If you’ve ever read an article of mine, you’d know that I’ve mentioned the ever-revolving door that is Celtics theatrics. From trading away near and dear to a franchise-altering trade, Danny Ainge has put the 2018-2019 Boston Celtics in position to reclaim the East. However, with names like DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James, and Paul George each being linked to the Celtics this offseason, Boston has remained mum in the news and headlines. We’re all aware of the Game 7 loss to Cleveland in the ECF. But now that Lebron James has taken his talents to the West, do the Celtics need to make ANY changes to get to the next level? Some would say they’ve struck out, including with draft pick Robert Williams III, but have they? Let’s analyze the offseason so far, and where the Celtics either hit or miss…
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it
Lebron James – SF
From the time LeBron was linked to possibly becoming a member of the Boston Celtics, there were mixed reviews on the potential addition. Without question, Lebron would immediately help any team he chose to be on; except maybe the Celtics.
With Tatum and Brown having exceeding expectations, there wouldn’t have been a need to add another ball-dominant wing player like Lebron James. He would ultimately hinder the young C’s development while possibly alienating them with the sideshow that comes along with an LBJ. His track record with players doesn’t fit the Boston mold, and the Celtics already have a GM and coach. If he decided to re-sign with Cleveland, there would have had to be a sign-and-trade which would force Boston to give up valuable assets. This is something Ainge worked hard to attain from New Jersey, then rob from the Cavaliers. Secondly, the Celtics would have had to rid itself of its three major contracts in order to make room for James, messing with Boston’s already high-caliber chemistry.
Hayward’s coming back from injury, and the young guys will certainly continue to get chances at offensive production. Oh, and how about that whole Kyrie Irving hating Lebron thing? As uplifting the idea may have been for LBJ to come to hang out with Tom Brady and David Ortiz, it would have done more harm than good in the long run. Any squad could use a Lebron James type player, but not everyone needs a Lebron James personality. Plus, what competitor joins their main adversaries when they struggle with beating them anyway?!
Hit/Miss: Home Run
Ye’ Olde Faithful
Rajon Rondo – PG
There’s nothing like a classic: Pizza and fountain soda, the Mario theme song playing through your TV during childhood … and Rajon Rondo on the Boston Celtics.
Before there was Kyrie Irving, Rondo made it look easier driving to the hoop at will while dishing the regular no-look pass. Of course, playing with Pierce, Garnett, and Allen helps, but make no mistake that Rondo will forever be a fan favorite. From 07-14, Rondo averaged double-digit points, while averaging double digits in assists from 09-14 – all with Boston. Leaving the team in 2014, Rajon saw a dip in both categories. Even though he was playing for four different teams, his steady passing seemed to remain. Personality issues were what always surrounded Rondo, though you can’t take away the 4 all-star appearances he made while donning the green and white.
With Smarts free agency decision seemingly on the back burner (i.e. Aaron Baynes – $11 MIL/2 years, or $5.5 MIL/yr), Rondo would have made a sweet backup to Kyrie and would have most likely had a welcoming visit back to TD Garden. His defense shouldn’t be taken for granted, as he’s averaging 1.7 SPG and has been selected to four all-defensive teams to Smart’s goose egg. Rondo’s also a better ball handler and floor general. Though age is on Smart’s side, Rondo signed with the Lakers for $9 MIL/2 years, or $4.5 MIL/yr. Cheaper than what Baynes was, and a hell of a lot cheaper than the $12-$14 MIL/yr Smart thinks he deserves. Boston didn’t need to bring Baynes back, but they do need to prepare should Smart take off.
Hit/Miss: Grounded out
One mans trash is another man’s treasure
DeMarcus Cousins – C
By now, names have come off the free agency board and the pickings are gettin’ slim. We get it, Al Horford is getting old and needs help. With that said, you might find yourself asking why the Celtics re-signed a center – Baynes – who averaged 6 PPG/5.4 RPG, over one who averaged 25.2 PPG/12.9 RPG – Cousins – for more money. In any world, you would never do that. Unless your name happens to be DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins isn’t the friendliest guy you’d meet in a dark alley. Still, he’s the same guy you’d want on your basketball team. Being an all-star for the past seven seasons, Cousins should be a household name. At 6’11 and 270lbs, there aren’t a lot of dudes, if any, that’s going to push him around down low. Already in the league for 10 years, Boogies averaged a double-double in eight of those seasons. He’s constantly in double-digit rebounds and points, can play the team’s bodyguard, AND won’t let you give dap to the other team .. what more do you want? Check out his unearthly stats below; Why didn’t the Celtics make a move for numbers like this when the Monstars of Golden State signed him for only $5.3 MIL/1yr??
