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Celtics Trade Deadline Review…

…a little late, but…so be it…

So the NBA trade deadline came and went last week with Boston Celtic GM “Trader Danny” Ainge making ZERO moves.  I was kind of shocked when I read it, but apparently, this is the fifth consecutive deadline that Ainge has not made a deal.  Perhaps it’s time to retire the “Trader Danny” nickname?

The Celtics have a true core of five players that really carry the load:  Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart (yes, he is a key piece of the team…live with it).  If you wanted to combine Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter into a sixth, then go right ahead.  Though not ideal, those two should not kill you playing the “5”.

But that’s all folks.  You can shove as much Grant Williams down my throat as you want.  But although I appreciate the hustle and drive he shows out there, I have no interest in seeing this guy on the court when the playoffs arrive.

Speaking of “shoving someone down our throat”, Head Coach Brad Stevens has been trying to do this with Semi Ojeleye for almost three years running now.  Maybe in the right situation, “Shemi” may actually be able to play in the NBA?  I don’t know.  But I do know that this dude is atrocious and does absolutely nothing for me.  And please spare me with “he guards Giannis well, so he should play a lot against Milwaukee if they end up playing them” bit.  Please.  I think Ojeleye’s defense against Giannis is a little overstated.  But that is me.  Furthermore, if he can actually guard Giannis, why can he not guard anyone else in the league?  I think the 6 fouls he has per game is the most valuable thing about him.  Moving on…

Robert Williams?  I would have LOVED to have seen more of him this season to see what his raw ability could have added to the team.  But a hip injury wiped that out.  He is supposedly due back in March.  Can he add value coming off the bench for a few minutes a game?  Perhaps.  But can he be counted on?  Nope.

Romeo Langford?  Not this year anyway.  The 14th pick overall has missed a great deal of the season with a variety of injuries.  Now seemingly past all that, Langford had kind of a breakout game last Friday against the Atlanta Hawks.  you know, the “bottom of the conference” Hawks that is.  Then Romeo turned that progress into an ugly 6 minute stint against the much better Oklahoma City Thunder 2 days later.  I am not sure if the kid can play in the NBA over the long haul as of yet.  But he certainly isn’t ready now.

We could keep going through the rest of the roster, but I will spare you.  No one else can be trusted.  And since I spared you by not going through the rest of the names on the roster individually, please spare me any Tacko Fall comments as well.  Thank you in advance.

The point is, the team could use some help off the bench.  A veteran or two.  A big man to share the load with Theis and Kanter…or even overtake them in the rotation.  Some help anyway.

And…nothing.  So what does that mean?

I suppose big men such as Clint Capela and Andre Drummond were not real options because they don’t shoot three pointers and therefore were not a fit for Stevens’ system.  Neither does Kanter…though maybe that’s why, in his case, despite him being a rebounding machine, he plays less than 20 minutes a game here.

But what about other wings and ball handlers?  There weren’t any available?  Are you really satisfied with Brad Wanamaker Danny?  I don’t see it.

Salary cap issues?  Perhaps.  But those things have a way of working themselves out if a deal needs to get done.  And I am not talking about “throwing” a core player in a deal to make the numbers work.

Draft pick hesitation?  The picks the Celtics have coming up are almost worthless now.  Mid to late first rounders.  Not worthless, that is hyperbole.  But it’s not like having a pick in the top three.  I think you get my point.

Not wanting to give up on younger players?  I mean, Langford MAY be a player someday.  Not guaranteed.  Robert Williams MAY be worth holding on to.  But not necessarily.  Grant Williams MAY be a decent bench player in this league going forward.  Carsen Edwards?  Disappointment.  I thought he would be able to come off the bench and hit some buckets.  Hasn’t happened this year.  Tremont Waters has some skill, but his height will always haunt him.  Besides, if he had that much promise, wouldn’t he have a real roster spot now, instead of a two-way deal?

You can have the whole lot of them, in my opinion.  Guys of that ilk will always be available.

Side note:  I guess one writer said the C’s may be hesitant to give up on players like Vincent Poirier because he has “flashed at times this season”.  Poirier has played 108 minutes the whole year, as of this writing.  How much “flashing” can that provide??!

In any event, so why did Danny not make a deal?

Glad you asked!

I believe some of the chatter that I’ve heard on talk radio this week.  I think Ainge thinks that this team is not good enough to win a championship and may be more than one or two “pieces” away.  That the West is loaded and that the East seems to be all Milwaukee.  I don’t believe that Danny wants to make deals for this year when he believes holding on to “assets” for the future is better for the team.

That being said, what did Ainge really have at his disposal to give up?  The younger bench guys ain’t getting him anything great.  The future draft picks either.  Theis and/or Kanter?  Maybe as a piece.  But not as a major part of any deal.

That means he would have been dipping into one of the five “core” players.  And what would be the sense of that when they are trying to add to that core and not take away from it?

One initial thought I had was…gasp…is there a chance Gordon Hayward may be available?  He has a huge player option next year.  Which means he will opt out of it.  Because that’s what professional athletes do.  Hayward has been pretty good when he’s been on the floor this season.  But he has missed some time.  And he has been a little snakebitten here over the years with injury.  Jaylen Brown’s cap hit goes from 6.5 mil to almost 24 mil next season.  Jayson Tatum still needs to get paid.

Could Gordo become a casualty, either at the deadline this season, or next summer?  Despite the obvious ties to Brad?  Well, the deadline has passed.  But was that possibly being bandied about as a potential move before the deadline?  And may be on the table over the summer?

