Tuesday, July 22, 2008

That Might Be It For Now

Yesterday I left off saying we have to see who else the Celtics sign before training camp, but after looking at the roster and reading Ainge's comments I realized that we well might be looking at the opening day squad for these '08-09 Boston Celtics. If both Giddens and Walker sign (and there was a rumor that the C's want Bill to play in Europe for a year) that will give Boston 14 players under contract. Given Ainge's previous statements about leaving a roster spot open, there seems a good chance that the Green won't be having any more additions this Summer.

And at the end of the day I'd be fine with that. There is a strong possibility they will be able to add someone of value during the season if need be. However, it is slightly irksome to look at the depth chart behind Pierce, Ray Allen and Rondo - House, TA, Pruitt, Giddens and Walker won't probably make opponents fearful. But as we learned last year, you needn't be feared to be effective. Still, among the five backups at the point and swing positions only two are proven: House and TA. What the C's need is for one of the three unprovens to step up and perform at a capable level. Hopefully that's not asking too much.

Where the Celtics do have considerable depth is with their bigs. This opens up the possibility of playing Garnett some at small forward, which he is fully capable of doing. That could create a potential mismatch nightmare. It also is always possible that Ainge could deal away "minor" contracts (like the ones TA and House just signed, or even Scal's) along with someone like Big Baby to get a better player in return.

So the flexibility is still there. One idea that I think could be highly worthwhile is for Doc (yes, we can call him that now) to use Ray as the sixth man, and for TA to start. First off, this will give the Celtics guaranteed scoring off the bench (I'd argue Powe automatically supplies this as well.) Secondly, it would give Doc a concrete way of curbing Ray's minutes, which were too high for most of last year. And any scuttlebutt about Ray coming off the bench should be hushed when we consider that Ginobili was a sixth man last year, playing only 31 minutes a game at the absolute peak of his brilliance. Ray can swallow the sixth man pill, and could be better for it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In House

The Herald is reporting Eddie and TA are returning. I think most of us will agree this is a good thing, if the reported numbers of the deals are correct (2 year contracts at $2-3 million a year for each player.) Continuity is an important aspect of winning, and with Posey leaving, two solid players returning becomes all that more significant. The question remains about who the Celtics will sign at the swing position - Barnes is off the market, and Devean George is supposedly within the Celtics' sights. We'll have a more thorough breakdown later....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Not So Far From The Tree

I've been thinking a lot about who the C's are gonna try to get to "replace" Posey; as Ainge said it's not that simple. This team's style is going to slightly change without Posey, particularly the identity of the bench. Of course the bench's identity as we know it depends equally as much upon whether TA, House and Cassell come back, but whoever grabs that swingman spot will have an undeniable impact, and hopefully it will be a positive one. I am partially taken with the idea of signing another "charismatic" player - this Celtics team can probably bring the best out of such types. That's why someone like Matt Barnes still appeals to me; the sum of the parts becomes greater than just the individual talent added if it all works out well. Barnes could be that firestarter on the cheap; Micheal Finley could be too, in a different way, if San Antonio really would let him go.

But there might be an even less expensive immediate solution. And his name is Bonzi Wells. Bonzi thrives in situations that are emotionally charged, and with KG around the Celtics will be nothing less than maniacal night in and night out. Such brooding and screaming could be perfect for Mr. Wells' particular mental and physical skillset. He is a wild card, and when he is on - which can be for long stretches - he can be a dominant player in this league. Yes, he's 31 and might be unhealthy, and he has been called a cancer on more than one occasion. But he could probably be had for under $2 million a year, and if the Triumvirate approves I would go for it. Bonzi is big and multifaceted. He could be a potential bargain.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Well, the Posey era is over. This unofficially marks the end of the '07-08 team, and means that the squad we will be seeing in a few months will have some totally new elements, for good or bad. Obviously it's hard to see James go; on an emotional level it's very, very difficult. For while Garnett's intensity was the hallmark behind the championship, and Pierce the ignition, Posey personified what this Celtics team was all about more than anyone else. Without him the Celtics would not have been champions. He was so gritty, so elegantly brutal, that his worth always appeared most apparent in the largest of situations. When all else failed in ATL and Cleveland, Posey was unbowed. No matter how pressure packed the situation, James captured it and was able to make that energy helpful instead of negative. For that we will forever be grateful, and he will remain one of my personal favorites...

And because of Posey's demeanor, and all the little things he does, I am not willing to discount this signing by the Hornets, as unusual as it seems when you already have Julian Wright, Mo Pete and Peja. Posey is one of the few players in the league for which stats really don't seem to do much justice at all. He can be vastly superior than what his PER indicates. But he also can be just an average player, as he often was with Miami. He needs the right situation to thrive, and if New Orleans gives him that environment he might be worth the high cost.

