Monthly Archives: February 2017

Bruins Trade Deadline Ruminating…

Another week, another league trading deadline.  The NHL’s is Wednesday at 3:00 pm.  So we ask the same question:  Will the Bruins do anything?

Kind of a different situation for them than the Celtics.  Where everyone under the sun wanted the C’s to make moves, even a minor one, I am not sure anyone wants the Bruins to make a move at all.

For a couple of reasons:

  1. The team is 7-1 under “interim” head coach Bruce Cassidy.  Why would you mess with any momentum now?
  2. This team does not seem like Stanley Cup Championship timber, so why trade prospects and/or picks for what would probably amount to just rental players for this playoff push?

You can count the Blowhard among the second group.  The team has certainly been playing better under Cassidy.  The momentum is nice.  But if you have a chance to improve your team, especially for a long Cup run, you absolutely have to do it.  So I think that the people who fall under the first group shouldn’t really get hung up on any positive momentum swing.  A team could lose that momentum in a hurry.  Then you are just left with the same players that were fairly average before the coaching change.  Probably not ideal.

The fact remains that this team is not winning a Stanley Cup this year.  Not even with adding one, two or three players at the deadline.  Sure, any goalie can get hot and then a team can roll during playoff season.  Can’t say that hasn’t happened before.  But honestly, even with the new coach and his record, does this team give you any sense they can go on a run like that?

The Bruins waited faaaaaar too long to fire Claude Julien.  That much is absolutely true and we all know that.  Maybe if they did it around New Year’s, we would be talking about adding players for a Cup run.  Maybe this streak under Cassidy is just an aberration and an expected uptick in effort and results in the immediate aftermath of a coaching change.  But perhaps an earlier Julien dismissal would have sparked an earlier run and the Bruins wouldn’t have dug themselves as deep a hole that they did.

Ok, maybe “dug themselves a big hole” is a little hyperbole.  They are 7th in the conference as we speak, which puts them in the playoffs.  But Toronto, the Islanders and other teams behind them are lingering around with about 20 games left.  Pretty tight group at the edge of the playoff race.

So what if they are lulled into this false sense that they can make a run in the playoffs, go out and bring some guys in and then don’t actually make the cut?  Yeah…remember last year?  Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles in two separate deals for 4 picks and a minor leaguer combined?  Yuck!  Then not making the playoffs to top it off?

It’s simply not worth it.

So does that make the Bruins sellers?  Not necessarily.

Guys like Ryan Spooner, David Krejci, Colin Miller and even Jimmy Hayes have been a little revitalized with Claude’s departure.  So if perhaps these guys were on the block beforehand as talented veterans that may be available, maybe they aren’t anymore.  Sure, if someone took Hayes off your hands, it wouldn’t necessarily be a big loss.  Same is true for Matt Beleskey, Tim Schaller, Liles, Dominic Moore, Riley Nash and dudes of that ilk.

But no one is taking Beleskey’s contract.  Maybe not even Hayes’.  The rest of those players listed and their types aren’t going to really get you much in return.  Also, you could have a worse fourth line than Schaller/Moore/Nash.  So there is really no sense in dealing them.  Plus, if they do make the playoffs, Liles isn’t horrible as a 7th D-man.  Nor Beleskey as a 13th forward.  May as well ride this thing out for the most part.

The one interesting case involves the Captain, Zdeno Chara.  I personally don’t move him, unless someone absolutely blows the Bruins away.  I still believe that the Bruins defense still needs significant work going forward.  Another reason why I don’t see a long Cup run in their immediate future.  The defense has played pretty well since Cassidy took over.  And we don’t have to even mention that they seem more involved offensively.  But that doesn’t mean all their defensive problems have been solved.  My opinion anyway…

But as for Big Z, he’s obviously not the same dominant player we have known here for years.  Maybe he’s not even a first pairing guy anymore.  He’s 39 years old, what do you expect?!  Sadly, however, he is still at this very point in time probably the Bruins best pure D-man.  And his cap hit for next year is a very reasonable 4 million.  It makes a lot of sense to keep him around and help bring the youngsters like Brandon Carlo and Colin Miller along.  Maybe Rob O’Gara is here next year.  Possibly Matt Grzelcyk.  Perhaps…Charlie McAvoy?  I’d rather have Z here working with them and not Kevan Miller and/or Adam McQuaid (shaking my head and acknowledging that those two may be here as well anyway).

If someone opens the vault, he’s gone.  But I am not sure any team does that.

If Donnie Hockey is smart, he sits this trading deadline out altogether.  But when have any of us called Sweeney smart recently?

