…so here we go. The NBA season started last night. The Boston Celtics season starts tonight.
As was the case with the NHL, I am simply not ready.
You know, the heart of football season, World Series going on (despite the absence of the local team). the last NBA season feeling like it just ended…and all that…
Plus…the NBA has lost my interest as a whole a great deal over the last decade or two.
Too many threes, lack of fundamentals, no one boxes out anymore, four on one fast breaks where one of the four pulls up for a three or a long jumper despite having an easy layup in front of them, too much of the game being about entertainment and showtime…blah, blah, blah…I’m sure we’ve been through all of this before.
But now the whole Celtics course has exhausted me as well. Actually, it was Kyrie Irving that exhausted me really, so maybe the last statement was a little hyperbole.
In any event, last years’ team was supposed to be a championship contender…the culmination of several years of a rebuild, so to speak. Good coach, great players, young and old…someone who was going to cruise through the Eastern Conference and give some serious competition to the likes of the Golden State Warriors to try to claim the NBA title.
And we know how that went.
Just a trying year…certainly for the team…but also for the fans…if the players even care about them.
The two most prominent players who left, Kyrie and Al Horford, said as much. Although Kyrie was full of crap, per usual. That press conference he gave when he reported to the Brooklyn Nets’ training camp was comical in so many ways. But that was a while ago, so we won’t go there. Besides, I chafe even thinking about him nowadays.
Horford was a little more sincere, but he stopped short of blaming anyone in particular (from what I’ve heard anyway). He said something to the effect of “if Kyrie stayed, I am not sure we could have coexisted…”
Ssssssoooo…was he blaming Kyrie? Or the young kids (primarily Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum), who had tremendous egos, likely because they were on the cusp of the NBA Finals the year before without max contract guys Irving and Gordon Hayward and as a result seemed to clash when those guys came back? A little of both?
Not sure. But he was right. No way bringing back all of the same guys was going to work. I don’t think there is any question about that. Though also, let’s be real…Al left because he got PAID. A lot more than what people thought he was going to get.
In any event, where does that leave this years’ team?
Amazingly enough, what we wrote in July (last time we wrote about the C’s) pretty much sticks. Well, the composition of players anyway. But also…what is the rotation? I am not sure coach Brad Stevens has that nailed down yet. And we don’t like that.
Historically, I feel like Brad has tried to play way too many guys and cannot settle with an 8-9 man rotation. Didn’t like it when Doc Rivers did it either. Best thing that happened to Doc was trading like 7 of those average guys for Kevin Garnett. All of a sudden Doc had barely 6 guys to play. And it worked out pretty good because, well, those 6 were pretty good themselves.
Stevens, of course, has Brown, Tatum, and two max contract guys in Hayward and Kemba Walker. Decent start, as long as Brown and Tatum continue their upward trajectory and Gordo has fully recovered from his horrific injury two years ago to at least be close to the player he once was. And the team sure as hell counting on Brown continuing to improve, what with the almost 30 mil per he just re-upped for.
What’s after that? Hmmmmmm…
Marcus Smart of course. Solid all around player, but no star for sure.
Let’s start with what appears to be some sort of “four-headed monster” in the middle. I don’t think Stevens even knows how he is going to divide time up between Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier. Theis is undersized, but fits the offense better; Kanter is more of a traditional center and can rebound, but can’t play a lick of defense; Williams is young and still extremely raw and Poirier? No idea what he’s all about. He didn’t play much in the preseason either. Maybe at some point we will see ourselves some Tacko Fall too, if he shows anything all in the G-League in Maine.
My guess is that they roll mostly with Theis and Kanter, maybe mix in Williams a bit, but basically close games with Smart as the 5th guy on the floor instead of a big man if the situation allows for it (e.g. there is no big man on the other team to be accounted for…which in today’s NBA is a real possibility).
Then you have the other “kids”. The true rookies in Carsen Edwards. Grant Williams and Romeo Langford (maybe Tremont Waters from Maine as well). Edwards lit up the preseason, but I’m saying that doesn’t mean much. He is intriguing though. Langford has been hurt all summer/fall. Maybe he can contribute eventually. But not off to a good start. The team may like Grant. But I don’t know where he fits…this season anyway.
