Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The whole problem the Pacers are faced with is that now every team in the league is going to low ball them on Artest. First because he's a maniac and they want his potential excellence, but don't want to give up too much in case he decides to kill commit a capital offense in his new uniform. Secondly, because the Pacers have admitted they are ready for a trade. I'm sure Danny faxed over an offer of Veal and Banks, or Blount for Artest already. And there are probably a ton more junk offers like that. And clearly the Pacers are going to take the best offer. What do they need in return? Maybe a center to compliment JO and let him play some PF.
Artest is so hard to read. Is he as crazy as advertised? I think so. He's not like Dennis Rodman because while the Worm loved theatrics, when it came to playing he brought it hard every night. And the only thing he did on the court was try to get in the opponents head. But maybe the problem in Indy is that O'Neal isn't Alpha dog enough to check Artest. Then again, Artest tried to kill the Baby Bulls with dumbells which is why they traded him.
At the end of the day, this must kill Larry Bird. It has to twist his stomach to see a guy like this ruin his career and his chances of winning a title. It really must.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
1. San Antonio - So they haven't gone back to back yet? So what. This team was the best in basketball last year and my oh my how the rich have gotten richer. They kept their core intact and to that added Nick Van Exel, Michael Finley, and Fabricio Oberto from Argentina. Van Exel can be used in the clutch and when Parker is cooling off. Finley provides great scoring punch of the bench and another lethal outside shooter. Oberto is a banger and does the dirty work. A great team guy who cares about winning. And everybody else on the roster is back and getting better and staying healthy. No good reason to see why they won't repeat. Their only challenge will come in the finals.
2. Dallas - They've got a lot of the same players as last year but I think one player who is growing and adding a lot is Devin Harris. He's providing a nice scoring touch for them so far in the season and is a decent point guard too. He should improve on all his numbers this year. Dampier showed that he can stay healthy and contribute, even after he got awarded that contract. He seems to be hungry to prove that he's worth the money which is good. And Dirk is Dirk. Just a great player from top to bottom. Their emphasis on defense is good, but it isn't yielding huge dividends yet. But this is the second most talented team in the Conference and they should do well in the playoffs.
3. Houston - This team loaded up for a serious run, no more excuses for first round exits Mr. Tmac. Supposedly Yao is refreshed, but he's a good center and it doesn't all hinge on Yao. He's never going to be a Shaq type player, he's more a complimentary player who every now and then will have a monster game. They also brought in Raefer Alston and Stromile Swift to help out with depth and youth, two big problems. Swift seems inconsistent so far, but I expect better things from this team this year and they don't have much competition.
4. Utah - This really depends on Kirilenko staying healthy. He is the hub of that wheel. Jerry Sloan is too good a coach to miss the playoffs twice and they got another decent infusion of talent by missing the postseason last year. Deron Williams looks to be a steady point guard and should hold down the spot for a while. Memhet Okur is playing well, but he'll always be a little inconsistent. In the West though, he is a legitimate All-Star center candidate. A few years ago that would have been a joke. I think they can also take advantage of some of the slips and injuries other teams have had.
5. Denver - Coach Karl is ready for his second year on the bench and Carmelo looks like he's taking this season very seriously trying to prove that he is 1B to Lebron's 1A. What really hurts is the injury to Nene. Their big man depth is thin meaning they're relying on Mr. Glass (aka Camby) to remain steady all season. Stranger things have happened. But with Karl coaching them they should be good on defense and offense. And from what I've seen so far, they're going to set a record for alley oop dunks. Everyone on the team goes for back door lobs and they executre them very well. It's fun to watch, and it's a pretty effective offensive strategy.
6. Phoenix - Losing Amare cripples these guys. But Nash is top flight and Shawn Marion is no slouch himself on the court. Tim Thomas is providing decent low post offense and defense and James Jones is proving to be an able three point marksman hitting around three a game. It's not as automatic as last year though, and they're defense is still atrocious. Still they have the talent to be back in the playoffs, and if Amare returns this season it can only help.
7. LA Lakers - Triangle. Kobe on a mission. What more is there to say? They're not the most talented team out there, but they just barely missed the playoffs with kobe missing 15 games and playing hurt in several others. Smush Parker has been a nice addition, and Kwame Brown is feeling his way through things. Give these guys to the All-star break to learn Phil's geometric attack and then watch them scare some folks in the playoffs. Phil has done more with less before.
8. LA Clippers - They brought in steady veterans to help this team break their losing streak. Cassell has the confidence and experience to help, but he's been breaking down physically and he's kind of a bitch. There's a reason nobody keeps him for more than a couple of years. Mobley is a reliable scorer and another good veteran. And Elton Brand is a steady presence on the block. I think Elton gets to taste his first playoff action.
Playoff cut line ------------------------------------------------
9. Minny Timberwolves- How can I go against Garnett? Well his supporting cast got a lot lighter. They're relying on Rashard McCants to have a big year. He's a good player, but it's tough to depend on a rookie too much. Their depth is dwindling with the Mayor retired and they still play the Kandi man for significant minutes. Never good for your team. Garnett is going to break down from carrying these guys just like he did last year.
10. Memphis - They're well coached and they've brought in some character guys in Eddie Jones and Bobby Jackson. But well coached isn't going to cut it because they just don't have the talent. It's clear that Pao Gasol cannot become a MVP first team caliber player. He's hit his ceiling. He'd be a nice addition to a team with some talent on it, but he cannot carry the load himself. They lost Jason Williams, Earl Watson, and Stromile Swift in either free agency or trades and those guys could play. It is a big problem for their point guard situation as well. I just don't see them cutting against teams that may not be top to bottom more talented, but have better superstar players in the fold.
11. Seattle - I think they lost a little too much in the offseason to repeat last years great run. In order of importance they lost: their coach>Antonio Daniels>Jerome James. James isn't a huge loss, but the first two were. Seattle still has some plucky players, but they've also got guys angling for contracts in Vlad Rad and Ridnour isn't somebody who is going to hold up to 40 minutes a game yet. Daniels was needed for his excellent on the ball defense and steady hand in pressure situations.
12. Sacramento - It doesn't feel right putting them here after all the 50 win seasons they've had, but I'm just not sure they're good enough to escape the curse of Shareef Abdur Raheem. He's got the best numbers of anyone who has never made the playoffs. Addleman's last stand is this year if they don't make it back in. And how soon until Bonzi Wells does something to make an ass of himself or his teammates? My guess is before Thanksgiving. Not a lot to like here.
13. Golden State - Everyone thinks they're going to have a great year, and they are off to a hot start, but the whole thing relies on Baron Davis holding up for a complete season. If there's one thing we know about Baron, it's that he's no longer capable of doing this.
14. Portland Trailblazers - Oh Nate, that money is going to be your only comfort this year. Ruben Patterson and Pudge still remain on a mercurial team of bandits that has alienated one of the great fan bases in all of the NBA. They brought in guys high on character like Steve Blake, Juan Dixon (do these guys always come as a pair, is it in their contract?), Martell Webster, and Jarret Jack. But the talent just isn't there. It's going to be a long year.
15. OKC/NO Hornets - What a tough adjustment it's going to be for these guys to actually play in front of fans. Oklahoma is selling out the arena, something that never happened after Shinn poisoned the deep well of fandom in Carolina. Chris Paul looks like he's going to be the real deal and they still have a guy who goes by the nickname of Birdman.
Friday, October 28, 2005
1. Indiana - The whole key to this team is Ron Artest. They've got good talent, especially up front. J'O'Neal is a beast and showed just how tough he is playing with a bad shoulder in the playoffs against the Celtics and the Pistons. Foster is a great reserve hard nosed player. The Abuser if finally coming into his own as a point guard, and they signed the euro star Sarunas Jasikevicius who is officially a rookie, but really is a seasoned veteran who played his college ball at Maryland and has been a pro ever since. The big question is Ron Artest. With him this team is great. They especially need him after Reggie Millers departure. Can he maintain his passionate play without boiling over? That's the biggest question in the East.
