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Celtics Trade Deadline Ruminating…

The NBA trading deadline is Thursday at 3:00pm.  Will the Boston Celtics make any moves?  Your guess is as good as mine.

DeMarcus Cousins was the first major name to move.  Sure, Serge Ibaka is useful.  Tyreke Evans used to be pretty good I think, but he has been beset by injuries the last two years.  Maybe Buddy Hield and Jusuf Nurkic will be good.  But as for the big ones, it’s only Cousins thus far.  And he got traded for something less than full value.  Well, maybe not if Hield turns into Steph Curry as the Sacramento owner apparently thinks he can.  He may be the only one who thinks that however.  But what do I know?

No doubt a lot of Celtic fans are pissed that Cousins went for what he did (Evans, Hield, Langston Galloway, first round pick, second round pick…along with the Kings adding Omri Casspi as well).  The C’s have a lot more assets they could have offered than that, why didn’t they get him?  Well, it looks like they didn’t go after him, for one.  Why?  Couldn’t they use a 6’11”, 270 lb dude to get some boards and score a ton?  Who couldn’t?  Guess there was too much baggage around him.  So I can’t say I entirely blame the organization.  But for that price?  I may have sucked it up.

Moving on…we all know Danny has to do something…and soon.  With the contracts of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart expiring after next season, the window appears to be closing with the current crew.  3 of your best 5 players (with Al Horford and Jae Crowder) due up at the same time is not ideal.  The only other player on the current roster worth mentioning as having a role in the future would be Jaylen Brown.  The other 9 guys could all leave tomorrow and not a lot of people would care.

So…isn’t there some urgency for Thursday?  You can’t sign all three of the guards, can you?

As for trade targets, you all hear the same names:  Jimmy Butler and Paul George at the top of the list.  Blake Griffin.  Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and Andrew Bogut to a much lesser degree.  Cousins is obviously out now whether they wanted him or not.  And the pipe dream that was Anthony Davis is now definitely out as well.

We’ve been waiting for the next shoe to drop with Ainge for quite some time now.  He made a good run at Kevin Durant last summer.  But I think most of us knew KD wasn’t coming here.  And now he is sitting on a pile of assets (still!) and with the contracts above soon to expire, now is the time to make a move.

Despite the monster year that Isaiah is having, I’d still be wary of giving him the max deal.  Will he physically hold up at his size for those years?  Will he prove anything in the playoffs?  Perhaps, but it’s a risk.  By all indications, I think the C’s are willing to take that risk.  So he stays.  Smart has continued to develop.  It looks like he stays.  Bradley is the guy that is expendable.  Despite the injury concerns with him, I would imagine he still holds nice value.

Jae Crowder is a nice player.  But I have to think we have seen his ceiling already.  Jaylen Brown could soar by that ceiling.  But Crowder has to certainly have some value.

The team has 3 guys in Europe from the last 2 drafts.  They have a first and 3 second rounders in the next draft, in which the first could be #1 overall.  Excess picks in future years too.  Plenty of expiring contracts.  They should easily be able to match salaries in any deal.

So what is Ainge waiting for?

The scuttlebutt is that Danny tries to “win” every deal.  Which I am sure every GM tries to do.  But isn’t always possible of course.  Sometimes the deal just has to work for both teams almost equally.  If Danny needs to win all of the deals, that is kind of a problem.

That being said, the right deal may very well have not presented itself yet.  Maybe other teams want Bradley and Crowder…as well as both Net picks, Brown and maybe more.  For one guy coming back this way, does that make sense?  I’m not sure it does, despite how great the possible superstar is coming back.

We also have to consider the willingness for other teams to even trade said superstar.  Butler and George are the most popular names out there.  Thus far from what we have heard, neither the Bulls or Pacers, respectively, seem inclined to move their player.  Or have seem inclined to this point anyway.  We heard Butler rumors last year where Chicago was asking for like 3 of the top 4 Celtic players and all three of their 2016 first round picks…or something like that.  Way too much.

This may change by Thursday at 3:00.  My feeling is that it won’t.