Who’s left? Ugh…right…Semi Ojeleye and Brad Wanamaker. Brad LOVES Semi (I don’t, can’t you tell?). So he will try and shoehorn him some minutes. I have no idea why Wanamaker is here. Third ball handler? Sure. But…whatever. The team cut Max Strus to get to the roster limit. And this was after Strus was the first undrafted dude they signed to a two-way contract…then made it a “real” contract and guaranteed him some dough…then he is gone.
Now, I really don’t know Max Strus from Levi Strauss, but I would have kept him over Wanamaker. No doubt.
I guess if we are debating the 13th-15th spot the roster, who cares? But still…
Oh, Javonte Green made the final 15 too…but since he will likely be #15 and he’s actually 26 years old…we will move on.
So while Brad actually figures out the rotation, this is what I think:
Starters: Walker, Brown, Tatum, Hayward, Theis.
Second unit: Smart, Edwards, Kanter, Ojeleye, Langford (when healthy).
11-13: Both Williams’, Wanamaker.
Inactive: Poirier, Green.
G-League: Fall, Waters.
That’s all well and good. But the real question is, can they compete?
I say absolutely. In the East anyway.
Toronto lost Kawhi Leonard, so they will likely fall back. Milwaukee still has Giannis, Khris Middleton and others…and looks like the favorite…but by no means do they look infallible. Same with Philadelphia. They still have Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and added Big Al. But still beatable. Indiana? Maybe when Victor Oladipo comes back eventually. Brooklyn with Kyrie? Not this season without Kevin Durant.
Looks like the East is wide open. Why can’t the Celtics make a run?
The locker room should be a whole lot more stable, we can definitively say that much.
And Brad seems to be a better coach when the expectations are lower (and talent is less).
I wouldn’t be shocked if the C’s were at least able to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. The NBA Finals? Won’t commit to that. But I reserve the right to change my mind once I see how these guys all come together.
Winning the NBA Championship? Ummmmm…nope. Not as I see it anyway.
Anything less than a visit to the second round of the playoffs would seem to be a disappointment.
At worst, perhaps this team will be easier to root for than last years’ team? We will see how they all mesh once it gets real.
I know, that’s not the goal. I mean, we loved those Isaiah Thomas teams. But what did that give us?
That being said, a team worth rooting for this season would be a breath of fresh air after the disaster that was last season.
…”Guard”, get it??!!
I crack myself up sometimes!!
Oh wait, this doesn’t make any sense now, sorry. But it will.
So now that Kemba Walker (a guard…changing from Kyrie Irving…ok, enough!) and Enes Kanter have officially been introduced by the Boston Celtics…along with all the other moves already announced…it’s time to take stock of the current roster.
9 of the 17 from last season have departed. So over half of the team is new. Ok, so Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Morris are the ones that really matter. Aron Baynes and Terry Rozier I guess matter a little. While Guerschon Yabusele, Jonathan Gibson, R.J. Hunter and PJ Dozier don’t matter at all.
That being said, 5 of the 9 rotation players are gone. So the turnover is significant.
So what do we make of it?
Hard to say, to be honest.
Let’s face it, with the roster they had last season, they were supposed to roll into the NBA Finals. And they really should have. Or certainly put up a better fight. Instead, they “rolled” to 49 victories and a second round exit.
Then they lost one of the better players in the league in Irving…I know, also a total jackwagon, but still…and then a solid, if unspectacular, presence in the middle in Horford. And a very good back end starter or top guy off the bench in Morris.
And replaced them with…what?
Walker may be a very good player. But probably in reality, not a max guy. And a step down from Kyrie (when Kyrie has his head out of his arse of course). Horford may not have been an All-Star and unstoppable force in the middle, but Kanter seems to be a HUGE downgrade from him. Morris to…who? Grant Williams? I don’t know.
Even Baynes’ six fouls may be missed. And Rozier, even though he thought he was a Hall of Famer, who replaces him now?
Seems like a bunch of question marks.
Is the locker room better? I don’t know, maybe. Reports had Jaylen Brown being kind of an arseclown last year. He’s still here.
Jayson Tatum? Still a little young and immature perhaps? (Ok, I just explained a bunch of pro athletes, I know).
I think the Celtics are depending on the locker room being better. And that having an effect above everything else. Because the talent certainly doesn’t measure up.
I don’t think anyway.
The Celtics have got 14 players under contract and 2 players on 2-way deals with the G League (not including the “legendary” Tacko Fall…more on him later).
It would appear the starters are:
Walker, Brown, Tatum, Kanter and Gordon Hayward.
