Saturday, June 30, 2007

After Midnight

Today is the last day of normalcy before free agent madness starts up. Okay, maybe it's really not madness as much as carelessly defiant team spending, but I always like waking up July 1st and reading the contracts that were agreed to in the wee hours of the morning. They gave Steve Nash that much money? Stupid! We were able to re-sign Blount for only $40 million? Awesome!

So that entertaining day will be tomorrow, and I'm sure we will be scratching our heads some. I tend to doubt the C's will be in on the initial action, but you never know. Remember the year Danny went to Karl Malone's door at midnight to try and convince him to come to an adequate C's team instead of the Lakers? I wish we had that on tape.

One name tossed about is Brevin Knight, who could be an interesting addition to the Green. Larry Brown will like using him when he is our coach in February. I personally hope we offer our whole mid-level exception to Matt Barnes. We need Matt Barnes in Boston, even though none of the reasons are basketball related.

I also want to pass along kudos to the Herald for talking about how much Theo is gonna help the team defensively next year. That was satire on a level I didn't know existed. For more boring commentary you have to read FreeDarko or something. So get ready for midnight, cause afterwards things are never gonna be the same again.

Friday, June 29, 2007

What Does It All Mean?


"You know what happens when you are making a souffle and you mix all the ingredients and put it in the oven? If you take it out of the oven too soon, it flops. And that may be what we are doing."
-Tommy Heinsohn

"I didn't want them to make any trades. I don't have that kind of confidence in aging free agents, especially guys like Garnett or Allen who haven't won anything. Arnold [Red Auerbach to you] did that effectively when he brought in players like Willie Naulls, Carl Braun, Dave Bing, and Pete Maravich. They'd come here and play 12 minutes a game and grab a ring. But you've got to get lucky to have a Garnett come in and break his tail at 31 or 32 years old. I would rather have seen them continue with the youth movement and take the kid from China."
-Bob Cousy

The foreboding quotes above are yanked from the Curly-Haired Boyfriend's shockingly un-shitty column on the Celtics' draft-night shenanigans. Honestly, the events of the past 24 hours may well take days, weeks, months, even years to properly grasp. Alright, maybe not years. But still... wow. I think the best way for me to deal with this is to tell a pair of stories, each full of intrigue, each potentially true, one far more desirable than the other.

Story 1:

Last night the Celtics made good on a widely-held desire to infuse the club with veteran talent by acquiring one of the premier offensive weapons in the NBA., a superstar scorer who's put up the best numbers of his career over the past two seasons. In exchange, they gave up the fifth pick in the draft--which was unlikely to yield an immediate-impact player--a burdensome contract, and a young guard who, contrary to certain hopes, will probably never amount to an NBA starter and whose role on the team seemed increasingly unstable. On top of that, the Celtics acquired another second-round pick which they used to draft LSU's Glen Davis, a skilled big man considered by many to be one of the sleepers of the draft. The acquisition of Davis gives the Celtics added depth at the forward position and suggests that the possibility for a Kevin Garnett-Al Jefferson megadeal is still open. For the icing on the cake, the Celtics also used a second-round pick on USC point guard Gabe Pruitt, an athletic floor leader who frequently draws comparisons to the Mavs' Devin Harris. Kudos to Ainge and co.

Story 2:

Last night Danny Ainge threw yet another indignity at Celtics fans, desperately mortgaging the future of the team for a soon-to-be-32-year-old shooting guard who is coming off two recent ankle surgeries. After weeks of tempting fans with rumors of inside forces like Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and Shawn Marion, Ainge instead acquired another perimeter player who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, which seems redundant on a team that already has Paul Pierce. After years of preaching patience and development, Ainge et al flatly ignored their own advice and exposed themselves as hypocrites, trading away a high pick in the deepest draft in years for a beat-up veteran who'll probably be little more than moderate upgrade over Wally Szczerbiak. On an evening that saw their divisional rivals in New York acquire a young, dominant big man for a relative pittance, the Celtics appear to have re-enacted the disastrous Dominique Wilkins acquisition of 1994. This is the final insult from Ainge and co.

AND............................. SCENE.

As you can see, last night's happenings will probably be debated for months to come, and quite honestly I have no idea which story to believe at this point. Ray Allen is undoubtedly a marquee offensive player, but one could make the case that if there's one area the C's don't need help in, it's scoring. That said, the idea of Rondo running an up-tempo offense with Allen firing threes from the wing is an enticing prospect. See? I'm all over the place here. In all honesty, the most important acquisition of last night might prove to be Glen Davis: now that the C's have Allen and Pierce, KG might be more intrigued by the prospect of playing in Boston, and the depth that Big Baby provides might make Big Al even more expendable. Alternately, the acquisition of Allen raises big questions over Gerald Green's future, and the C's still have Ratliff's contract to dangle... could they structure another trade around those assets and next year's pick, maybe for an Andrei Kirilenko? That'd be an insane amount of salary to take on, but this ownership group ain't exactly strapped for cash.

On a closing note, Simmons absolutely hates this trade, hammering away at the point that Reggie Miller is the only shooting guard in recent memory whose career didn't go completely down the toilet after turning 32. Truthfully though, Allen is a remarkably Miller-esque player: a catch-and-shoot specialist whose game is built more around stamina and finding open looks than relying on athleticism and grit to create his own shots.

I don't know, we'll see. Ray Allen's old as fuck, but as the above photo illustrates he's got a nice set of bedroom eyes, Pierce is probably happier today than he was yesterday and we still have Al Jefferson (for now). Danny's still not off the hook. I want to know what number Allen's gonna wear. Finally, I'd be completely remiss if I didn't link to this classic Allen-related Onion article.


Now Let's Get Garnett

We'll have more later today - but let me put it out there: It's time to go and get KG. Trade Al, Theo's contract, Gerald Green, some future #1 picks - but make it happen. That is what the Ray Allen trade could ideally mean. Think about it - Garnett, Pierce and Allen playing with Rondo at the point. A ridiculous payroll, but worth it. Then all we got to do is fire Doc....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Great Big Draft Post


As promised yesterday, we have for you the mother of all draft posts: six uniquely brilliant Headband voices articulating their collective hopes, dreams, and abject terror of Yi Jianlian. This post is going to be pretty long but I haven't yet figured out how to insert jumps into this thing; I think it requires fucking around with HTML and I don't have time to go there at the moment. So, without further ado, your Official Shamrock Headband Draft Preview:

Sean The Fox Says:

I can't emphasize how much I'd love to see the Celtics move this pick. 1) Because Pierce, like other so-called "franchise" players throughout the league, feels he deserves a championship and will request a trade to a contender if they don't 2) because the top-half of the draft is a logjam of similarly talented players, which results in a crap shoot for the C's at #5 and 3) because if you CAN get Marion, or the combo of Odom and Bynum, WITHOUT giving up Big Al, YOU DO IT.

The first point speaks for itself. Pierce has been patient for the last couple years - but why do you sign that contract if you knew of the possibilities? Too bad, Paul. I'd suggest hiring a new agent if you're that unhappy with your decision. But if he wants out, then so it is.

Secondly, there are no breakout stars other than Oden and Durant in this draft (OK, Horford, but he will be gone before the Celts pick). I also don't know where any of the also-rans necessarily fit with the current composition of the roster (which is jammed with 2's, 3's, and 4's).

Will it be Yi? What have we seen from Yi? To me, he looks like a shorter version of Yao, which is too bad, because he is just as slow and doesn't have the post moves that make Yao effective. All I've seen is video of Yi dunking on smaller guys (and on the lazy man's champion, Pau Gasol). Whoopee.

Will it be Noah? Noah's gotten a lot of play recently but do you use a #5 pick on a guy who averaged 12 points a night in college? Sure he's feisty, but where's the offensive game?

