Whoa…Trader Danny Is Back!

Ok, so I guess he was technically “back” when he gambled and traded the #1 overall pick in this past summer’s NBA draft.  Yes, I know Ainge wanted Jayson Tatum all along and may very well have drafted him #1 if the Celtics had stayed in that position.  And I know Danny was able to snag another potential high lottery pick due in 2018 or 2019 from the Sixers (or Lakers or Kings technically).  But since Markelle Fultz was apparently the consensus #1 pick across the league, if Fultz turns out to be a stud and Tatum turns out to be something less than that, well, there is your gamble.  We may not care that Ainge got the extra pick if Fultz is All-NBA every year.  Especially if that future pick turns into a couple of second rounders even further into the future, because of protections.  But…I am already digressing…

By now, everyone has heard of the blockbuster deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers involving Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving.  It’s been about two days since the trade was consummated.  I have heard all the talking heads share their opinions.  But of course I have mine.  And at first blush…I like it a lot.

Now…I understand.  Isaiah had seemed to have found a home here in Boston.  Became a leader on the team.  Fans loved him.  Entire community loved him.  We know Danny has loved him for even longer than he has been here.  And of course put up ridiculous numbers on the court at the Gaaaaahhhden.  And on the road too, but you know what I mean.

I will always have fond memories of Isaiah in a Celtic uniform, especially from last season.  He was simply awesome.  And in my end of year column, I had decided (finally!) that I wanted him to stick around long-term and for the team to pay him, after much deliberation on what I would do when his contract expired after next season and he wanted max money.  I was always wary of giving him max dollars, but I felt had seen enough last year to convince myself he should get it.  I figured that they would add Gordon Hayward and other pieces, including whoever they drafted, continue to improve and eventually be true championship contenders once the Cleveland and Golden State “windows” passed.

But I didn’t see the Irving situation play out the way it did in Cleveland.  Of course no one did.

And then when that all went down, I figured that there was no way that Cleveland would trade Irving to its main rival in the East, despite all of the Celtics “assets” that presumably would be available.

Then it happened.  Probably more surprising than the deal itself was how quiet it went down.  Most of us heard about the potential deal around 6:00pm on Tuesday and before like 7:30pm it was all done.  How were the teams able to keep talks on the down low, especially in this day and age with social media and people always snooping around?  Threw me for a loop, I can tell you that much.

But now that I have “pre-rambled” on, let’s get to why I like this deal at the current time.  In my favorite bullet point fashion:

*Isaiah Thomas–Once again, I love IT.  But there are certain facts that you cannot dismiss.  In June, I was willing to overlook the facts to some degree, but partly because I didn’t see him getting fair value in any kind of trade.  I also felt Isaiah’s performance last season may have put the Celtics in a little bit of a bind.

The easiest facts to point at are age (29 in February), height (5’9″…or is it really 5’7″?) and injury (hip).  It’s probably not ideal to give a max contract to someone heading into their 30’s, with the beating that person takes on a nightly basis at that size…but the hip may scare me even more.  And the injury HAS to be taken into consideration here.

IT plays hard every play and certainly does take a beating every game, especially when he is firing through the lane regularly.  One would think that if there are any limitations whatsoever with that hip, it will limit Thomas’ effectiveness, perhaps severely.  Kind of obvious, I know.  But Isaiah is always jitterbugging around, stopping on a dime, contorting his body around and all that.  If the hip won’t allow him to do that, then well…and…he hasn’t had any surgery.  Maybe that is a good thing.  But maybe he is good for now and could quite possibly have to have surgery down the road anyway (a la David Price)?  We simply don’t know.

The way Thomas plays also is bound to wear him out quicker.  With Kyrie being 3 years younger and anywhere from 6-8 inches taller, there is more certainty there as well.  We don’t even have to comment on Thomas’ defense here.  Partly because I am not sure Kyrie plays much D either.  But just being that much taller is a step in the right direction anyway.

I don’t know Isaiah personally of course.  But from what I know about IT, he is most assuredly rehabbing fiercely and the hip won’t even be an issue…now or in the future.  But as I laid out a few months back, there are still a lot of questions and a lot of risk in giving Isaiah that max deal.  Now, the Celtics aren’t backed into that proverbial corner.  It’s Cleveland’s decision now.  Once LeBron takes off for the Lakers next offseason, does IT find himself on yet another team the following season?

That is another interesting angle…but one for Cavalier fans to worry about now.

