When I was a kid Yahoo! Sports used to be my homepage. The only thing I ever wanted to do when I got home at then end of every day was open my browser, hit the “rumors” tab and see what moves could be looming. Any sport, too. I love trades. Love free agency. Love the intrigue to the entire thing. The dominos which fall league wide after each and every tweak is made. Long term vs. short term thinking. Overpaying vs. bargain hunting. Literally not a thing I didn’t like about the entire process. Mind you, this was all before Twitter. If you wanted to talk about this kind of stuff with other fans? Comment sections, message boards, and sports talk radio were the only places it could be done outside of barber shops and water coolers. All of those things took time and even a slight bit of focus. And those message board posts were usually long winded, too. Except for the jackasses who would write “first” (without realizing that he wasn’t actually first the other comments just hadn’t posted yet. Nice work, Einsteins).
Now… we have Twitter. And I LOVE Twitter. Love how quickly information can spread around to every nook and cranny in the world almost instantaneously. Love that it’s lawless unlike Facebook (because Mark Zuckerberg is apparently afraid of naked females). But what I am growing sick of are situations like what we have been seeing the past week-plus involving Doc Rivers. Do you think this would even have made it to those rumor tabs on Yahoo back in 2001? No. No one would have been talking about it. No one would have even known about it unless Danny Ainge or Doc Rivers or a player on the Celtics had come out and said, “We’re not sure if Doc’s coming back. He’s contemplating retiring if we cannot work out a deal to send him to the Clippers and the Clippers only.” Now I’m not saying Doc wouldn’t have still ended up in LA, but I am saying the final package would have been different in a world with zero smart phones. It’s almost as if the Celtics and Clippers aren’t making this trade, but Twitter, ESPN, and millions of wannabe GMs are making this trade. Once this information comes to the masses, these GMs can sit back and gauge the reactions of their respective fan bases. They can read articles written by top tier analysts and try to judge how a potential trade is being viewed – even if there is zero legitimacy to these rumors. Then they can go back to the drawing board with the other team, both knowing full well which team is getting the better of the deal in terms of public perception. And it drags on. And then it comes out. And then there’s another reaction. And it drags on. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
This process has become tired and unnecessary. Blame starts to get thrown around. Reporters start to “leak” (non-)information. So while I have little actual idea what the Clippers and Celtics are discussing behind closed doors, I do know what I would like to see happen with the Celtics once this entire ordeal finally has a shiny red bow on top of it.
- Move on from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce – Paul Pierce is a top five Celtic all time. One of the best scorers the NBA has seen over the last 15 or so years. One of the reasons I love the Boston Celtics as much as I do. As much as I would love for The Truth to retire in Boston it simply isn’t a wise decision from an organizational standpoint. Paul Pierce can be bought out of his current deal for $5 million before July 1st. Whether the Celtics buy him out or trade him, I believe it would be in the Celtics’ best interest heading forward to cut ties with the Captain, as painful as that is to type. Kevin Garnett came to Boston and completely changed the basketball culture in the city. His defense and intensity were what this city longed for. I know. I went to hundreds of games prior to Garnett’s arrival. Boston as a whole simply did not care about the Celtics as they had in prior generations. Once Garnett was acquired? Different story. It wasn’t even as much of a bandwagon thing, either. I truly believe the style of play the 2007-2013 Celtics played was what was most appealing to the city of Boston. The 2004 Red Sox. The 2011 Bruins. The 2001 Patriots. All have one commonality: they were all the most mentally tough teams in their respective sport during their title runs. The 2008 Celtics belong in that group, and that credit goes to Garnett. For all of that, I am forever grateful to KG. I’m still grateful for Ray Allen, to be honest. But if the Clippers are still willing to flip DeAndre Jordan and a pick – or even just Jordan – for Garnett, I believe it would be in the best interest of both teams to do so whenever Stern will allow it. (Which may be never. Seriously.)
- Sign The Shooters - This offseason is one of the worst to have this mini-rebuild happen. The draft is nothing but role players and question marks while free agency is nothing but headaches, veteran minimums, and guys who are about to reap the advantages of great timing. Anthony Morrow and Dorell Wright are both unrestricted free agents. Neither are going to be commanding any sort of major money on the open market, even in a weak free agent class, because frankly they’re coming off of mediocre (at best) seasons on mediocre (at best) teams. But, both have proven to be knock down shooters in the right situation. In fact, both of those situations happened to come in Golden State. Wright has hit over 100 threes over the past three seasons (albeit at 37%) but he also led the entire Association in 3PM two seasons ago with 194. While Morrow hasn’t attempted nearly as many treys as Wright, he’s proven to be one of the more underrated shooters in all of basketball. As a rookie, Morrow led the NBA in 3PT% at 46.7% (86/184). After that, Morrow put up three consecutive seasons with over 100 3PM (2009-’10: 140 on 45.6%; ’10-’11: 110 on 42.3%; ’11-’12: 106 on 37.1%). Now, Morrow and Wright aren’t exactly All Star caliber players, but they can serve a more than meaningful purpose on the Celtics. Rajon Rondo wants to create and score. While it’s been his team since the 2009-2010 season, even that much more responsibility rests on his shoulders now that Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are likely on their way out of town. Avery Bradley will likely be here, and he’s not a spot up shooter by any definition of the word. Jeff Green is iffy from distance from anywhere but the corners. So why not get two guys on short money who, in the right situation, could be major role players and key contributors to this offense heading forward? Both will be 28 during the ’13-’14 season. Both have plenty to prove. Get them on the roster and have them occupy the wings together for 20 minutes a game and let the best floor general in the NBA find them when they’re open.