Will it be Brewer or Green? Both seem to have excellent all-around games, but why bring in another small forward when you are already looking to get minutes for Wally (big maybe) and Gerald Green (I want more Gerald this season!) at the 3-spot?

Brandan Wright? Buddy, you automatically fall off my board with the bullshit "I'm not working out against other players" thing. Grow a pair.

So this brings me to the third point: if the Celtcs can get Marion without dispatching Al Jefferson, I'm in. If they can get Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum without losing Big Al, even better. In Odom, you have a 6-10 veteran at just 27 years old who can score, hit the glass, dish, and play aggressive defense. He has three years left on his contract at around $11 million per, and in my opinion, is worth it. His game is poetic. Pippen-like. In Bynum, you have an improving project with the potential to be a BEAST inside. Like with Al Jefferson, some work with the Celtics coaching staff will help Bynum's offensive repertoire.

Rumors have the Celtics trading for Marion or the Odom/Bynum combo using some combination of these chips: Green, Ratliff, West, Telfair, Wally, or the draft pick. Regardless of who goes out of that group, would you bet against a team with Pierce, Odom, and Jefferson, with young upside players like Bynum and Rondo potentially rounding out the starting five? I'd be ecstatic.

So let's hold our breath for the draft. It's the TRADES that make draft night so interesting. Let's hope the Celtics make the right one.


Rob Says:

The first order of business is to trade Paul Pierce. What we have all been assuming as inevitable over the past year or two, that Pierce is going to ask for a trade, seems to be imminent if you believe the reports coming out. The only way to satisfy Pierce is to trade our pick for a veteran, a move that could definitely be done, but the question arises: is it worth it? First of all, to get a legit player who could really make a difference (e.g. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant) would require us parting with Al Jefferson, a move that would be a temporary fix to give us one shot (if you believe what these players are saying that they’d opt out of their contract if traded to Boston) at the finals. The Celtics seemed to do this runaround back in 2002 on a smaller scale trading Joe Johnson, their then rookie, for Rodney Rodgers, a big man whose contract was expiring but who could help us make a run in the playoffs. Of course, we didn’t make the finals and we lost Rodgers to free agency while Joe Johnson made the leap to legitimate star.

Granted, Kobe and Garnett, and even Shawn Marion are considerably better than Rodney Rodgers ever was, but we would be facing a similar result: temporary glory only to look back five years later with deep regret of what we could have had.

The best case scenario is that we get to the NBA Finals with one of these superstars. To think that we would win the finals is absolutely ridiculous. What Cleveland showed this past season is that one player can carry a team through the Eastern Conference only to get embarrassed by whatever team the West throws at them. Why not keep the young pieces we have now, trade Pierce to the West for a young player, a draft pick, and an expiring contract (such as Portland for LaMarcus Aldridge, next year’s number one, and Jamaal Magloire?). We could then draft Corey Brewer who, with Pierce gone, could start immediately and hopefully put up fifteen points per game and play at least the level of defense that Pierce was playing. The trade would give us a chance to let our young players, like Rajon Rondo and Gerald Green, develop more, maybe with one performing a Jeffersonian leap to the next level. Then, with Theo Ratliff and our other expiring contract, we could be major players in the 2008 free agent market, which is shaping up to be one of the best in years. And even though we would be young and probably coming off another bad season, we could pull an Atlanta Hawks of two years ago and get a Joe Johnson like free agent who just wants a chance to lead a team.


Nate Says

Don't believe the hype. There's no chance the Celtics are picking China's Yi Jianlian. It's been two weeks now that we've seen forecasts of the Celtics drafting Yi Jianlian of China. Most recently, Andy Katz of ESPN.com made that prediction after spending a morning with the Celtics brass. I'm here to tell you that out of the four prospects atop the C's list of players likely to be available at #5 (Yi, Brewer, Noah, Green) Yi is by far the least likely to be chosen. I'll explain why - but first I want to give Ainge and Co credit for keeping everyone believing that they'll actually pick the kid despite absolutely no evidence to confirm it. First off, Ainge knows he's gotta hit at least a double with this pick. His contract (as well as pretty much everyone in the front office and coaching staff) is up in two years. That means this pick is going to have to contribute pretty much right away or it will put Ainge in an even deeper hole with fans and ownership, who have got to be short on patience with Danny the Dealer at this point. Ainge - who admittedly is a xenophobe when it comes to basketball players - would be setting himself up for disaster, as Yi has a much steeper learning curve than Brewer, Noah or Green. Second, the Celtics front office follows Red Aurbach's philosophy that unless you're a championship team you've got to pick the best player available regardless of position. Yi is the least prepared of the four players for the NBA and the Celtics are already afraid of the demands that the Chinese government will put on him during the summers, which will undoubtedly slow his development and keep him from summering in Waltham like the Celtics prefer their young colts to be. Third, his 'body of work" is modest. He comes from a League where God Shamgod and Chris Herren can score 30 consistently. He's been at best a third option for the Chinese National Team, which is sad considering that they're just happy when they qualify for FIBA events. Fourth, they haven't seen Yi work out against an NBA prospect. Yi held private workouts where he flew solo, and he was the only top prospect not to have his measurements taken in Orlando. They can't even prove he's as old as he says he is. Finally, with the departure of Chris Wallace - who handled all the international scouting - Yi has no one in the Celtics office who would advocate for him on draft night. Sans Wallace, no one has studied Yi enough to argue for him over Brewer, Green and Noah.

Why would they pick him? He is very fast and fluid for his size. At 7' those qualities along make him an intriguing prospect. Maybe Wyc or the other owners have business interests in China and just can't see past the potential to build the Celtics name there via Yi. That's very unlikely and I'm not even sure it makes sense. However, there are just too many signs that point to Yi being a smoke screen for the Celtics to hide behind. (For the record, I'm putting my money on Corey Brewer.)


Nat Says:

Danny, please make a decision. For someone who was so quick to shoot when he was a player, Danny Ainge has a hard decision on whether to shoot or pass on this year's draft. I don't mean whether to take a point guard or a shooting guard but on the direction of the team. This is a critical point for the direction of the Celtics. We will need to sign Big Al to an extension this summer and decisions need to be made now on the future of the team. Below are two of Danny's options. I ask him to please pick a direction and stick to it. 1. Roll the dice and make a trade. The offers will be on the table on draft night, believe it. After Oden and Durant are gone, the next 2 men on the clock will be Billy "I've never made a trade that actually helped my team, only the other" Knight and Chris Wallace. (What a drop-off from Jerry West, one of the greatest GM's of all time to Chris Wallace. Similar to the casting of Danny Glover to replace Schwarzenegger in Predator II). I usually don't pay too much attention to the rumors that surround draft night but if Wyc tells him we need to get another marquee player around Paul tomorrow night is the night to pull the trigger. I will not debate the merits of Jermaine Oneal, K.G. or Marion in this space as the other writers have done so well. I think it would be short-sighted to acquire any of them actually since next summer could be loaded with free agents and holding onto Ratliff would actually give us a chance to get someone. However I understand this approach because him and Doc are trying to keep their jobs. Everything would depend on what we give up but I've yet to hear a rumor for a trade I would support 100%. 2. We can take the highest rated player on our board and hope for the improvement of Gerald Green, Al Jefferson and Rajon Rondo. This could be Brewer, Green, Yi, or Noah. This is my preferred route and is also the most conservative. As the resident fantasy sports scribe here at the Shamrock Headband, you will come to see that I generally prefer conservative approaches when building a fantasy team. Perhaps that has rubbed off on my opinion on how to build a professional team. However from a financial sense this is the best option. I also say we sign Tony Allen on the cheap this summer but that is a post for another day. I would be ok with either of these but what I do not understand is this feeling that they somehow owe it to Paul Pierce to surround him with a more competitive team. That is BS. They owe him nothing but his paycheck. Who does he think he is, Ray Bourque? If he is still here in 2012 maybe, but Paul, just get healthy shut-up. Regardless, if Danny does not pick a direction and the Celtics spin their wheels again this summer we will be forced to trade Paul for less than his value.


