moves to be made to improve the team at least incrementally. There are 23 players associated with the team at this point. I am counting unrestricted free agent Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton (the 2nd round pick in 2015 version) and Colton Iverson (2nd round pick in 2013) though. I like what Turner brings to the table, but I believe someone will wildly overspend for him on the open market. Probably not worth keeping him at crazy money for a back-end starter/top bench player. I don’t think anyone is counting Thornton or Iverson. But the team still holds their rights. So we can at least talk about them here and give them a little love. That’s about it though.
That leaves 20 guys. Ok, I doubt anyone is counting John Holland either. And perhaps Yabusele and Zizic are stashed overseas along with Iverson and Thornton. Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko have non-guaranteed deals. Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller will be restricted free agents, where the C’s will have the ability to match anything offered. Though with Sully getting buried in the playoffs, I am not sure I expect him back. Maybe the team gives up on James Young. Etc.
There will still be plenty of moves. And I expect these moves to improve the team. There are people who do love Jaylen Brown. Some of those people know a whole helluva lot more about basketball talent than I do. You have to at least give that some credence. Maybe just also adding another big guy that can rebound and “protect the rim” will add a few more wins. Regardless, the Celtics of 2016-17 SHOULD still be better than the 2015-16 version. Doesn’t that count for something?
I have no idea if this is the right or wrong path. But it seems reasonable after some thought. Last years’ team was entertaining. If that holds true this upcoming year, they win 50 games or so, hopefully win a round or two in the playoffs, then the fireworks occur NEXT offseason (another high Nets pick, Durant or someone similar, 2nd and possibly 3rd notable free agent, etc.), is that really a bad thing?
It may be if Brown ends up sucking. But let’s not even consider that for the time being…
Ok, so I’ve had several days to chew (stew?) over the NBA draft that occurred last Thursday. Well, not the draft as a whole. Just the Boston Celtics performance throughout it.
As usual, the delay in commenting is partly by design. Part laziness of course. Maybe part “life getting in the way” too. But definitely some by design. And that can be a good thing in cases such as this. Because Thursday night I was furious. And now? Not as much. Disappointed? Yup. But I’ve certainly cooled off quite a bit.
That’s because Kevin Durant is coming to Boston!! Haha…no, I still believe that has zero chance of happening. It’s great that they are one of the 6 teams that will get a meeting with him. But maybe that’s only because Ainge has been trying to schmooze KD’s Mom for quite some time and Kevin is just doing a solid for Danny…or something like that. But in any event, it’s hard to believe he would come to the Celtics over the other teams, specifically the teams from the West. Still feel like he isn’t leaving Oklahoma City. We’ll find out soon enough, but I digress…
To recap briefly, with their 8 picks, the C’s took 6 bodies and traded 2 of the picks for a protected (1-14) 2019 first round pick or a protected (1-14) 2020 first round pick or a 2022 second round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers. 2022 is a long ways away, but it looks like it may be the 2nd rounder. Whatever. More on that later.
Most of the locals thought the Celts would trade their first pick at #3 overall. After all, it was supposed to be a 2-person draft in Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. After that, maybe from 3-8 you could get some pretty good talent still, but no one had a consensus of which order they would go in and what each of those players’ upsides may be. Lots of question marks. Many also thought a trade was a given because of all the rumors swirling around and the long-standing promise by C’s management of “fireworks” and all that nonsense.
Of course, if you have the #3 pick in what is considered a “2-person draft”, well, that can impact the value of that pick…thank you, Captain Obvious. But I think the fans were buoyed by the fact that rumors were rampant. Not that one is supposed to believe any and all rumors out there on the mill. But where there is smoke there is fire. If you hear enough rumors, maybe one will come true. And I think most of us were hanging our hats on that.
The one that got a lot of us, maybe most of us, including definitely myself, were the rumors with Philly. The Sixers have plenty of big men and were set to take Simmons. The C’s have plenty of guards. The Sixers lacked guards. The C’s lack big men. It looked like a perfect match.