Welp, because they didn’t get a chance. According to the Boston Globe, on Tuesday, a league source mentioned Boston never offered a contract. Having reached out to Cousins’ reps to gauge a possibility of signing the 6-time all-star, they were told he had decided with Golden State. Since Kobe, there hasn’t been another Achilles injury to a star player. It’s unclear how Cousins will heal and progress. Cousins did lead the league in technical fouls, but that didn’t stop him from posting eye-popping numbers before the injury. Interesting note, DeMarcus declined a $40 MIL/2yrs from the Pelicans to sign with Golden State. Tough loss for Boston, as DC will probably heal fine and be as dominant. Sure, Cousins comes with attitude. But wouldn’t you rather have a big man who does the dunking rather than one who’s getting dunked on?
Hit/Miss: Struck out looking with the bases loaded
Who, What, Where, When, Kawhi
Kawhi Leonard – SF
Having taken the Kyrie Irving approach, Kawhi Leonard silenced himself in an effort to find a way to get traded from the San Antonio Spurs. Aside from James and Cousins finding new homes, Leonard’s names been a common denominator within sports columns and chat groups. While where he’ll end up is most questioned, which coast he plays on has taken a front seat on the latest episode of “As Kawhi’s World Turns”.
With stats not being the question, Leonard has been adamant that he wants to play for the LA Lakers. It’s widely assumed that if traded East, he’s leaving the year after. Same idea if traded West – though he might wind up going to the highest bidder per San Antonio “wanting to remain relevant”. Tall task. With the Rockets, Lakers, Warriors, and Thunder making headway, San Antonios aging team may have already seen its best days. Aside from Aldridge, can you name anyone on San Antonio that’s not Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Greg Popovich? Me either. The Celtics don’t look ready to sacrifice their future to the Spurs for a question mark. Asking close to a king’s ransom as a price, San Antonio surely realizes it must prepare for a life that doesn’t include Kawhi Leonard. Are his plans set for Boston though?
Probably not. San Antonios been eyeing Tatum as a centerpiece in talks involving KL but were quickly shot down. Danny would never trade the prodigal son of Bostonia, would he? Brown could be dangled with Rozier/Morris combo, but adding more than a Sacramento pick would be overkill. Plus, medical reports aren’t clean with Kawhi, and we don’t know what issues loom. Recent developments by Yahoo! reporter Shams Charania indicate that Kawhi has “little interest in the Boston Celtics scenario”. He also mentioned that the Clippers or 76s, if big enough players, could get Leonard to re-sign now that Lebron is in LA. There hasn’t been a bidding war – and it’s well known he’d like to go back home to Southern California. Chalk this one up in the ‘L’ column for Boston, no palm trees and surfboards over here.
Hit/Miss: 0-3 in discussions with San Antonio
Robert Williams III – C
If you haven’t seen my profile of the newest Boston Celtic, check it out here. Now that’s out of the way, someone gets this guy an alarm clock! Robert Williams III is the literal definition of a “sleeper pick”. Not only was he snoozing through an introductory conference call, he also missed his flight to his first day of practice with his new NBA club. The rookie is not off to a good start.
Williams mentioned that Brad Stevens had a conversation with him and that it was a “wake up call”. The irony of it is laughable
He did own up to his mistake(s) and indicated that he wanted to move past it as quickly as possible. These early issues and red flags could be a distant memory should he produce at a high level. Lest we forget, he was passed up on due to lack of effort by other teams. Here’s hoping those wake-up calls do the trick. His work ethic will need to do the talking, and that already needs attention.
Hit/Miss: AAA assignment (G-League)
Dwight Howard – C
A serviceable center who could’ve been useful off the bench. He put up good numbers in Charlotte with 16.6 PPG/12.5 RPG, but hasn’t stayed with a team longer than a season in the last five. Now with Washington, signed a $5.3 MIL/1yr deal that was the same as Cousins, but cheaper than Baynes. Locker room issues may have kept him away.
Hit/Miss: Pop Fly
Jamal Crawford – G
A crowd pleaser off the bench and a lifeline for Kyrie. With just as much handle as the next guy, Crawford can pull up from half court and drain 4-pt plays in your grill. Or, break whichever ankle you need least. Always one that could go for 30+, a league veteran like Jamal would elevate the C’s bench aside from adding lethal scoring. Another NBA “old guy”, youth is Crawford’s only demerit. Cheap buy, big reward.
Report Card: C+
Not involving themselves with the LBJ sweepstakes was a major win for the Celtics alone. It didn’t take away from the main goal – defeating him. Also, resigning Baynes wasn’t terrible seeing the issues at Center for Boston. They could’ve done better though with Monroe most likely not returning, saving more cap space.
The circus of Kawhi Leonard docks Boston, time to put up or shut up at this point. Marcus Smart’s situation will figure out itself. Though it might be more of a loss if Boston can’t retain him without a plan B.
The Celtics don’t need a superstar or big name, they need to stay healthy. The East will be tough, but the West? Even tougher. A move for a bigger name big man could’ve possibly been a final piece. So far, so good. Bonus points for not adding anyone and destroying what you’ve built, yet.
Happy 4th of July!
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