Tim Says:

After John Hollinger blew open my mind yesterday I became uneasy. His article jumbled my insides so much that I felt as if maybe I was approaching this draft from an utterly skewed vantage point. All along we have been hearing that this is one of the great drafts of all time. But I didn't get it. There was clearly Oden and Durant, but then what after that? Did two future Hall of Famers alone make it a "great" draft? The 1984 draft had Hakeem and MJ, but it also had Barkely and Stockton. Then it had Kevin Willis, Otis Thorpe, and Alvin Roberston. The other players I liked in this draft (Julian Wright, Noah, Horford) seemed more like the last three names from the '84 draft. So where was the talent akin to Barkley and Stockton?
Hollinger said it was in youth. Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, and Mike Conley Jr. are all freshman. Their potential magnificence can hardly be gleaned from one year in school. Also Rodney Stuckey and (gulp) Josh McRoberts are only sophomores. At least one of these young guys is gonna be a perennial all-star.
Read that last paragraph again. What the fuck? Anyway, I believe it. This is perhaps Hollinger's greatest coup yet - an excellent rating system for selecting rookies. Because it is still so new to me I am apprehensive and will give you a rather conservative top ten. But it still is pretty far out compared to most mocks. And I'm just giving you my personal top ten, because I have no idea how the chips are gonna fall Thursday night. Anyway, my preferences:
1. Greg Oden - If Durant killed a wild boar on the court I might put him ahead of Oden. But don't believe Simmons when he says Oden has a ceiling. This guy should be great and a totally unique player.
2. Kevin Durant - He will score over 20 a game immediately.
3. Jo Noah - He did nothing in 2007 to convince me that he was unworthy of being the #1 pick in the 2006 draft. He's been nit-picked to death, but I still think he'll be the best Gator in the pros.
4. Al Horford - Actually, Horford does remind me of Kevin Willis back in the day. That's not a bad thing, to be compared to a guy that once averaged 15 board a game for a season.
5. Julian Wright - I still love Julian, but he's got me worried with his Hollinger score. I see now that it is highly unlikely that he will be more than a fringe all-star. But if he turns out as good as Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince, David West or Josh Howard there won't be that many complaints.
6. Brandan Wright - Sure you showed me nearly nothing your freshman year that excited me, but Hollinger's score and your freak workouts have me thinking you're much closer to Bosch than Swift.
7. Thaddeus Young - Oh yeah. At the beginning of the year people were just as excited about this guy as Durant. Then he played without using many of his strengths for a bad coach and was forgotten my many, myself included. But he just turned 19, averaged 14 and 5, and is an athletic marvel. If I had balls I'd put him at #3.
8. Mike Conley Jr. - All right, he'll be good. I still don't think all-star good, but certainly worthy of going here.
9. Yi Jianlian - He's really tall and has a great mid-range game. The key is he's really tall. A gamble without question.
10. "Big Baby" Davis - After thinking deeply about it I could come up with no good reason as to why Davis will not be a very good pro. He will be one of the most entertaining players in the league. Of course I didn't have him in my top 15 before Hollinger's article.
Lastly, my C's prediction:
With the fifth pick in the 2007 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics....fire Doc Rivers.



Jack
Says:

I’ve been posting like crazy about this over the past few weeks so I’m almost at a loss for what to say at this point. Almost. There are so many rumors flying around at this point I can’t even bother linking to them, but what seems to be emerging is the notion that the C’s are desperately trying to trade for a veteran because if they end up stuck with just the number five, whoever that may be, Pierce is going to demand a trade. And make no mistake: if Paul Pierce demands a trade on account of management’s inability to surround him with viable talent, one could convincingly argue that Ainge has led the Celtics into a worse situation than when he inherited them. Admitted draft prowess aside—though even that’s starting to look a bit overrated—almost every major trade or free agent move this management group has made has ranged from ineffective to disastrous. Vin Baker. Raef Lafrentz. Ricky Davis. Wally Szczerbiak. It’s not working.

Unless Danny and the gang know something none of the rest of us do—and I suppose that’s possible, though increasingly unlikely—they are in a uniquely horrible situation. The threat of a Pierce trade demand devalues the fifth pick, because now everyone in the League knows they’re desperate to unload it, hence every single team we talk to making outlandish demands for Al Jefferson.

There seem to be four options floating around the table, in no particular order: 1) trade the pick and players for a top-flight veteran; 2) draft Jeff Green; 3) draft Corey Brewer; 4) draft Yi Jianlian. The last option is easily the worst; I wouldn’t even know what to make of that decision, frankly. Drafting an [age unknown]-year-old 7-footer who’s widely considered the biggest potential bust in the draft and even in the best case scenario is several years away would be a slap in the face to Pierce, to the fans, and would pretty much amount to Ainge throwing in the towel on his own tenure. I still want to believe this won’t happen. Green and Brewer are much, much better choices but it’s dubious whether either of them would be enough to keep Pierce in town. I don’t even feel like making a prediction; I just want it to be over.





Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Greatest and the Latest


Just as a heads-up, at some point tomorrow we're going to be throwing up a draft-related megapost, featuring the indelible insights of a small army of Headband writers in what's sure to be the greatest single output in our short history. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, much re-speck to Tim for throwing up the Hollinger post: Hollinger is an innovative mind to say the least, his stuff is always worth reading, and his work on the draft is certainly no exception. And I absolutely fucking love that Jared Dudley--one of the most underrated guys in this year's draft, a probable second-round pick who will be a ten-year pro, mark my words--is rated tenth overall in Hollinger's ratings. Well played. That said, I'm not ready to take Thaddeus Young; sorry, John. The ten-spot discrepancy between Green and Brewer is pretty interesting, though.

Anyways, moving on to guys currently in the League.. the latest rumors have the Pacers and Lakers out of the KG talks entirely, with Phoenix very much back in the picture. Details are sketchy, but this situation has us getting Marion with KG headed to Phoenix. The only problem is that the story (as reported by professional douchebag Jim Gray) doesn't illuminate who the C's would be giving up, referring only to "the fifth pick in Thursday's draft and players" going to Minnesota.

As mentioned before
, I'm a big fan of bringing Marion to Boston. I'd give up pretty much anything besides Paul and Al to make this happen, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Hollinger Rocks My World


Wow. I've read so much shit about prospects by this time every year that I hardly believe anything. But then I read John Hollinger's column today. And it is shocking. Using a number of factors, which he goes into detail about, Hollinger has created a "system" that seems vastly superior to those used by most NBA gurus. His historical evidence is outstanding and very persuasive. Like his PER method, it is not without flaws, but is an excellent tool for quantifying players' value.
There is so much information in these rankings that I will only touch on a few things now; I'm sure we will be talking about them more in the next few days. First off, Durant is on the top, high above Oden or anyone else (to see the actual rankings for this year's draft class scale to near the bottom of the article.) Guess who is third on the list? My man Mike Conley. Guess that means I have to stop ragging on him. Acie Law is ranked a lowly 27th. This means I'm probably a little nuts thinking Law will be the best point guard in the draft, and I have to readjust my thinking accordingly.

That is pretty fascinating in itself, but let's get Celtics-specific here. Before I forget - Yi is not rated because he did not play in college. The big news: Jeff Green is ranked 14th and Corey Brewer is ranked 24th. Holy Jesus. In other words, neither of those guys seems like the right pick at #5. Green falls into an acceptable area with a score of 505, Brewer's is a much less palatable 462. My own guy Julian Wright is ranked 19th with a score of 481. Al Thorton is 25th with a score of 447.

