The Doc Dilemma, Part II

Say goodbye, Boston

Say goodbye, Boston

According to multiple ESPN and LATimes reports, the Celtics-Clippers deal has fallen through and trade talks will not resume.

Does anyone out there believe this? I absolutely believe that legitimate, trustworthy sources confirmed this, but I’d be shocked if this actually happened. Until another coach is hired in LA, this isn’t dead. That said, Byron Scott is interviewing today and Brian Shaw tomorrow, while Lionel Hollins has already interviewed for the job.

If the Clippers do hire another coach, then this thing is dead. Sort of. For anyone thinking this deal will happen without Doc, you’re probably wrong. Yes, the Celtics almost traded KG to the Clippers for Jordan, Bledsoe and a first at the deadline. But we never knew if KG would waive his no-trade clause then – it didn’t get that far. If Doc isn’t included now, KG probably won’t waive it. He wants to play for Doc, and Doc alone as well as finishing his career next to Pierce. He’s very loyal to his most trusted brothers in combat.

So what to do now that this relationship has been soiled and hurt between Rivers/KG/Pierce and the team/media/fans? Get over yourselves, everyone. There’s nothing to fix. No one is going to take offense at Doc wanting to win or KG wanting to stay with the best coach he’s ever had/the coach that got him an NBA Title. It’s part of the business and, as much as my 12-year-old self hates to admit it, this is a business. Everyone is going to be fine. This isn’t Dwight or Carmelo or Deron Williams. It’s different, entirely. I could try to explain it, but if you need it explained my rambling isn’t going to help you understand.

So, where do we go from here? Doc still doesn’t really want to coach here anymore. It’s nothing personal, and it’s not really about “here” as in Boston as in “here” the situation the Celtics are in with their roster and cap space (or rather lack thereof). It wouldn’t surprise me to see Doc take a year off; he’s been trying to since they lost to the Lakers in 2010. Assuming this happens, what does the rest of the roster do?

For starters, Kevin Garnett will retire. No questions asked. It’s why this trade with the Clippers was such a good thing – the Celtics were getting something (valuable somethings, in my opinion) for Garnett and something for Rivers (which almost never happens when a coach leaves – it takes a real stand up guy and a ballsy GM to do it), more than they would get if both just walked away.

If the team is lucky, they could swing a deal with Garnett where he gets traded to another team who sends us an expiring contract (1 year remaining, probably big money somewhere from $5M-$12M) they don’t want to pay along with a draft pick, and then KG retires. KG’s “new” team wouldn’t have to pay him anything, they would be able to free some money from their cap they don’t want, and in exchange for the Celtics helping them out, they send along a draft pick.

Of course, Doc could always find another team ready to win that needs a coach, the only problem is that the Clippers were really the perfect fit. They need an extra veteran piece, a better coach, and have young superstar talent in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (presuming he resigns) to compliment KG, likely Pierce, and the best coach in the NBA.

And finally, what happens to Paul Pierce if KG and Doc leave town? The Truth won’t be afraid to speak his mind. Remember Paul Pierce circa 2006-2007? The guy who had mysterious injuries, wouldn’t play, would come back and be amazing to showcase his talent for a trade suitor or free agent team, and then spend every other waking moment complaining? That’s what we’re going to have, albeit a much less talented, actually hurt, possibly a little more mature version of him. And, frankly, a bit more deserving of his requests this time around. Ainge will buy Pierce out for $5M and let him go on his merry way to play for whomever he likes, likely following Garnett and/or Rivers if either is still in the league. Either way, Paul doesn’t want to lose anymore. He’d have to accept a much lesser role anywhere else, but he’d be a good fit on just about any contending team.

Could the whole gang come back together? Of course. But what good will that do them? They aren’t going to win, they aren’t going to be good, and they’re wasting years of their lives and careers. Don’t forget Ainge will go insane trying to get rid of them for something. The man never stops, and at this point, he shouldn’t.

So is this deal dead? Maybe. I’m not convinced. But either way, this is the sloppy, public beginning of the end of an era in Boston.

Readers can follow Pat on Twitter at @PatBradleyUSCHO

Globe Report: Clippers readying Doc, KG intro Presser

Who wouldn't be happy about going to Sunset Boulevard?

Who wouldn’t be happy about going to Sunset Boulevard?

 

The Celtics have been on quite the roller coaster ride. What was supposed to be a three year window lasted 5, 6 if you include this season without Ray Allen. Since year 4, trades and trade rumors have been flying everywhere. Kendrick Perkins got shipped out as the beginning of the reboot for the future, probably at the expense of a title. More recently, the Celtics almost got swept by the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, ended up losing in 6, and their roster fell apart in hypotheticals.

