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Celtics Breakup Party, Part 2

Picking up right where we left off…just remember, DEMETRIUS JACKSON.  Ok, I will stop yelling now that I have your attention.  On to the rest of the roster, still in alphabetical order…

*Jonas Jerebko/Amir Johnson.  I’m going to lump these two together.  Because I can.  And they are next to each other on the roster.  More importantly, it’s because I thought neither one of their options should have been picked up before the season.  To me, it was a colossal waste of 17 million for a combined 36 minutes a game for these stiffs.  They couldn’t have paid one player the whole 17 mil and received a better return?

Harsh assessment?  Most assuredly.  But it is what it is.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  I have no idea what Johnson brings to the table.  None.  Doesn’t rebound.  Doesn’t block shots.  Doesn’t score.  Defense?  Perhaps.  But when I watched him, he didn’t make much of a difference.  Never comes up with a “50/50 ball”.  Etc.  Yet he started almost every game this year.  Oh, if you take away Jackson’s 1 for 1 on threes, then Amir led the team in three-point percentage.  Yup.  27 for 66, for 41%.  And yes, I just looked it up.  Actually, I was looking for something (anything?!) Johnson contributed and stumbled upon that nugget.  I know, only 66 threes attempted, so big deal.  But if you asked anyone if they thought Amir shot that many threes this season, they wouldn’t believe it either (10 for 43 for 23% last year, by the way…found that interesting as well).  So I guess I discovered something he did add to the mix.

You know what else I realized about Johnson?  That he was the second highest paid Celtic this year.  A distant second to Al Horford, but second highest nonetheless.  Yikes!!

I know, Johnny Kid…you will disagree with the above analysis.  But that’s how I saw it…

As for Jerebko, well, I didn’t have much love for him either.  He sure as hell hustles his arse off and can hit the occasional three himself.  But…seemingly takes up space for the most part.

I can’t even talk about these guys anymore.  I hope neither of them are back.  Although if Brad Stevens uses Jonas going forward like he did at the end of the playoffs, which is…barely…then if he wants to come back for a veteran minimum salary and there were open roster spots, I wouldn’t complain…too much.  Johnson?  I wish him well at his next stop.  If there is one…

*Jordan Mickey/James Young.  Uh oh.  There goes the alphabetical order!  But it made sense to lump these guys together.  Plus, “Y” does come after “M”, you know.

Before the season, I had high hopes for both of these guys.  I had no idea if either of these two could play in the NBA.  Unfortunately, I still don’t.  That’s what happens when these guys apparently drew straws for the 13th and final active roster spot on a nightly basis.

With the way this team was sure to have (and did have) problems rebounding, I was hoping Mickey would get some minutes to try to help that problem.  Young, being his third year but still only 21, I was hoping for him to get minutes to see if he would finally develop into something useful.  Neither one got those minutes because they went to Gerald Green, Jerebko, Johnson, etc.

We already know what the veteran bench guys can do.  We didn’t (don’t) know what Mickey or Young can do.  Maybe it’s nothing.  Maybe they just sucked really bad at practice and they didn’t ultimately “earn” their time.  But it would have been nice to find out about them in real games.

Based on the above, I don’t see either back next year.  Young is unrestricted anyway.  Mickey has non-guaranteed money, but doesn’t seem likely the Cs will guarantee it.

I have no idea why, but I bought into the Young hype from Day One.  Left school early, top 10 talent if he stayed in school (“they” say anyway), steal for where they took him in the draft (17th), etc.  I’ve always had this vision that he is like Jermaine O’Neal.  Not the style of play of course.  Not the “Boston Celtic years Jermaine O’Neal”.  But the O’Neal that came into the league at 18 years old, languished on the bench in Portland for 4 years, then blossomed into an All-Star as soon as he went to Indiana.

Yeah, Young probably doesn’t turn out to be anything.  But please note both he and Jermaine were taken at #17 in the first round of their respective drafts.  So if my hunch is right…somebody owes me something…

*Kelly Olynyk.  Who do I dislike more, Johnson or Olynyk?  It’s close.  If “Game 7 against the Wizards Kelly Olynyk” showed up more, it’s obviously a lot easier to trash on Amir.  Goes without saying.  But unfortunately, THAT guy shows up once every 40 games or so.  Or something like that.  It’s mostly the abundantly average KO that is around most of the time.  So it makes the decision tougher.