So who should the C's pick based on Hollinger's stats? How does Thaddeus Young sound? You read that right. To be brief, and that's all I have time for now, the Celtics seem wiser to select Young, Brandan Wright, Al Horford or Jo Noah than Green, Brewer, Thorton or Julian Wright. Try wrapping your mind around this, it might take a while, but Hollinger's argument is extremely substantial.

Jermaine O'Neal Does Not Play Basketball as Frequently as He Ought To


This is sort of just a follow-up to Tim's previous post, though my thoughts are lengthy enough that submitting it in "Comment" form wouldn't make much sense. So as Tim notes, ESPN is abuzz with rumors of a convoluted four-team trade (really, in the NBA is there any other kind?) that'd send KG to LA, Jermaine O'Neal to Boston and a whole bunch of shit a whole bunch of other places as well. Rumor has the C's giving up the #5, Theo's contract, Gerald and/or Telfair to Minnesota (or maybe some of them somewhere else... who fucking knows).

In all honesty, I'm not a Jermaine O'Neal fan. Back in 2003, when the C's beat the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, he struck me as a bit of a bitch, and in 2004 when the Pacers swept us he managed to strike me as even more of one. He fought like a little girl in saddle shoes during the Malice in the Palace, and I always thought that the way he let Ron-Ron hijack that team spoke volumes about his lack of leadership and charisma. But the biggest problem is his utter lack of durability. Do you know how many times in his (already 11-year!) career Jermaine O'Neal has played in all 82 games? The answer is none: none times. In fact, for the last three seasons, JO's games played totals look like this: 44, 51, 69. According to the invaluable Windows calculator, that averages out to less than 55 games a season during that span. So if Jermaine comes to Boston, prepare yourself to see him frequently resembling the photo above (post-dress code, of course).

I feel somewhat odd advocating for the Celtics to keep Gerald Green, since I've spent so much time joyfully slamming him in this space, but giving up both the #5 and Gerald for O'Neal strikes me as maybe a little too much. I don't care too much about Ratliff's contract--as mentioned before, it exists for situations like these--and I would trade Telfair for a pair of his cousin's low-priced sneakers at this point. And I'd feel a lot better about giving up Gerald if we could at least bleed another first-round pick out of this deal, but that's probably unlikely. Anyways, these are my hesitations. You may now re-commence the eternal Jeff Green-Corey Brewer debate.

Monday, June 25, 2007

It Makes Your Head Wanna Explode


Oh, man - these rumors. They just get crazier and crazier, and I'm beginning to believe 'em. Somebody's gonna hurt someone, before the night is through... I think I'm just gonna have The Eagles playing on loop till the draft is over. Maybe not.

Any deal where Telfair has " fresh young point guard" tagged on him is more than okay in my book, actually it's revelatory. This is truly going to be a Biblical week for the NBA.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Like Sands Through The Hourglass...


These are the days of our lives, Celtics fans. The shit continues to hit the fan, in terms of potential blockbuster trades and the like. The Herald is speculating that Kevin Garnett's disinclination to play for the C's (as voiced by his agent) is more a product of his agent's current beef with the C's over another of his clients, Sebastian "Tonz-o-Gunz" Telfair, than it is a product of anything actually KG-related. We heard recently from a relatively inside source that the C's are irate over the way the KG thing played out... apparently the deal was all but done and then they were publicly embarrassed by Garnett's agent.

That said, good news first: Chad Ford suggests that KG might back off his anti-Celtics stance if a Suns trade doesn't materialize. According to Steve Kerr, the new GM out Phoenix way, a Suns-KG pairing probably isn't happening. So, keep hope alive, I suppose. In an equally-if-not-more-intriguing scenario, Ford also floats the possibility of a deal for Paul Gasol that would involve us shipping the number five, Delonte and Theo's contract to Memphis in exchange for the big Spaniard. This is an enticing trade. The prospect of Al, Gasol and Pierce playing alongside each other in the East is exciting to say the least. Lest we forget, Pau Gasol is only 26 years old.

Now for the bad news: Chad Ford also quotes a conversation with Paul Pierce's agent in which Jeff Schwartz (said agent) suggests that if the C's don't make a trade for a star, Pierce wants out of Boston. Take it away, Schwartzy:

"Danny's got to make a decision. It just won't make sense to keep Paul if the Celtics can't compete for a championship. They should trade him and get young players that can help them rebuild."

Christ, this team is a mess. Everything this guy says is basically correct. The thing that kills me is the use of the term "rebuild." At what point should it just become "build?"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Danny Prepares for a 'Scal'ding Free Agency

Not much yakking about free agency 2007, and that's because it's not nearly as exciting as Mr. Oden, Durantula, or Jeff Green (that's who we're gonna draft???) It can be argued that not much can hurt your team team more than being a big spender in free agency. Last year for instance the Hornets signed Peja to a five year $64 million contract and the Bulls signed Ben Wallace to a four year $60 million deal. I'm sure they're patting themselves on the back right now.

The problem with big name free agents is that the best ones are almost always signed before they become free agents. That leaves big name players that don't deserve the max getting the max, or close to it. In today's NBA, expiring contracts and young talent are gonna help fetch you the superstar you want much more easily than having a lot of cap room.

Which is just as well for the Celtics, because Danny has shown a complete lack of competence in regards to his free agent signings. He gave Blount a bunch of money when there was no need to (those were strange times, many of us were convinced Blount cared.) And then he outdid himself the next year: Scal for five years, $15 million; Dickau for three years, $7.5 million. The good news is that Danny never went all Kiki on us and gave K-Mart a max deal, but then again he's never had the cap room to get crazeeee.

So will this be the year when Danny finally uses some common sense and gets us something worthwhile via free agency? Don't hold your breath; but let's do a bit of a rundown of what's out there...

Will definitely get big bucks:

-Vince Carter: Could be my least favorite player in the NBA, indiscriminately hucks up 25 footers instead of using his mind blowing athleticism. Perhaps no player is more overrated; Ratner still loves him and the rumor is the Nets will quickly provide zany cash to retain his services.

-Chauncy Billups: Will be 31 next year, and will get near max money from the Pistons or Orlando, sorry Jack.

-Rashard Lewis: Almost guaranteed to be overpaid, the C's supposedly would like to do a sign and trade, which seems like a lousy idea. A very nice player who you don't want to commit $60-$70 million on.

-Gerald Wallace: Probably the best big name free agent, when you factor in age and the fact that he will cost less than the preceding guys (closer to $10 million annually as opposed to $15 million - hopefully.) Soon to be 25, Wallace is one of the most tenacious forwards in the league, a defensive menace and an offensive bulldog. If he was on the C's he'd probably win the Tommy award 75% of the time. The downside of Wallace's awesome recklessness is the increased chance of injuries, which are a serious concern (he's missed 37 games over the last two years.) It's unclear if MJ and Charlotte understand Wallace's value, and if we could get him in a sign and trade it would lessen the hurt of taking Jeff Green over Julian Wright.

Looking at more than the mid-level exception:

-Anderson Varejao: 7 points and 7 boards a game will get you more than $7 million a year? Is his hair that tantalizing?

-Darko Milicic: Actually might be a nice fit on the C's, but probably would cost too much. Also could turn out like Kwame Brown.

-Andres Nocioni: It would be funny if he signed with Atlanta or something out of the blue.

-Mo Williams: 24 year old point guard averaged 17 and 6 last year. Even on a crappy team that's stuff you notice. Doesn't it make more sense if you're way under the cap to sign this guy and Wallace instead of offering Rashard Lewis the max?

And that might be it for people getting more than the mid-level. You never know, but the point is that with every other free agent you're not gonna look silly offering them "only" $5 milion a year. There are many intriguing names that fall into this category: Boykins, Stackhouse, Bonzi, Luke Walton, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus (restricted), McDyess, Webber, Kapono, Reuben Patterson, Posey, Oberto, Mo Pete, Blatche (restricted), Najera, Grant Hill, Finley, Magloire, Blake, Mikki Moore, and so forth.