As the week went on, as a C’s fan, you hoped they could pry Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel for the #3 pick alone. You thought the Sixers would want more. As draft time moved closer, you heard that Danny wanted one of those two for the pick, but he also wanted Philly to sweeten the pot. Then after the draft you heard Philly offered Noel, picks #24 & #26 and Robert Covington for the #3 pick alone. But Ainge wanted next year’s Philly first round protected Los Angeles Lakers’ pick and Noel for the #3. Blah, blah, blah…and nothing happened.
I don’t blame Philly for balking on next years’ pick. But I wonder why Danny didn’t take Noel, Covington and the picks? The picks were low, I get it…but there’s your 2 foreign guys you actually took this year, if you wish. Noel should be an upgrade down low and Covington is useful. Seems like it may be fair enough…from my observation anyway. But maybe Noel is overrated…according to people more connected to the league than I am…and therefore likely more knowledgeable as well.
Was Ainge thinking he could’ve done better with that pick? I don’t know. Apparently, the Chicago Bulls were asking for all 3 first rounders, next year’s Brooklyn pick (likely a good one also), Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley all for Jimmy Butler. Yikes! Glad they didn’t do that one. I’m pretty sure anyway. You would also have to think there was some team out there that liked one of the players from 3-8 and they may have been trying to make a last-minute push to land at #3. Sure, no one was going to ridiculously overpay to move to #3. But you have to believe there were more offers out there. And Danny obviously stood pat.
In any event, the Celtics took Jaylen Brown at #3. Underwhelming, to say the least. When it became apparent that they were keeping him, that’s when I was pretty aggravated. Angry, actually. Celtics fans were clearly feeling the same, judging by the negative response…everywhere…and by the booing of co-owner Wyc Grousbeck at the Celtics draft party when he announced the pick. Ouch.
Brown may be a helluva player. And a model citizen to boot. But he’s 19 years old. Unproven. Among other things. The reports on him are that he COULD develop into a stud…but right now he can’t shoot. Ummmm…WHAT?! The C’s need big men and shooters. Brown is neither. If you can’t shoot at 19, presumably after hoisting up thousands and thousands of shots as practice throughout all your youth, can you really learn to shoot as you get older? And he is the crown jewel of their draft. Yuck…I think…
Then the 2 foreign dudes, at #16, Geurschon Yabusele (who?) and Ante Zizic at #23. A lot of “experts” actually had Zizic in that very spot, so maybe he is ok, but no one has ever heard of Yabusele I don’t think. Not that high in the draft anyway. If they both stay overseas, how does that help the team next year?
I normally don’t care about 2nd rounders, but #31 and #35 are kind of high. Great players like Draymond Green and DeAndre Jordan have fallen to this area in the past. So the trade irked me that night as well. I have no idea if Deyonta Davis can play even a lick. But seeing that he was a lottery consideration at one point, and a big guy the C’s need, when he went at #31, it got me a little riled up. Rade Zagoric at #35? No clue. But there could’ve been another flyer taken on someone with potential there, even if it wasn’t Zagoric specifically.
Then you could have given away the later 3 picks if you wished. Though some thought the C’s did well to get Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil with 2 of them.
So to make a short story long, the masses, myself included, were hoping to land an established star for the pick, obviously with the Celtics adding other assets to get that star. And instead, all we got was a 19-year-old kid, 2 foreign guys that may stay overseas and maybe a 2022 draft pick. Oh, and some probable roster filler.
No wonder we were all sour, when you put it that way.
BUT, I have kind of changed my tune on it…at least a little. Why? Well, allow me to explain!
In the next post…
Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers for winning the 2015-16 NBA Championship. Really pains me to say it. But after coming back from a 3-1 game deficit and winning 2 of the last 3 games at Golden State, where the Warriors only lost twice in the regular season, well, I suppose I have to give them their due.
And LeBron? I’ll give him his due too…but not for Game 7. James was certainly ballin’ in Games 5 & 6, pouring in 41 each time to get it to a Game 7. Sure, he had a triple-double in the deciding game, but was he the reason they won?
I’ll tell you the reason the Cavs won: Golden State choked. No two ways about it. Certainly in their home games at the end. Losing the 3-1 lead. Game 7. Add anything else to the list if you want. Gag job.