We all know Danny has to do something soon.  Danny knows Danny has to do something soon.  But I don’t think he does it by Thursday.  I think he keeps the same team that is 17 games over .500 now and only 3 games behind Cleveland in the East.  I think he keeps the Brooklyn picks and continues the upward progression.  Although I am pretty impatient, I can’t say I blame Ainge if he takes this route.  A big move at this point in the season may not mean that all of a sudden they can beat Cleveland in the East and then beat Golden State or one of the powers out West THIS year.  What happens if Ainge gives up too much of the current roster and then things are in a little bit of disarray?  Can’t rule that out.  Also can’t rule out that the other contenders will help themselves as well by the deadline.

I expect Ainge to try to do something.  He wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t.  But if the price is too high, he will continue to stockpile the assets, see if the Nets pick is #1 overall and then get ready for something else down the road.  He may do something minor…like get Bogut or someone similar for a smaller cost…but I think the huge deal finally happens this offseason.  It HAS to.

 

 

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The road just got longer…

So the Boston Celtics did not get Kevin Durant.  I think everyone knew that was going to be the end result.  Although, I admit, there was a small period of time last weekend where I think we all got our hopes up.  But realistically it was never going to happen, I’m sorry.

How do I feel about Durant going to the Golden State Warriors?  Well, I think it sucks, to be blunt.  On the surface, he took “the easy way out.”  He went to the best team in the league (sorry, Cleveland) in pursuit of a championship ring.  That’s his prerogative, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Durant did something he himself didn’t like several years ago, when LeBron and Chris Bosh went to Miami and joined Dwyane Wade to form a “superteam” that ultimately went to 4 straight Finals, winning 2.  KD put a tweet out essentially knocking the move.  But he now joins Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on a new superteam.  OK, it was only one tweet and times and minds do change.  So he probably didn’t need to take as much heat as he did for something he said like 5 years ago.  But still…

Not a lot of people thought Golden State would be the place.  Because they already did have the 3 studs.  How are they going to spread the ball around to FOUR guys?  With all that money invested in those 4, how would they even be able to fill the roster with any more talent whatsoever?  Why go to the team that just beat you?  Etc.

So he went to a true championship contender.  Most of the teams on his visitation list were exactly that.  Can’t fault a guy for that I suppose.  Money is nice, but I myself wouldn’t want to go to a team that was bound to go like 20-62 just because they offered the most money.  It is just disheartening that KD chose to go to a team that won the championship 2 years ago and also should have won it again this past year.  Barring injury, it’s almost kind of a lock that they at least make the Finals this year again, no?

Sure, I’m biased.  Of course I wanted him to come to Boston.  To help the C’s turn the corner into a legitimate championship contender.  Now, regardless of what the Celtics do the rest of the offseason, doesn’t it still feel like it’s Golden State and Cleveland and then everyone else is kind of pretty far away?  That it’s like no one else has a REAL chance?  Maybe this is the way the NBA is now.  Maybe this is the way the NBA always kind of has been.  But it still just doesn’t feel right.

Well, at least Durant did it quickly.  And he didn’t make a production out of it like LeBron did back then.  It’s disappointing for any Boston fans.  And any fans of teams other than Golden State, I suppose.  But if KD was pompous about it, then it would’ve made it worse.  So I have to give him that much, begrudgingly.

It is what it is and we just have to move on.  Again, most of us didn’t think he was coming here anyway, so we shouldn’t dwell on it.  But what is next?

The Celtics signed Al Horford to a max contract.  There’s a start.  But Big Al is like a 2nd or 3rd piece, not a lead dog.  And I’ve said it before:  If the Horford the C’s get is the version from last year’s playoffs?  Yuck.  Either way, even though I don’t love the contract, I don’t mind the move.  It’s another step in the right direction for the franchise.

There’s a lot more work to be done.  Even after renouncing the rights to Jared Sullinger.  Ha!  That was done kind of quietly, eh?  I never loved Sully.  But I never hated him either.  I did absolutely hate when he teed it up beyond the arc…every time actually.  I hated that he couldn’t get his fat arse in any kind of shape every year.  But he could rebound.  And this team still doesn’t have many guys that can do that.  I would’ve taken him back, at least for one more year.