For two months, we’ve swirled around the thoughts of Stephen A. Smith’s report that Doc Rivers would be “traded” to the Clippers in a deal with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. That rumor then died until late last week when it appeared Doc Rivers “felt it was time for a change,” once again reported by Smith. Then talks heated up, with the Celtics demanding DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe plus draft picks for Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett. The Clippers refused to give up Bledsoe, the Celtics have rebutted, and now it appears the deal is imminent:

Clippers receive: Coach Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry OR Courtney Lee
Celtics receive: DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, 2013 first round draft pick, future first round draft pick.

Don’t be fooled by the absence of Paul Pierce’s name. It’s a smart move by the Clippers – right now, he’s not included in the trade. Why pay him $15Million? The Celtics will buy out Pierce at $5M, then let him walk and sign in LA with Doc, KG, Blake Griffin and, ideally for LA, Chris Paul.

Frankly, I don’t think Chris Paul will be there. It’s probably going to be this year’s Celtics minus young potential (Bradley, Green, Rondo, etc.) plus Blake Griffin. Is that any good? I guess we’ll find out.

The good news – Butler’s deal is expiring and he is only due $8M this season. Jordan is worth $22M, approx. $11M per year for this season and next. He’s a project, but could be a top 3 center in this league with the right help. Unfortunately that help – Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett – are what he is being traded for. There will be some highlight reel dunks with Rondo – if he’s still around, more on that later – but that’s about it.

The best part of this trade is the cap room (sort of – we’re subtracting $27M this season but adding $19, leaving us with a net gain of $8M to spend next season) and the draft picks. Let’s hope we strike gold.

 

The KG Era Is Over

KG head down

The following was my immediate reaction to hearing the initial Stephen A. Smith report nearly two months ago that said Doc, Pierce and KG were going to LA for Griffin, Bledsoe, Jordan, Butler, etc.  As I was writing it, the rumors fell through, I saved the piece to drafts and put it aside. Now that the rumors have come alive, died, and come roaring back a third time over the past 48 hours, I revisited it. It was written in the nostalgic midst of the Celtics’ loss to the Knicks, but I think it has some valuable insight. I figured I may as well publish it to throw some thoughts out there.

 

So, I’ve needed a few days to recoup from the Celtics loss. It was tough, on several fronts. I really believed they would come back and punk those losers in New York into an early golf trip. They also looked very, VERY mortal and…old. They have for a while, but it was almost upsetting to watch. Like an old, beloved dog that just cant walk anymore, but you’re holding on as long as you can before putting him down. It sucked, it was valiantly for a brief moment in the third with their 20-0 run, but it was a microcosm of this season and the future of this team should we keep them around.

The immediate reaction is to blow it up. Before the 20-0 run, I was nearly sick to my stomach and proclaimed that they needed to trade everybody (obviously in frustration, but I wasn’t far off). Minutes later, I was in near tears as the Celtics I knew and loved came storming back, flooded with memories of a 24-point comeback in the 2008 Finals vs. the Lakers.

Ultimately, the Celtics fell short. Without a move or something potentially drastic, they may fall shorter in 2014. Is it worth it to miss the playoffs for a lottery pick in a potentially deep Draft class… it’s a toss up, but I’m leaning towards no for two reasons that don’t need much explanation: A) a healthy Rondo year in his prime is not one to waste. B) a healthy Garnett year in whatever he has left is not one to waste.

Do I think, given one more piece and total health the Celtics could make another run? Absolutely. Look at 2012 – these Celtics aren’t much different. Bradley was injured, and they needed one more big to move out on Bosh (or guard the paint as well as Garnett – a tall task [pun slightly intended]) when he returned and they win that series and maybe beat OKC.

However, at this stage in the game, the C’s don’t have the cap room for that “one more piece” unless they draft an immediate impact player in the lottery (a la LeBron James in 2003), and their health is FAR from a guarantee for one game, let alone 82 of them preceding 2 months of playoffs.

So, before Stephen A. Smith made a mockery of himself (we’ll see who’s laughing if he’s right), My initial plan for the Celtics was to maneuver some cap room, trade some mix of Jordan Crawford, Jason Terry, and Courtney Lee for big men and/or draft picks, and make a run at some free agents.