2. Detroit - The Pistons were a few breaks away from being back to back champions. The core is back and the role players may get a little more experience during the regular season now that curmudgeon Larry Brown is on the Knickerbockers bench. Flip Saunders is a good offensive coach and I think he'll do very well with this team. They are experienced and tight knit and don't really need a task master. Plus there's the dual motivation of showing they can do it without Larry Brown and the failure against the Spurs last year.
3. Miami- Unquestionably Shaq made this team leaps and bounds better last year. Plus, D Wade continues his growth into one of the NBAs best players, I expect only better things from him. The question mark with this team is how the new players will fit in with the rest. Antoine Walker, James Posey, and Jason Williams were all brought on board. Williams will be the starting point guard and actually has a decent assist to turnover ratio (~3-1 the past couple of seasons). He shouldn't have problems getting more assists on this team. To me, the biggest question is Antoine Walker. He wasn't too happy being a sixth man in Dallas and seemed to really feel comfortable being the hub of activity in Boston. Maybe he'll get hungry for a championship, and made the Diesel can keep him in line. Antoine has never had to play with someone of Shaq's stature, so that's probably the best hope.
4. Milwaukee Bucks - Talk about an offseason. They had the number one pick and drafted a very good college center in Bogut (the jury will be out on his actual production come season time). They resigned their franchise player Redd to a long term (and overly expensive deal), signed emerging wingman Bobby Simmons, and then just pulled off one of the bigger trades by getting Jamal Magloire for Desmond "the dunk artist" Mason. Great, great pick up. Milwaukee now has the bigs and the wings covered. If TJ Ford can regain the form that he showed before a troubling spinal injury, this team is going to make some noise.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers - Lebron James now has some running mates. Larry Hughes is the biggest addition, but the less heralded addition of of Donyell Marshall is going to be the big difference. Hughes played great in Washington last year (his contract year, no surprise) and that play should carry over as he has seemed to develop greater poise and maturity in Washington. I think Eddie Jordan had a lot to do with that. Damon Jones will shore up the point and the long distance bombing and Big Z has quitely played great in the post while staying totally healthy the last two years. Lebron stirs the pot and gets these guys into the playoffs where James learns the hard way that winning in the NBA takes time.
6. New Jersey Nets - This should be a fun fast breaking team. Kidd is healthy again as is Richard Jefferson. Vince Carter has refound his love for the game and played superbly well last season. It helps that he's no longer the alpha-dog, a role he was never suited for even going back to his college days. They are a little thin up front and will be relying heavily on Krstic, Collins, and (gulp!) Lamond Murray to anchor the power positions. But in the east, that's not the end of the world and when Jason Kidd is healthy and the Princeton offense is clicking, there's no need to get bogged down with big men on the post.
7. Chicago Bulls- Yes, they lost Eddy Curry. But the Bulls knew they could afford to lose him. He only got into shape in his contract year. He's a great post scorer, but is way too soft (5.6 rpg? That's pathetic for his size). The loss that might hurt a bit though is Antonio Davis. He provided a tough interior presence and brought a good veteran perspective to the team. Outside of that though, the Bulls young guns are ready and can play. Hinrich keeps getting better and if Chandler and Deng stay healthy, they should have the fire power to stay tough in the East.
8. New York Knicks - Larry Brown always makes a positive impact when he first arrives. Then he poisons the well. Whatever. Adding Curry and Loren Woods, oops I mean Channing Frye, and Antonio Davis made for a nice offseason of player movement too. Hopefully Curry's heart proves no problem and he contributes this year. Marbury will probably chafe a little under Brown, but then again Larry got a lot out of Chauncey Billups where others failed so he and Stephon should get along okay. Jamal Crawford seems like the piece that doesn't fit, but given that they have some decent NBA talent, some good youth, and a great coach the Knicks should see the playoffs again.
--------------------------------- Playoff cutoff line
9. Boston - Pierce and Davis are going to have to carry the load. Luckily for them Blount looks like he refound his pulse and is a live body again and LaFrentz looks somewhat spry meaning he should have a productive year. But the rest of the roster is very young and hasn't proven a lick. The PG situation is horrendous. There's been lots of positive spin on Orien Green, but he's a second round pick who can't shoot. His defense is okay, but he doesn't handle full court pressure. Delonte West has never been a point guard and doesn't seem to be the most durable player (something he denies wholeheartedly). Both of them seem a little slow delivering the ball and orchestrating the offense, the mark of players not totally sure in their role. And Dickau looks like he wasn't ready for any sorts of expectations being placed on him. He has not looked very good in the preseason, especially on defense. And his offense doesn't even come close to making up for his attrocious defense. Do we really want to see Dickau checking Marbury, Hinrich, Mike James, Gilbert Arenas, or Jason Kidd? Too many points are going to role right over the kid, which is why Greene is getting a lot of starter buzz. This position is going to kill the Celtics. That and the fact that Pierce and Ricky are the only reliable scorers on this team.
10. Philly - Iverson is what he is. A guy with a ton of heart who can't play well within a team structure. He must have the ball in his hands to be effective and because of that his team suffers. Webber is physically done. I see no reason why he'll make it through a season. Iguodola is the lone bright spot on this team. They got a great player in him. He's the second coming of Pippen for sure. Cheeks will probably let Dalembert play a little more and the rest of the team knows their roles, especially long bomber Korver. They barely squeaked into the playoffs last year, and the rest of the East got way better while they mostly stood still.
11. Orlando - Grant hill is out for 6 weeks. What else is new? The continuing maturation of Dwight Howard into a first rate beast is going to keep these guys competitive, but then Francis will turn the ball over and they'll lose close games. But those two are the only talents on this lack luster roster.
12. Toronto - Charlie from UConn looks like the right pick. He should be good. Rafael hasn't worked out so much. He's just a side of beef clogging the lane. I feel bad for him, but hey, lots of lottery picks turn out to be big stiffs later on. At least he's gettin' paid before he gets handed his walking papers. Bosh seems like he's reached his NBA potential, though perhaps he would be better off if he wasn't forced to play center so much. Mike James brings some steadiness and leadership to the point, and Jalen Rose continues to produce hillarious quotes for the papers while cashing multi-million dollar checks.
13. Charlotte - If nothing else, attendance is going to go up. Sean May and Felton come off a national championship and remain in Carolina for their early pro carriers at least. Both should help the Bobcats win more games immeadiately. Emeka Okafor is the real deal down low. He works real hard and his game continues to grow with better range on his jumper. This was such a great pick by Charlotte. The rest of the team is still thin, but they'll be competitive again. They're still a few more years away from winning.
14. Atlanta - They had the number two pick in the draft and spent it on a guy who didn't even start on his team. They had better hope that Marvin Williams starts panning out soon. They invested a lot of money in an uproven young guard (now to be their point) in Joe Johnson. He's never been the center of attention, but he will be now. He'll also be turning the ball over, a lot. Josh Smith was a highlight reel filler and not much else. Maybe his game is growing. Not sure. And Al Harrington looks like a bust as a big money guy. He should have stayed with Indy for less money and been part of a powerhouse team. I'm thinking the Hawks are going to be trying to move Harrington to give Williams more PT. Another dip in the lottery is in this team's future.