I guess my only point with this list is that you have to be smart when it comes to free agency, it can be so easy to overpay. Some of the players mentioned would be great additions to the C's, the problem is figuring out which ones. I assume we'll be discussing this more once the draft circus finally ends next week.

Kirilenko's nice, but...

With all the Garnett talk the last couple of days, I saw too many Celtics fans lose their heads and get all excited about the C’s trampling through the weedy field that is the Eastern Conference to the NBA Finals next year. Where they’d meet Phoenix, Dallas, or San Antonio – who'd wipe the floor with them. Face it, the Denver Nuggets had a two-man team last year with Iverson and Anthony, and the Spurs dispatched them in five games. Houston has a two-man team and they met a similar fate with a first-round exit. Pierce and Garnett together would have been exciting, but I’m glad it didn’t happen.

Now the Celts can hone this young nucleus and look to add an All-Star caliber veteran without selling the whole farm, as they would have with Garnett. “Okay, new blogger,” you say, “what’s your brilliant idea?”

Send in the Money Man.

While a lot of East Coast fans may not know who I’m referring to, those with the privilege of having the NBA DirecTV package undoubtedly watched a couple of Utah Jazz games in the last year, where Mehmet Okur completed an All-Star campaign putting up 18.4 points and 7.2 rebounds from the center position. If there’s one veteran I’d like to see the Celtics pick up this offseason, it’s him.

Let’s put the disclaimer on this: yes, he was beaten on by Tim Duncan in the Western Conference Finals. Yes, the village idiot Stephen A. Smith had his share of fun calling out Okur at every halftime show. But it is what it is: Tim Duncan gets calls. Okur played the entire series in serious foul trouble, and looked bad. So what? He’s still a 28-year old All-Star, and maybe his trade value has taken a hit. All the better for a potential suitor.

So I’ve addressed any negative press “Memo” might have. Let’s look at how this guy would fit into the Celtics system. He’s essentially a middle-class Dirk Nowitzki. He can score plenty inside, but specializes in perimeter play, which helps the Celtics in two ways: 1) it gives the team the 3-point presence they desperately lack and 2) it allows Big Al to operate in the post, away from double-teams, pulling cumbersome Eastern Conference centers like Ilgauskas, Shaq, Wallace, and Kristic out of the paint. Plus, he hauls in 7 -9 rebounds a night. He works well at the center position regardless of whom Rivers chooses to start beside him.

So what do the Celtics need to give up to get Okur? Memo has 3 years left on his current deal at a little more than 6 millon per. That’s a reasonable contract for a player of his caliber. To make it work, they’d probably package the #5 pick with Ratliff's contract. The Jazz would do this because they are in desperate need of a swingman who can score and defend. I’d say Corey Brewer fits that bill. Plus they get a trading chip in Ratliff, which they could spin to add to a squad that made last year’s Conference Finals.

So what do you think? The thing about these trade scenarios is that they’re fun. I’d appreciate any comments or any new scenarios you can think of. I’m Sean the Fox, co-host of 91.5 FM’s “Fire It Up” sports show. I’d appreciate you checking out our site at http://fireitup.bravehost.com and checking out our show on Thursdays. Peace.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Well, I Suppose That Settles That


Kevin Garnett era, we hardly knew ye. Yesterday ESPN reported that Garnett has no interest in coming to the Celtics, and this morning's Globe reports the same thing. This would be a good time to point out that the Globe's coverage of this rumored mega-deal has been typically abysmal, and by "abysmal" I actually mean "nonexistent." Honestly, a potential KG-to-the-C's deal is close to the basketball equivalent of an A-Rod-to-the-Sox deal, and if memory serves there was slightly more coverage of that in the local media. Fire Peter May Fire Peter May Fire Peter May

Anyways, Kevin Garnett not wanting to play for the Celtics is pretty close to the most unsurprising thing imaginable. I mean, let's think about this: you're Garnett, and your three most rumored trading destinations are Phoenix, Chicago and... Boston. Two of these teams have legitimate championship aspirations, and the other has Doc Rivers. One of them you'd get to play with Steve Nash, another you'd get to play with Kirk Hinrich, and the third you'd get to play with--wait for it--Rajon Rondo. Honestly, if KG's gonna go to a shitty team in the East he might as well go to the Knicks, where at least he can make a nice chunk of change off endorsements and such. Though honestly, I don't understand why people keep bringing up the Knicks as possible destinations for players like Garnett and Kobe... I mean, the Knicks essentially have no tradeable assets outside of David Lee, who's probably already overrated at this point. Both Marbury and Francis have albatross contracts that don't come off the books until 2009, which I can't imagine makes them particularly attractive as trade bait in 2007. But I digress.

Barring a potential Marion trade--and we haven't heard much about that recently, either--I think the best course of action for the C's is to take Corey Brewer with the fifth pick (I think he'll still be there), then try and trade Gerald Green and Theo Ratliff's contract (possibly Delonte as well?) for solid veteran help. Simmons keeps bringing up Andrei Kirilenko, who'd be a great addition to the team provided we get him without giving up too much (considering he averaged a stunningly poor 8.3 ppg last year and he and Sloan seem to openly despise each other, I can't imagine the Jazz getting too greedy in their demands for him.

Anyways, there'll be plenty of time to discuss the draft in the coming days. For the record, I hope Garnett goes to Phoenix; fuck, that'd be fun to watch.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is Big Al Overvalued?


First off, props to Tim for unearthing that priceless photo of Mark Blount standing against a wall and yawning. How fucking perfect is that. A friend of mine's Dad once ran into Blount in a mall or some shit, near the end of Blount's tenure, and tried to talk to him and Blount told him to go fuck himself, literally in those terms. It's so rare that you get such a perfect combination of a terrible athlete and an even more terrible human being... he is sorely missed.

In any event, last night I'd whipped up a typically long-winded and self-indulgent post further obsessing over the possible Garnett trade (which the Herald reports today is closer to happening; I'll stop now), and then I read Tim's exceedingly rational moratorium on all such speculation and was like, shit, he's right. So I'm basically re-working the post into something that's not explicitly Garnett-related but taps into what appears to be an increasingly pressing and controversial issue this offseason, namely the potential overvaluing of Big Al Jefferson. Away we go.

First of all, let me say that I love Big Al fairly passionately. He's without a doubt the premier acquisition of the Ainge era, and provided he can stay healthy, he will be an outstanding player for years to come. He is, by all accounts, a very good dude and an increasingly hard worker, someone who you can put out front as a face of the franchise and not worry for a second about, say, getting pulled over on the FDR Drive at 4am while in possession of a small armory.

All of that said, it's come to my attention during recent discussions surrounding the possible acquisition of a player who we'll refer to as "Gevin Karnett" that certain C's fans might be getting ahead of themselves a bit in terms of Big Al, transforming a guy with loads of potential who recently averaged 16 and 11 for a terrible team into the second coming of Karl Malone. The general sentiment among such fans is that giving up Big Al and the number 5 for GK is unequivocally too much (again, see Simmons' column yesterday for this take). I'm not so sure this is true. Al Jefferson is an exceptionally gifted offensive player who will probably never be a great defensive player, a situation that's as much due to his being slightly undersized as it is to his abilities. The idea that acquiring Karnett in exchange for Jefferson et al will provide only "superior defense at the 4-spot and a slight points/rebounding upgrade" (Simmons' assessment) is preposterous. It's not unreasonable to speculate that Gevin Karnett could average 25 and 14 in the Eastern Conference next year; reversing the hypothetical, while there's certainly a decent chance Big Al improves on his numbers next year, playing in the West is sure to slow his statistical learning curve more than a bit. More compelling is Simmons' argument for keeping Al over KG in terms of salary discrepancy, but that only becomes a meaningful argument if management is serious about using cap space to bring in legit veteran talent, which they haven't shown an ability to do.