But maybe Danny has something else up his sleeve.  He better.  Quickly scanning the remaining free agent list, I suppose it goes without saying that there aren’t too many gems left.  Sure, there are plenty of good pieces available.  But the Celts already have about a thousand of those.

I do have to say, I am glad Danny did not panic and sign some of these other free agents over the first few days.  Have you seen these contracts?  Horford’s 4 years for 113 mil is crazy, but Mike Conley getting 5/153?  Chandler Parsons 4/94?  Kent Bazemore 4/70?  Jon Leuer 4/42?  Timofey Mozgov 4/64?  E’Twaun Moore 4/34?  E’TWAUN MOORE?!  The list is actually endless, so I will stop there.  Silly money.  Pure stupidity in many cases.  I’m glad Ainge only partook in one of those.  Notice how I avoided the 4/70 Portland gave Evan Turner.  Ugh.  Wait, the Nets gave someone named Allen Crabbe an offer sheet for 4/75 and the Blazers matched.  Almost 20 mil a year…for Allen Crabbe.

Anyway…so…Danny needs to deal to get his guy.  Still has plenty of assets.  I imagine there will be some deals on the table still.  Maybe the same rumored deals around the draft with Philly are still a possibility.  We will have to wait a little longer.  And I’m still ok with Ainge being patient, based on the new set of circumstances.  What else can we do anyway?

But they can’t possibly go to camp with the current group, can they?

Trader Danny? As I was saying…

Ssssoooooo…one more day has passed.  My ire from what the Boston Celtics did at the draft almost a week ago has continued to subside.  Of course, it helps when the Red Sox are playing listless ball against one of the worst teams in baseball.  It also helps when the Bruins’ front office seemingly is rolling along with the continued incompetence it has shown in recent years.  But these are stories for some other day.  And I promise that day will be soon.  Because of course I would love to share my anger with you.  Most of you anyway, since I know at least one person out there (Keo!!) who is sick and tired of all the negativity in this town, to steal a classic from Rick Pitino.

Getting back on track, we all know the “rebuild” of the Celtics has been slow and deliberate.  Ok, so the Brad Stevens era has been only 3 years.  Which is not really a long time, relatively speaking.  Some teams have been “rebuilding” for decades.  So it could be a lot worse.  Doesn’t it seem longer though?  I think that is simply because Danny Ainge has been gathering “assets” from the time he shipped away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets.  And Doc Rivers to the Clippers too.  Among all the other moves he has made to bring the roster to its current state.  With that, ownership has promised “fireworks” and we are all ready for them to occur.  Ready for them to take the next step.

This is why on draft night we were all pissed.  Not even a single firecracker to be heard.

Upon reflection, I have accepted the inaction.  Below are the majority of the reasons why, once again, in no particular order:

*The #3 pick simply did not have the value that we hoped it might have.  We heard the rumors and got excited.  But in reality, I’m not sure there was a ton of demand.  Sure, Philly made a decent offer.  But it wasn’t an earth-shattering one.  Is Nerlens Noel a nice player?  By all indications, yes he is.  But is he truly a “game-changer?”  That part may yet to be determined because he is young and certainly has time to evolve into one.  But judging by the fact that Noel was deemed to be the one expendable by the Sixers with their glut of big men, they at least do not think he will be THAT type of guy.  Worth noting.

*Kevin Durant is not coming to Boston.  This year anyway, though probably never.  As previously stated, I expect him to sign a one year deal to stay in OKC.  This also seems to be the consensus opinion as well.  Why?  A few things.  They have a legitimate championship contender there right now.  They came close together this past year and based on the state of their roster, he may feel like they have one last run in them at the very least.  Russell Westbrook has one year left on his deal.  There’s probably a good chance he bolts at the end of his deal and KD may want to line his contract up to coincide with RW’s for that one last run in OKC.

