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Celtics Breakup Party, Part 3

Moving on…not much more left to cover I don’t think.  Well, as I said, there is one big one left:

*And it’s Tyler Zeller!!  Ok, no it’s not.  But he’s the 2nd to last one on the current roster to go over.  8 million dollar non-guaranteed contract for next year.  To no one’s surprise, I’d rather spend that money on someone else.  Like…someone a lot better perhaps.  There’s really not much more to say.

*Isaiah Thomas.  Of course.  IT.  What do we do with Isaiah?

I can tell you I have gone back and forth on this one all year…and longer actually.  I know, he averaged almost 30 points a game this season, so how can there be any debate?

Well, when thinking about it during the regular season, the fact remained that IT hadn’t done much in the playoffs.  Yes, I also know that he hasn’t always had a lot of help.  But it was a concern.  Another concern was that at his size, how will he hold up over the years?  Legitimate question, especially if we are talking about giving him max dollars…or close to it.  And his negative value on defense.  Ultimately, is he the kind of player you really want to build around?

Lots of question marks.  I feel like he played better this playoff season.  Of course the Celtics played more games, but I felt better about his overall performance.  Especially considering the circumstances surrounding him with the death of his sister at the beginning of the playoffs.  And sure, he struggled some on the court.  But let’s face it, you are going to face better competition in the playoffs, so things are going to be tougher to come by.

Then…the hip.  Was this the reason he struggled in some games?  Who knows?  He supposedly had the injury for several weeks.  But then it got to a point where he couldn’t go anymore.  I don’t know Isaiah personally of course.  But I have to believe that if he was sitting playoff games out, it was pretty serious.  I’ve heard some question that and I don’t buy that argument.  I believe that if he could have played, he would have.

But the injury adds another layer to it all.  We still don’t know how serious the injury is.  Early indications were that if he had to have surgery, he’d be out 6-9 months or something like that.  But we don’t know if he needs the surgery yet.  So…another lingering concern.

Add it all up and what to do with Isaiah is a little tricky.  But I’ve made my decision.

I’m keeping him and giving him some dough.

Maybe that’s me just getting caught up in his regular season performance this year.  Loving how he keeps proving people wrong.  I don’t know.  But I do know he has been successful here.  He has one year left on his current contract at about six and a quarter million…another bargain year.  Sure, he will have to get his money after next season.  But the C’s will be able to give him more, based on his Bird rights or some sort of cap mumbo jumbo that no one really completely understands.  This will also give the Celtics more room to sign other guys too.  So giving IT max or close to max money won’t kill them.  From what I hear anyway.

I’ve discussed offering IT in trades before.  I wouldn’t totally rule that out either.  But the hip injury dampens his value a bit.  Plus, he fits this system and may have more value to the local team than any others.  Brad Stevens has been able to maneuver things where he can “hide” Isaiah on defense.  Maybe not always, but seemingly a lot.  Danny Ainge has always loved him and he usually hangs onto guys like that.

I think he stays, gets huge money after next season, but the team continues to build around him and he becomes just a piece and not necessarily the main guy.  Just one of the main guys.  Hope he will be ok with that…and I think he will be.

That does it for the end of season roster.  But we are not done.  Some more players/points to talk about:

*Geurschon Yabusele/Ante Zizic.  2016 first round draft picks.  These two will be here next year.  Not sure how much they play though.  Both averaged about 100 points a game overseas I believe.  But against Chinese and Turkish competition, I also believe.  Noted powerhouses they are not.  Zizic HAS to be better than Zeller and has some size, so hopefully he can add something.  I don’t really have much more to say really…

*Abdel Nader.  2016 2nd round pick.  He will be here I bet too…because they got him to stick around last year up in Maine instead of going elsewhere.  Likely made him a promise for 2017-18, since the 2016-17 team had a roster crunch.  But again, he has to be end of bench material.  I guess he played well for Maine, but that is the WNBA…er, I mean the NBA Development League.  I think James Young put up 40 every time they sent him there.  So I am not expecting much.