Listen, Olynyk will always be better than I will ever give him credit for.  It’s just that I like my 7-footers to be able to rebound and play down low.  And he can’t.  Which infuriates me a little as well because it looks like he may actually have some ability down inside, believe it or not.  I know, this is Brad’s system and that’s what he wants Kelly to do…blah, blah, blah.  I get it.  But I don’t have to like it.

As for next year, Olynyk is a restricted free agent coming off 3.1 mil this year.  If you ask me, I let him walk.  He will want a nice raise, for whatever reason.  But look closely at the numbers.  Four years in the league and no improvement really.  He has essentially been the same guy for those four years.  Is he all of a sudden take a step up in his age 26-27 season next year?  Or beyond?  Doubtful.  So why give this guy a fat raise for that?  He is what he is and there is some value to that.  Just not the value in dollars he likely will be looking for.  Let him go.

Honestly though, I think Danny makes a good effort to keep him, sad to say.  It probably depends on what they do with the guards and who they bring in and all that.  He may not fit financially when all the chips fall into place.  But Danny does try to keep him here.

*Terry Rozier/Marcus Smart.  Pairing these guys up based on position…and length of this post!  Smart played pretty much starters minutes and Rozier was essentially your 4th guard.  Rozier seems like he may be the better ballhandler and rebounder, Smart could possibly have the better all around game when you throw in his D.  Both are 23 years old with birthdays in March, so there’s that.  Even better, they were the only Celtics to shoot less than 40% from the field (about 36% apiece for both), so I suppose there are some similarities.

Despite the fact that he shoots entirely too much and no one bothers reining him in, and despite the fact that he can still be a knucklehead at times, Smart grew on me this past season.  If Avery Bradley is indeed moved as I think, I believe Smart moves into the starting lineup and takes another step up.  Just a gut feeling.

Rozier?  Don’t be shocked if he is moved either.  Yes, he could step up to be the primary backup guard.  I can’t say I would be opposed to that, as he showed some growth between his rookie and sophomore years in the NBA.  But I have other ideas for the #3 guard.  One could be Jaylen Brown, as discussed in the previous post.  Brown filled in there when Bradley missed time earlier in the year.  If Jae Crowder stays, Brown has to get more minutes somewhere.  And he no doubt has more upside than Rozier.

I have another player in mind for the #3 guard.  That’s a story for a different day however.

Next:  Still a big name missing…

First Round Upset Brewing?

For the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs that start tonight?  Against the mediocre Chicago Bulls?  Are you f’n serious?

A little bit actually, sorry to say.

From the get-go, I’ve been a little nervous about the series.  On paper, the C’s should win in 5 or 6 fairly comfortably.  But the news of yesterday kind of got me thinking about things.

The news from yesterday?  Chyna Thomas.  Yup, wait…who?

For those who haven’t heard, Chyna was a younger sister of Celtics star Isaiah Thomas and was killed in a car accident Saturday morning.  We all know what this team looks like without Isaiah.  And a lot of times it simply ain’t pretty.

My guess is that IT plays in all the games.  But, for one, he will quite obviously be playing with a heavy heart, as he damn well should be.  For two, between games, he will be logging some serious travel miles out to Washington state during the series to be with his family.  One could argue that he should just skip games to spend time with his family during this difficult situation.  And one may be right…he probably should.  I just don’t believe he will, right or wrong.

Isaiah has been awesome this year, especially in the 4th quarter.  But this will, and should, take some toll on him.  Although basketball is certainly secondary to real life, the games must go on as they say.  And IT’s situation will probably have some effect on the series.  How much remains in question.

That all being said, as I said above, this series caused some concern for me regardless of what happened yesterday.  Let’s start by saying that finishing with the top seed in your conference doesn’t really make you the top seed.  I know, they are the #1 seed because they finished first.  So my comment may sound idiotic.  BUT, should any team going 53-29 be a top seed?  I don’t know.  Doesn’t seem like a top record for a #1 seed.  The C’s would have been 4th in the West.  And the Cleveland Cavaliers should have been better than 51-31 with that talent.

The Cavs should have cruised to 60-plus wins with that roster.  But they rested guys regularly, had some injuries, roster turnover, mentally took some games off probably and so on and so on.  But they were focused on the long haul…as any team should be.  More concerned with a championship run than seeding.  They are one of the few teams that can do that sort of thing.  My guess is when they dismantled the Celtics in Boston a couple of weeks ago, that cemented their feeling that they could beat anyone anywhere, especially in the East, and they weren’t going to expend too much energy to get the #1 seed.  Valid thinking, in my mind.