Marc Stein recently wrote a column on ESPN.com in which he flatly stated that "a Garnett-Paul Pierce tag team will have real hope of getting to the Finals no matter who's around those two." This is a provocative statement, but you know what? He's right. The Eastern Conference is abysmal, as this year proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Sure, there's probably no way they'd win, but in all honesty, do you think that in 3-4 years a C's team built around Big Al, Corey Brewer, Rajon Rondo and a geriatric Pierce would have a better shot at beating a Blazers team with Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy?

When all's said and done, I'll be more than happy if Big Al is still a Celtic come November. If Thursday comes around and Ainge throws in the towel on talks with Minnesota and drafts Corey Brewer (which seems the increasingly likely choice, as Yi is allegedly slipping, thank God), hey, I'm on board. But make no mistake: Al Jefferson is not Gevin Karnett, even Gevin Karnett at 31, and in reality it's hard to believe he ever will be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do it only if we get Blount back


I'm glad to see some fans are sick of this all ready. Most are not, but I am. There is only so much stuff I can say about it. I don't know if I read anything really good about the Garnett rumor yet, I certainly have nothing that intelligent to write. Just trade Kobe for KG, nothing else makes sense in this souped-up retarded ESPN-mill field we are now trouncing through. I mean there's only one other deal I can think of that is that good.

Even though the C's-Garnett rumor seems to be realistic, I'm not gonna get excited in the least till it happens. Then when it occurs I will be surprised and then think about how we are gonna do next year. In all likelihood the first thing I think of:
Get ready for a great season! Our uninspired march to the eight seed with a 41-41 mark could not be sweeter! Get ready for panic trades and pointing fingers. But more importantly, get ready for a consistent flow of nail-biting losses. This is Wyc and Danny's Celtics!

Seriously, if you get Garnett, please fucking hire Carlisle; let's at least try to see this thing work. It's probably not a good trade though, I have reservations, I don't know if it will get us to the summit. Also the Celtics are gonna have to sign like five more guys, so we don't even know who will be on the team. Maybe we can get Bonzi.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Unspeakable Things, Unspoken


It's not often that I get to title a post with a Toni Morrison reference, nor is it often that I get to lead with a hilarious photo of two men who famously despise each other trying to pretend that they don't. But these indeed are special times.

So we in these parts think it's about time to weigh in on this whole Kevin Garnett thing, since apparently this one's got some legs to it. The hot rumor--reported numerous places, notably Monday by Chad Ford and then followed up by the Herald--has the C's sending Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and the fifth pick in the draft to the T-Wolves for the Big Ticket himself. Now, let's all exhale.

Needless to say, this would be a huge trade in every sense of the word. The C's would essentially be sending five players to Minnesota in order to get Garnett, and make no mistake, this deal would be nothing short of a massive event for both franchises. For Boston, you're making an incredibly aggressive statement that you are truly looking to win now. For Minnesota, you're essentially doing exactly the opposite: after making this trade, the T-Wolves start to suspiciously resemble last year's Celtics, and possibly even worse, since they even lack a Paul Pierce.

For the C's, this is a huge amount to give up. Granted, Telfair is basically a ghost these days, and the only reason we have Theo Ratliff is for a situation like this. One could even make the case that as it stands right now, Gerald Green is at best highly questionable to the future of this team. Giving up Big Al is huge, though, as is giving up all access to the first round of this year's draft. Make no mistake: losing both Al and the number five is a costly bargain indeed.

That said, well, it's Kevin Garnett. Quite honestly, if the C's make this deal as it's currently constructed I see no reason they won't win the Atlantic Division next year. If Rajon Rondo has a big second year and Tony Allen can come back in decent shape I even think they could go deep into the playoffs. Kevin Garnett in the Eastern Conference will be extraordinary, and about this there's just no question. Sure, he's 31, but he's never missed more than six games in a season and you have to figure that moving to the East--where Duncan and Yao suddenly becomes Eddy Curry and Samuel Dalembert--could potentially add several years to his career. Garnett's been neglected the past few years because he's been on terrible teams, but he's absolutely still one of the best players in the NBA (last year he quietly led the league in rebounding). He is an utterly unique talent and will transform the team for the better.

But it's a lot to give up. I'm kind of tired tonight so we'll have to return to this discussion in the coming days... there's a lot to talk about. For me the hardest part is losing both Al and the pick... that could potentially really, really sting a few years down the road, when Pierce and Garnett are pushing 35 and Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer are pushing the Wolves toward the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. All of that said, well, we've been clamoring in this space for a while that something drastic needs to happen, and it's hard to back off that claim now, not with a former MVP and legitimate superstar possibly looming on the horizon. Sit tight.

Also, a hearty welcome to newest Headband author/commenter Nate, who is making his triumphant return from a hideous knee injury incurred while trying to dunk a ball that had been whistled dead a good five seconds earlier.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kobe Beef


To your left is a photo of one of the famous Kobe cows, and goddamn, that thing looks healthier and happier than anyone I know. Anyways, apologies for the bad pun but I found it irresistible. As Tim notes below, Kobe's beef with LA seems not to be subsiding as expected... yesterday Kobe even reiterated his trade demand on his personal webpage, a douchebag move on a number of levels that's nonetheless completely in keeping with the legendary Mamba. The post is relatively unremarkable save for the fact that he signs off with the phrase "Strength and Honor," which I might have to steal for my own professional correspondence. I mean, "pretentious" doesn't even begin to cover that.

In any event, Chad Ford over at ESPN Insider is predictably atwitter over the renewed seriousness of Kobe's trade demands, and again, apologies that the above link is subscription-only; direct any and all vitriol to ESPN. Anyways, Ford is fairly insistent that the Lakers will never trade Kobe to a Western Conference team, and will instead look to deal him either to Chicago or New York, which are apparently Kobe's top two choices. Why the fuck Kobe--who by all accounts wishes to leave LA because the team is shoddily managed and poorly constructed (both of which are salient points)--has decided that the KNICKS are a better option at this juncture is beyond me, but hey, whatever. Anyways, Chad also notes that the only way the Lakers can remotely justify unloading Kobe to their fanbase is if they get a star player in return, and Chad identifies two players that might fit that bill: Agent Zero and... drum roll... our own Paul Pierce. Take it away, Chad:

"A similar trade could work if the Lakers were willing to substitute Boston and Pierce. While Pierce is almost 30 years old, I'm told the Lakers like him -- and he's from L.A., too.

The Bulls would send Gordon, Thomas and Brown (sign-and-trade) to Boston, and the No. 9 pick to L.A.

The Lakers would send Bryant to Chicago.

The Celtics would send Pierce to L.A.

That deal would make the Celtics even younger than they already are, but it would also give them plenty of assets to continue making deals."

Now, this is clearly one of these columns that is entirely in Chad Ford's head... he cites no legitimate sources or buzz, and goes out of his way to note that this is purely hypothetical. Nonetheless, it's kind of interesting. Basically we would end up getting Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas and the 37-year-old P.J. Brown for Paul Pierce. I'm not a big fan of Gordon's game; he doesn't do anything well other than score, and while he's slowly getting his FG% up he's still an often unproductive and one-dimensional player. Tyrus Thomas is a beast when he wants to be but is also reportedly something of a head-case and malcontent. P.J. Brown, as mentioned before, is 37. Basically I don't really like this (entirely imaginary) trade from the C's perspective. Introduce Luol Deng to the equation, however, and my ears are burning.