*Jae Crowder–very good NBA player.  But not as great as everyone around here thinks he is.  More importantly, he is not as great as HE thinks he is.

Turned out to be a more than serviceable player after essentially being a throw-in in the Rajon Rondo to Dallas deal a few years back.  But what he really represented was kind of being a transition player in Boston.  Did anyone think he was going to be a starting small forward on a championship team in Boston down the road?  Well, I guess some people did.  I didn’t.

He would be a very useful 6th-9th man on a championship team.  But would he accept that here, after logging heavy minutes the last 2 years?  I’m not so sure.  Hayward plays his position, so there’s that.  Then there is also the fact that Jaylen Brown and Tatum also play his position.  Not enough minutes for everyone.  And the kids need to play at least a little bit to develop.

Some have said Jae could play the 4 and any of the other three could play the 2 (since Avery Bradley has also departed) at least some of the time to get everyone on the court.  Perhaps.  But to me the best course of action was to unload him.  Past playoff performances helped convince me of that as well.

Sure, Crowder has a very team-friendly contract.  But though Danny and other GMs may care about that for salary cap purposes, I don’t.  If other GM’s loved that contract as much as everyone says, when the C’s signed Hayward, why couldn’t they have gotten great value for trading Jae and maybe even hanging on to Bradley? No one seemed to be banging down the door for Crowder the player or Crowder the contract at any point…but…what do I know?

*Ante Zizic–I am not sure why they had to include Zizic in the deal.  I would think Thomas, Crowder and the Brooklyn pick should have sufficed.  That being said, I doubt he will be missed.  I have two friends, who really know their basketball, that swear Zizic is going to be something in the future.  And I heard some caller on talk radio yesterday laud him as well.  But those are the only 3 guys that are especially high on him from what I can tell.

Sure, I have seen the reports that if Ante went in the 2017 draft, he would have been a top-1o pick (he went 23rd in the 2016 draft).  But with every draft littered with top-10 busts, those reports mean nothing to me.

My take is that if he was THAT good, he would have been here last year over the likes of Tyler Zeller.  What would one more year in Europe (Turkey?!), dunking over guys at least 6 inches shorter, really accomplish?  Not sure how that would develop him more than playing some real NBA games, however limited his NBA action would have been.  Plus, if he was THAT good, shouldn’t they have taken him at #16 (where Guerschon Yabusele went) instead of waiting until #23?

We shall see…but now I will have to be rooting against him, instead of for him.

*2018 Brooklyn pick–Hated to give this up, but in an Irving deal, you probably couldn’t have avoided giving up one of the high picks.  Especially with Isaiah only having one year left on his deal and at least a little uncertainty with his hip, Crowder being really only a bench piece and the complete unknown of Zizic.  Had to give up something to get something.  I will say that there have been reports that executives around the league think Brooklyn won’t be as bad as people think and the pick won’t be as high as people think…but I am not buying into that at this juncture.  I expect the Nets to still be putrid, even if there are other teams in that mix as well.

In any event, hopefully the Lakers or Kings pick will still be a high one.  The team has Brown and Tatum developing as previous years’ #3 picks.  Irving and Hayward go forward as your two horses.  And Al Horford as the #3 for now anyway.  Maybe when his deal is done, there is an upgrade to be had there as well.  Or maybe by then, Tatum or Brown is that third dog.  There is no real reason for me to be, but I am convinced as of this second that Kyrie will sign a max deal in Boston when the time comes (ie:  when the timing is so he can make the most money).  Maybe I’m wrong.  But all that being said, I’m ok with losing the Nets pick here.

*Brad Stevens–The thing I like most about Stevens now is that I think he has the right rotation at this point.  Championship bound or not, he finally has a roster where he should pretty much only be playing 8-9 guys regular minutes…and not the 12-13 he always tries to do.

The way I see it, Horford, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes should soak up the majority of minutes at the 4/5, Hayward, Brown, Smart and Tatum at the 2/3 and Irving and Rozier at the 1.  If you want to sprinkle in a little Daniel Theis at the 4/5 for a few minutes a night to see what that’s all about, have at it.  Yabusele can redshirt this year, along with Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye.  You can break the glass in case of emergency for Shane Larkin to be a ballhandler as well.  Then the 15th spot can be Andrew White, Daniel Dixon or whoever…perhaps “Veteran Buyout player X” at the trade deadline…if that rule is still in place.  Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird, 2 of your 2nd rounders from the past draft, on two-way contracts in the G league at Maine…perfect.

