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…
Picking up right where we left off…just remember, DEMETRIUS JACKSON. Ok, I will stop yelling now that I have your attention. On to the rest of the roster, still in alphabetical order…
*Jonas Jerebko/Amir Johnson. I’m going to lump these two together. Because I can. And they are next to each other on the roster. More importantly, it’s because I thought neither one of their options should have been picked up before the season. To me, it was a colossal waste of 17 million for a combined 36 minutes a game for these stiffs. They couldn’t have paid one player the whole 17 mil and received a better return?
Harsh assessment? Most assuredly. But it is what it is.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I have no idea what Johnson brings to the table. None. Doesn’t rebound. Doesn’t block shots. Doesn’t score. Defense? Perhaps. But when I watched him, he didn’t make much of a difference. Never comes up with a “50/50 ball”. Etc. Yet he started almost every game this year. Oh, if you take away Jackson’s 1 for 1 on threes, then Amir led the team in three-point percentage. Yup. 27 for 66, for 41%. And yes, I just looked it up. Actually, I was looking for something (anything?!) Johnson contributed and stumbled upon that nugget. I know, only 66 threes attempted, so big deal. But if you asked anyone if they thought Amir shot that many threes this season, they wouldn’t believe it either (10 for 43 for 23% last year, by the way…found that interesting as well). So I guess I discovered something he did add to the mix.
You know what else I realized about Johnson? That he was the second highest paid Celtic this year. A distant second to Al Horford, but second highest nonetheless. Yikes!!
I know, Johnny Kid…you will disagree with the above analysis. But that’s how I saw it…
As for Jerebko, well, I didn’t have much love for him either. He sure as hell hustles his arse off and can hit the occasional three himself. But…seemingly takes up space for the most part.
I can’t even talk about these guys anymore. I hope neither of them are back. Although if Brad Stevens uses Jonas going forward like he did at the end of the playoffs, which is…barely…then if he wants to come back for a veteran minimum salary and there were open roster spots, I wouldn’t complain…too much. Johnson? I wish him well at his next stop. If there is one…
*Jordan Mickey/James Young. Uh oh. There goes the alphabetical order! But it made sense to lump these guys together. Plus, “Y” does come after “M”, you know.
Before the season, I had high hopes for both of these guys. I had no idea if either of these two could play in the NBA. Unfortunately, I still don’t. That’s what happens when these guys apparently drew straws for the 13th and final active roster spot on a nightly basis.
With the way this team was sure to have (and did have) problems rebounding, I was hoping Mickey would get some minutes to try to help that problem. Young, being his third year but still only 21, I was hoping for him to get minutes to see if he would finally develop into something useful. Neither one got those minutes because they went to Gerald Green, Jerebko, Johnson, etc.
We already know what the veteran bench guys can do. We didn’t (don’t) know what Mickey or Young can do. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe they just sucked really bad at practice and they didn’t ultimately “earn” their time. But it would have been nice to find out about them in real games.
Based on the above, I don’t see either back next year. Young is unrestricted anyway. Mickey has non-guaranteed money, but doesn’t seem likely the Cs will guarantee it.
I have no idea why, but I bought into the Young hype from Day One. Left school early, top 10 talent if he stayed in school (“they” say anyway), steal for where they took him in the draft (17th), etc. I’ve always had this vision that he is like Jermaine O’Neal. Not the style of play of course. Not the “Boston Celtic years Jermaine O’Neal”. But the O’Neal that came into the league at 18 years old, languished on the bench in Portland for 4 years, then blossomed into an All-Star as soon as he went to Indiana.
Yeah, Young probably doesn’t turn out to be anything. But please note both he and Jermaine were taken at #17 in the first round of their respective drafts. So if my hunch is right…somebody owes me something…
*Kelly Olynyk. Who do I dislike more, Johnson or Olynyk? It’s close. If “Game 7 against the Wizards Kelly Olynyk” showed up more, it’s obviously a lot easier to trash on Amir. Goes without saying. But unfortunately, THAT guy shows up once every 40 games or so. Or something like that. It’s mostly the abundantly average KO that is around most of the time. So it makes the decision tougher.
Listen, Olynyk will always be better than I will ever give him credit for. It’s just that I like my 7-footers to be able to rebound and play down low. And he can’t. Which infuriates me a little as well because it looks like he may actually have some ability down inside, believe it or not. I know, this is Brad’s system and that’s what he wants Kelly to do…blah, blah, blah. I get it. But I don’t have to like it.
As for next year, Olynyk is a restricted free agent coming off 3.1 mil this year. If you ask me, I let him walk. He will want a nice raise, for whatever reason. But look closely at the numbers. Four years in the league and no improvement really. He has essentially been the same guy for those four years. Is he all of a sudden take a step up in his age 26-27 season next year? Or beyond? Doubtful. So why give this guy a fat raise for that? He is what he is and there is some value to that. Just not the value in dollars he likely will be looking for. Let him go.
Honestly though, I think Danny makes a good effort to keep him, sad to say. It probably depends on what they do with the guards and who they bring in and all that. He may not fit financially when all the chips fall into place. But Danny does try to keep him here.
*Terry Rozier/Marcus Smart. Pairing these guys up based on position…and length of this post! Smart played pretty much starters minutes and Rozier was essentially your 4th guard. Rozier seems like he may be the better ballhandler and rebounder, Smart could possibly have the better all around game when you throw in his D. Both are 23 years old with birthdays in March, so there’s that. Even better, they were the only Celtics to shoot less than 40% from the field (about 36% apiece for both), so I suppose there are some similarities.