Strength and Honor,
Jack



Sunday, June 17, 2007

Getting Fair Value For Kobe

For some reason the Buss - Kobe reuniĆ³n in Spain has me thinking that there is actually a chance of Kobe going elsewhere. I'd still put it at less than 50/50, but maybe there's something to it. This brings up a couple of interesting things. As Jack touched upon yesterday, it seems like there is an inordinate amount of trade rumors involving big name stars this June. Obviously this is the time of year when we hear all sorts of crazy stuff, but still we are hearing so much persistent talk that it seems like some of it must come to fruition.

Today Sam Smith has his regular speculative yet entertaining article in the Chicago Tribune saying that Z-Bo is definitely getting traded, and probably soon. Jermaine O'Neil's name is in all the papers. And names like Bibby, Artest, Marion, Jamison and Garnett (oooh... says the crowd) are present day after day. Just the sheer number of rumors with these guys points to movement. It is not regular, I really feel that. And it is exhilarating because there has been a total lack of substantive movement in the past year. Even the "BIG" Iverson deal really did nothing for the Nuggets, and what it did to the Sixers is too subtle for most fans to care about.

What is fascinating about the Kobe thing is that there is a definite perception that the Lakers cannot get fair value for him. I don't know if that is true. As Bill Simmons pointed out on his long blog piece on trading Kobe a few weeks ago, when you trade a superstar you usually end up getting fleeced. But in the same piece Simmons proposes a number of trades that would seem to improve the Lakers. For instance Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, and the #11 pick help the Lakers in the long run more than Kobe and Vlad Radmanovic do. Likewise Deng, Gordon, and the #9 pick make the Lakers better than they currently are. One trade he did not propose but would be interesting to us (but not happening) would be Paul Pierce and the #5 pick for Kobe. This would also probably improve the Lakers.

Simmons' point in the piece is that the team that receives the superstar vastly improves. But this dramatic improvement on occasion can make the trade look more lopsided than it really is. For instance Shaq sent the Heat to the conference finals with an MVP-like performance in '04-'05, and the Heat won it all the next year (when Shaq was no longer their best player.) But what is usually left unsaid is that the Lakers received two all-star caliber players (Lamar Odom and Caron Butler) in the deal and Shaq basically strong-armed the Heat into granting him a preposterous extension that pays him $20 million a year till 2010. Jerry Buss supposedly was wise enough to know that giving Shaq an extension was insane, and did acquire two great talents in return. The problem with the deal was that Lakers management and Kobe proceeded to squander the unique excellence of Odom and utterly waste Caron Butler (traded after one year for Kwame "lets throw a cake at someone" Brown.)
The Shaq example is just to spell out that trades are not always as lopsided as they seem -although they often are. But trading Kobe should not fall in this unwanted category, because Kobe is such a uniquely talented yet unblendable player. His style is so selfish by nature that to see him carry a team over the top as the undisputed number one guy seems highly unlikely. He is no Kareem, Moses or Shaq - centers who controlled the game from a fundamental standpoint and therefore positively helped all their teammates on the floor. Kobe instead is a scoring machine like no one this generation has ever seen, so explosive and volatile that his individual exploits can leave an entire opposition in the dust when all the cylinders are working. But the cylinders usually are not all firing, and his effect on teammates wavers from hurtful to neutral to mildly uplifting.

It is way too late to call Kobe on the effect he has on his teammates, it simply is who he is as a player, and at this stage it just needs to be accepted. But to say that he can take a team to the championship like Tim Duncan or Shaq is being too kind. Maybe it could work in Chicago with all the young talent they have, in some new age Bad Boys type way, but I doubt it. You got to remember, the reason the Lakers lost in the Finals of 2004 to Detroit was because of Kobe. With Shaq still in his prime and an ample supporting cast of Malone, Payton etc. the Lakers should have easily handled the Pistons. Instead they almost got swept, with Kobe playing some stupendously selfish basketball. Kobe is not a team player, and he cannot be even if he wants to be. So this anomalous star can be traded away with fair value coming in return.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Finally!


Not sure if people have seen this yet, but apparently the mysterious Chinese guy now has his own NBA-sanctioned blog.
If you're guessing that it's markedly less entertaining than Agent Zero's inimitable stylings in this department, well, you're correct. A sample:

If I were the coach of the Cavaliers
"Well, I’ve never been a coach so I’m not an expert on this. But LeBron took his team to the NBA Finals for the first time, meaning they already play very well. And I think that although the Cavaliers really want to win this series, the Spurs are just too good for them to defeat."
Wow! I don't know what's funnier, the fact that from that statement could have easily been made by someone who has never picked up a basketball in his life or that it in fact sounds eerily similar to what was by all indications Mike Brown's actual strategy. Anyways, whatever, the blog sucks and probably won't get a whole hell of a lot better anytime soon. Still, sort of amusing.

I still think it's fairly unlikely Yi ends up on the C's, though it's starting to look more and more like Horford and BWright will both be off the board by the time the C's pick. There's actually a cool "Consensus Mock Draft" feature on NBA.com, which actually seems to raise some conflict-of-interest/tampering issues that we'll choose to ignore. Anyways, I think a trade is looking more and more likely. Rumor has it that Isaiah Thomas approached Danny with an offer of a gaggle of overrated Knicks (is there any other kind??) in exchange for the fifth pick and Danny basically told him to go fuck himself. Well played. I feel like with a combination of the pick, Ratliff's contract and Delonte or Gerald or something we might be able to grab an All-Star caliber sidekick for Pierce, and I think that's truly the best option at this point.

That's about all I've got for today. Enjoy the weekend. Also, if you want to check out some amazingly funny shit that's completely non-basketball-related, check out Michael Cera's online comedy show that's being experimentally produced by CBS. Michael Cera, as some may know, played George Michael on the seminal, beloved, impervious-to-hyperbole-yet-cancelled "Arrested Development." Anyway, his new show is hilarious... check it out.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ranking the Coaches

Watching Popovich versus Mike Brown has been everything we should have expected and more. Because we have had the fantastic opportunity to watch Mike Brown extensively in the playoffs, and are also given the pleasure of Glenn Rivers for 82 regular season games each year, I thought it would be fun to do a quick list of the coaches in the NBA, from worst to best. They say the NBA is about players, but frankly sometimes it's not.

We'll leave out Seattle and Sactown because they are coachless; Marc Iavaroni and Sam Vincent will be left out because they have never coached in the league; and we'll give Larry Krystowiak a pass because Milwaukee didn't seem very interested in winning the 18 games he coached this past year. So without further ado...

25. Doc Rivers - Seriously. I'm not being a homer here. When you consider how irrationally Doc coaches basketball games, how every single one of his teams has underachieved except his first, and how goddamn aggravating he is when he points fingers or makes excuses, he doesn't only deserve to be down here, he has to be.

24. Mike Brown - Hey, he is a good defensive coach. But it was more fun watching Cleveland during the Mike Fratello "slow down" days of the 90's. And when LeBron is on your team and that is the case, you're a lousy fucking coach and need to be canned. Just think what Rick Carlisle could do with this team.

23. Mike Woodson - I like his beard and maybe his demeanor but there is no reason why he should be coaching the Hawks when he went 69-177 since he started three years ago.

22. Randy Wittman - Replaced a competent Dwane Casey midway through the year in Minnesota and proceeded to do an incompetent job. Who would have thought after his excellent 62-102 mark coaching the Cavs from 1999-2001?

21. Isiah Thomas - Yeah. Not much needs to be said - a much better coach than executive, though.

20. Mike Dunleavy - His speciality is coaching talented teams and making sure they underachieve. Not a good coach at all.

19. Flip Saunders - He's been getting a ton of criticism and I see no need to defend him. This just about does it for the coaches who really suck section.

18. Mo Cheeks - Nice guy, did a good job with the Sixers this year after A.I. left.

17. Scott Skiles - Some people think he's brilliant, I think he's kind of a prick.

16. George Karl - He needs a change of scenery, his schtick with the Nuggets has run its course.

15. Lawrence Frank - Also been coaching the same personnel for too long (Rod Thorn's fault, not his.) Seems to do a decent enough job.