- Target New Orleans, Atlanta, Indiana, and Utah – Each of these teams possess incredibly different assets which I believe the Celtics should target. In New Orleans, that sixth pick and Eric Gordon are both appealing. Why the sixth pick? Because Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Muhammed are two players which would both greatly benefit the Celtics, neither of which will likely be around at 16. While I love Avery Bradley, the Celtics need to find as many scoring options as possible. If the Hornets were willing to take on Pierce just to waive him, along with Bradley, this year’s first round pick, & the pick acquired from the Clippers for Gordon and the sixth pick, the Celtics would be making an immediate upgrade to their roster. But that’s not likely. What’s most likely is a Josh Smith sign-and-trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The only thing that was keeping Danny Ainge from acquiring Smith in the past was Doc Rivers’ public displeasure with Smith’s style of play. Well, Doc’s not around anymore. Smith is going to be overpaid in this offseason because it’s a weak class. I can live with that if it means the Celtics will have Rondo, Bradley, Smith, and Jordan. That team can run with anyone and defend anyone not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Indiana? They have an excess of guards and forwards who dominate the ball. Paul George is now younger, better, and cheaper (for now) than Danny Granger. Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson is younger and cheaper, but showed glimpses of the player we were promised back during his Lincoln High days during the ’13 playoffs. Granger has become expendable for the Pacers and the Celtics need to find a successor to Pierce. Is Granger the best SF in the League? Not by a long shot. But when healthy, Granger has proven to be an All Star caliber scorer. Which is what the Celtics need. The reason I put Utah on the list is because Danny Ainge has made it obvious for years that he would love to have Paul Milsap in Boston. Milsap is an unrestricted free agent – as is old pal Al Jefferson – and if Ainge could swing a sign-and-trade with Utah for Milsap instead of with Atlanta for Smith, he would in two seconds. Milsap was a force on the boards in the Western Conference, so his undersized frame should bare no concerns if he were to come East.
- Andrew. Bynum. – Listen, I’m not a pessimist. These are not the darkest times in the history of the Boston Celtics. Not by a long shot. This team still has Rajon Rondo. Until a Rondo-led Celtics squad is eliminated from the playoffs by a team which eventually doesn’t end up AT LEAST representing their conference in the NBA Finals I don’t want to hear that the sky is falling down around me. Because while most are not willing to call Rajon Rondo the best point guard in the Association, you cannot argue that he has never been eliminated by anything less than a Finals participant as the starting point guard of the Boston Celtics. With all of that being said, these aren’t the brightest of times in Boston, either. This is a superstar league. A superstar league bordering on the impossible to compete with the Heat without a dominant big man. The Celtics have no dominant big man. Haven’t had a dominant big man since McHale and Parrish were 2/3s of the original Big Three. The last time Andrew Bynum played an NBA game, he was considered a dominant big man. Many actually argued he was the best center in the NBA. Then he got traded to Philadelphia and barely did so much as practice. He’s 100% a head case. His work ethic is as questionable as Derrick Rose’s. BUT, he’ll also sign with any team who will give him what he truly wants: money. Now, I’m not saying the Celtics should jump out and throw max money at him. They couldn’t even do that if they wanted to. And I’m no contract lawyer (I’ll pause for shock and awe), but there has to be a way to bait Bynum to Boston with a contract laden with incentives. How couldn’t there be a way? People put wacky incentives in contracts all the time. Put it to you this way: Bynum gets whatever the CBA says his minimum is as base salary. That’s what his play in 2012-2013 dictates: league minimum. Then the rest is incentives. Minutes played, games started, etc. Bynum could very well prove to be the best free agent available in this class. When he wants to be he’s exponentially better offensively than Roy Hibbert. Right now while I’m typing this he’s better offensively than DeAndre Jordan. The last thing the Heat want is for Bynum to all of a sudden give a shit AND sign with Rondo. Now, this move isn’t a home run. Not by any means. Could turn out to be Darko 2.0 (a move which didn’t hurt the Celtics, either. It didn’t help at all, but it didn’t hurt, either) for all I know. I just don’t see the risk if he’s willing to sign an incentive laced deal. Let’s not forget: Bynum only turns 26 this October.