Hopefully Stevens sees things in a similar manner.  No need to give guys like Gerald Green or Jonas Jerebko ANY minutes like he has in the past.  Shortening the rotation would be a great thing.  Now let’s see if he actually does it…

That about says it all.  Who predicted that of the 15 players on the roster at the end of a season where the Celtics had the #1 seed (however fraudulent that was) in the East and ended up in the Eastern Conference Finals would end up with 11 of them elsewhere a mere handful of months later?  Well, the Blowhard said anywhere from 7-9…and it was kind of obvious that at least half would go, but still…only 4 remain from last year?  Wow.  Only the fact that ANYONE gave Kelly Olynyk 4 years and 50 million may have surprised me more.

Can’t wait to get this thing rolling.  Was Kyrie only good because he played second fiddle to a legend in LeBron?  Was Isaiah only throwing in close to 30 a game because no one else was great around him?  Is Isaiah healthy?  Will the new Celtics gel quickly?  Did Danny take too big of a risk with both of his big trades?  Will Zizic be the next great Euro player?  Does Jaylen Brown take the next step?  Etc.  So many questions.  We will start to find out soon enough…


About mpdenton

I am a passionate and life long fan of the local teams...and by local I mean New England. I remember the days of Ray Bourque, Larry Bird, Steve Grogan and Wade Boggs...meaning I have lived the highs and lows of the Boston sports scene. With all this pent up Boston sports emotion, I clearly have a lot to say about the local teams and sometimes about sports in general. Maybe even the Revolution... I appreciate you reading my blog and hope you enjoy my rants.

Posted on August 24, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I agree with everything you said actually. There is nothing to disagree with, at all. It is a smart basketball move, brilliant in fact. Sad in some ways, but brilliant. IT is a risk, no doubt. What I never want to hear again though, is people trashing LeBron, or Kevin Durant, or any player that leaves a team that was “loyal” to them. Ever again. IT brought this team back to relevance, literally gave his body, and his spirit, playing two days after his sister died, a performance you could probably put in the top 5 ever on a basketball court for its tenacity. It makes Willis Reed’s performance look benign. If I ever hear, especially a Boston fan say, “oh players are just spoiled, and they don’t know how good they have it, etc.” I will tell them to shut up, you hypocrite. If it is just “business” for the owners, then it is just “business” for the players too. That goes for trashing David Price, for making fun of Eck (who gives a shit!). If this was a brilliant move, then so wasn’t Durant, and LeBron and every other player who left for greener pastures for their own reasons.

    I will learn to love Kyrie I hope, and I am looking forward to Cavs/Celts games this year as well as the NBA season, but the whole way it went down smells badly if you ask me.

    P.S. Your knowledge of European basketball is woefully inadequate! The world is changing. Pay attention!

    • Somewhat of a fair point on the Durant situation on it being a “business” decision. But I might argue that it wasn’t a business decision at all. Didn’t he take less money? That is not good business. If his off the course earnings increased, then maybe it was a good business decision. But not if you only count his on the court earnings.

      Every situation is different, no matter what side it is, owners or players. Completely different. The IT situation? Yup, sad. I feel for IT. I think the trade makes the C’s better, so I will always err towards that. But what IT did after his sister’s death and overall what he gave to the team, yeah, you can’t help but feel bad for him (if he wanted to stay long term that is. If he was looking for max money and the C’s didn’t give it to him and he left next year, then you can’t really feel bad…but by the same token, no, you couldn’t blame him for leaving for money…because THAT would be a business decision).

      On the flip side, I am going all in on Paul George. What he did to the Pacers is abhorrent. Was that a business decision? The Pacers drafted him, developed him, PAID him and then he told them that he wouldn’t re-sign with them when his contract was up…of course that is his decision, but he waited until after the draft and free agency to tell them. So the Pacers couldn’t really get good value for him at that time. I’m sure along with all that, since he is a superstar, the Pacers bent over backward for him at every turn. It is absolutely his decision to leave, no question. He has that right. But how he did it left a bad taste in my mouth. That’s my take anyway…you won’t see me let up on George at all.

      That’s what I am saying, EVERY situation is entirely different. I will never stop bashing LeBron for that Miami fiasco either.

