I have to tell you, what is going on in this particular NBA offseason is FAR more exciting than what happened in any recent ACTUAL NBA season. I’m so down on the NBA these days. Just not the same as when I was a kid and spoiled by the Bird-era Celtics. Totally different game. Fundamentals are lacking. No one boxes out anymore. Too many 1 on 4’s. Too many guys shooting threes. Too many isolation plays. Too much “showtime”. But I digress…
But this offseason? Interesting. I’m actually paying close attention to what is going on right now. I know nothing about these kids that will be drafted. But this draft has been hyped for seemingly two plus years. So how could you not get excited about it? I was hoping the Celtics would tank all year, even though I have no idea if any of these draftees are/will be any good. Just seemed like a better path than getting a bunch of average veterans to be mediocre for years. Lose this year, MAYBE the draft will help the C’s get better quickly. OR trade a ton of these picks for proven talent. Get better that way. Seemed like a great plan.
Throw in the fact that all these major players are opting out of their contracts and are free as well. Thankfully, Jo—El Anthony was one that opted in with his player option for the Celtics. So at least we got him. God, that guy is terrible. I guess there could be worse 13th men. But LeBron, ‘Melo and I’m sure a few more are bound to opt-out as well. Adds intrigue to the whole offseason.
Now, don’t think I am saying that the C’s have a chance at the major guys opting out. No F’n way LeBron comes to Boston. Nor Melo (thank God on that actually). Nor Bosh if he opts out. Etc. We know major free agents don’t come to Boston. It’s just how it is. And that’s ok.
The C’s can still get back to championship level. Maybe not soon. But there are ways. And they have armed themselves to be players over the next several days. With a ton of picks, some expiring contracts with value, a couple of players with value and trade exceptions…blah, blah, blah.
What will they do? No friggin’ idea. Kevin Love has of course been the big story. I actually don’t see that happening. And I don’t mind it. He’s a great player, no doubt. But if you bring him here with Rondo, you still are missing pieces to form a championship team. You say Sullinger? He’d probably go in a trade. Dirk Nowit–er, I mean Kelly Olynyk? Nope. Avery Bradley? Nope. Chris Babb? Ok, you get the picture. If the C’s trade for Love, what’s left? And will Love re-sign beyond the one year he has left? I’m not doing a deal if he doesn’t.
Rondo is a different story. It’s been no secret I’ve wanted him out of town for a long time now. The fact that they made this petulant baby (redundant?) the Captain is a total joke. He was a nice 4th piece in the (recent) Big Three era. But a top 2 guy? Nope. Doesn’t play D as good as he used to. Still can’t shoot jumpers or free throws. Disappears on occasion. I’m just done with him.
So the more I think about it, the more I am ok with tanking one more year. Originally I wanted this to only be a one year tank. Didn’t think I could do more than one year. But then the C’s didn’t tank enough. #6 pick? Not good enough. But combined with all their other picks in the near future, it may be ok. Just going to take longer. Somehow I am ok with that. To me, better than one year of Love and Rondo…or several years actually.
There has been rumors of trying for the #1 pick. Depending on the cost, I’d be all over that. The top 2 in Wiggins and Parker are supposed to be the real deals. If they stay at 6 and Embiid falls…well, that may be value too…but that scares the BEJESUS out of me. Too many red flags already with him (cough, Oden, Bowie…). One recent mock had the C’s taking him at 6 and a guy from Europe that can’t come over for 2 years (Saric) at 17. Intriguing, but jumping up to get one of the 2 potential studs seems like a better idea to me, depending on cost. I’m also just rooting against taking Shabazz Napier at 17 as well. Everyone locally seems to want him here…UConn and all. I’m good for now.
End result for me, is if the C’s get a good player at 6 (or an even better one at #1…though I really don’t think that will happen either), a contributor at 17, Sully and Olynyk keep developing, they get value in a Rondo trade (useful players AND picks), maybe get value for a sign and trade for Humphries, or a Bogans contract package, yada, yada, yada…and then “tank” again, it could be a good thing. All of that and the picks they have in the future, plus maybe a Bradley deal and quite possibly, Gerald Wallace’s expiring contract may have some value…also, can they revisit getting Asik from Houston for Bass and Green (there’s some D and rebounding in the middle for minimal cost)? Add it all up, and it may be a better scenario than people think.
But…I am ready for anything over the next couple of days and weeks. I KNOW Danny will do something, good or bad. He will do SOMETHING. Let’s see what happens…
Full disclosure: I’ve been on the “trade Rajon Rondo” bandwagon for several years now. He is a good player, sometimes great, but not a superstar. Anyone who you can’t trust with the ball at the end of games can’t possibly be someone that leads your team. Not that he can’t handle the ball of course, but because he can’t hit a jump shot or a free throw. Am I giving him the ball to win the game? Nope. He does step up most of the time when the bright lights are on, I will give him that. The game against Miami in the playoffs when he was hurt. Triple doubles routinely in the playoffs. But also plays down to the level of competition most times. Disappears some nights. And when he doesn’t get his way, he is a colossal baby. Throwing the ball at the ref a couple years back. The end of his assist streak last year, when people strongly believe that he got thrown out on purpose for engaging Kris Humphries after Humphries “tussled” with KG. It was almost halftime, he didn’t have many assists, so let’s just exit. The moodiness. Blah, blah, blah.