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Told ya so…

…but the natives are getting restless.  Especially after this uninspiring 3 game stretch for the Boston Celtics following the NBA trading deadline.

The “told ya so” was for the fact I didn’t expect Danny Ainge to do anything last Thursday.  I wish he did something…at least get some sort of big man who could get a few rebounds.  But certainly not surprised he didn’t.  Just had that hunch all along.

To reiterate from the last piece, I do not blame Danny for standing pat.  The names you heard that were the targets, primarily Paul George and Jimmy Butler, carried plenty of risks.  First of all, the Pacers and Bulls, respectively, really did not want to trade those players by all indications.  So apparently they were asking for the sun, the moon and the stars.  Which I would do too under those circumstances.  But Ainge was smart in not giving it to them.  Whatever was left on the C’s roster if they made a deal like that still may not have been enough to supplant the Cavs, so what’s the point?

Then…the Brooklyn picks.  The more I hear about the 2017 draft, the more I hear that there could be several great players coming out of it.  Who really knows with all these college guys, but it seems to be a deeper draft than last year.  And a draft that could produce some studs.  We’ll see, but if you are not going to get past the Cavaliers under almost any scenario, why would you rush to give one of those picks up?

So the “big deal” not happening didn’t disappoint me.  But the “minor deal” not being struck kind of bothered me.  Sure, this type of deal would not have made the Celtics champions.  But if the deal brought in some size and rebounding skill, it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.  Some of the lesser players acquired went for cheap as well.  Nerlens Noel, P.J. Tucker, Taj Gibson to name a couple.  Tucker’s not a giant, but appears to be good for 6 plus rebounds a game in his career.  I’m not sure why Noel’s stock had plummeted in Philly.  But he seemed like a pretty good fit for the C’s.  And the Sixers kind of gave him away.  I don’t know…

To me, there is a lot of dead weight at the back-end of the Celtics roster.  Danny and Wyc Grousbeck keep chirping about the “#10-#15 on the roster” being important and contributing and blah blah blah.  They can’t really believe that, right?

Demetrius Jackson has played 17 MINUTES this season.  Ssssoooo…completely forgotten by the team…and also by me…that I actually couldn’t remember his first name right off the bat.  Jordan Mickey and James Young have barely played.  Tyler Zeller, Gerald Green and Jonas Jerebko are equal parts fungible and…useless.  I don’t see how these guys have been so valuable.

Furthermore, of the aforementioned six players, maybe Jackson is here next year on potential, but that’s no guarantee.  There’s a pretty good chance NONE of the other five are here next year.  If they are not truly contributing here this year and they won’t be here next year, why do we care about “#10-#15” on the roster the rest of the year?

Take any of these guys, any of the numerous non-Brooklyn picks upcoming and whatever else and get a Noel.  Just seemed like something that could be done fairly easily…especially in hindsight for us, seeing as the cost wasn’t high.  Hindsight for us, but Danny knew what the cost was.  And even at a low one, he still didn’t do it.  Hard to figure.

In any event, the Celtics have come out after the deadline and played pretty brutal.  Tonight’s game against the Hawks was tough to watch.  A loss to Toronto after having a 17 point lead.  And a win against Detroit that probably only was a win because the Pistons couldn’t hit free throws, or hit layups or dunks…well, mostly Andre Drummond was to blame for most of those, but still.  Not a great win.

Perhaps the players let down a little because the front office didn’t come through?  They saw other teams around them improve, but Ainge did nothing?  They think management wants to still stay on the long-term course while they are ready to take the next step forward now?  Can’t rule any of that out.  But it would kind of be a poor reflection on the players.  And of course it’s only a three game sample.  So we will just have to see how that plays out over the next several games.

Either way, it appears that Ainge and the rest of management have determined that they cannot take that next step this year.  I think that was made loud and clear at the deadline.

As the Blowhard has referenced many times recently, let’s just hope those “fireworks” that Celtics ownership promised long ago actually happen this upcoming offseason.  I mean, is there any way we can speed this whole thing up?  Please?

Celtics Trade Deadline Ruminating…

The NBA trading deadline is Thursday at 3:00pm.  Will the Boston Celtics make any moves?  Your guess is as good as mine.

DeMarcus Cousins was the first major name to move.  Sure, Serge Ibaka is useful.  Tyreke Evans used to be pretty good I think, but he has been beset by injuries the last two years.  Maybe Buddy Hield and Jusuf Nurkic will be good.  But as for the big ones, it’s only Cousins thus far.  And he got traded for something less than full value.  Well, maybe not if Hield turns into Steph Curry as the Sacramento owner apparently thinks he can.  He may be the only one who thinks that however.  But what do I know?