      I also have to disagree strongly on the Price/Eck thing. That incident has absolutely nothing to do with “business”. I will rip Price as much as I want. Colossal baby. Has nothing to do with teams, loyalty, owners or any of that. It has everything to do with him being a sensitive loser…and then lying about the reason he did it in the first place. Sticking up for a teammate…please…

      I will admit I don’t watch a ton of Euro hoops. Wait, not any. But that also has nothing to do with the world and whether it’s changing or not. Absolutely zero. What it does have to do that is that basketball anywhere other than the States, while it may be improving, is not at the same level as it is here. You cannot dispute that. Anyone that is that high on Zizic coming over here…at this current point in time…is, in my opinion, actually high. He may very well become a serviceable player, maybe more. But the odds aren’t great on that. Plenty of Euros/foreign players are in the NBA, no doubt. But how many make a real difference? Off the top of my head…Porzingis, Greek Freak, Jokic, Nurkic, Saric, Gobert, Gallinari…Gortat? I don’t know, feels like I’m reaching a bit now. Yes, you can include guys like Nowitski and Parker if you wish, but I’m only thinking younger generation now.

      All I’m saying is let Zizic come here and play and then we will make a judgement. And if he was that good, he should have been here last year instead of Zeller. That could have easily been done.

      There’s some stuff to disagree with…haha!!!

      Oh and…why do you think the way the trade went down “smells badly”? Interested in hearing your thoughts there.

  2. First on Europe hoops. What I mean is 20 years ago, Europe hoops was worse than college, now it is the 2nd best league. Better than the D (G) league in some ways. So he wasn’t dunking over guys six inches smaller than him. My only point. I even watched him in summer league. He sucked because he was slow, etc., but by the end of the league he was moving better, rebounding, scoring. I will put him as a Steven Adams type draft pick. I think that is where he ends up. A borderline starter in the NBA. That is a lot to give up.

    Secondly, you are trashing George? What about Kyrie?! It is the exact same thing! You know what, it is not different. It is when a team does it, it is business, when a player does it is traitorous. I mean Ray Allen was basically traded to the Grizzlies one year, then they brought him back, then when he leaves the city goes fucking nuts! It is ridiculous and hypocritical. Sure, the situations are different. The way LeBron handled it was stupid, but his decision was very good business.

    KD did not take less money his first year did he? He left the city that “groomed him” and he was treated as a traitor, because he wanted to win. It is ridiculous. And hypocritical.

    It might all be moot. The trade might be voided. What a mess that would be for both teams. Mostly for the Celts though. And let me go on record, the Cavs knew the hip was iffy, and that is why the Celts gave up so much. I would not add a dime to this deal. Fuck them.

    • Yeah, for sure, European hoops have improved over the years…as has I think most hoops around the world. And I am harsh on Zizic, no question. But I just need to see him play in the NBA before I make any judgments. If Europe is at least comparable to the D/G league and James Young scored like 50 a night in that league and sucked in the NBA, then by the transitive property…you get my point. Let’s get him over here and see what he can do before we hang our hat on him, that’s all…then again, he should still be going to Cleveland now, so why do I care?! Haha…but I will also always go back to the point that if Zizic was anything, he should have been here last year. There would have been no need to pick up Zeller’s 8 million dollar option if Zizic was better and also cheaper. It’s almost that simple for me.

      I just have to revert back to having an opinion on each different situation. You won’t ever see me backing the owners as a whole. But you’ll never see me completely backing the players either. I take every situation as an independent action and make a decision on how I feel from there. I don’t think one can ever completely take one side in that type of “world”.

      As for KD, he should have won his last year in OKC. They blew a 3-1 lead over GS. Maybe GS was truly the better team in the end. But OKC should have won that series. Then he went to the team that beat him. Maybe he didn’t take less money he did the first year. But he did the second. And by initially signing a deal that had an opt-out after a year, in a way, he potentially set himself up for less money down the road (as opposed to signing a gargantuan long-term deal right off the bat)…so one can very well argue he did indeed take less money his first year. You won’t change my mind on that situation.

      On the flip side, I do not hold the same vitriol that many Boston fans (and KG and The Truth) hold towards Ray Allen. He was shopped the previous year and wasn’t he also losing time to Avery Bradley? So yeah, who can blame him for moving on? I know he gets killed for it. But not by me.

      I think the deal will go through still…even though it has been days…even since you wrote your last comment. I just feel like it has come too far for things to be reversed. I wouldn’t add anything to the deal if I were the C’s either. Though if it just takes one of their 100 future second rounders, I’d probably just relent on that and move forward. Not sure they can use all them anyway, whether for their squad or in trades. And it’s not like a boatload of 2nd rounders can be packaged to get an Anthony Davis type anyway…

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