…to the 2016 “Summer of Danny”!!
As we all know, the Boston Celtics were eliminated last week in 6 games in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Was the season a success? I’m leaning towards…no. Or “kind of.” Sure they won 8 more games in the regular season. And two more playoff games. But they were still out in the first round. Same as last year. I would have liked to have seen a victory in at least one round to call it “progress.” The Hawks are decent, but not unbeatable. And don’t give me the Avery Bradley injury…we’ve already been through that.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED watching this team. They never gave up…even in Game 6 when they were getting smoked. They gave everything they had, every game. They were fun to watch, for the most part. They played together. And all that stuff.
But did they really improve? Build upon something this year to take the next step for the future? Not so sure.
People say, “well, they have a great young core now!!” I say, how many of that core will actually be here next year? Of the 15 man roster, it wouldn’t surprise me if 7-8 are not in training camp next year. If you take out Tyler Zeller, John Holland and the 4 other youngsters, calling the core the remaining 9, how many of those stick? Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson have non-guaranteed contracts and it may be decided that their 17 mil total is better spent elsewhere. I sure as hell would. Evan Turner is an unrestricted free agent, likely to have some team out there wildly overspend on him. Jared Sullinger is a restricted free agent. Based on the way the team buried him in the playoffs, I don’t see him returning. Between Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart, one or two of these three MAY be needed to package up for the “superstar” or two you are looking to add this offseason.
That leaves two of the nine who I think will DEFINITELY be here: Kelly Olynyk, who I think sucks. I know, big secret there. And Isaiah Thomas, who I will gladly have return. Addressing the remaining 6 guys…Holland (who?) will likely be gone. Zeller is a restricted free agent and I’d spend his money elsewhere too, though it’s not really much. Terry Rozier kind of surprised me in the playoffs, so I’d keep him around. There may be something there. I’d like to see what Jordan Mickey can do. No harm in keeping him at the end of the bench. I’d hate to give up on James Young, based on his age. But… People say R.J. Hunter can contribute. He didn’t play a whole ton this year. But from what I saw, the kid doesn’t appear to be able to play anyway. Sorry. He may be able to shoot, but he didn’t even do that well for most of the year. Otherwise he seems to be taking up space on the court mostly. Maybe that’s a harsh assessment for a total of 356 minutes played this year, including playoffs. And it’s tough to be a lights out shooter if you spend most of the game cold on the bench. But he and Young (209 total minutes played, even less than last years’ 332) may never crack any kind of rotation here. So maybe they are worth something to someone else.
People also say “we have eight draft picks this year!!” I would say, “how the hell are you going to take and keep 8 players?? If you want to count the Brooklyn pick and picks #16 and #23, then I will give you three. One of #31 or #35? Ok, maybe four new players. For picks #45, 51 & 58, they may have a chance, sure. But recent Celtics draft history spells “overseas picks” to me on those late ones. Or “camp bodies.” Doesn’t the team have Marcus Thornton (2nd round, 2015) and Colton Iverson (2nd round, 2013) still playing across the pond? Glad I asked, yes they do!
Side note: Just for fun I looked up to see if there were other bodies the C’s still had rights to that are elsewhere. A site called “RealGM” (http://basketball.realgm.com/nba/draft/draft-rights) lists two other players still in tow. You have to scroll way down to the bottom, but the first is Josip Sesar (2nd round, 2000). Now 38 years old, I’m not sure he’s coming. The second? It’s a name I always use when talking about this stuff, and I cannot believe that he is still Celtic property. Ben Pepper (2nd round, 1997). BEN PEPPER!!! God, I can still remember some of the feel-good stories when he was talked about back then. 7-footer, 250-pounder, could make an impact, etc. Of course, the team stunk then, so hope for any kind of player was kind of high, I suppose. Since he never actually played for the C’s, that probably tells you how good he actually was. At 40 years old, I suppose he still has a chance. Maybe he and Zeller can play one on one for the last spot on the roster next year.
Second side note: Atlanta still apparently has the rights to Augusto Binelli, a 7 foot, 260 lb center drafted in the 2nd round of 1986. I wonder if at 51 years old, he is thinking of finally trying to make the leap to the NBA? Ok, silly…but I found this whole list interesting anyway. Hope it’s accurate! Norton Antivirus says the link is safe, so don’t go blaming me if you get a virus, by the way…
Anyway, as far as the high draft picks go anyway, who’s to say you won’t need them to package up for that aforementioned superstar or two?
Bottom line is that I cannot look at this year and say it was a great success because in the very least we have the young core and all the draft picks. Because I don’t know what will be left of any of those once the wheeling and dealing starts. I suppose they would deserve some props for acquiring and developing those players in the core, accumulating the picks and then spinning several of them into something bigger. But I am not sure we are then talking about the same thing.
I CAN tell you what I HOPE the roster looks like. And I WILL do that here. Did you think otherwise? Sorry for shouting…
The 15 spots, in order of importance (the way I see it anyway):
- Superstar player X: The Kevin Durant rumor train is in full force. I’d love it. However, I am not buying it. I still think there is no way he comes here. But I’ve been wrong before. Either way, this player here is a scorer, preferably a small forward.
- Superstar player Y: This spot has of course been the “Al Horford” position. Plenty of rumors here as well. I’ll take him, but hopefully not the 2016 playoff version. Especially for a max contract. Either way, a big man should be in this spot.
- Isaiah. Love the kid. Tough as nails. Clutch. But #3 seems to be the right spot for him.
- (5&6 too). Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder & Marcus Smart. These guys are good players, but all have their flaws. I really don’t love any of them, specifically Smart. But they all have value, especially defensively. And I’d like to see what Smart develops into overall. With the three guys in front of them, it will put less of a burden on these guys and that may actually help. If they are all still here of course.
- See #4.
- See #4.
- Evan Turner. He is gone, I concede. But would love to have him. Versatile off the bench. Extra ball handler on the floor. Good all around player. Just something about him I like a lot.
- Starting Big Man. If #2 is a center, this is a power forward. And vice versa. Someone that can rebound and block shots. But primarily rebound. Someone better than Amir Johnson.
- Brooklyn pick. I would say this is the right spot here for a Top 5 pick. I have no idea who they will get and what position, so I’m just doing it here.
- Backup Big Man. 15 minute a game guy. Doesn’t even have to score. Just play defense, rebound and maybe block a shot. That’s it. Maybe this is one of the other first rounders.
- Rozier. Let’s see what he can do.
- Mickey. Ditto. Has to be at least comparable to Zeller. Maybe even Johnson if he can get some minutes.
- (14&15 too). Hunter/Young/one of the first rounders. Could be anyone here. If the above falls into place, there will be even less minutes here than last year.
- See #13.
- See #13.
I know, Turner will be gone and Olynyk here. Maybe Jerebko will also be here, since he finished the playoffs strong. Who knows about trades? Or about what picks they keep? Or if any good free agents will finally come here? But I’m going with my list…for now.
So even though I pooh-poohed any notion of progress this past year, don’t let that fool you. I am VERY excited to see what happens this summer. That’s really what everything comes down to. This is as key of a summer transaction period as the Celtics have had in quite some time. With all of these “assets’ we’ve been hearing about for years, Danny Ainge should be able to do SOMETHING. We just have to have faith that this “something” is actually good. For some reason, I do.
So as I said, on to the “Summer of Danny”…
Posted on May 3, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged Al Horford, Assets, Ben Pepper, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Durant, Marcus Smart, NBA basketball, NBA lottery, NBA playoffs, progress, Rookies, Summer of Danny. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.