From the Celtics perspective four years and $25 millionish was just too much, and ultimately that's pretty understandable. It means Danny and Wyc are serious about their finances and aren't gonna screw around with cash. At least we hope that's what it means. While the '08 Championship could not have been won without Posey, the '09 Championship can. Now that this team has made it up the mountain, they don't necessarily need a guide to do it again. Posey unquestionably was a guide for this year's team, in everything he did.

So what are Ainge's options? There's plenty, and the Celtics might not land the big fish they want off the bench till February of next year. But it seems rather certain that a veteran swingman is going to be brought in prior to training camp; no one is resting their laurels on Pruitt, Giddens and Walker yet. Tony Allen is back in the picture (did we ever think he would really go away?). So are free agents like Matt Barnes, Carlos Delfino, Kelenna Azubuike, Dorell Wright and Michael Finley. And trades happen in the wink of an eye. So the Celtics should be all right. But it will be different and certainly a tad less salty next season. We'll miss you, Pose.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Some information passed through the wire yesterday. We found out, finally, that Pierce's leg is in excellent shape - thank goodness. That's no small bit of good news, and I'm still surprised that Pierce didn't get the MRI taken earlier. But, whatever. Also, the C's signed Patrick O'Bryant to a two year deal, giving them three legit bigs (KG, Perk and O'Bryant) and two highly effective undersized bigs (Powe and Baby). The power foward and center positions are full of depth. O'Bryant was needed because he has the size that Powe or Baby simply do not. What's exciting about Patrick is that his Hollinger draft scores from 2006 were very strong; he was a top 10 prospect in Hollinger's book. So we're hoping that his two wasted years in Golden State were simply a byproduct of Nellie's small ball system; and that by teaming up with KG & Gang O'Bryant will begin to realize his potential. So I endorse the deal. Now we await on the Posey decision, and I don't think I'm gonna really comment on it until he signs. I want to process the numbers. Pietrus getting $5 million plus a year worries me, though. Not auspicious. Anyway, we'll see...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Youth Brand

Ever since Rhoden's NYT article a few weeks ago the Brandon Jennings saga has been in the public eye, and I'm glad to see so many writers supporting Jennings in his decision to screw college and make money. He obviously deserves that right, and there's nothing the NCAA and NBA can do about it. While it's unfortunate we will not get to see Jennings play on CBS next year, the personal story of Brandon (and players like him) seems so much more vital and noteworthy. Anyway, cheers to the kid.

Now onto the Brand thing, specifically the Philly side of it, because the Clips' side is so up in the air. The 76ers were one of my favorite teams to watch last season, but I think there is some overreaction to how good the Sixers will now be with Brand on board. Once you get past the (possible) shock of Brand in the East, you realize that Elton is probably not enough to get the Sixers over the hump - unless a few things happen. One way they could become very good fast would be if Thaddeus Young or Marreese Speights becomes a star. That's not an outlandish idea - both are young and supremely talented, and if one develops quickly into an All Star the Sixers will be mighty scary. But the emphasis is on quick development, because if it takes them five years to become great players, Brand's window already would have probably passed.

The other, and I would say more likely, way Philadelphia can compete for a title in the next couple of years is to parlay their young talent for a superstar veteran in a trade, a la Ainge. The issue with this scenario is that what Ainge pulled off is hard to do - getting a top 10 player via trade is a small miracle. Ed Stefanski has said on multiple occasions that he hopes to model his team off of the Pistons - with super solid players at every position, as opposed to two constellations and a bunch of supporting characters. Brand's signing goes a ways in achieving Stefanski's vision; I just ultimately question the intelligence of aspiring towards the Pistons' model - it worked once in 2004, and every other championship team of the last 20 years has been led by a top 5 superstar.

The other issue with these Sixers is that they still will be not experienced enough to legitimately contend for a title in a few years. There's basically Andre Miller and Brand, with everybody else being a proverbial kid. A common thread of all championship teams is deep experience, and while I think Iguodala, Young and Louis Williams are excellent players, none of those guys have been through any real battles on the court. That matters come playoff time.

So all in all I am a little dejected by this free agent "coup" by the Sixers. Their weird, eccentric blend of athleticism will almost surely be tempered down by Brand's more traditional presence, and we will probably just be looking at a 48 win second round loser till 2011. Of course, Shavlik Randolph could finally reach his potential immaculateness as a 20-10 monster; then all bets would be off the table.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Carpetbagging Assholes

Just a fucking shame. Let's give our heartfelt support to all Seattle fans. It's amazing the city just let those motherfucking wretched owners off the hook like this. Sonics fans - you've been let down by both your town officials and crooked owners. DO NOT FORGET.