Back to the Bulls series…admittedly, I have not watched a lot of Chicago Bulls basketball this year.  And it seems that they gave up a bit on this year at the trading deadline when they shipped two rotation players and a pick to OKC for 3 guys that don’t play…this year at least.  Dwayne Wade is 150 years old.  Rajon Rondo has been a distraction, per usual, benched on occasion, not to mention the fact that it appears he hasn’t been very good this year either.

I paid such little attention to the Bulls this year that I don’t even know who some of their players are.  Cristiano Felicio.  Who?

So I guess I am completely unqualified to comment on the Bulls.  But I will anyway.  Because this piece is more about how I think the Celtics will play down to their level anyway.

Plus…the Bulls still have Jimmy Butler.  Maybe not as awesome as everyone thinks he is.  But still likely the best player in this series.  I do apologize profusely to you Isaiah.

One more thing on Rondo:  A lot of people are expecting “National TV Rondo” here this series.  You know, the one that routinely throws up triple-doubles.  I am not expecting that.  I am not sure how much of that he has left in him.  However, I do expect him to up his game though.  Sure, based on the stage.  And the opponent…to show Boston fans what they are missing.  And probably will play tighter D on Isaiah.  To also “prove” to C’s fans that he is better than Thomas.  And all that.  But…we will see…

In any event, back to my concerns with the C’s before considering all of the above.  The Celtics seem to leave a lot of teams in games, despite how average or poor the opponent is.  They have trouble scoring without Isaiah on the floor.  Brad Stevens keeps trying to play 11-12 guys…even if one or two of them are when he tries to spot in a Tyler Zeller or Gerald Green for 5 minutes or so.  Or even James Young sometimes.  Too many.

More concerns?  Ok!  They can’t rebound.  Too many threes.  Kelly Olynyk sucks.  Marcus Smart shoots too much.  Oftentimes, Al Horford doesn’t shoot enough…from inside the three-point line anyway.  We’ve been through all of this before.  It hasn’t changed.  And now it’s the playoffs.

Thus far, I believe that ownership, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens have done well in this Celtic “rebuild”.  I don’t know if a faster path has really been available.  But the fact remains that Stevens has not won a playoff series.  Until they do, I am always going to be skeptical.  Isaiah has been bottled up pretty good in past playoffs.  Sure he gets his points, but the percentages have been brutal and the points have been tough to come by.  Jae Crowder was atrocious in the first round last year.  Blame the ankle injury if you will.  I don’t…completely.  At least he was out there.  Avery Bradley went down yet again, so he was no help.  He’s always a ticking time bomb with injury.  So who knows this year?

I’ve had the same concerns with this team that I’ve had all season and you’ve all heard before.  The playoffs are a different animal and with the Cs playing only supposedly “good” teams, any issues will be exposed.  Ultimately, I think the Celtics win the series 4 games to 3.  I had initially thought 4-2, but that changed with Isaiah’s situation.  Maybe I shouldn’t have adjusted…after all, these guys have distractions all the time and, as professionals, should be able to handle them, right?   This one feels different though.  Bottom line though?  If the C’s don’t get through the first round, the season is a colossal failure…

Again with Kevin Love?

Welp, we are up against the NBA trading deadline tomorrow and here we go again with the Kevin Love to the Boston Celtics rumors.  “Danny always eventually gets his guy” rumors.  Whatever.

So maybe Love has never really “fit in” with the Cavaliers.  But they are 38-14.  So he must be doing something right…right?  16 points and 10 boards a game.  Yeah, less than his 18 and 12 that he was doing overall in Minnesota.  But that’s what happens when you are the only guy on one team and on the other you have guys like LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova…ummmm, maybe not the last guy, but you get the point.

So what is the problem then?  Why are there even rumors swirling around this guy?

The talk today is Love would go and Ryan Anderson would be coming to the Cavs.  Ryan Anderson?  I just looked at his numbers and honestly didn’t realize he was any good.  Looks like he is a 16 point, 6 rebound guy, but also doesn’t apparently play any D.  And one snippet said he may be looking for 16-18 million a year after this year.