No doubt a lot of Celtic fans are pissed that Cousins went for what he did (Evans, Hield, Langston Galloway, first round pick, second round pick…along with the Kings adding Omri Casspi as well).  The C’s have a lot more assets they could have offered than that, why didn’t they get him?  Well, it looks like they didn’t go after him, for one.  Why?  Couldn’t they use a 6’11”, 270 lb dude to get some boards and score a ton?  Who couldn’t?  Guess there was too much baggage around him.  So I can’t say I entirely blame the organization.  But for that price?  I may have sucked it up.

Moving on…we all know Danny has to do something…and soon.  With the contracts of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart expiring after next season, the window appears to be closing with the current crew.  3 of your best 5 players (with Al Horford and Jae Crowder) due up at the same time is not ideal.  The only other player on the current roster worth mentioning as having a role in the future would be Jaylen Brown.  The other 9 guys could all leave tomorrow and not a lot of people would care.

So…isn’t there some urgency for Thursday?  You can’t sign all three of the guards, can you?

As for trade targets, you all hear the same names:  Jimmy Butler and Paul George at the top of the list.  Blake Griffin.  Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and Andrew Bogut to a much lesser degree.  Cousins is obviously out now whether they wanted him or not.  And the pipe dream that was Anthony Davis is now definitely out as well.

We’ve been waiting for the next shoe to drop with Ainge for quite some time now.  He made a good run at Kevin Durant last summer.  But I think most of us knew KD wasn’t coming here.  And now he is sitting on a pile of assets (still!) and with the contracts above soon to expire, now is the time to make a move.

Despite the monster year that Isaiah is having, I’d still be wary of giving him the max deal.  Will he physically hold up at his size for those years?  Will he prove anything in the playoffs?  Perhaps, but it’s a risk.  By all indications, I think the C’s are willing to take that risk.  So he stays.  Smart has continued to develop.  It looks like he stays.  Bradley is the guy that is expendable.  Despite the injury concerns with him, I would imagine he still holds nice value.

Jae Crowder is a nice player.  But I have to think we have seen his ceiling already.  Jaylen Brown could soar by that ceiling.  But Crowder has to certainly have some value.

The team has 3 guys in Europe from the last 2 drafts.  They have a first and 3 second rounders in the next draft, in which the first could be #1 overall.  Excess picks in future years too.  Plenty of expiring contracts.  They should easily be able to match salaries in any deal.

So what is Ainge waiting for?

The scuttlebutt is that Danny tries to “win” every deal.  Which I am sure every GM tries to do.  But isn’t always possible of course.  Sometimes the deal just has to work for both teams almost equally.  If Danny needs to win all of the deals, that is kind of a problem.

That being said, the right deal may very well have not presented itself yet.  Maybe other teams want Bradley and Crowder…as well as both Net picks, Brown and maybe more.  For one guy coming back this way, does that make sense?  I’m not sure it does, despite how great the possible superstar is coming back.

We also have to consider the willingness for other teams to even trade said superstar.  Butler and George are the most popular names out there.  Thus far from what we have heard, neither the Bulls or Pacers, respectively, seem inclined to move their player.  Or have seem inclined to this point anyway.  We heard Butler rumors last year where Chicago was asking for like 3 of the top 4 Celtic players and all three of their 2016 first round picks…or something like that.  Way too much.

This may change by Thursday at 3:00.  My feeling is that it won’t.

We all know Danny has to do something soon.  Danny knows Danny has to do something soon.  But I don’t think he does it by Thursday.  I think he keeps the same team that is 17 games over .500 now and only 3 games behind Cleveland in the East.  I think he keeps the Brooklyn picks and continues the upward progression.  Although I am pretty impatient, I can’t say I blame Ainge if he takes this route.  A big move at this point in the season may not mean that all of a sudden they can beat Cleveland in the East and then beat Golden State or one of the powers out West THIS year.  What happens if Ainge gives up too much of the current roster and then things are in a little bit of disarray?  Can’t rule that out.  Also can’t rule out that the other contenders will help themselves as well by the deadline.

I expect Ainge to try to do something.  He wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t.  But if the price is too high, he will continue to stockpile the assets, see if the Nets pick is #1 overall and then get ready for something else down the road.  He may do something minor…like get Bogut or someone similar for a smaller cost…but I think the huge deal finally happens this offseason.  It HAS to.

 

 

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