Despite the fact that he shoots entirely too much and no one bothers reining him in, and despite the fact that he can still be a knucklehead at times, Smart grew on me this past season. If Avery Bradley is indeed moved as I think, I believe Smart moves into the starting lineup and takes another step up. Just a gut feeling.
Rozier? Don’t be shocked if he is moved either. Yes, he could step up to be the primary backup guard. I can’t say I would be opposed to that, as he showed some growth between his rookie and sophomore years in the NBA. But I have other ideas for the #3 guard. One could be Jaylen Brown, as discussed in the previous post. Brown filled in there when Bradley missed time earlier in the year. If Jae Crowder stays, Brown has to get more minutes somewhere. And he no doubt has more upside than Rozier.
I have another player in mind for the #3 guard. That’s a story for a different day however.
Next: Still a big name missing…
As we sit back and wait for months for the NBA Finals to begin…ok, an exaggeration of course. But we can all admit the week-long gap between the end of the Conference Finals and the beginning of the NBA Finals is ridiculous. As always, we can thank the television networks for that.
In any event, it’s time to put a cap on the Boston Celtics season. The Celts lost to the Cavs in 5. Exactly what I had predicted! But regardless, a sweep or five games is what pretty much everyone thought. So the Blowhard doesn’t deserve any extra props there, unfortunately.
Whimpering out of the playoffs certainly isn’t ideal. However, their performance in the series certainly does not diminish the great season they had or the organizational progress they showed.
What the series does reveal is that there is still a great deal of work to be done. No question there. The 4 losses were by an average of 26 points…and it really was worse than that. #1 seed in the East or not, the Celtics were just not in the same league as the Cavaliers.
So what do the Celtics do going forward? Getting the #1 overall draft pick for the first time in franchise history certainly was a nice start to the offseason. What else? Here’s one man’s look at the current players on the 15-man roster, along with some added commentary on other random players. Starting in alphabetical order, but maybe not finishing that way:
*Avery Bradley. I know what I would do with Avery…I’d shop him. I don’t hate the guy. But the fact remains that Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart, Boston’s top 3 guards, are all free agents after next season. Though Smart is actually restricted. All are going to want sizable raises. Not to mention that they also have Terry Rozier. Jaylen Brown, though listed at small forward, stepped in for Bradley in several games when Avery was hurt. The elite draft prospects are all guards, etc…
We will get into IT more later, but Smart may command less money than Bradley. There are possible free agents coming. Bradley signed a 4 year, 32 million dollar deal after the 2013-14 season, which many thought was a steep overpayment at the time. Bradley got better, then pretty quickly became dissatisfied with the contract he signed. You think he will “settle” this time? Not likely. Bradley also always seems to have plenty of nagging injuries that affect his availability.
Something has to give. He’s a good player. I’m guessing we have seen his ceiling however. It just makes too much sense for him being the one to depart, based on all of the above. This offseason. Why let him walk after next year for nothing? So I am moving him…we shall see what Danny does though.
*Jaylen Brown. Easy here. Keep him and play him more than the 17 minutes a game than you gave him this season. 20 years old, the third overall pick from last year had his moments this year, including the playoffs. Sure, he looked like a rookie quite often, but what did you expect? Hopefully, Year #2 will be another step up for the kid, with added responsibilities. I have to say, he shot better than I expected this season. That was the biggest knock on him coming out of college. The physical tools appear to be there. Take the training wheels off next year, and live with any bumps in the road.
*Jae Crowder. See Bradley, Avery. Move him. Good player. We’ve likely seen his ceiling. Also see Brown, Jaylen. They both technically play the same position and Brown needs more minutes. There may be another impact small forward coming via free agency. And all that.
Problem is, Crowder has an extremely team friendly contract. He has 3 years left on a 5 year, 35 million dollar deal. Great by today’s NBA standards. I’d have no problem keeping him if he accepted a lesser role off the bench. I don’t see that happening though. Especially with Brown here and potential Free Agent Player X coming. That’s one too many small forwards. He also should have some good trade value, especially with the contract. So in the end, I try to move him too. I don’t know if Danny will though.
*Gerald Green. I’m not really sure why he was here in the first place. Sure he can shoot and get hot in a hurry. But what else does he do? And did you really need him? I would’ve given his 11.4 minutes a game to James Young to see what you could salvage there in Young’s third year. No need to bring Green back. Brad Stevens may feel compelled to give him minutes again.
*Al Horford. Welp, he’s going to be here for the next three years, whether we like it or not. Would love to see him down in the paint more offensively and also grabbing more rebounds. But he is what he is now. And Brad loves his big guys to fire up threes. So we have to deal with it.
That being said, he is a good piece to have. Played pretty well in the playoffs. Hopefully the C’s can find a true center next year and Big Al can play power forward. Though I guess all of these “small forward, shooting guard, power forward” designations don’t necessarily mean as much as they did in the past, what with the current NBA style of play. Either way, I’m ok with Al in my starting five next year.
*Demetrius Jackson. Who? Yup. 2nd round pick from last year, played in 5 games for a total of 17 minutes the entire year. 17 minutes. On the roster the whole year. Let that sink in for a bit. That being said, if you have to fill the end of roster next year with cheap “talent”, it can’t hurt to have another ballhandler in tow. Contract is non-guaranteed for next year, so your guess is as good as mine on what his situation will be. Not sure it really matters anyway.
Next: Wait, I can’t believe I wrote that many words about DEMETRIUS JACKSON!! Because of that, I don’t even know what’s next…