That's how I see them falling. And yes I have the entire Central Division in the playoffs. They just seem like they all got a lot better or didn't lose anything over the offseason. Time will tell.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Firstly this resurgence depends on Baron Davis, and of late Baron Davis has been anything but dependable. Take a look at how many games Baron has played per season over his career:
'99-00 - 82
'00-01 - 82
'01-02 - 82
'02-03 - 50
'03-04 - 67
'04-05 - 46 (played 18 games with the Hornets and 28 games with the Warriors)
Supposedly Baron showed up to camp last year out of shape and unhappy about not being traded out of camp, and this year his weights down and his knees and back are rested. I remember a similar story before the 2003-004 season about Baron whipping himself into shape by running five miles a day, working out intensely, and eating a low carb diet that was heavy on fish. That was supposed to make him an iron man and help him tear through the season making the Hornets dark horse contenders. Baron didn't make it through that year unscathed, and since the 2001-2002 season, he hasn't played a lot of games. What makes Chad Ford think that a player with back problems (oh, those go away easily) and knee issues is going to be ready to remold one of the leagues worst franchises? There's a reason New Orleans was willing to dump Davis for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis last year. He's damaged goods and comes at a high price, Baron's $85 million dollar contract has four years and $65 million dollars remaining on it. Baron can opt out of his contract in 2008, but that's unlikely given the his breakdown in physical health the last few years. When healthy, Baron is certainly an elite point guard who is also physical and a great scorer. Sadly though, Baron is rarely healthy and his penchant for playing above the rim is likely to land him on the injury list for significant stretches of this season. That's the first issue.
The second issue the players surrounding Baron on the floor. Jason Richardson is a very good shooting guard who seems to be increasing in ability with each passing year, but after that the Warriors are a little thin. Troy Murphy is a heavy, plodding power forward who while having an ability to hit threes (39.9% from downtown), doesn't exactly fit the bill of a quick and powerful fast break finisher. After Murphy the rest of the roster is filled with inexperience or unproven talent like Mike Dunleavy. The Suns of last year had a proven all-NBA point guard in Steve Nash who had led his former team deep into the playoffs. They had a certifiable freak of nature in Amare Stoudemire, a rare big man with track and field speed, power, and moon hops. He also had the hands to handle those passes from Nash making the finishes. Out on the wings the Suns had Quentin Richardson, a proven marksman and Joe Johnson, a talented player still developing. Oh and Shawn Marion has appeared in a few all-star games himself. In fact, last years Sun's had three bona-fide All-Stars who were healthy and ready to go. The Warriors have one proven All-Star who can't stay healthy and nobody of particular merit after that.
From where I sit, this years Warriors look nothing like the team that "surprised" the league last year. They look like a bunch of pretenders who are going to get the Bay Area turned on briefly, but once Baron Davis goes down (and he will) the house of cards collapses with it. Sorry Warriors fans.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Scottie Pippen, Kurt Rambis, Kareem, and Brian Shaw all coming on board as assistants can only help as the Lakers prepare for the NBA season. Pippen especially can be a great help with showing the players the ins and outs of the triangle offense and emphasize to players who get hurt (Lamar Odom) how to train and prepare for a season. This looks great.
Perhaps I'm too much of a Phil Jackson fan, but I just don't see this team failing the way people are predicting them too. San Antonio and Houston got significantly better in the off season, but nobody else in the west really did. Some playoff teams took steps back. Seattle, Phoenix, Minnesota (well, they didn't make the playoffs), and probably the Grizz. So why is everyone predicting the Lakers to miss the playoffs? I just don't buy it. People forget about the power of the triangle and how with the right players it can be used to hide some less than proficient players at the half court side. Plus the Lakers added Aaron McKie to the mix giving Phil another heady, big guard to help run his system. Just look at the other guys he brought in and had success with Brian Shaw and Ron Harper. They were forgotten men until they joined Phil. I think Aaron is due for the same respect.
If I were a Lakers fan, I would definitely be excited. This team has a lot of potential to surprise.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Green has settled into a new apartment with roommate Mike Crotty, the former Williams College point guard who just happens to be the Celtics' recently-hired director of player development. He has added about a half-dozen pounds to the 6-foot-8-inch, 200-pound frame that served him well during the high school all-star games where he emerged as a first-round prospect, but that was clearly insufficient for the NBA. He says he works out twice, occasionally three times a day.Continued...
I'm sure that Danny found that Crotty has the brain type of Michael Jordan and Tennesse Williams and the video game playing skills of a recent college grad thus making him the perfect person to hold Gerald Green's hand through an NBA season. But seriously, Gerald doesn't have a brother or somebody else to live with his first year away from home?
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Dickau seems to have a good basketball IQ and the ability to work in half court sets. He finally got his chance to play significant minutes in the NBA this year and he showed that he can produce. New Orleans was an awful team and he still had a little over 5 assists and notched a shade over 12 ppg. Both passable numbers. He was a great college player and played with a winning program. He strikes me as a guy like Luke Ridnour. Solid team guys who can run the ball and defer to their teammates without a problem and who only needed playing time to blossom their NBA games. I think he'll make a nice contribution to the Celtics and with a great player like Pierce and a good one like Ricky, he's probably an ideal fit as a starting/back up point guard. That's the good.
What Dickau can't bring to the table is much defense, a lot of which is due to his dimunitive stature.. This can be forgiven on a team with help on your hip. The Celtics though lack the kind of paint cloggers that even a team like New Orleans had. Dickau could perhaps hide his weaknesses by gambling a bit in New Orleans knowing that Magloire and PJ Brown were in the wings waiting to intimidate penetrators. On the Celtics the biggest clogger is Raef, and he's lost a lot with his injuries. Blount seems to play uninspired basketball these days and Jefferson has shown a soft touch and good feet on the offensive end, but little inclination for defense. Perkins hasn't figured out how to stay out of foul trouble limiting his effectiveness as defensive help. He is also an offensive liability and thus cannot remain on the floor for extended periods. So this is going to be a big problem when Dickau is going against opposing points.
Will his contributions on the offensive end offset his defensive shortcomings? I'm not sure yet. And it's going to be hard to predict if he'll get the 31 mpg that he saw in New Orleans last year. In short, I like Dickau a lot, but I'm not sure if the Celtics are quite the right fit for him. I would have loved to see him on an up and coming team like Cleveland. He's intriguing, but not a guy that's going to lift the Celtics much higher than they currently are and not much of an upgrade over the platoon they might plan on running if he did sign on with Boston.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Last night I was in Dick's sporting goods and what did I see? Celtics merchandise emblazzened with the 2004-2005 Atlantic Division Champs all over it. I had to do a double take. I mean, this isn't Seattle, Phoenix, Atlanta or some other second rate sports city. This is Boston. This is the 16 time world champs. The team that made basketball what it is today. The marquee franchise. And now we're celebrating Atlantic Division Crowns? Thankfully all this stuff was on dramatic sale indicating that nobody was really buying any of it, so at least the fans know what still counts. But at the same time, I just can't get over seeing that stuff.
More importantly this means that Al Jefferson gets to play on the courst a lot this coming season. Ainge and Co. think they've got a gamer in this kid and I agree. His post moves and touch around the basket are very good, his rebounding is adequate, and his outlet passing is superb. So he's a legit scoring threat and he definitely helps start fast breaks off the defensive glass by quickly outletting the ball. I'm hoping with more time we'll see his defense improve. This is his biggest deficiency right now. He needs to learn positioning and better body control. The strength I'm assuming is coming around just by benefit of having trainers and programs that he wouldn't come close to in high school. I'm not expecting huge things out of Al this season. Just progress. In his fourth year he should be a top caliber PF. In his second year he just needs to improve on things and use his increased playing time to learn. I'm excited to watch him play more.
The other area that I'm concerned about his PG. Delonte never got the chance to play real minutes there and I wasn't totally convinced the the summer league run he did. Summer league is never a good indication of anything though. Delonte is a smart player though and I think he'll manage well. I would still like to see more of Marcus Banks. They've never given Marcus a fair shake in my opinion. He's very athletic, plays intense defense, and can definitely push the ball. PG is such a hard position to play and the Celtics haven't given him enough court time to make his mistakes and learn. I hope he gets more burn this year too.
It's weird to be excited about a team that can't really compete, but Danny seems to be changing the composition of the team and the style of play and I'm interested to see how it pans out. It's nice to see a full commitment to changing after last years return of Antoine and use of the Glove for one meaningless division crown and playoff appearance.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
This from today's Sunday Globe:
He plans to continue his preparation this week in workouts with Antoine Walker in Chicago and hopes to be back in the Boston area soon after Labor Day to work out with his less-familiar teammates.