Reading about Walker's knees and thinking about whether the Celtics would extend Powe this summer with his knee situation, I came to a larger quandary: Pierce's "sprained" knee. I mean, have you heard anything about this? Because I haven't. Paul had an apparently horrific knee injury in Game 1, but battled back and won MVP. By that point we had obviously figured his injury wasn't nearly as bad as it first appeared. And then...nothing. I'm assuming he's fine, although I don't see how journalists could have not asked the Celtics or Pierce about his condition.

It's just strange - yet it perfectly summates the Celtics' postseason run. The Celtics' troubles in May have been swept under the rug, but anyone who thinks the C's just had "matchup" problems with the Hawks and Cavs is delusional. Boston had one of the more shaky postseasons a Champion has ever had. Frankly I have no idea what happened in May, and am just grateful that they were able to figure it out. And Pierce's injury - so shocking and momentarily demoralizing - was the final bit of bad karma that had to be done away with before the Green could finally lay their mental problems to rest for good. Now we are at the epilogue. And I'm just wondering what's up with Paul's knee.

Baron Surprise

Well, this is a bit loopy. The internets are reporting that Baron Davis has "verbally agreed" to sign a five year, $65 million deal with the LA Clippers, mere hours after rather abruptly opting out of his Warriors contract. This is obviously pretty big news, and lips are aflutter that this is merely the first salvo fired in post-KG basketball, that Baron and Elton Brand (also a free agent, incidentally) recently looked at the Celtics and were like, "hey, we can do that" (they can't), and then, you know, maybe this changes the whole Corey Maggette thing and all that. Truthfully I don't really care, since the only thing Clippers-related I've ever cared about since he entered the league is Shaun Livingston, and goddamn it, where does this leave him? I mean, not to get all freedarko on you here, but Shaun Livingston is 6-7 and listed at 182 lbs., and all he does is play basketball better than any point guard most of us have ever been in a (large) room with. Granted, the kid can't stay healthy to save his life (a rich turn of a phrase, when you think of it), but does this mean the Livingston era in LA is over? The mind says no but the heart screams "yes," if only because I would really, really like to watch Shaun Livingston play basketball the way he can and should, one of these days, and maybe, just maybe, the whole Clipperdom thing isn't work out. As, I'd like to add, it generally doesn't. Free Shaun Livingston!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gee Wiz

Today's a big day, with free agency beginning and all, and there already has been some surprising moves announced. But let's talk about Jamison's extension from yesterday, because it's official, and it implies a problem we might be seeing more of in the next few weeks. I wrote a piece at the beginning of the year talking about how salaries should be curtailed in light of the current luxury tax crunch so many teams are facing (I also mistakenly blasted Kyle Korver - oh yeah.) The main point was rather simple: only pay top dollar for the very best talent, especially when you're bidding against yourself.

Ernie Grunfeld apparently didn't take heed. What team besides the Wizards was going to give Antawn $50 million over four years? There's no way the Sixers or Grizzlies would have, they're both rebuilding, and that was really Washington's only direct competition for Jamison's services. So basically Grunfeld had all the leverage going into this negotiation - and didn't take any advantage of it. This is a classic case of salary cap mismanagement, evoking immediate memories of Otis Smith's misguided generosity towards Rashard Lewis last year. It's not surprising, but always kind of disappointing.

If there's one thing I don't get in today's NBA's fiscal climate, it is why you would overpay a player who doesn't need to be overpaid. Jamison is not a peerless talent -he's probably the Wizards' third best player, and he's 32 at the beginning of this deal. Grunfeld should have at least offered Jamison a few less greenbacks so it would be more palatable to throw money in Arenas' direction. Or - if he was really forward thinking - he would have let the market dictate whether he would have signed either Jamison or Arenas, and acted accordingly to get better talent if his stars decided to move elsewhere (and be vastly overpaid.)

Listen, the Wizards just aren't that good - I don't care if Eddie Jordan coached the All-Star game a few years ago. These guys aren't gonna get through the Celtics, Pistons, Cavs, Magic, etc. They might get through one, but they won't get through all of them. Forking over $170 million to Gilbert and Antawn all but guarantees adequacy from the Wiz over the next few years. So congratulations on that, Mr. Grunfeld, we'll see how many other GMs have joined you in this dubious club by summer's end.