Ryan Anderson?  At least 16 mil a year?  Just doesn’t seem right.

Anyway, Anderson would seem, on paper, to be a downgrade from Love.  To me anyway.  Maybe the Cavs get other useful bodies, I don’t know.  But it still seems like a red flag to me that the Cavs seem so willing to chat about moving Love.

Regardless, would I take Love on the C’s?  Sure, I love good players.  And it seems that he still is a good player.  Is he a Top Dog?  Not sure.  He was in Minnesota, throwing up years of 26 points and 13 plus rebounds a game.  But where did it get the Timberwolves?  Nowhere.

It appears he has not been a great fit as largely a #3 option in Cleveland.  Can he be a #1A in Boston, along with a #1B and even perhaps a #1C?  Would remain to be seen.  Of course that would depend on who the other two players are.

I’d have trouble giving up the 2016 Brooklyn first rounder for most players at this point.  The players that I would clearly give it up for are also clearly not being moved by their teams.  A good part of me wants to see the Celtics maybe make a few minor moves and then ride this thing out.  They seem to have great chemistry.  The coach has them playing together and unselfishly.  And we’ve always said they have a team full of pretty good players, if not superstars.

Then they would make the pick at the draft, which should be in the top four, maybe higher if the Nets trade their best players and lose at a greater pace over the remainder of the year, as is also rumored.  It also obviously has a chance of being #1, due to the lottery process.  We all know the Celtics lottery success has been nonexistent, but we can dream, no?  This Ben Simmons dude is apparently the next big thing and to have a solid chance at him would seem like something the team could not pass up.

Then ideally the team would make some more moves over the summer and come back a TRUE championship contender perhaps as soon as the 2016-2017 season.  Despite the way I am leaning in regards to what I want the team to do at this trading deadline, I am certainly not delusional as to think they can ride the current team out into a championship THIS year.  Despite winning recently at Cleveland, in no way do I think the C’s would beat them in a 7 game series in the playoffs.  And beating a Western team like the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, etc…that’s a whole nutha story…

I also do not think adding one body like Love at the trading deadline tomorrow makes them a championship contender this year either.  It’s going to take a few moves.  Seemingly this would all come together over the next offseason.  Just my opinion…

That being said, if a team comes in and makes the Celtics an offer they can’t refuse…they certainly have to look at it.  Here’s a list of players on the current team that I would consider “untouchable”:

 

Yup…there is no one on the list.  Do I like what Isaiah Thomas brings to the table?  Sure do.  He’s a gamer.  Not afraid.  Can drive, shoot, set up, hit free throws and all that.  But expendable in the right deal?  Absolutely.  I’d like to see if Marcus Smart can develop into a “star”.  I’m not that confident about it, but I’d like to see more of him.  Since the C’s got Evan Turner, there has been something I have loved about this guy.  But as an impending free agent, I am not sure I am opening the vault for that kind of dude.  The 4 youngsters?  R.J. Hunter, James Young, Jordan Mickey and Terry Rozier…I’d love to see if they turn out to be something.  But something tells me that if they were on that path, Brad Stevens would’ve found them more minutes this year regardless.  Can’t hold them down if they can play.  Stevens actually force-fed Hunter and Young some minutes earlier this year.  Not very much return on those minutes, to say the least.

Anyway, I think the point has been made:  There is some talent here and some of these guys could blossom down the road.  At this juncture, I’ll take the calls on anyone though.  I’m just not doing anything unless it is really worth my while.  I mean, REALLY worth my while.  I’m definitely not giving up this years’ Brooklyn pick unless something ridiculous falls from the sky.  Of course, I am not affiliated with the Celtics in any way, so it won’t be my decision unfortunately.  So it’s anyone guess what Danny Ainge will do.  I have been in favor with most of what he has done in the rebuild thus far, so I have faith that will continue.  Let’s see what happens between now and Thursday afternoon.

One thing I am looking forward to this summer regardless though?  The 18 second round picks!  Ok, it’s really like 4 or 5.  But how many guys can you stash overseas?  Is Ben Pepper still there?  I know Colton Iverson and (the other) Marcus Thornton are.  Probably more from the past that I have forgotten.  The lesson is this:  2nd round picks…why bother!  It amazes me that the draft used to be like 12 or 15 rounds back in the day.  Nowadays, beyond the top 10 picks or so, half the guys cannot play.  But that is a story for a different day…

 

 

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