*The “other”Marcus Thornton/Ben Pepper.  2nd round picks, Thornton from 2015 and Pepper from 1997.  Ok, they won’t be here.  But the team still holds their rights.  That has to count for something.

*Lonzo Ball.  Please God, nnnnooooooo…

*Markelle Fultz.  I think the C’s keep the #1 pick and take Fultz.  Since I know nothing about college hoops, my analysis may really end here.  Fultz seems to be the consensus #1.  Maybe some other guys are good too, but it looks like Fultz is the guy.

And if he is, he needs to be the 3rd guard (presumably behind IT and Marcus Smart, with Terry Rozier the 4th guy, if he remains here…and Avery Bradley traded…as I see it anyway).  Fultz needs to play.  But not start…yet.  He definitely needs to come in and play meaningful minutes though.

*2018 Brooklyn first round pick.  Giddyup!!

*Three 2017 second round picks.  Yaaaaawn.

*Gordon Hayward.  And there’s this offseason’s Al Horford.  Maybe he likes Utah and will stay there.  I just don’t see it.  Sure, a lot of people are talking about this because of the Brad Stevens/Butler connection.  But I also hear that Boston can offer Hayward more money over the long haul.  I have no idea if this is true, but if so, that has to mean something too.  Boston over Utah, just in general?  Has to be a no brainer.  Ok, maybe another team makes a run at him too.  But it just feels like a done deal.  I’m probably wrong.

Is Hayward a top 10 player in the league?  Maybe not.  A pretty good player nonetheless.  And many believe he will actually come here.  No small feat when you consider the Celtics have problems attracting marquee free agents in their history, despite being the most decorated NBA franchise.  Then put him with IT, Horford, Fultz, Smart, Jaylen Brown, etc. and you may start to have something.

*Paul George.  Seems hell-bent on eventually landing in Lakerland.  At least that is the popular opinion.  I’m not sure I would trade for him if that is the case.

*Jimmy Butler.  Whatever.  Good player.  I just think the other options available to the Celtics are preferable.

*Big man X.  I don’t know who this is.  Hopefully someone who can bang around in the paint.  I know Brad likes his big guys to heave up threes and all.  But they should have a better presence inside somewhat next year.  I think anyway.  Ideally, they can dangle Bradley and/or Jae Crowder.  We’ll see.

Ok, so where does that leave us?  What it may look like:

Center:  Big Man X, Zizic

Power forward:  Horford, Yabusele, Jerebko

Small forward:  Hayward, Brown, Nader

“Shooting” guard:  Smart, Fultz

Point guard:  Isaiah, Rozier, Jackson

A cheap veteran and/or 2nd round picks fill out the roster.  Bradley is your trade chip, tough to keep Crowder if Hayward is here and Brown needs minutes, Jerebko could be cheap and Brad loves him, Kelly Olynyk is still an option, but he may get some dough…or get squeezed by the team needing his money for other guys.  Moving pieces here and I’m certainly not looking to give Crowder and Bradley away.  Hell, they could still end up being here under their reasonable contracts.  They probably will, to be quite honest.

Championship team?  Nope, but one with some promise.  Especially if “Big Man X” is a player.

BUT if Anthony Davis is available and can be had…well…I may have to rewrite these three posts in their entirety…

 

LeBron is going home…whoop-de-do…

I’ve got to be careful what I write here.  I don’t want to offend LeFraud.  He’s going “home”.  Probably just because he wants to be loved so much in his hometown and all of Northeast Ohio.  He must feel bad about the whole “Decision” process from 4 years ago.  Gag…

I could care less about what LeBron does.  I’m far from a Cleveland Cavalier fan.  But what those clowns did 4 years ago, starting with the whole televised “The Decision”, to the dancing on stage with all three morons down in Miami…just foolish.  I understand that these days the NBA seems to be more about entertainment, rather than actual basketball.  And it’s ALWAYS about money…we all know this.  But someone should have told LeBron and the other idiots that this whole scenario was a pretty bad idea from the get-go.  In reality, he shouldn’t have even NEEDED anyone to tell him it was a bad idea, despite his young age.  Pretty obvious.  Especially if he was worried about what people would think of him.  It actually still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, despite James’ greatness on the court.  That’s never going away for me.  It is remarkable how Cavaliers fans now are ignoring it for the most part I feel.  Guess that’s what happens when you never win.