Then Antoine's post-Boston talk:
''When you win the division, you try to move up and keep battling and try to get to that next level," said Walker. ''But they chose to go the other route and go young and start from the ground up again. It's an odd situation. I don't really understand it. Maybe, in a couple years from now, we'll understand the madness to it."
Walker predicts that Pierce will have just as much trouble figuring out the situation. ''I feel for Paul for the situation he's in," said Walker. ''He's in the prime of his career. And it's very difficult to go back to that situation. Nobody wants to do that, to go to the playoffs then go back to possibly not making them. But you never know what can happen. Now, he has to go back to a situation where he has to be a complete leader. He has to lead on and off the court. It becomes very difficult at times."
So Pierce is working out with Antoine and Antoine is talking about how the Celtics plans are misguided and probably wasting Pierce's talents at the prime of his career. Clearly Pierce still respects Antoine a lot and has a good friendship with him if they're working out together in Chitown so imagine what Pierce is thinking with Antoine talking in his ear about how the Celtics plans make no sense. I can see Pierce listening a lot more to Antoine than Celtics Management and Coaches. If the C's lose a lot it could be a tough year with Pierce. I've advocated for a trade before, and I still feel that's probably in Pierce's and the teams best interest given the direction the team has taken.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Really? Qyntel Woods, 2 second round draft picks, and Curtis
Borschsoup? Wasn't Qyntel the guy who got convicted of running dog
fights in Portland? Can the Celtics Roster possibly absorb all these
players? Danny Ainge is concocting a witches brew up in Beantown that
is for sure. I like that he got something for Antoine departing and
that the Celtics helped Antoine get more money than he deserved. But
still, it seems like more moves have to happen here. If nothing else
though, the Celtics are newsmakers and intriguing and when you
consider that unless you have Tim Duncan you aren't winning
championships, that's not a bad place to be.
And from the Heat's perspective? I just don't know. Antoine, Jason
Williams, and James Posey don't exactly smack of poise under pressure.
What do I know though. Crazy trade all around.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Friday, July 08, 2005
There may be a one time chance to dump Raef LaFrentz or Mark Blount
this off season. I'm not sure why I ignored the possibility, but the
new collective bargaining agreement is going to allow teams to waive a
player and then not have that players remaining salary count against
the cap. The team would still be responsible for the waived players
salary, but they wouldn't have to pay luxury tax and could sign other
free agents or their own players. I think the Celtics have a great
chance to dump some excess baggage. Mark Blount, I'm looking at
13. Ray Allen
14. Elton Brand
On the Cusp (but will probably never be fully worth it):
5. Ben/Rasheed Wallace
9. Bobby Simmons
10. Corey Maggette
11. Jason Richardson
Youngins on the Rise:
1. Dwight Howard
1a. Andre Iguodala
2. Kirk Hinrich
3. Luol Deng
4. Chris Bosh (he may have reached his ceiling)
5. Shaun Livingston
6. Trevor Arizia
Thursday, July 07, 2005
2. Nate McMillan. Apparently Portland is going to be paying Nate $6 million per annum over the next five years. Really? $30 million dollars for a coach who had one 50+ winning season and won a single playoff series? Nate was a great player, is a favorite in the Pacific Northwest, and is definitely a young up and coming coach, but $30 million seems like the kind of coin the games premier coaches get (Larry, Phil, Popps), not unproven youngins'. Seems like Paul Allen is on another crazy spending spree. We'll see what it gets him. He better be ready to suspend idiots like Miles if they start acting up though, that's for sure.
3. Michael Redd. Supposedly Milwaukee is going to max-out Michael Redd for a seven year contract. That's good. This reminds me of when the Knicks signed a young lights out shooter who couldn't do anything else on the court. What was his name? Oh right, Allen Houston. Redd better hope Bogut is the real deal, or people in Milwaukee are going to be pissed about this deal. I personally think Milwaukee would have been better off throwing that kind of money or less at a guy like Bobby Simmons or Larry Hughes. Both are more versatile.
More indicators that talent is a rare commodity in the NBA so it will be overpaid for and that NBA GMs are idiots. Seriously, how are the Sonics going to keep their team together with Ray's contract? What are the Bucks going to do with Redd now that they can never trade him? If he's such a great player, how did he let Milwaukee slide out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Paul Pierce doesn't let that happen, and now he and Redd are making the same money? That's interesting. And as for the Blazers, McMillan is a stand up guy but they had better be committed to him. The Blazers are not ready to win today. It's going to take a little while. I just find it surprising that they over reached for him so much. Christ, they probably could have stolen Larry Brown for that kind of money.
Friday, July 01, 2005
I bashed Kobe pretty hard at the end of this season for his poor
leadership and his inability to play like a superstar this past year
when that's all he seemed to want for a long time. I think he
deserved it. But lost in the recent hoopla surrounding the hiring of
Phil Jackson is what Phil's return says about Kobe's mentality and
attitude. I don't expect any open mea culpas, however I think the
return of Jackson signals that Kobe was humbled a bit by last years
experience. I think Kobe realized the way he was going wasn't the
right way and he's reaching out for help from the only true mentor
he's had in the league. After the book Phil wrote Kobe couldn't be
blamed for trying to keep Phil out of L.A., but instead I think Kobe
is intending to take the criticisms he gets from his coach and other
knowledgeable basketball types and work on his weaknesses instead of
just deflecting the criticism. If that's the case the Lakers are going
to be a much improved team and I think Kobe may be ready to try and
change his errant ways. I may be reading too much into this, but
that's the feeling I get. I know it's been denied that Kobe had any
decision in the hiring, but Jackson said that he and Kobe discussed
this before it happened and seeing as Kobe is signed for a long time
one would have to be very naive to think that superstar players have
no input on coaching and personnel decisions. I may have to revise my
opinon on Kobe in the near future.
Peter May wrote a column yesterday that I really agree with. Too many
young players, the C's should have got an established college player
with the pick and that the C's will try to trade Pierce and that it's
probably the right move. I'm very in tune with him. The Celtics are
starting to remind me a little bit of the Baby Bulls years. It's no
secret that a hard nosed coach, and rookies or young players from blue
collar winning programs turned around their fortunes very quickly.
When you start looking to Pierce and Ricky for leadership, your team
is in some serious trouble. I think Jefferson has a good head on his
shoulders, but May is right in that he didn't even play 15mins a game
last year (not his fault with 'Toine coming back in) and Green is
largely an unknowable commodity at this point (who was also passed
over by several teams in spite of widespread acclaim).
I just want to say that I really enjoy watching Pierce play. He's a
very talented player and a shooting guard who has never shied away
from contact and has been remarkably durable. The other Celtics fan I
talk with think that Pierces meglomania has consumed him and I think
he's right. He has some preconceived notion of being "the man"
because he's the best player on the team. He had one of his better
statistical seasons last year and yet he's unhappy, and acting like a
bitch when the chips are on the table. I used to contend that Pierce
was in the top ten of players, but he officially gets the mercurial
lable now. I'd like to see him out of Boston. I'm just not sure who
will want him right now. Should be an interesting month.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
In the second round the C's grabbed Ryan Gomes out of Providence. I'm a little partial to Gomes as I saw him play live several times during his PC career and he was a well liked and talented player. But I could also see that he's not very athletic, not the greatest shooter, and not instilled with a will to win. Several times I felt like Gomes should have lead P.C. to big upsets over ranked teams and he seemed to shrink in the waning minutes of ball games. But, it's not like the Celtics really need him and in the second round your hoping to get a project or a more polished player.
The other player the Celtics drafted Orien Greene is somebody I know very little about. The early projections is that he's a Bruce Bowen type of defensive player. A tall guard who is raw offensively, but his length and athleticism will allow him to play some spot D. We'll see. I can't complain too much about the second round though because the Celtics picked pretty low, but it seems like Jawad Williams or Jakie Manuel would have been good picks over Orien. Time will tell.