The rest of the rotation? All I can think of is Marcus Smart as of now. I suppose Daniel Theis and Robert Williams will get minutes at backup center. I can’t tell you anything about the other center the team has signed, Vincent Poirier. Not expecting much though.
The team is high on first round picks Romeo Langford and Grant Williams, but we will see.
Second rounder Carsen Edwards lit up the Summer League and that was fun to watch. But…it’s the Summer League. Fellow second rounder Tremont Waters had a great Summer League as well…and all that earned him was a two-way contract…for now anyway.
Who’s left? Semi Ojeleye and Brad Wanamaker? No thanks. Semi will get minutes because Coach Brad Stevens loves him. But he stinks, sorry. Max Strus on the other two-way. Who??!
So maybe the team goes 6 deep for now, until others establish themselves…IF they do, that is. That in and of itself worries me. Because if Stevens doesn’t have an 8 or 9 man rotation then he plays the first 6 and then gives the other 7 active guys some minutes seemingly every night. That never seems to work.
And that isn’t even getting into the whole “will Hayward be the player he once was now that he is two years removed from his injury” thing. I guess now Tatum and Brown will have plenty of minutes to play, so they won’t be bitching about Gordo getting his share either.
But that’s the other thing. Not only does the team expect that the better locker room will lead to more success. But I believe they think that Hayward is back. In addition to the continued development of the two “kids” in Brown and Tatum. So all of that will add up to a championship contender. THEY think that anyway. From what I can tell. Not sure I am buying into all that logic.
Sssssssoooo…that leads us to everyone’s new fan favorite…Tacko Fall!
He’s a nice story. Smart guy, fluent in English over a mere 8 months, cute name and…he’s 7’6″…did you know that?
But is he a real NBA player? I say “no”.
I know, raining on everyone’s parade. But seriously, at that height he didn’t even dominate in college…against less than elite competition in his conference. I know, the conference has some teams with names: UConn, Cincinnati, Temple, Memphis and perhaps Wichita State? But how good are those teams NOW?
Now everyone expects him to go out and star in the NBA despite that?
Ok, executives, coaches and the like around the NBA don’t necessarily think that. Since, you know, he wasn’t actually drafted. But the FANS do. Especially Celtic fans.
Listen, I would like to keep him on the roster, either the open 15th spot or signing Waters to that 15th spot and Tacko to a 2-way. Can’t hurt to see if he can become a 10 minute a game player at that size, especially defensively. Have him play in Maine all year in the G-League and see what happens.
But let’s all pump the brakes on him more than a little bit.
Going back, I’d like to see more of Edwards and Robert Williams…and see any of Langford. But I’m not expecting much out of this outfit unless Hayward is truly back and Tatum and Brown take a huge leap up.
Makes you also wonder if Danny has anything else up his sleeve. But realistically, what are his options?
I think this is the team we are looking at come October. A stark contrast to what we were looking at last October…
Looks like the “fireworks” had already happened, well before the NBA draft last night. The Boston Celtics made all their draft picks, so no wild trades occurred. Well, they kind of made all of their draft picks. They moved around a bit. No big whoop…they still took 4 players.
Doesn’t mean “Trader Danny” won’t pull something a little more major off in the coming days, but it doesn’t guarantee he will either.
So what are we looking at? Who the hell knows really?
The big news really happened over the last several days. Kyrie Irving opted out of his contract, which we knew was coming. Al Horford then opted out of his contract…which we didn’t necessarily see coming. I mean, who is passing up 30 mil plus when they are a 33-year-old “big man” who had to be managed because of a bad knee (or two?). Welp, apparently Big Al is.
There were rumors the C’s were trying to turn that 1 year, 30 mil deal for Al into something along the lines of 3 for, I don’t know, 15-20 per. But apparently, it will turn out some other team will give him 4 years for 25ish per. Seems surprising. But I guess that’s what is happening.
Marcus Morris is also an unrestricted free agent, as are the 2 “G-League” guys if that matters. Not to mention that there are 4 restricted free agents on the roster, led by backup point guard Terry Rozier. If they all leave, that leaves 12 guys on the current roster, if you include the 4 draft picks from last evening. Which I am not sure I want to be doing now. But I will for the purposes of this exercise.