And James IS great on the court, no question.  But he does always seem to look for the easiest solution at every turn.  I suppose if I was in his shoes I would do the same…I mean, look at his first tour in Cleveland.  It was him and most of the time, some other flotsam and jetsam.  OK, Mo Williams and Big Z Ilgauskas and guys like that were decent, but by and large, not championship timber.  So who could blame him for wanting a few other bona fide superstars around him to make title runs every year?

Who could also blame him for wanting a max contract this time around?  He has never been the highest paid player on his TEAM, no less the entire league, so in that context, he deserves a max deal.  Despite the fact that no one deserves this type of dough.  Or that this ignores the fact he also makes a zillion dollars in endorsements.  But whatever.  I know that in my career, when I see useless stiffs making more money than me, that makes me upset…so it’s all relative.

I have to say that even though this whole “decision” process has been much more low-key, I am still not a fan of it.  There were still some theatrics to the whole thing.  Giving a story to a Sports Illustrated writer?  Why?  Because that writer (and the magazine itself) have been highly respected for years?  And this is supposed to change our impression of LeBron this time around?  Because he wanted to leave ESPN out of this for this time?

I’ve heard all kinds of talking heads spout many ideas about why he chose this route.  Who knows the truth?  I’ve also heard people say that this time around the move was “classy”, “tasteful” and saying, “I respect the hell out of him for it”.  WHAT?!  Joke.  For this to happen, it all had to be orchestrated carefully to make sure it all happened definitively in the end.  That includes the trade of two players to the Celtics for nothing (not that the two players the Celts got are difference makers.  But they still got them for nothing).  Prepping the letter.  And everything else.  I know the story was told “through Lee Jenkins”.  But does anyone think LeBron really came up with all that himself?  I’m sure most of the letter was pre-crafted to make him look good and then LeBron signed off on it.  People are acting like he sat down and penned it himself and Jenkins proofread it for spelling and grammatical errors or something.  Doubtful.

In any event, even though I am done with any offseason “performances” by James, I AM excited that he finally picked a place.  Now all the other free agents can make their plans too.  The teams can do what they need to and we can see how the league will take shape.  Locally, we can see what Danny Ainge will do with the 17 mediocre players and satchel of draft picks he has.  He can’t possibly keep all of the “assets”, can he?  I’m not sure what trade options are out there, especially with Kevin Love now considering Cleveland.  But Ainge has to be able to make some moves, no?  I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, my first move is to unload Rondo.  This is no secret.  There HAS to be some sort of market for him.  As the team is currently constituted, Rondo is not coming back after next year.  He’s already said he is looking forward to testing the free agent market.  The Celtics would be extremely stupid to give him a max deal that he wants.  A team that trades for him would presumably, at the very least, want him as a one-year rental, not a trade deadline rental.  So I would think it behooves other teams to make a deal for Rondo sooner, rather than later.

Around the rest of the league, no surprise to me that ‘Melo is going back to the Knicks.  More money for him there…seems like that is why Chris Bosh went back to the Heat.  The Heat’s max money is greater than what any other team can give him.  And I suppose he will be the focus there now, even if D-Wade comes back.  Still surprising that he wouldn’t jump to another team (Rockets) that had plenty of money to give him and plenty of talent around him.  Kind of a surprise to me.  As is Gordon Hayward getting 63 mil.  And anyone giving a 37 year old Vince Carter a 3 year, 12.2 million dollar contract.  This is only the beginning.

At least LeBron is done…and now we all can move on…mercifully…until the introductory press conference of course…

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