Remember also that Hayward was the subject of some teammates’ dissatisfaction last season when Brad forced minutes on him when he wasn’t quite ready in his return from his major injury the season before.  Taking away minutes from the likes of Brown and Tatum, who felt like they earned them with their long playoff run from the previous season.

Maybe Langford grows into that “other guy” down the road.  Some of the other kids/picks develop.  Tatum gets his dough.  And he, Brown and Kemba are the three top dogs.

Hmmmmmmmm…

I didn’t think it was a real option for this season.  But a real option over the summer?  And that perhaps is when Ainge is ready to make his “next big move”, to take the step to legitimate championship contender?

Hard to say.  But can a team really have four max contracts…or close to max contracts?

Then I see something recently where the team wants Gordo still for the long haul.

So who knows what Danny is thinking?

If I am “Trader Danny” though, I try to make a deal for a couple of veteran bench guys last week.  You already have four scorers.  You just can’t play them 48 minutes a game in the playoffs.  And you sure as hell cannot trust most of the other guys on the roster other than Smart.  As long as he isn’t shooting a ton himself, that is.  Adding some reliable veterans to fill up the main bench minutes along with Theis and Kanter would have satisfied me at least.  And Danny didn’t get it done.

I’m still not sure that adding the vet depth pieces would make them a legit contender this season.  But it would have certainly put them in a better place.

Now?

A trip to the Eastern Conference may be the best Celtics fans can hope for.

Stanley Cup Finals…

…so here we are…finally.  Almost anyway.

It’s been a long wait for Boston Bruin fans.  Not in terms of years, since it has only been 6 years since they last appeared in the Finals.  As opposed to the 49 year gap the St. Louis Blues and their fans have endured.

We, of course, are talking in terms of days.  11, to be exact, since the Bruins’ last game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

That’s a long time to be idle.  Sure, it may have helped some guys who were banged up a little bit.  Well, as long as that scrimmage the Bruins had last Thursday didn’t produce any more injuries.  Rumor has it Brad Marchand got dinged up in that one.  But it didn’t appear to be serious…hopefully anyway.

In any event, I find it hard to believe it will help someone like goaltender Tuukka Rask.  As we all know, Rask has been playing unconscious.  Out of his F’ng MIND, actually.  Like…something we have never seen before.  Despite the fact he makes 7 mil a year and should be doing this all the time.  But I digress…

I would think it would be hard for a goalie to stay sharp with that much time off.  Tuuks usually plays better when he gets some rest during the long regular season.  But not after a week and a half off.  Well, I can’t imagine he does anyway.

AND THAT IS WHAT SCARES THE F’NG BEJESUS OUT OF ME!!!

My opinion?  Glad you asked!!!!

The St. Louis Blues are a nice story.  Like last place early January.  Fired their coach.  Brought up a new goalie, never before having played in the NHL.  Nice run along the way.  Blah, blah, blah.

And although the Boston Bruins avoided some heavyweights in the Eastern Conference, especially the Tampa Bay Lightning and their best record in the NHL and kind of…ever…, and the defending champion Washington Capitals, they were a pretty good team start to finish.

And, with my usual disclaimer of having not watched copious amounts of Blues hockey throughout the year, the Bruins do seem to be the better team.

Why?  I don’t know.  Just seems like the Blues are another “Carolina Hurricane” type story.  Underdog going on a nice run, then meeting their match in the Championship Round.

At least I hope it turns out that way anyway.

To me, it all comes down to the goalies.  We have already talked about Tuuks.  Can he keep up his level of play?  I really don’t have the answer to that.  If you told me there would be a 4 day gap instead of an 11 day one, I would have bought it.  I would have felt that in a short gap between series, he would easily have kept his mojo.  But now I am not so sure.

But I am also not so sure on the flip side.  Jordan Binnington played AWESOME in the regular season since the Blues called him up, right around the same time as the teams’ turnaround in early January.  But he hasn’t been quite as airtight in the playoffs.  I suppose that is possible, seeing as he has played several years in the minors, including part of the previous season for the Bruins’ farm team in Providence, on loan from the Blues organization.  But who knows which guy shows up in the Finals?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we can say that about Tuuks too, I know.

So since I have no real riveting analysis to actually add here, I suppose I will cut to the chase…PREDICTION TIME!!

I guessed at the first series for the B’s.  I said Bruins in seven.  Right.  Of course, I was unsure, but let the record speak for itself, however bogus it may sound!  I never put predictions on paper for the next two series.  I would have gone B’s over Columbus in seven and over the Canes in 5.  But I have no proof, so call me a liar, whatever.

This one?  Bruins in six.  I know the recent record is something like the last 3-4 teams with the longer layoff have lost…and it’s like 13 of the last 16 or something like that.  Not good.  And the time off I think invariably hurts Tuukka at least a little…meaning a softie or two along the way…his SPECIALTY!!

But I just feel like the Bruins veterans will not let them ruin this golden opportunity to put one more notch on the belt for guys like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron.  Even Rask.  And the whole Cinderella thing with the Blues.  And how will the rookie Binnington fare with the pressure?

Once again, just a feeling and a hunch.  With all due respect to a former college roommate, who gifted me a sweet Blues lid back in the day, that we wore the sh$t out of until the thing crumbled.  Thanks Maaaaaan-yeeeeeezzz!!

But your day is not today….

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