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Celtics Breakup Party, Part 2

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…

Best of Three…

…and am I changing my mind on Washington four games to two?

Nope.

I assure you, this is not an overreaction to the C’s getting trounced in Games 3 and 4 in Washington.  But those games certainly don’t help.

In reality, the Wizards should be up 3 games to 1 right now.  They had 2 great looks to end Game 2 before it went to overtime and missed both.  People around New England I think are blinded by Isaiah Thomas’ magical(?) 53 point performance that they actually miss this simple fact.

Isaiah actually only has 32 total points since his Game 2 outburst.  Yeah, Game 3 was out of hand early.  And Game 4 got out of hand during the 26-0 run in the third quarter.  So his playing time was down a smidge.

But you know what else?  Washington finally had some answers for him.  That has been dissected over and over for some time now.  So I’m not bringing anything new to the table here.

The point to stress again is that…Isaiah can’t do it by himself.  Again, no secret.  Though Al Horford has stepped up his game for the most part in this series…in my eyes…who has been the C’s third best player?  Terry Rozier perhaps?  Yikes!!

Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart…all nice players.  But these guys simply aren’t going to beat the better teams.  Of course Rozier isn’t either.  So the Wiz double and triple IT and then…it’s over.

Guess what too?  Bradley is hurt again.  Surprise!!

We can talk about a max contract or not for Isaiah and player moves and all that when the offseason arrives.  As for this series though, will it change when the C’s get home tonight for Game 5?  I don’t see it.  Unless the team hits 19 threes again, including Crowder’s 6 for 8, as they did in Game 1.  Which I don’t see either.

Which brings me to coach Brad Stevens.  He has done what he’s could with matchups.  Trying to “hide” Isaiah on defense.  Trying to free up IT on offense.  Mixing in the regular bench guys in Smart, Kelly Olynyk and Rozier to try to maximize their time on the floor.  Even finding some use for Jonas Jerebko from time to time (but not for Amir Johnson though…oh well, can’t win them all!).

But the threes…oh God…the THREES!!  Roughly half the Celtics shots are threes.  When they go down, very nice.  But when they don’t…ugh.  During that 26 point run, the C’s kept firing up threes like they were going to get 10 points each time they would fall.  Of course they were kicking the ball all over the place too, but when they did take shots, they were ugly threes.

I know, I know, I KNOW…this is Brad’s system and it works…works a lot actually.  But when it doesn’t, someone needs to rein the team in.  Especially in the playoffs.  Didn’t seem to happen last game.

I think the Wizards bring their game plan in from DC and also their renewed confidence and win a tight one in Game 5.  Then once again blow the C’s out Friday night in Washington.  Am I happy about it?  No.  But it is what it is.

IT gets slowed down a bit, the Wiz grossly outrebound the C’s again, no other Celtics step up, the C’s don’t hit 19 threes…etc., etc., etc.  It all adds up.

Again, the progress shown by the Celtics this year has been great.  There is more work to do, as we have been saying in this space all year.  But it’s been a nice ride in the meantime.  And especially Isaiah has been fun to watch.

In the end, losing in this round shouldn’t be so depressing when you think about it.  The Celtics would get embarrassed and possibly swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.  I don’t think that is going out on a limb either.

May as well let the Wizards be that sacrificial lamb though…

Told ya so…

…but the natives are getting restless.  Especially after this uninspiring 3 game stretch for the Boston Celtics following the NBA trading deadline.

The “told ya so” was for the fact I didn’t expect Danny Ainge to do anything last Thursday.  I wish he did something…at least get some sort of big man who could get a few rebounds.  But certainly not surprised he didn’t.  Just had that hunch all along.

To reiterate from the last piece, I do not blame Danny for standing pat.  The names you heard that were the targets, primarily Paul George and Jimmy Butler, carried plenty of risks.  First of all, the Pacers and Bulls, respectively, really did not want to trade those players by all indications.  So apparently they were asking for the sun, the moon and the stars.  Which I would do too under those circumstances.  But Ainge was smart in not giving it to them.  Whatever was left on the C’s roster if they made a deal like that still may not have been enough to supplant the Cavs, so what’s the point?

Then…the Brooklyn picks.  The more I hear about the 2017 draft, the more I hear that there could be several great players coming out of it.  Who really knows with all these college guys, but it seems to be a deeper draft than last year.  And a draft that could produce some studs.  We’ll see, but if you are not going to get past the Cavaliers under almost any scenario, why would you rush to give one of those picks up?

So the “big deal” not happening didn’t disappoint me.  But the “minor deal” not being struck kind of bothered me.  Sure, this type of deal would not have made the Celtics champions.  But if the deal brought in some size and rebounding skill, it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.  Some of the lesser players acquired went for cheap as well.  Nerlens Noel, P.J. Tucker, Taj Gibson to name a couple.  Tucker’s not a giant, but appears to be good for 6 plus rebounds a game in his career.  I’m not sure why Noel’s stock had plummeted in Philly.  But he seemed like a pretty good fit for the C’s.  And the Sixers kind of gave him away.  I don’t know…

To me, there is a lot of dead weight at the back-end of the Celtics roster.  Danny and Wyc Grousbeck keep chirping about the “#10-#15 on the roster” being important and contributing and blah blah blah.  They can’t really believe that, right?

Demetrius Jackson has played 17 MINUTES this season.  Ssssoooo…completely forgotten by the team…and also by me…that I actually couldn’t remember his first name right off the bat.  Jordan Mickey and James Young have barely played.  Tyler Zeller, Gerald Green and Jonas Jerebko are equal parts fungible and…useless.  I don’t see how these guys have been so valuable.

Furthermore, of the aforementioned six players, maybe Jackson is here next year on potential, but that’s no guarantee.  There’s a pretty good chance NONE of the other five are here next year.  If they are not truly contributing here this year and they won’t be here next year, why do we care about “#10-#15” on the roster the rest of the year?

Take any of these guys, any of the numerous non-Brooklyn picks upcoming and whatever else and get a Noel.  Just seemed like something that could be done fairly easily…especially in hindsight for us, seeing as the cost wasn’t high.  Hindsight for us, but Danny knew what the cost was.  And even at a low one, he still didn’t do it.  Hard to figure.

In any event, the Celtics have come out after the deadline and played pretty brutal.  Tonight’s game against the Hawks was tough to watch.  A loss to Toronto after having a 17 point lead.  And a win against Detroit that probably only was a win because the Pistons couldn’t hit free throws, or hit layups or dunks…well, mostly Andre Drummond was to blame for most of those, but still.  Not a great win.

Perhaps the players let down a little because the front office didn’t come through?  They saw other teams around them improve, but Ainge did nothing?  They think management wants to still stay on the long-term course while they are ready to take the next step forward now?  Can’t rule any of that out.  But it would kind of be a poor reflection on the players.  And of course it’s only a three game sample.  So we will just have to see how that plays out over the next several games.

Either way, it appears that Ainge and the rest of management have determined that they cannot take that next step this year.  I think that was made loud and clear at the deadline.

As the Blowhard has referenced many times recently, let’s just hope those “fireworks” that Celtics ownership promised long ago actually happen this upcoming offseason.  I mean, is there any way we can speed this whole thing up?  Please?

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