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Changing Of The Guard…

…”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…

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What Now?

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?

Nevermind…

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.

Are They Contenders?

In a league where it’s seemingly the Tampa Bay Lightning and everyone else, maybe that’s not exactly an easy answer no matter what NHL team we want to talk about.  Tampa is close to 20 points better than the second best team in the entire league.  So maybe it’s only the Lightning that is contenders?

We all know better than that though.  Anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  That, of course, has been proven time and time again through the history of the NHL.

So do the Boston Bruins find themselves truly in the mix for the Cup?

My answer?  I don’t know.

Good one!

My initial reaction is…no.  Not right now anyway.  The simple reason?  Once you shut down their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, who else scores on this team?  Are we really going to rely on the WAK line (Chris Wagner, Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly)?  I think not.

Sure, Jake DeBrusk has been lighting it up lately.  And David Krejci has been pretty consistent this season.  But this rotating group of kids and/or 4th liners and/or bums parading through that third spot on the line leave a lot to be desired (more on these dudes later).  Then forget about the “3rd line”, which is really the “4th line”.  People continue to insist the Acciari line is still the 4th line, but they really have elevated to the 3rd line recently.  I guess we are basically splitting hairs here since neither of the lines will be full of consistent scorers…ever.

No one is talking much about the Pastrnak injury now either.  How long does that thumb injury keep him out?  Two weeks they are saying…at least.  Then the doctors reevaluate.  How long after then?  And how will that affect his play going forward from there?  Pasta was on pace for 40+ goals when he went down (literally…as he fell in a parking lot after a sponsorship dinner.  Hmmmmmmm…nothing curious there).  What can we expect when he returns?

Danton Heinen has played well on the top line since Pasta’s injury.  But as an allegedly wise man recently said (why do they call this man “Keo” anyway?), “he (Heinen) actually has been decent with 37 (Bergy) and 63 (Marchy), credit to him.  But then I think we could put 69 on your back, stand you in front of the goal and a few would bounce off you too.”

Fair point by Captain Obvious…other than putting any number on my back and letting me on the ice in any capacity.  But you get the point.  Plus…Heinen was borderline terrible on any other line he previously played on this season.  That doesn’t help.

In any event, a fully healthy forward set of lines that includes…

  1.  Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak
  2.  DeBrusk/Krejci/Heinen
  3.  Wagner/Acciari/Kuraly
  4.  David Backes?/Karson Kuhlman?/Peter Cehlarik?/Joakim Nordstrom?/Trent Frederic? (the options currently here)

…simply does not cut it, in my opinion.

But wait!  The trade deadline is Monday.  General Manager Donnie Sweeney will make some moves, no?!

Probably.  But are we excited about his track record with deadline deals?  Nope.  Not even a little bit.  We could go through the Jimmy Hayes’, the John Michael Liles’, the Zac Rinaldo’s, etc.  But I’ll spare you the gory details…which are likely embedded in your brain already anyway.

I mean, it looks like he has already brought back “Suitcase” Lee Stempniak…a failed acquisition from 2 seasons ago.  Stemp was in camp with the B’s on a tryout basis and then who the hell knows (or even cares?) where he has been since then?  Until he showed up for two Providence Bruins games last week.  Will this be Donnie Hockey’s big deadline move?

Well, I guess the answer is no, seeing that he pulled off a deal on Wednesday.  The B’s obtained Charlie Coyle from the Wild for Ryan Donato and a fifth round pick.  That Donnie, always needing to throw picks into deals!

I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know a hell of a lot about Coyle.  But what I do know is that he sounds like a bottom six guy.  Not opposed to acquiring one of those types, since as you can see above, they need better bodies there.  But I also can’t say I am very inspired by the move.

I will also say that while Sweeney has stockpiled “prospects” over the past few years, how many of these guys can actually play?  Some of these dudes have gotten some decent run up in the NHL.  And, as of now, only DeBrusk and I suppose Heinen look like keepers.

Donato, Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, etc.  The jury is probably still out on Frederic and Kuhlman.  Zach Senyshyn can’t even get a sniff up in Boston.  How bad was that first round pick?  We can go back to Frank Vatrano and Austin Czarnik if you like.  And some of the D-men, including what could be another wasted first round pick in Jakub Zboril.  I have no problem trading some, if not all of these guys for established, and good, players.  But Donato showed some scoring ability at least last year.  He may have been the last guy on this list to ship out of town.

I’m not sold on this one…yet anyway.  But I also feel like Sweeney will do more.  He’d better.

As for the defense and the goalies, we don’t think he has to do anything there.  Solid 7 D-men as we speak, 8 if you count Stevie Kampfer, but I don’t.  Kampfer is on quite a roll worth mentioning, however.  He hasn’t suited up in almost two months.  Not easy being the 8th defenseman when only 6 dress.  But I suppose it’s better to collect an NHL salary than an AHL salary.

In any event, even though Zdeno Chara looks like he is skating in quicksand more often than we all like, even though Torey Krug still looks lost on defense more often than we all like, even though Charlie McAvoy misses more games than we all like, I can’t say I am too worried about the D as a whole.

Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are plenty capable in net, though that pains me to say about Tuuks cuz most know how I feel about him.  But this is a pretty good tandem for the regular season anyway.  The big question is, who is the #1 guy for the playoffs?  It’s not like they will rotate when the time comes.  Well, they could, but that kind of thing is pretty much unheard of in the postseason.  Both netminders have had their bad stretches.  But they have also had stretches where they have stood on their head.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out…even though I imagine it will be Tuuks at the end.  After all, he’s the one that makes a gazillion dollars…

Ssssssoooo…are the Bruins true contenders or not?  My real answer?  Kind of.  They can be.  But ask me again on Monday night…

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