Overall I give it a B.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Friday, June 03, 2005
In other news, it's not clear if Wade will be ready for game 6 at the Palace. This has to be a very big concern for Miami as they need the 1-2 punch of Shaq and Wade to get over the hill to the finals. If Wade doesn't play Eddie Jones is going to have to have a superlative game (he has played exceptionally well already). I think Miami can do it, but it will be tough on the road without Wade and with a still very immobile Shaq. I noticed after Wade drew that late charge from Rasheed just before he went out how armored up he is. Thigh pads, knee pads, elbow pads, and then a flack jacket after the charge. He must take some severe beatings to be wearing all that stuff.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
From a Detroit Paper:
The Pistons were still shaking their heads at what happened Thursday
night as they were on their bus inside the loading-dock area of
It was between 11:30 and midnight and the Pistons' bus was about to
leave the arena for the airport.
Suddenly, a dark Escalade roared into the loading dock, nearly hitting
Out jumped Ron Artest, the Pacers forward who got a seasonlong
suspension for his part in the Nov. 19 brawl.
According to Pistons players on the bus, Artest was wearing an old
(and short) pair of shorts. He had no shoes on and, upon getting out
of the vehicle, he tore off his T-shirt.
Given the history between Artest and the Pistons, the team's security
officials were on high alert. But Artest made no motion toward the
bus. He simply walked, bare-chested and bare-footed, into the
building, presumably for a midnight workout.
"There's something going on there," Ben Wallace said, not wanting to
That's insane isn't it? How is it possible that I did not hear about
this incident on Inside the NBA, The Smack, or ESPN.com? What a wack
job. Larry Bird better start firing up the trade machine.
The Spurs just absolutely showed the Suns the way out of the playoffs
last night. No question about it. They played fastbreak basketball
better than Phoenix and came out wiht a killer mentality against the
Suns. In both games they pushed towards 20 point leads that had
Phoenix scrapping and scrambling to get back into the game, perhaps
wasting too much energy for a team that isn't that deep. Game two was
close down the stretch and the difference between the two teams was
glaring. The Spurs can man up, rotate, and do whatever it takes to
get a stop. The suns are completely incapable of getting a stop,
especially when the game is on the line. Game one San Antonio shot 20
of 26 from the floor (with four of those misses resulting in offensive
rebounds!) and last night they shot 12 of 17 from the floor. Phoenix
consistently could not get defensive rebounds, and there's really no
excuse with leapers and youngin's like Amare, Hunter, and Marion.
This is going to be the curse of Phoenix. My suggestion for Phoenix
in the off season? Hire a coach who can get some defense out of his
crew. Jim O'Brien just got his walking papers in Philly. He likes a
free wheeling offense as evidenced by his allowing his superstars to
run the show, but he demands defensive play. I think he might be the
shot in the arm that Phoenix needs. The offense definitely is not
broke, but the defense is. Oddly enough I thought this unmasking was
going to happen at the hands of Dallas, but obviously Dallas has their
own problems especially with Dirk's historonics and lack of
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005
Miami vs. New Jersey - Shaq-fu is a little hurt and there is talk of the fact that he may not play the first couple of games this series. If that's the case then New Jersey has a chance to stay competitive in this thing. Vince Carter's decision to earn his money again this season has been nice. There's not a lot of options to stop him on the heat. But here's why I see Miami handling this thing easily. 1. Jason Kidd cannot shoot, and hasn't been able to pull his clutch shooting routine much anymore. 2. There is no defensive answer on NJ for Dwyane and Shaq. 3. New Jersey has only one scoring option and that's Vince. He's going to pussy out the first time Hasslem or Shaq flattens his ass. And that's that.
Chicago vs. Washington - The Bulls have been decimated by injury late in the season with Deng breaking his wrist and Curry suffering from an irregular heart beat. That's not good. But frankly the Bulls have lost key players during the season and still found ways to win. They play such a good team game. They'll miss Curry's low post scoring, but not in this game. Washington doesn't have any interior scoring or defense. And while Washington has a three-headed monster in Arenas-Jamison-Hughes, I just don't see them lighting up Chicago and their league leading defense (well, they have the lowest opponents FG% at 0.422. Not bad).
Boston vs. Indy - We meet again. Third first round tussle with Indiana has some problems. O'Neal is hurting, the Abuser is out, Artest isn't making a playoff cameo, and Reggie is tired from carrying this team into the playoffs. The Celtics real weak spot is center and if O'Neal was healthy the C's would be in trouble, but that's not the case. I see the Celtics handling buisness in this series, though it won't be easy because they are predictable in close game situations and they don't defend the post well. Still, I see it going Boston's way here.
Detroit vs. Philly - Iverson put the Sixers on his back yet again and brought them to the playoffs. A marvelous performance by AI, and really astonishing considering the beating he takes every year. He plays with the most heart and toughness of anyone in the NBA and is fun to watch. But the problem is that he is not a great team player, and his team isn't that good. Detroit on the other hand is a solid, cohesive team loaded with defensive stoppers and just enough offensive to knock people around. It's going to be fun watching Webbs cry and then bitch and moan after the fans boo him out of town.
Detroit 4-0 sweeper special.
Miami vs. Chicago - Chicago is young and precocious. Shaq will now have the taste of blood in his mouth. Too much inexperience and no one to make Shaq work defenisively will hurt Chi-town in this round. This will be very easy for Miami and allow Shaq to rest up for his grudge match with a certain eastern conference team.
Detroit vs. Boston - I've watched enough Celtics basketball to know that Boston doesn't have the consistency, fundamentals, or mental toughness to hang with Detroit. Tayshaun can cause Pierce all kinds of problems, and the Wallace brothers are going to give us the ugly reminder of why Danny Ainge traded Walker away in the first place. Hopefully the Celtics can save face here, or maybe Larry Brown gets weirder and bolts from the Pistons mid-playoffs. That's the only way I see them having a chance.
Detroit vs. Miami - This is the clash of the Titans now. The clear front runners in the Eastern Conference once the Brawl removed Indy from this weight group. The last time Shaq tangoed with Detroit in a series he had on the purple and gold, and he looked very, very effective. That Lakers team had funk problems. Not so this Miami team. Miami comes in with two all-world players in Wade and Shaq who cannot be stopped offensively. Haslem has shown that he can scrap and hold his own against Ben Wallace (rasheed will be too much for Udonis offensively) which is good. And Zoe is showing signs of being able to give Miami effective minutes. I think that's enough to beat Detroit, who I don't think are talented enough to beat a team with beaming superstars that are playing together. It will be interesting to see how Brown defends Shaq and how effective Rip will be (will Wade guard him? Can Eddie Jones even hope to stay with him?). But in the end, Shaq is too much for everybody. And he's happy. And he's motivated.
Phoenix vs. Memphis - Everyone is rightly noting that Memphis backed into the playoffs after initially responding to the Czar. Memphis hopes to be physical and slow the pace of the game down to give themselves a chance to win this series. Fratello clearly is one of the coaches who conspired to ruin basketball by overcoaching and playing a slow down game. I don't see how he can be successful here. This Phoenix team has too many horses and a great floor general in Nash. Every opportunity is a fast break and Stoudemire runs the floor better than any big man I've ever seen. Memphis will succeed sometimes in slowing the pace, but this will also hurt them as they have no real go to scorer in the half court sets, but rather unsteady and unproven shooters and wingmen.
Dallas vs. Houston - This could be a really entertaining playoff series. Dallas has actually improved in several areas since Nash and Nellie departed. Avery Johnson has emphasized defense, defense, defense and Dallas has one of its deeper teams in a while with a legitimate enforcer in the paint. Dirk has clearly risen to top five status this year emerging as a full-fledged superstar. Houston started out slowly, but it seems that McGrady and Yao are starting to click a little better. Houston's front office was also wise to bring in some extra help in the likes of David Wesley and Jon Barry to stabilize their rotation. Yao's numbers have been good this year considering that he's averaging 30 minutes a game (he needs an offseason to really develop) and Mutumbo continues to show some signs of life. In the end I think Houston is limited by a lack of a PF, a key position on the floor, and Dirk is going to exploit that to no end. Still could be a fun series to watch though.