- DO NOT DRAFT A POINT GUARD – More accurately: do not trade Rajon Rondo. I gave you the list last year on who you can trade Rondo for. And while the Thunder lost in disastrous fashion this season, I’m not sure they’re willing to give up on the Kevin Durant experiment just yet. But names I’m going to cringe if I hear the name Dennis Schroeder or Shane Larkin. And I like Larkin. If the Celtics didn’t have a point guard, I’d probably be driving his bandwagon due to the levels of swag that Miami team had this season. That and his freakish athleticism. But instead I’m banking on DeAndre Jordan being the Celtics next center. Meaning the Celtics don’t need to draft Gorgui Dieng out of Louisville (although, if the Celtics don’t land Jordan, somehow, I want Dieng). Instead, the Celtics should be looking at a sixth man option. Why? Because do YOU trust Jordan Crawford? How can you? And I like Crawford. I need him dunking on LeBron James in a game that matters as soon as humanly possible during his tenure with the Boston Celtics. Because even if Crawford has a great season for the Celtics in ’13-’14, he’s not coming back. Even if he signs a two year extension, he’s not here forever. Players like Jordan Crawford come and go. That’s why you sign guys like Morrow and Wright. They’re role players. They bounce around unless they become fan favorites and even then it just gives them an extra year or two. So look for a scorer. Someone who can come off of the pine and be a primary scorer against a second unit. Surprisingly there are a couple of guys who could potentially fill that void for the Celtics at 16. Those people are Ricky Ledo (Providence) and Brandon Paul (Illinois). Now, I’ve heard Ledo’s hype for some time now from a loud mouth Providence fan who also told me that Mar’Shon Brooks was the reincarnation of Kobe Bryant. That proclamation isn’t looking too promising, as the Nets are already trying to ship Brooks to Minnesota. Kobe was on trial for rape and the Lakers didn’t offer him to Minnesota. But as Guru Gus Elvin pointed out on the Quarters podcast tonight: Ledo didn’t even play at Providence because of academic ineligibility and yet he’s still a projected first round pick. He’s a 6’6″ shooting guard. Paul isn’t as big as Ledo, but he can score in bunches, and even if he isn’t scoring he’ll shoot in bunches because why the hell not?
But most importantly, the worst thing Danny Ainge could do right now is trade Rajon Rondo. I’m not saying this as a fan of Rondo. I’m saying this as someone who knows that a total rebuild is not necessary in Boston. The Celtics salary cap situation as of 12:40 A.M. on June 25, 2013, is not good. At all. Trading Pierce, Garnett, and Jason Terry would help relieve that situation. Tremendously. Or, it would bring the same money back, but in the form of younger players who the Celtics could utilize immediately. Jeff Green? I’m not sure what to think of Green. Some people say he only plays well on national tv. I think he plays awful 90% of the time. Someone who doesn’t have the mindset to play at his best for 30 minutes a night. Someone who almost led the Celtics to a comeback against the Knicks in the playoffs. Find the keyword in the previous sentence (hint: it’s “almost”). I also know his contract isn’t favored by most NBA GMs in the league (Memphis sure as shit isn’t taking him). But, given the lay of free agency and the weakness of the draft… Green may appeal to some poor team who has to take a chance. It’s not Ainge’s fault that Doc Rivers wanted out. Ainge signed Doc to a five-year extension when people thought Doc was leaving to watch his son play at Duke. No one criticized the move then. Just like no one criticized the Celtics for re-signing Kevin Garnett after being six minutes from the NBA Finals a year ago. It is, however, Ainge’s responsibility to right the ship. It’s his job, in fact.
The bottom line is this team was doomed to fail the second Rondo was ruled out for the season. Many didn’t see it because the Celtics were playing harder during the regular season. For those who still don’t get it: the Celtics have been able to coast through the regular season for YEARS without effort. They were too old to compete on a nightly basis. Yet once the playoffs rolled around, they were the best or the second best team in the East (when the starting five was healthy) every season since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were acquired. Rondo’s been the best player on the Celtics since their last Finals appearance. You don’t want to admit it, but Rondo’s a top five talent in the NBA. No one orchestrates the players around him better. Well, except for LeBron James, the best player on this planet and likely other planets as well. And can we cut the shit with the “Rondo’s always had better players around him than Chris Paul” argument? Cause I’m pretty sure Doc just ended that. Give Rondo a center who can catch lobs and see what kind of assist totals he puts up. Because since Garnett injured his knee, Chris Wilcox has been Rondo’s most consistent target at the rim. Meanwhile CP3rd-Round?-There’s-a-3rd-Round? has gone from Tyson Chandler to Griffin and Jordan. All those guys can do is catch lobs. Chris Paul’s an exceptional talent. He’s a nice guy. He makes mediocre car insurance commercials. Rondo’s a smug, mercurial, know-it-all who stares down his teammates in the same manner as his enemies. One is a proven leader and the other isn’t. I’ll take the malcontent with the chip on his shoulder who runs towards a fight than away from it. I’ll take the 6’1″ point guard who puts his reputation with his teammates as their leader over a meaningless assist record he would have got in his sleep.
We saw what the Celtics are without Rondo. We know what they are with him. Seems like a no-brainer to me. This situation is already tough enough. No reason to make it harder on yourself by ridding yourself of one of the better players in the entire League.