What is “this exercise”? Well, since I have no idea who Danny Ainge may be targeting in free agency when that opens up within a couple of weeks, nor do I know who he may go after in trades, I think the best thing we can do here is take the 17 bodies from last years’ roster and the 4 draft picks and talk about what we think the plan is with each. Plus perhaps what I would do, for whatever that’s worth.
I mean, Wyc Grousbeck, the “Lead Owner” of the Boston Celtics, said a couple of weeks ago on local talk radio something like “we are going to look at all the players on the roster and see who stays and who goes…”
So let’s do that right now…since…I’m just as smart as Wyc, right? RIGHT??!!
Haha…let’s move on, starting with the bottom of the roster. Why? Because of the off chance someone will read about them. If we start with the stars, will anyone read until the end? Wait, is anyone reading anyway?
Draft picks–Romeo Langford (#14), Grant Williams (#22), Carsen Edwards (#33), Tremont Waters (#51)–A shooting guard that shot a mere 27% from three-point land (going to a team that shoots too many threes already); a “small” power forward whose selection elicited a notable ‘wow’ type of response from one of the analysts (that probably wasn’t meant to be picked up by the microphones); a big-time scorer, but one that is undersized and a “small” point guard (“small” was emphasized three times right after the pick). Consider me underwhelmed.
PJ Dozier/R.J. Hunter (Unrestricted Free Agents)– Here are your two G-League free agents. Do you care? Probably not. I really don’t. But you all should know that Hunter averaged 17 points a game for the Celtics last year. Betcha didn’t know that! Ok, he played one game that didn’t mean anything and scored that 17. But still, “PPG” says “17.0” on the stat sheet. No one can ever take that away from him. So there’s that.
Jonathan Gibson (Restricted Free Agent)–This dude will be 32 in November. And has played 21 career games in the NBA. 17 for the Dallas Mavericks in 2016-17 and 4 for the C’s in 2017-18. Signed again with the Celts in mid-April 2019 and was on the roster for the playoffs, but didn’t play. All of that is so you know who this guy is. That being said, I’ve seen some of his garbage time minutes. This cat can really shoot! Could do worse for a 15th man. But I’d be surprised to see him back…until April anyway.
Robert Williams–Yup, the Celtics first-round draft pick from last year was actually the 14th man on the roster and a regular inactive when everyone was healthy last season. Seemed odd, when he had at least one skill (shot blocking) that would have been useful in certain game situations, whereas some other players that suited up seemingly had none. Whatever. Unless he gets traded this summer, hopefully, there will be some minutes available for him in 2019-20. I’d like to see more.
Brad Wanamaker (Restricted Free Agent)–A third point guard is nice. And the Cs will have one next year. Will it be Brad? I don’t know. Maybe Shane Larkin will come back. Or the second rounder from above. Does it matter?
Guerschon Yabusele–The Dancing Bear!! The 16th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Yabu has given the Cs 74 games at 6.6 minutes per game for 2.3 points per game in 2 years. Seems solid for that draft slot…sigh… Now he’s on the books for over 3 million next year, does he somehow earn more minutes this season? Let’s hope not. And also hope Danny can include his salary in a trade for something more useful.
Semi Ojeleye–I’ve never understood the “Shemi” infatuation. Coach Brad Stevens always seems to shoehorn him in every night. “Cuz he always guards Giannis well”, they will say. Ok. But what about everyone else? I do see his minutes per game went down from 16 his rookie year to 11 in his second. Didn’t realize that. Only on the books for 1.6 next year, so I imagine he will be on the squad. Let’s just hope his minutes don’t spike into the 20s based on the lack of other bodies available.
Daniel Theis (Restricted Free Agent)–I love this guy. Is it rational? Probably not. He plays less than 15 minutes per game. And probably is a 20 minute per guy max. And shoots more threes than I like (although that’s what this team does…and he did actually hit 39% on them last year, surprisingly enough). But he’s always flying around, rebounds well (which you know I love, or maybe you don’t know…but I love rebounders) and there is just something about him. Hard to say what will happen to him. He may get an offer sheet that the Celtics don’t match. His rights may have to get renounced because the Cs go after a bigger fish. No idea. Would love to see him back, I think that goes without saying.
Aron Baynes–As opposed to Theis, I cannot stand this guy. Is THIS rational? Probably not. Why do I hate him? Loves to rebound with one arm for one. Seems silly…along with that stupid hairdo. He opted in last week, but now reports are they have shipped him to Phoenix. For his well over 5 million dollar salary let’s hope that is accurate. Along with many other reasons. Williams should be able to do what he does for a fraction of the cost. I just never understood this infatuation either.