There are probably a few other reasons, but for this purpose there is one more.  It appears that if Durant signs for that one year, he can get over 100 mil more in next years’ free agent market.  You read that right, 100 mil.  Now, I don’t know all the particulars of the salary cap and all that nonsense.  But that is what’s being reported out there.  An extra 100 million is nothing to sneeze at.  Obviously.

It’s great that Danny has a meeting with Durant soon.  But perhaps its true purpose is to grease the skids for next year?  Never know.

*The apparent cost for other “franchise” players was way too high.  I referenced the proposed package for Jimmy Butler.  Ridiculous.  4 draft picks and three of your best current players?  No thanks.  I’m guessing that if/when Ainge inquired about other studs, he received similar proposals.  Too prohibitive.

*Unimpressive other available free agents.  Sure, there are some decent players out there.  But I’m not handing max contracts out to any of them.  Al Horford, Mike Conley, Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside, Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons…you name it.  The Celts have the ability to offer 2 max deals.  If Durant isn’t taking one of those slots, is it worth it to offer one to two of the rest of the lot?  I don’t think so.

*Cleveland Cavaliers.  I’m going to assume that LeBron stays in Cleveland.  Even if they trade Kevin Love and shuffle some of the other bodies on the roster, these guys are still going to be the team to beat.  By far.

*The Western Conference.  Still superior.  Unless the C’s get Durant and another stud, not only are they still behind the Cavs, but they are still behind Golden State, San Antonio, OKC, the Clippers and perhaps others.

These are the reasons that lie in the forefront for me.  It takes time to build a consistent winner, not to just try to assemble a great team, win once and then go back through a cold spell for several years.  The timing…still…does not seem right to me to see those “fireworks”, based on all I have seen and heard.  Perhaps we all should have taken it as a sign when Stevens and Ainge signed their extensions that this was the route the Celtics themselves were taking and that there is more patience needed from the fan base.

Gathering more assets never hurts.  Trades will be available again at some point for sure.  Maybe there will be a better free agent crop next year.  Maybe Durant comes over then.  The salary cap is supposed to explode as well.  Maybe then the C’s have room for three max deals.  Ultimately…what’s another year?  As long as they continue going in the right direction of course.

There are still plenty of lesser moves to be made to improve the team at least incrementally.  There are 23 players associated with the team at this point.  I am counting unrestricted free agent Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton (the 2nd round pick in 2015 version) and Colton Iverson (2nd round pick in 2013) though.  I like what Turner brings to the table, but I believe someone will wildly overspend for him on the open market.  Probably not worth keeping him at crazy money for a back-end starter/top bench player.  I don’t think anyone is counting Thornton or Iverson.  But the team still holds their rights.  So we can at least talk about them here and give them a little love.  That’s about it though.

That leaves 20 guys.  Ok, I doubt anyone is counting John Holland either.  And perhaps Yabusele and Zizic are stashed overseas along with Iverson and Thornton.  Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko have non-guaranteed deals.  Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller will be restricted free agents, where the C’s will have the ability to match anything offered.  Though with Sully getting buried in the playoffs, I am not sure I expect him back.  Maybe the team gives up on James Young.  Etc.

There will still be plenty of moves.  And I expect these moves to improve the team.  There are people who do love Jaylen Brown.  Some of those people know a whole helluva lot more about basketball talent than I do.  You have to at least give that some credence.  Maybe just also adding another big guy that can rebound and “protect the rim” will add a few more wins.  Regardless, the Celtics of 2016-17 SHOULD still be better than the 2015-16 version.  Doesn’t that count for something?

I have no idea if this is the right or wrong path.  But it seems reasonable after some thought.  Last years’ team was entertaining.  If that holds true this upcoming year, they win 50 games or so, hopefully win a round or two in the playoffs, then the fireworks occur NEXT offseason (another high Nets pick, Durant or someone similar, 2nd and possibly 3rd notable free agent, etc.), is that really a bad thing?

It may be if Brown ends up sucking.  But let’s not even consider that for the time being…

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