The latest is the whole birthday party thing. I usually could give a rat’s arse what players do in their spare time. But this kind of wasn’t “spare time”. Especially for the Captain of the Boston Celtics. The Celtics may suck majorly this year, but they are still a prestigious franchise. They have had very few captains in their history. If Rondo is the Captain, he needs to do and say the right things. Goes with the territory. So even though Rondo and coach Brad Stevens seemed to have bonded through the first part of the year and even though Rondo has apparently gone to most, if not all, games this year, this recent behavior is concerning.
Judging by comments made by Stevens and Danny Ainge, Rondo did not have permission to skip the Sacramento game, even though he wasn’t playing. So Rondo needed to be with the team. He chose differently. Because he needed to be at his birthday party. Because birthday parties as an adult are a huge thing. Please. He could have flown his family anywhere and they could have celebrated his birthday at some other time. Great leadership. When I saw him with the “C’ on the uniform in the game he returned in this year I asked, to no one in particular, “Who the hell made this guy the Captain? He is not a leader!” And then he proved it yet again when reporters asked him about this incident when he got back in Boston. Instead of taking responsibility, he said all of them were “making up anything they want to make up”. Awesome.
There has been speculation that this incident is somewhat of a response to hearing his name in trade rumors recently. Maybe. But he’s a professional, shouldn’t matter. He knows this team is in transition. He should absolutely expect his name to be talked about, since he still is probably the most marketable guy on this current collection of stiffs. Especially since he has already said he will test the free agent market after 2015 and a lot pf people don’t think he will re-sign in Boston. He thinks he is a max-contract guy. Almost no one else does, including the Celtics. That will be the main issue with him re-signing here. But it will also be a main issue in getting maximum value in a trade with another team. So we will see how it all plays out.
But this new incident is just another reason to get this clown out of town, as far as I am concerned.
A few post-trade deadline thoughts:
I was initially a little upset that the C’s did not make a trade at the deadline. Since I am in favor of tanking (this year only, remember), I wanted them to unload anyone with any sort of value. And of course they did not. But then I started thinking about their roster and each individual situation:
*No one was taking Gerald Wallace’s contract
*They were not going to trade Sullinger, Olynyk and likely Faverani because they are young and could have potential (to varying degrees of course).
*They weren’t likely to trade Humphries or Bogans because of their expiring contracts.
*No one wanted Pressey or Johnson, plus they are cheap for the C’s to keep and evaluate. And no one wanted Joel Anthony because, well, he is awful.
*I’m guessing that if they wanted to trade Bradley, his injuries, inconsistency and upcoming restricted free agency contract demands may have scared teams away.
*I’m also guessing that they wanted to keep Bayless as a young, cheap, better than Pressey point guard insurance for whatever happens to Rondo in the upcoming year-plus. Reports were that Ainge has liked him and has tried to get him in the past too.
That left the names that everyone heard: Rondo, Green and Bass. You know how I feel about Rondo. But I don’t want to trade him for a bag of balls either. I truly believe Danny dangled him. They must have not gotten any good offers. They may get better ones in the offseason. Same goes for Green. I have to believe that no one was going to give up squat for him. Maybe in offseason. In the end, the only guy I am really upset that they didn’t trade, under the circumstances, was Bass. No one was giving up a first rounder for him anytime soon. But maybe they could have gotten a first rounder well down the road for him. That would have been worth it I would say. He has to have some value as a bench guy on a contender. Reasonable contract. I thought they would have no problem dealing him. Guess I was wrong.
Give Danny credit for the deals he made in January. I thought Courtney Lee really underachieved here. Maybe it was just the inconsistent playing time, as he is getting minutes in Memphis and performing. But the contract was awful and Ainge was able to unload it. Jordan Crawford is a joke, as is apparenly MarShon Brooks, but Crawford played well here for a few months and they were able to unload him and Brooks for something. Despite how well Crawford played here, they really weren’t getting much more for him, no doubt.
I also believe that they can still lose plenty of games going forward. Wallace is now out for the year. They are seriously babying Sullinger and Olynyk. Faverani may be out for a while, though that hardly matters I guess. Who knows if Bradley can ever stay healthy? They will still rest Rondo strategically. Bass and Green will still play a lot and contribute, but they can be invisible often as well. It will be tough to catch Milwaukee. And Philly made some trades to spiral to the bottom. And Orlando is putrid as well. But #4 is reachable. And that hopefully means a top 5 pick.
I know draft picks aren’t everything. There are plenty of busts. And the kids coming out may not be all that they are hyped up to be. But if the C’s can get a top 5 pick, all it takes is one other team to believe in this draft talent. Then Danny could possibly package this with a lot of the “assets” he has accumulated and make something happen. I wasn’t excited about the non-moves at the deadline. But I am not giving up yet…