Seattle vs. Sacramento - I really don't know. According to my Seattle source people are getting ready for the next big let down, but honestly Seattle has had some key injuries coming down the stretch. Sacto has had the same problem losing the likes of Peja and Brad Miller for significant stretches. Both are expected to play in this series. I'm only thinking Seattle is going to win because I don't like Sacto. Really, I have no clue what happens here.
San Antonio vs. Denver - No team is playing better in the second half of the season than Denver under Carl. They have a lot of front court size and some fairly reliable scorers. Anthony remains a question mark. He's shown signs of being a really good player, but also showed a lot of inconsitency in his first playoff appearance. Granted he was a rookie. The buzz out of San Antonio is all about Duncan's ankle. If it's healthy they expect a run for the title. If not, well it's hard to predict. Still San Antonio had great games even with Duncan out with players like Ginobli really raising their game a notch. I like the Spurs here because they have big game experience and Denver does not and Karl has a history of having talented teams flame out. Denver just isn't ready yet.
Dallas vs. Phoenix - Can't miss entertainment. Dallas plays a little more defense this year than in previous ones but they can still run and score with the best of them. I really think Dirk is going to be the difference in this series with too much scoring and too much clutch scoring. Plus I think Dallas can guard Nash with some bigger players like Daniels and stifle him a bit. This is still going to be so much fun to watch.
Seattle vs. Spurs - Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan. That's all that matters here, and let's face it both Seattle and Sacto are soft as hell so the Spurs are going to mash whichever team gets here.
Dallas vs. Spurs - Nobody can stop Dirk. But nobody can stop Duncan defensively either and San Antonio has more options and just better all around experience. We saw last year that San Antonio certainly has weaknesses (e.g. knock Parker on his ass a couple of times and he becomes less aggressive) but I think Dallas has more of them. I think without a Shaq sized obstacle in his way, Duncan shreds through the lesser opposition of this years playoffs.
San Antonio vs. Miami - Shaq vs. Duncan round two. I think Miami takes it because this might be the most motivated Shaq has been in years. I see him giving it his all, putting up 30-20 games to go along with Wade's all around excellence and the help of a few role players. Shaq can force Duncan into playing more defense than he normally does and get him into foul trouble. Wade causes headaches for the Spurs and is quick enough to handle Ginobli or Parker on Defense. The only issue will be Eddie and Damon hitting shots and Haslem getting garbage points and working the glass. Plus I think 'Zo gives them just enough to get by.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
The good. Kobe is a supremely talented player and his personal statistics show this as he is second in the league in scoring and is shooting a decent 0.431 from the floor. He is bascially averaging 27, 6, and 6 with 4 turnovers per game. Not bad numbers at all. Kobe also showed more willingness to play harder defense this year and hasn't suffered any shoulder problems. He did have an ankle sprain recently but he is back and has played in 63 of the Lakers 78 games. Last year he played in 68 and had the shoulder problem.
The bad. If you watch the Lakers, they stand around much too much and wait for Bryant to initiate something. Bryant's penchant for dribbling the ball without really doing anything has increased which is partially to blame for the standstill in the offense. Kobe also appears to not have the support of his teammates with Chucky Atkins most recently calling Kobe out and with Kobe awkwardly declaring afterwards that Chucky was his "road dawg", whatever that means. Worse yet, the Lakers have only won 34 games to 44 losses.
The historical context. The last two times Kobe played in the equivalent number of games the Lakers won 56 ('03-04, 65 games played due to rape trial/injury) and 56 ('00-'01, injury). In the former the Lakers finished second place and in the latter they were NBA champions. Both happened with Bryant on the floor in the playoffs. The key to both runs though was Shaquille O'Neal, and this shows especially this year with Shaq being older and slower than during the three titles, but still leading the Heat very close to 60 wins in his first year with that team and a new lieutenant, D'wyane Wade.
Some would argue that Kobe's team and coach changed so dramatically that he would have been hard pressed to win in the competitive western conference. This is partially true. But one only need look back to Michael Jordan's first retirement to see how Scottie Pippen and crew were able to keep the Bulls aloft even without his Airness, arguably the games greatest all-time player. In 1994 the Bulls won 55 games and finished second to Atlanta in the Central division behind only two games. They made a deep run in the playoffs and were a serious finals contender. The next year '94-95, the Bulls won 47 games with a rusty Jordan playing in only 17 of those games with mixed results as he reincorporated himself into the flow before a dissapointing playoff run in which Jordan looked uncormfortable on the court during key moments of the game. In neither year did the Bulls plummet to the level that Bryant's Lakers have this year. In fact, the Bulls were serious title contenders in Jordan's first sabatical. Competitiveness of a conference can be debated, but a superstar doesn't let his team miss the playoffs. It just doesn't happen. Pippen lifted his game and with his help, his teammates responded in kind.
I know it's only year one, but I think this will show a trend over the rest of Bryant's career. A great player, prolific and efficient scorer, great defender (when he puts his mind to it), but lacking the qualities of leadership needed to make his teammates better and perform at a higher level than they could on their own. I think Kobe makes a great second banana, but a permier leader he is not.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
MVP - Should go to the self-described MDP. Shaq has brought the Heat the number one overall seed in the East and in the NBA. And outside of D'wayne Wade, there isn't a lot of other talent on this team. Shaq made everyone better.
Coach of the Year - Scott Skiles. The Bulls surprising and impressive turnaround this season gets Skiles the nod. He's no nonsense and tough on his young players. Just what they needed. An 0-9 start to challenging for your division isn't bad.
Rookie of the Year - Ben Gordon. Mr. 4th quarter himself (he leads the NBA in double-digit scoring in the 4th quarter), Ben has shown an ability for hitting tough shots and to score in droves when his team needs it. Has really adopted to his role as a sixth man too.
Sixth Man Award - Ricky Davis. I can't believe I just wrote that. Davis seems to be very content playing with and leading the second unit. He's been very efficient and prolific with his scoring and he has shown some great defensive presence out on the court. I don't see how he can't get this award. Of course, it will probably swell his head even more if he gets it.
Defensive Player of the Year - Maybe he's not getting the normal press that he does because of the rumble at the Palace, but this award goes to Ben Wallace. He's so Tenacious and without Artest around I can't think of anybody who can even challenge Big Ben for the award.
Most Improved Player - Brevin Knight. He's almost averaging double digit assists (9.0) playing just under 30 minutes a night, doesn't turn the ball over, shoots the ball well from the floor and the stripe, and is helping a team without many players win some games. I thought Knight had largely been written off in the league but I feel like he came back in a big way this season and deserves the award.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
The more important question is have these moves brought the Celtics any closer to title number 17? I think the answer is no. Back when Ainge traded Antoine away it had to be done because he and Pierce needed some help on the floor and Antoine clearly was not a guy who was going to get the Celtics over the hump against bigger more agile power forwards such as Kenyon Martin. Additionally, it looked like nobody in the East had a shot at capturing a title against the Western behemoths who awaited their Eastern prey in the finals.
Under that set of circumstances Danny Ainge began rebuilding his team in the vision of 80s basketball. Fast breaking, uptempo, and good defense (not great defense). The kind of basketball that is enjoyable to watch and can be successful, just witness the rebirth of Phoenix this year. Along the way Ainge cemented Detroit as an Eastern power for years to come by helping them acquire Rasheed Wallace. No worries, our title hopes were at least three years away. Ainge bungled a few things, but got this years crop of rookies who show a lot of promise, most especially Al Jefferson. He also took the risk on Ricky Davis (a move I was not a big advocate of) and that has payed huge dividends. Ricky seems to love his sixth man role and I would be shocked if he did not win it this year. So the future was looking brighter. And of course this year Miami got Shaq teamed up with Dywane Wade creating another Eastern power. All the more reason for the Celtics to stay the course and lay low. So what if they didn't make the playoffs this year or struggled to do it? That might mean a higher draft pick or even a lotto pick. Trades or drafts could only improve the Celtics stock. Clearly the new owners were a bit impatient and Danny took the one year no risk flier on bringing Antoine back thus setting back his title plans.
