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The REAL NBA season?

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…

 

Rondo = Chump, addendum

I got to thinking on the whole “chump” thing.  There is definitely more than the one on the Celtics.  Rondo seems to be the high profile one.  The other one is at the bottom of the roster…sort of.

See, he is on the roster, but really no longer welcome at the arena.  Keith Bogans.  Here’s a guy that has been in the league since 2003-2004.  Been generally a bench player, though he has started 333 of 671 career games (a lot higher than I would have thought).  6.3ppg/2.7rpg/1.2apg career numbers, shooting 39% from the floor and 72% from the line.  Pretty run of the mill, right?  Maybe he plays some D, though I’ve never heard anyone rave about it to any degree.

2012-13 with the Nets his numbers were even lower than his career averages.  At age 32, you probably had to believe his career was winding down.  At least normal people would.  You could get a 20 year old with potential to do what he does, right?  For cheaper?  I would think so.

For reasons only really smaaaaht people know, in order to make the huge KG/Pierce trade with the Celtics, the Nets had to re-sign Bogans to a 3 year deal for over 15 million bazookas and then include him in the trade to make the salaries match.  Although the last 2 years are not guaranteed, $5,058,198.00 for 2013-14 ain’t so bad, no?  Especially when the highest salary he has made for any single season was $2,565,000.00 in 2008-09 (salaries courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com)?  Definitely not bad for an end of bench guy at the end of his career.

Apparently, Keith didn’t think so.  The reality is that all he had to do was come over here and embrace his role as a “cagey veteran”.  Provide some leadership.  Guidance for the youngsters on the life and grind of an NBA season.  Kind of be like an assistant coach essentially.  Keep his mouth shut and cash his checks.  It would be hard for me to believe the Celtics told him his role on this team would be otherwise.

But again, for some reason, he believed he was coming to Boston to play.  Even though the C’s are rebuilding.  Even though the C’s had a glut of younger, more talented shooting guards and small forwards.  Even though he is a career long 10th man at best.  Delusional I say.  So this is where the “chump” part comes in.  If the stories are to believed, and since a lot of them were coming from guys that around the team when they happened (broadcasters, etc.), I believe they are, Bogans started chirping about playing time.  And then there was some sort of incident on the team bus.  Bogans believed that “he had not been given an opportunity from Day One.”  Of course he hadn’t, but he was silly to think an opportunity was ever coming!  Shame on Ainge and/or Stevens if they told him when they got him he would have an opportunity, because they shouldn’t have.  But the writing was on the wall all along and anyone could have seen that.

So they sent him home…and he gets to keep cashing the checks.  Nice gig.  Nice leadership.  And the ironic thing is that he may have actually been playing meaningful minutes the last month or so with all the injuries.  Have to believe he has hurt his future value, certainly for keeping this contract, but also for getting even a minimum salary one after this one is terminated.  Happy Retirement Keith.  Nice way to go out.

Side note:  I can’t believe I just wasted about 600 words on Keith Freakin’ Bogans…

C’s back on track, thankfully…

…with losing.  I know, I’m one of THOSE people.  I admit it.  But I think the Celtics had no choice after last year to “blow it up”.  I also think they need to tank this year to get a high draft pick.  If we are to believe all the talk about there being several franchise/All-Star type players available in the 2014 draft, that is.  I can’t say I watch a lot of college hoops until February or so, so what do I know?  For all we know, the 2014 draft could be like the 2013 draft.  Of course we won’t know the true value of the 2013 draft for several years.  But we do know a fat kid with asthma went #1…and everyone was shocked when he was chosen.  And at #10 a kid from Lehigh was taken…Lehigh?  Top 10?  Regardless of whether the kid has talent, seems a bit of a stretch.  Would seem to qualify as an “off year” for prospects.  But again, we shall see.

The 2012-13 Celtics were built with some promise.  Make one last run at a championship with the aging core.  Add a few pieces to put them in the mix.  But some guys didn’t work (Lee, Terry, Melo), were hurt for large chunks of the season (Rondo, Bradley, Sullinger), regressed (Bass) or showed their age more as the season went along (Pierce, KG).  Keeping the aging core together again and adding yet other pieces (if they even could, since there were some hefty contracts on the books) for 2013-14 just didn’t make much sense to me…or a lot of people, including Danny Ainge.  Doc didn’t want to be here either.  As much as I hate to see Pierce in another uniform, this had to happen.