Not having Draymond Green in Game 5 most assuredly cost them as well. Having him available at home, up 3-1, may have sealed the deal right there, regardless of how awesome LeBron played. But hey, Draymond earned that suspension.
But then having all hands on deck for Game 7 at home and losing that one? Inexplicable. Inexcusable. Oh, and don’t give me “well, they didn’t have all hands on deck because Andrew Bogut was out.” Ok, no one has actually said that, but I’m just making sure. Although…Festus Ezeli started for Bogut, played 11 minutes, went 0-4, missing a few bunnies and was otherwise generally useless…so perhaps Bogut could have given them…SOMETHING? Ok, probably not, so let’s move on…
I’ve got a few numbers for you:
5 for 32: Harrison Barnes’ shooting in the last 3 games. 16%? Yikes!! Barnes seems to be a decent enough player and is still only 24. Many people think he could get a max contract this offseason. A max contract for the 4th option on ANY team? Seems like a little much. Either way, shooting 16% over the most important games of the year doesn’t seem like the way to go about getting that contract.
41 for 83: The Warriors took 83 shots in Game 7. Almost half of them were three pointers. I’m wondering if there could be a stat for “foolish” three pointers. Cuz a fair amount of those 41 could be classified as that. In my opinion anyway. I know, I know…this is their game, that’s how they play…blah, blah, blah. Maybe they do fire up a lot of threes, sure. But in the most important game of the season, shouldn’t they be a little smarter about the quality of those shots? Side note: Golden State should have won the last 2 championships and are no doubt a great team. But if the league is completely trending to their style of play…which it very well could be…then this will make me dislike the professional game even more. If that matters at all…
17, 14, 10: Golden State turnovers in Games 5-7. The Game 7 total of 10 is actually much better than their averages of 14.9 per game during the regular season and 14.0 per game overall in the playoffs. I’m actually quite shocked at all of these totals actually. Watching the games live it just felt like a ton more. Especially down the stretch in Game 7. Maybe it was some of their stupid forced passes that turned into kicked balls by Cleveland that kept the number low. There were plenty of those. But I also remember some stupid behind the back passes that sailed out-of-bounds as well. I actually don’t have much of an argument here based on the numbers. But they played sloppy down the stretch, no doubt. There is no disputing that.
Long story short? Now that LeFraud has “gone home” and won his championship and all, every one of his apologists immediately came out of the woodwork and took aim at the “LeBron bashers.” He finished up the series well, no question. He won the MVP and that was likely the right call. Although…only Kyrie Irving really merited any consideration otherwise. So it’s not like the choice for that was excruciatingly tough. He is clearly one of the best players in the game today, if not the best. And is one of the better players in NBA history.
But in reality, how tough was this playoff “run”? They advanced to the Finals through an extremely mediocre Eastern Conference, steamrolling through Detroit and Atlanta and while also burying Toronto with minimal effort as well. Then they played a Golden State team that yes, went 73-9 during the season. But then went a rather pedestrian (for them) 15-9 in the playoffs. Quite honestly, they may have been out of gas from chasing the regular season win record (hello, 2007 New England Patriots?). Steph Curry was hurt and maybe even more than he let on. The Green suspension opened a door, although again, it was certainly deserved. Not to make excuses for the Warriors, but let’s be honest: The playoff Warriors were not the same team as the regular season Warriors.
So let’s give the Cavs and James their due, absolutely. But let’s not get carried away. And by “carried away”, think LeBron going down to the floor in Game 7 like he was shot and then hitting a key free throw anyway. The wrist may have hit the floor, but didn’t seem to warrant the reaction a soccer player would normally cook up. Wasn’t as bad as him flopping when teammate Tristan Thompson accidentally hit him in the Toronto series. But ridiculous in its own right regardless. Though…witnessing Anderson Varajeo continuously diving all series, in limited minutes, no less…and watching Marcus Smart do it all year here locally…I suppose this is also part of the game now…
Congratulations, City of Cleveland. Congratulations, LeClown James. Now go away.
Onto the draft…already some activity. Can’t wait to see how much more goes down. Feel like it’s going to be a wild night. Hoping for it actually, certainly in the Boston Celtics’ case…