What can Antoine do? He plays hard every game and brings an infectious enthusiasm to a team that was sorely lacking it. Even Mark Blount has responded and is now playing the type of ball that brought him his riches this offseason. Pierce is encouraged and playing better and the young rookies have a positive voice to respect instead of the gruff and self-interested barking of Gary Payton. The Celtics again have a great leader on the floor. And one who has reshaped his game a little bit since we last saw him in Boston. Better yet, he's a guy who really and truly wants to be in Boston and that's saying a lot in the post-Pitino years.
What can't Antoine do? Anything against Rasheed or Ben Wallace. There is no question about this. If the C's draw the Bulls in the first round, Tyson Chandler will eat him alive on the defensive end forcing Antoine to drift out to his old mistress, the three point line. I'm not so sure Antoine can do much against the unheralded but defensively sound Udonis Haslem of Miami. He'll still get his minutes and his shots, but what will happen to his confidence when matched up against a superior opponent? I thought Kenyon's beat down of Antoine a few years ago really taught him something which is why he lost the weight before being traded. So Antoine's not getting us to the finals, probably not even the Eastern conference finals.
He's also not letting some of the young guns off the bench. Perkins is hurting the most for minutes and he showed a nasty streak that every NBA team needs. Just look at Seattle's improvement with Fortson and Evans patrolling the paint and tangling with opponents. Perkins is still raw but was showing improvement. Most importantly, Al Jefferson is not getting the minutes he should. This kid is the future and needs to play. If he keeps improving he and Pierce could be a great one-two punch, especially when teamed with a dynamo like Ricky and a scoring point guard like Delonte. The Celtics still don't have a low post threat and Jefferson will be it if he continues his dramatic improvement.
So at the end of the day the short term payoff of the move has been great, no question. But will that payoff bleed into next year when Antoine is gone because he won't take a HUGE pay cut and the young guns are still a little bit off because they need to learn on the job? I think no. The casual fan will wonder why there was such a drop off in wins and quality of play and may just turn away again. And Boston still won't be any better than Miami or Detroit. It's a done deal now, so we'll just have to enjoy this years run while it lasts and keep hoping for the day when banner number 17 is raised to the rafters.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
The Good - Antoine has provided an immeadiate lift for the team and has rekindled interest in the Celtics in Boston. His first Fleet appearance was sold out and it was a win. Clearly Pierce likes having Antoine around as he has raised his game. Antoine himself is a bit of a different player if only because he does not have a green light to jack three pointers as he did under Obie. Antoine's hustle and board work are welcome antidotes to the Celtics pre-All-Star malaise.
The Bad - Antoine was shown the door in Boston because Ainge wanted to build a championship contender and he did not feel that Antoine could be part of that. Ainge found that 'Toine's trade value was quite low and panicked in trading him to Dallas for the lengthy and bloated contract attached to one Raef LaFrentz (we have him until 2009). Not exactly a blockbuster trade seeing as Raef is widely known to be a bit soft on the glass and to prefer the three point arc to the paint. These were problems with Antoine too, but at least Antoine was the team's lightning rod. Now Antoine is back for one purpose and that is to make the playoffs. The Fleet has been very empty and people who only casually follow basketball barely knew the Celtics were playing. Now the Fleet is hopping and the Celtics are looking like they'll be able to counter Phillies grab for Webber and take the Atlantic, a number 3 playoff seed (home playoff games for those counting at home), and potentially advance against a comprable or lesser foe. 'Toine still does not make the Cs a championship team. Miami and Detroit both have the size and teams to knock the Cs off their collective block. The match ups just don't pan out well for Boston. Pierce is the only slot the Cs have an advantage over everyone and Walker, well let's think about how he would fare against Rasheed Wallace after remembering how KMart too him to school the last time Walker was in Celtic green. This team isn't even built to get to the conference finals quite frankly.
The ugly - Playing time for the rooks is way down. Jefferson is suffering, and he needs to play. The kid has too much talent and needs to hone it. He's big and has skill. He could be a force for years to come. Why wait on that for one lousy trip to the playoffs when we were sold that Ainge wasn't happy just making the playoffs? Then G.P. was brought back as well. Now West and Marcus are going to find their playing time curtailed. This is not good. West was beggining to emerge in the absence of GP and Marcus has been improving his play too. Now they will have to watch and learn more too. This cannot sit well with them. And all this mess cost them a first round draft pick that could have been used this yearAnd finally, Antoine Walker is in his contract year. He has already stated that he will not work for the veteran's minimum and the Celtics aren't going to keep him close to the $14 million/year he is getting paid now. Contract situations can become ugly (I don't think it will be with Walker). So will this amount to Antoine being a hired gun for a single run at the playoffs to make the Celtics semi-relevant again or will Antoine stay long term and take up the playing time of Al and keep Perkins bolted to the bench?
Overall I don't think this is a good thing if Ainge's master plan is to win a championship. I felt all along that Antoine should have stayed in Boston during the first round of things to keep the playoff excitement going and then let him walk or sign for less money when his time was up. By bringing 'Toine back it makes it seem as if Danny's master plan is running up against the patience of the new owners for a successful product. Yes the C's were slumping, but with Detroit and Miami playing the way they are, better to lick your wounds with a high draft pick and come out swinging with new talent and more polished young talent.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Last night the C's got shelacked by Denver. Just an abysmal performance on their part. At first I was excited because I saw Delonte West seemingly starting making me think that G.P. had been traded. But no, G.P. was there, for now. West started out nicely going 4/5 and scoring down low handling the first quarter PG duties nicely. I'm still thinking that West is not a PG, but we'll have to give it time. He seems more like the Cutino Mobley type of scorer who gets some assissts along the way. Outside of that there were not really a lot of bright spots. Karl had his team running and gunning and the Celtics looked flat. And Mark Blount definitely can't catch.
Still hoping for a G.P. trade because now that the 76ers have Webber it's unlikely the C's are favorites to take the division/make the playoffs anyway. Buh.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Monday, January 31, 2005
Ric Bucher posits that the Celtics need to trade Paul Pierce. In the column he argues that Pierce doesn't fit what the Celtics are trying to become, a fast break team, and doesn't have the spark that inspires a team and makes one worthy of max money. He simply argues that Pierce is an anchor that is slowing the team. Bucher makes some good arguments, but I think he misses the mark just a little bit. Some counterpoints:
Most of the Celtics young talent is just that, young. Tony Allen and Al Jefferson have impressed in their rookie seasons thus far and I think they're going to be quite good over the long haul, but they're not the blocks that you can build a franchise on. Jefferson has the potential to be that block, but he's still really raw. Bucher seems to argue that by getting rid of Pierce it would unlock the talents of Jiri Welsch and Ricky Davis too. Maybe. Jiri has shown flashes, but that counts for little in the NBA. You can't assume he'll become good because Pierce isn't around. And Ricky Davis is still a head case. Bucher says that Ricky has been playing well and keeping himself out of trouble but fails to remember that a little over a week ago Ricky was tossed out of a practice for swearing at his coach. Oh yeah, the Celtics had invited some academic achievers to view the practice where they were treated to a display of too much ego and much cursing by Ricky.
Gary Payton has helped stabilize the point guard position that was a little off when Kenny Anderson left (did I just say that?). Payton has this year remaining on his deal and is 36. There is little chance that he'll be back in Boston and he certainly isn't a long term solution at the position. Bucher says Delonte West may turn into an excellent back up point guard, but he doesn't say who he's going to back up. Marcus Banks? That's a big glaring omission. For all of Pierce's flaws, he certainly makes life easier for any point guard by having some ball handling skills and by being a deep shooting and driving threat who makes pressing a risky decision for any team. Perhaps Bucher has in mind a trade of Pierce for some up and coming point guard. Well unless they can get Hinrich, I don't think there's anyone else out there who fills the need.