Once the trades were made and draft picks and assorted other flotsam and jetsam were acquired before the season, the question then became how far do they take it?  Only they know…and they may actually still be trying to figure it out.  If there are truly a number of “difference-makers” available in the next draft, they don’t need the #1 pick.  So they may not need an all out tank.  The season started out as if they were obviously trying to lose.  Blew a 22 point lead in one game.  Were in every game, but lost in the end.  One of the games saw like 3 consecutive bad turnovers to turn a 2 point deficit to double digits in no time.  But then they won 4 in a row, including an inexplicable road win against Miami.  (Side note:  I do want them to lose, but that win was actually enjoyable).  Now you hear clowns calling talk radio saying that things like they “love the way these guys play” and “maybe the chemistry will be similar to the Red Sox and they can win a championship with these guys” and “wait until Rondo comes back…”, etc.

But let’s look at things rationally.  If you take my totally unscientific idea of the way a true contenders’ roster should be built.  There are up to 15 guys on every roster.  I’m thinking those spots should come out something like this:

1-Superstar
2-Superstar/All-Star
3-Above average starter
4-5-Serviceable starter
6-Top bench guy
7-9-Contributing bench player
10-Bench player with one discernible skill
11-13-Active roster filler
14-15-Developmental guys/washed up vets

Let’s see how I feel the current Celtics roster stacks up, again, completely unscientific:

Bass-Maybe 5 or 6
Bogans-11-15, probably closer to 15
Bradley-5 or 6?
Brooks-10, only because they say he can score
Crawford-Anywhere from 6-9
Faverani-10 for now, with upside
Green-Want to say 3, but 4 may be more appropriate
Humphries-Probably 7-9
Lee-Ditto
Olynyk-7-9 for now, with upside
Pressey-11-15, maybe closer to 11
Rondo-2, but obviously out for a while
Sullinger-6-9 for now, with upside
Wallace-Maybe 5 or 6

A lot of guys with numbers toward the higher end.  Need more 1-6, not 7-15.  Sure, the chances of Faverani, Olynyk and Sullinger improving from where they are now are pretty good.  But will they develop into a “1 to 3” type player, based on my scale?  Doubtful.  4 or 5 is probably the ceiling with those guys.  The rest of the roster is what it is.  I think we know what Bradley is at this point.  Good D, can’t handle ball, not great offensively.  I keep hoping Green will take that next step, but it appears that he won’t.  He will dominate some games and disappear in others.  Humphries can rebound, Lee can shoot a little, Wallace can help, Bass can do a few things, but nothing special with them.  Crawford’s playing well at the point now, but does anyone expect that to last?  Kind of wish they would play Brooks more to get a good look at him in game action.  But the fact that they are burying him on this team and also didn’t pick up his option next year probably tells us what we need to know.

The summary is that, although these guys may play hard and try, they ain’t winning a championship anytime soon folks.  Need more infusion of talent.  And since marquis free agents historically do not want to sign here, the way to do it is the draft.  Again, if the next draft is all it’s cracked up to be, then they really have to shoot for it.  I was convinced over the summer that the C’s would try and trade Rondo once he proves healthy.  Kind of skeptical of that now.  Seems to have hit it off with Stevens.  Seems to be a little bit of a coach now.  Maybe they are just making him happy before they entertain offers and he sees his name in trade rumors.  But maybe they plan to build with him, the 2014 draft picks, and guys like Faverani, Olynyk and Sullinger (Bradley?  Green?).  Hard to tell right now.  I have to believe that Danny is trying to find trade value for Lee, Bass, Humphries, Wallace, etc.  Not sure there is much, especially with their contracts.  But maybe a contender will bite nearer the deadline.  Although Humphries is making 12 mil this year (12 mil?)…so maybe not.  Here’s hoping…in the meantime, enjoy the guys playing hard.  Enjoy the coach that seems to be competent.  But root for them to lose this year.  Just this year.  Take one step back to move two (or more) steps forward.  It’s the NBA…it’s FAAAAAAN-tastic!

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