14. Nate McMillan - About to start winning a lot of games - will probably be considered much smarter in a few years.

13. Byron Scott - Gets his teams to play hard, great job with the Hornets year before last.

12. Eddie Jordan - Good offensive mind, would be interesting to see him with another team.

11. Rick Adelman - It will be exciting to see the transition from Van Gundy to Adelman - I don't know if it's necessarily an upgrade, but it's probably a switch they need.

10. Sam Mitchell - One of my favorites, a fucking firecracker of a coach - could be fired midway through next year or win coach of the year again, you never know with Sam.

9. Don Nelson - Just keep drinking and having fun Don.

8. Stan Van Gundy - I was always impressed he was able to take Miami back from 0-7 to the playoffs. More relaxed than his brother as a coach, a better hire than Billy Donovan.

7. Jim O'Brien - He will have the Pacers in the playoffs next year, and they'll probably be a tough out. That's saying something.

6. Jerry Sloan - A hardened bastard of a coach. Maybe Skiles should golf with him.

5. Avery Johnson - Great sideline antics, a blue tongue throughout the Golden State series, and a master of strange but effective substitutions.

4. Pat Riley - Kind of coasting now, and his maniacalness is looking a little less cool, but he's still sticking his head in buckets of ice and stuff, so that's good.

3. Mike D'Antoni - His style of play is sweeping the NBA, but he still coaches it the best.

2. Phil Jackson - Always pushes the right buttons. Has aged strangely - I don't know what I mean by that.

1. Gregg Popovich- The successful adjustments he makes are just shocking. Whether it be in transition defense against the Suns or neutralizing LeBron this series, he always seems to have something up his sleeve that no one else has. It helps he has great players, but he manages them perfectly.

There it is. Now look at this list again. Feel good about the C's now?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Whatever


I stumbled upon this little piece of amazingness while shuffling through an otherwise pedestrian Shira Springer column in the Globe today and felt the need to share:

"If Phoenix doesn't work out as a trading partner, there is speculation around the league about a possible deal with Seattle that would bring forward Rashard Lewis to Boston. Lewis reportedly is good friends with Gerald Green and would consent to the deal if Green is not a part of the package."

I'm sorry, but I find it absolutely fucking hilarious that a marquee free agent wants to come to Boston in order to play with Gerald Green. I mean, has Rashard ever watched a Celtics game? Don't get me wrong, I think Gerald is probably a really great guy, and both he and Rashard are from Houston (though Lewis is six years older), but aside from the occasionally insane flashes of brilliance, Gerald Green kind of sucks at basketball. This is kind of like if Barry Zito had signed with the Sox last year because he wanted to play with Wily Mo Pena.

Truthfully, I'm not a huge Rashard Lewis fan and I don't think he's the answer for the C's. First of all, he's going to command an outrageous salary wherever he goes, mostly because the free agent market is weak this year and someone is always down to overpay guys who put up flashy numbers, even though Rashard's numbers aren't even really that flashy. Last year he averaged 22.4 ppg, but 6.6 rpg is pretty awful for a guy who's 6-10 and who the C's would definitely want to see spending some time around the basket. Also, he's never averaged even one block per game, which is also alarming considering his height and the fact that he frequently lines up as a 3 against guys who are at least 2-3 inches shorter. I'm not trying to dispute the fact that Rashard Lewis is a nice player, but he's definitely not a franchise guy even though he'll almost certainly end up getting paid like one. Normally I'd say that I don't see Danny biting here, which is the wise decision, except for the fact that as Springer points out, the Sonics have perpetually-injured Robert Swift, for whom Ainge has been sporting an inexplicable hard-on since 2004. Still, I don't think this will happen, if for no other reason than that the Sonics have Durant coming (god damn them) and can probably get more for Lewis than what the C's can afford to offer.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Doc's Misuse of Ryan Gomes


Nearly everyone likes Ryan Gomes. He’s smart, gritty, humble – and good. Similar to Shane Battier, Gomes is a player who does all the little things well. We often hear any team in the league would want Gomes because of this. But I must admit – I hated watching Ryan this past year. His situation typifies Doc not utilizing the talents of his players.

To understand this year's Gomes, we have to look at his rookie year. He was drafted 50th overall in the ’05 draft, meaning that most of us had low hopes for him – I personally figured he’d be slightly better than Justin Reed, and that was all. Till February of ’06 he hardly played, never logging more than twenty minutes in a game. He never reached double figures in either points or rebounds, or came anywhere close most of the time.

With the C’s running out of bodies, Gomes finally got his “big chance” on February 10. He responded mightily, averaging 14 ppg and 9.3 rebs the rest of February. Now, it can be debated whether Doc should have noticed Gomes was one of his better players earlier, but we’ll give him a mulligan – this stuff happens. Rick Carlisle did the same thing with Tayshaun Prince his rookie year. Anyway, it was exhilarating to see Ryan Gomes break out – Pierce’s sublime season and Gomes’ grand entrance were the two best stories for the Celtics in ’05-’06 (if you don’t include the stellar play of Dan Dickau.)

The greatness of Gomes his rookie year was his knack to outquick larger power forwards and centers. Whether it was in rebounding or creating a shot, Gomes' superior speed and intelligence made him an extremely effective power forward the latter part of the season. His game was finesse and strength, the same as it had been collegiately, but what was rather shocking was how nicely it translated to the pros. Gomes’ size was not a distinct limitation, and he was still able to work within twelve feet of the basket almost exclusively. He could no longer dominate like at Providence, but was a supremely capable pro.

Gomes seemed the perfect undersized power forward for the Celtics. To watch him put back a rebound sandwiched between two bigger guys never ceased to entertain, and he did it all the time. His innate ability to get the right angles and spacing were a huge reason why the Celtics didn’t look like shit in late winter ’06. He was probably the most likable player on the roster.

Then ’06-’07 arrived. There had been talk since Gomes’ arrival in the league that he needed to significantly upgrade his outside shot. Although he disproved this theory with his successful rookie season, everybody was still talking about it. Gomes apparently heard the murmurs. From the beginning of the exhibition season he was taking jumpers from 15-18 feet. This was a terrible idea.

Turning Gomes into a jump shooter completely destroys his effectiveness. Gomes thrives on activity, by pounding on the inside he is able to get subtle but substantial angles to rebound or get off a good shot. To consistently have him seventeen feet away from the basket to spot up is…completely nuts. How Doc Rivers could not see this totally confounded me throughout the year. People talked about Ryan’s jump shooting, but they never talked about at what expense he was paying for it. Doc severely worsened the situation by experimenting with Gomes at small forward, therefore insuring that Ryan would be nowhere near the paint.

Because there are very few, if any, set plays for Gomes, it had to be mainly his own volition to shoot jumpers. But that does not mean he is solely to blame. If Rivers had used common sense he would have realized that at worst Gomes was the second best big man he had. And big men with inside skills should play on the inside. They don’t belong masquerading as small forwards. Gomes also had a much harder time defending quick forwards as opposed to big men. So by allowing Ryan to be a perimeter player Doc shot himself in the foot (again.)

A big reason why the Celtics only won 23 games was because Gomes was just a passive cog in the machine this past year. His numbers were similar, but he was a completely different player. Players like Gomes cannot be judged by statistics, they can be judged by how well their team performs as a whole when they are on the court. Being so far out of his element, Gomes floundered, showing sometimes glimpses of brilliance mixed in with far too much perimeter mediocrity. It reached an absurd finale when Gomes became a three point shooter at the end of the year. He is such a bright player hopefully he can figure it out, and maybe he will even develop a decent outside game, but for what it’s worth: Ryan, don’t listen to what snooty scouts say - you’re a power forward, play like one, you’re good at it.