Raef LaFrentz signed a contract in 2002 that is going to pay him roughly $70 million over seven seasons. He's on the books until 2009! He has an opt-out in 2007, but I seriously doubt he's going to be taking that. Raef is a good player, and this year he is actually trying to show that he's tough by grimacing all over the floor. And he's a team guy for sure. That said, he shoots too many threes for a PF, he doesn't break effectively (one of Buchers criticisms of Pierce), and he's proven to be an injury waiting to happen. That isn't worth $10 million a season. This still has to amount to one of Danny Ainge's most foolish decisions. Antoine certainly had flaws, but he brought leadership and excitement to the Celtics. And if nothing else, he would have come off the books this year. Ainge traded Walker's bloated and short contract for Raefs bloated and long contract for a player with a questionable history who lacked many of the things that made Ainge want to trade Antoine (poor post play, too much time spent on the perimeter, weak rebounding). Just think about it, if the Celtics still had 'Toine, they would have two expiring contracts to either trade (for picks or talent) or to just let expire this season so that they could better position themselves on the free agent market. One of the initial arguments for trading Walker was saying that they could not sign both 'Toine and Pierce when the next date was up. Fine, but both were under contract (Pierce signed a six year extenstion in 2001), and letting 'Toine walk or being more patient with the trade button during his last two years under a Celtics contract would have served Boston much better. Bucher totally ignores the LaFrentz problem. It would be much, much better to trade LaFrentz instead of Pierce. Perhaps Miami could be enticed to take LaFrentz on in the hopes of securing a title this year. It's not that far fetched. They were wooing Malone and could use some post help. I'm not sure if anybody is dumb enough to take on LaFrentz's contract again though. Denver dumped him as soon as they signed him and Dallas dumped him realizing he would never be a necessary piece to take them to championship land.
I'm not saying that trading Pierce would be the end of the world. Some of Bucher's points are very valid. He does have bad body language and doesn't seem to possess the intangibles that make for a good leader. I've certainly questioned his defensive effort, but I've seen some improvement in this since the infamous benching game against the Bulls a few weeks ago. When the Celtics broke the Bulls most recent five game winning streak in Chicago, Pierce was everywhere in the hustle department drawing charges, getting a steal or two, and getting some tough defensive rebounds with the C's undersized (Jefferson on the IL, Kendrick tossed for a hard foul, Blount taking bong hits before the game). I was impressed. Bucher is right that Pierce lets things slide because sometimes he does need to save his legs for the fourth quarter. But that Chicago game highlighted why he's still such a valuable player. Not only did he get his shot, but when Ben Gordon was in foul trouble and matched up defensively against Ricky, Pierce made sure Ricky got the ball. That's a good team player and the kind of action that gets the support of your running mates. He can only be traded if the Celtics get some great value in return. They would need to get a good center with a pulse or a young and up and coming or somewhat established point guard in return for Pierce. Failing that they would need the guarantee of multiple high picks. Two lottery dips, or one top two pick with a late first rounder would be nice in return.
So in the end, I think Bucher is a bit premature. Pierce still is a top ten talent in my opinion (as or more talented than LeBron for instance) and only his leadership skills lag. But the supporting cast has to take some of the blame. Blount is a dog this year and relying on rookies only gets one so far. Resolving the long-term center and PG needs has to be the biggest priority of the Celtics and I'm not sure if trading Pierce is the way to do this. Heck, Bucher doesn't even suggest a few trade scenarios involving Pierce so I'm not entirely sure why he wrote the article.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
they are over .500 almost halfway through the season playing with a
bunch of rookies and now only a few games out of first place. They're
on their second winning streak in weeks having just cleared out four
opponents in row after losing to Boston a little over a week ago.
When you watch them play, you see a team playing. 5 guys on the floor
executing as one. They play tough defense and they execute the half
court very well thanks to Hinrich. They can fast break pretty well
too. And now that the spotlight seems to be off Tyson and Eddie
(they're role players now, not the focal point) they seem to be
playing their roles excellently. Eddie scoring on the box and Tyson
rebounding like a demon and blocking shots from the weakside. This
team is now fun to watch and that hasn't been the case since 23 hung
'em up. Keep it coming.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
The highlight of the game for me was that the Pistons started acting like an immature team. Whining to refs about non-calls and making cheap plays but then bitching when the whistle went against them. Larry Brown was caught yelling, "Just play basketball!" to his charges several times on the sidelines. Chicago looked like the veteran well coached team and Detroit looked like the bunch of Rookies. This is trouble for the Pistons and I think this opens up the East a lot this year. Also, I think Skiles is going to start getting coach of the year press soon. We'll see.
Most importantly, the Bulls are at 0.500 and haven't been so or better since #23 laced 'em up. Game on.
On a positive note Tony Allen started and didn't dissapoint at all. His defense and fast breaking are very welcome. I'd like to see much more of him and a lot less of Jiri.
Monday, January 17, 2005
More importanly the Bulls could have lost this game. They went down by 8 with 5 minutes remaining and instead of folding forced the action defensively (Chandler had some nice blocks and was a real difference maker defensively and Nocioni continued to provide tough hard nosed rebounding and clutch shooting). For a young team to show so much grit is really impressive. Perhaps the Celtics should watch a few games.........
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Indiana for the 7th playoff spot and only 1 game back of the C's for
the eighth playoff spot. And last night they had every chance in the
world to lose. Sporting a 19 point lead going into the fourth quarter
the Bulls went into the tank big time allowing the Warriors to close
within 6 points with only a few minutes remaining. The old Bulls
would have lied down and died. These youngins are starting to learn
how to win as they responded in a big way with a Duhon three and then
a nice defensive play by Nocioni that led to the break and the bucket.
Let's see if these Bulls can't get themsevles to above .500 by the
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
starters for most of the fourth quarter. Doc's problem is that there
is not enough effort being thrown towards defense. The C's are on a
streak of allowing over 100 points a game and are letting teams shoot
nearly 50% or better from the floor against them indicating that their
opponents are getting too many easy shots of the layup variety. I
like what Doc is doing and support him. Here is a bit from the
Globe's assesment of the game:
the Green could have easily owned the glass if LaFrentz and Blount
managed more than a 6 rebounds combined. When asked about that
statistic, LaFrentz shot back, "Well, how many minutes did we play?"
Together, they played 38.
Rivers isn't buying that excuse. Jefferson and McCarty grabbed 8
rebounds apiece in a combined 34 minutes off the bench.
I've been thinking Blount wasn't exactly lighting it up, but only 6
rebounds between Blount and LaFrentz in a combined 38 minutes? That's
pathetic, especially against the Bulls who have the softest or oldest
rebounding forces in the league depending who is on the floor. As for
LaFrentz, I don't think anybody expected much from seeing as his body
has broken down and he plays too far away from the basket for a big
man (wasn't that why we got rid of Antoine?). The sportsguy does a
number on him and Blount in his most recent cowbell features.
Judging from the reaction of the veterans to Docs lesson (at least
immeadiately after the game) things are going to get a bit shaky in
Boston. I think Ainge is going to back Doc to the fullest, but it
didn't sound like Payton, Pierce, LaFrentz, or Blount were very
humbled by the experience. I know I expect trades to happen, but I'm
not sure what Ainge can do. I think Pierce could possibly be on the
block if his play and attitude don't pick up too. I just have to
think something is coming the way this season is going.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Celtic's beat up on the Magic in their first game after the benching
against Chicago. Of course the Magic were without Cutino Mobely for
the evening as he was traded to Sacto for Doug Christie. Still
everybody was getting into the act on the scoring side of things. On
the defensive end, Pierce looked very pouty and was not working at
all. We'll see how long this lasts.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
is wearing 'Toine's good old #8. Not to say that this was unexpected,
but somehow I can't help but think back to the good old days when
Pierce and Walker jacked it up all the way to the Eastern Conference
finals. I'll admit it. I miss the wiggle just a little bit. Well,
hopefully baby Al will make that number count.