Terry Rozier (Restricted Free Agent)–Since the starter at point guard appears to be gone (more on that later of course), many people think that the team should re-sign “Scary Terry” to a significant deal. I am not sure I am one of those people. Actually, I am not. This guy is a borderline Hall of Famer, just ask him. Rozier is a decent player, but nothing more. I will ALWAYS maintain that. Sure he has played well in some starts. But he has also been putrid in some starts. Then he goes off on the team after last season ended. I say he should take his attitude elsewhere. Let some other team overpay for this headache. Even if that leaves the Celtics without their top 2 point guards next year.
Marcus Morris (Unrestricted Free Agent)–I give this guy a lot of credit. He’s a notorious hothead. With the complete dysfunction in the Celtics locker room last year, one would figure he would be right in the middle of it. Amazingly enough, we rarely heard a peep from him. Seems surprising. And, for good measure, he may have been their best player in the first half of the season. Second half…not so much. I’d take him back actually. But not at the dollars he will likely command. I’m not talking a max contract guy, mind you. But he will want to be paid. I wouldn’t do that here.
Gordon Hayward–Time to sh&t or get off the pot Gordo. In all fairness, yeah, a season lost to a gruesome injury then another season pretty much trying to work his way back. Much to the chagrin of it would seem to all of his teammates, who did not like Coach Brad taking their minutes and force-feeding them to Hayward to try and get him back on course. Nah, no selfishness there (Terry?). In any event, he ain’t going anywhere, so let’s hope the second year back from that injury does the trick.
Marcus Smart–I like this guy. His overall game anyway. His defense. His hustle. He seems to care. Do I love him at 13 million per? Not particularly. But that’s the price these days I guess. He really, really, REALLY needs to stop shooting as much as he does. Though sometimes those shots do drop in key moments. Unless his salary needs to be included in a trade, it would seem he is here for the long haul. That’s not entirely a bad thing. But let’s hope he isn’t one of the top players on the roster come the onset of next season.
Al Horford (Unrestricted Free Agent)–As referenced earlier, really surprised that Al is going to be gone. He was never a max contract player, though the Cs gave him one. That being said, we think this helped attract players during the teams latest incarnation. A very good, solid, if unspectacular, player and we should appreciate his contributions to the team over his tenure here. That also being said, if those numbers on proposed contracts are accurate, let’s also make sure we wish him well at his next stop.
Jaylen Brown–Recent reports are out and are trying to make Brown out to be one of the huge problems in the Celtic locker room. It’s entirely possible, as we know there was a problem between the young guys and the veterans. Wouldn’t shock me anyway. Brown is another one of the kids that thinks he’s better than he is. But he’s way better than Rozier. And he’s worth keeping around to see if he can take that next step while presumably getting more than 30 minutes per game. The skills appear to be there. He will be entering his 4th NBA season. Let’s see if that huge jump comes next season.
Jayson Tatum–Seemed to me that Tatum didn’t make much of a step up this year for whatever reason. But then I looked at his numbers and they were up all across the board…other than shooting percentage. Must have been the ho-hum season of the team that made me think that there was no growth. Tatum will be entering his 3rd NBA season and it seems at this point the best move is to build around him and Brown and maybe another third young guy…if they can actually attract one. Ainge may alter that plan with some moves come July. But that’s the way I’m leaning for sure.
Kyrie Irving (Unrestricted Free Agent)–I don’t even feel like talking about this guy. A great, great, great player. But undeniably not a leader. It is assumed he is leaving, possibly (probably?) to Brooklyn, but don’t rule out a number of other teams. There have even been whispers of him coming back to Boston. I don’t believe that, but with this dude, you simply never know. The Celtics may not be a better team on paper with him gone. But could they be a better team on the court? Perhaps. People like to point to the previous season when Irving (and Hayward) were out and the team came within a hair of the NBA Finals. I can’t say I expect that to happen next season while being led by Tatum and Brown. But I can say I have no personal interest in bringing Kyrie back…under any circumstances. That’s too bad because he’s a fantastic player.
This was a long one. But hell, we haven’t written in a while so there was a lot to say. My apologies. In any event, long way to go to shape the 2019-2020 Boston Celtics. This summer should be an interesting one.