Specifically, I think Kendrick Perkins will be amnestied in OKC, and Tony Allen won’t be resigned in Memphis, so if  Jeff Green, Rondo and Bradley can shoulder the offensive load, bringing in these two old friends at a discounted rate may be enough to push these transitioning Celtics over the hump. Wishful thinking, sure, but if there’s one thing the Garnett-era C’s have taught me, it’s that defense and grit win games (with even an average offense), nothing else.

However, now that the Blake Griffin Era is hypothetically upon us, why not examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of this potential trade?

Here’s an overview of the trade: Paul Pierce (1 year, $15.3M remaining, $5 buyout option) and Kevin Garnett (2 years, $12M/year remaining) to Los Angeles. Doc Rivers reportedly signs on to coach the Clippers, replacing the forgettable Vinny del Negro. In return, the Celtics receive Blake Griffin (5 years, approx. $100M  remaining), Eric Bledsoe (1 year, $3.7M remaining), Caron Butler (1 year, $8M remaining), and DeAndre Jordan (2 years, approx. $22M remaining).

That’s what I wrote back then. I was going to go into what I thought of that trade, but the parameters have changed at this point. We won’t actually know what happens until the trade goes through, but I’ll work on breaking it down when it’s done.

Last Hurrah for Pierce?

Pierce trophy

 

After a thrilling Game 4 overtime victory in Boston Sunday afternoon, the Celtics survived to push their first round playoff series at least an extra game. Tonight at 7 pm, the Celtics take on the Knicks in what could very well be the final game in a Celtics uniform for Boston lifer Paul Pierce.

“The Truth” was drafted 10th overall by the Celtics in 1998 and after surviving trade requests amidst one of the worst seasons and losing streaks in NBA History, Pierce won a championship in 2008 with the Celtics and, truth is, every one thought he would retire here.

He still might, but tonight may be the last time we see his name on the back of a Boston uniform until it’s inevitably raised to the rafters.

Pierce has lost a few steps in recent years, most notably this year in his age 35 season – especially once point guard Rajon Rondo was lost for the season and Pierce was needed to shoulder the offensive loud. We love Pierce. He’s an All-Time Great Celtic. Every 20-something in New England grew up idolizing not Jordan, but Pierce. He’s the reason I even have half a fade-away in my own retired arsenal on the court, and why I’d rather tip toe through defenders than take spot up threes until the game is on the line. He says he’s not retiring yet, but it doesn’t matter. He may not be a Celtic when camp breaks in the fall.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge said last year he thought the biggest mistake the Celtics made when their original Big 3 of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale got old and their careers were winding down was not trading them while the team could still get some sort of value for them, in order to stay competitive going forward. The Celtics went from historic to laughable in a matter of months, and Ainge already has one of the worst teams in NBA history on his resume. He’s claimed he doesn’t want to do it again.

So is this the end? Experts claim Pierce has the most trade value between he and Kevin Garnett. No one really knows what KG is going to do, but he still has two years left on the contract he signed last offseason to return to Boston. Both Players wanted another shot at a title after they took the eventual champion Miami Heat to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. They got it this year, but injuries and age have finally completely caught up to them.

Pierce had this to say earlier today to reporters on whether or not he might get traded this offseason:

“Truthfully, I haven’t put too much thought into it. The organization is going to do what they’re going to do. It’s nothing that’s stressing me out. That’s what it is. Every year they’ve got decision to make. Those are their decisions. I leave it to them.”

When asked about retiring, Pierce assured the media he wasn’t planning on hanging up his Nike’s just yet.

“Right now it’s year-by-year. I expect to play another year next year and then evaluate after that. I always said I wanted to end my career as a Celtic. But they are the ones (with the decision). I have a year contract for next year but it’s not guaranteed so the decision’s in their hands. But whatever decision they make, maybe, if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else maybe it could be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire a Celtic.”

Tonight could very well be the last time we ever see Paul Pierce in a Celtics uniform. Relish it. You’re watching the best Celtic in the last 20 years, and one of the best Celtics of all time, slowly end an incredible career in Boston. You’re watching a Hall of Famer, an NBA Champion, The Truth.

Yes, the Bruins open their playoff series tonight. The Red Sox are playing the Blue Jays on NESN +. But that can wait. Pay your respects, say a prayer, and appreciate one of the best players in NBA History and one of the better Celtics on a list of historic icons before it’s too late.

Paul Pierce is The Truth.

And truth is, we’re gonna miss him.

12th-best Defender in NBA?

2013 DPOY Ballot

Anyone else think this is BS?

Look – I don’t have a problem with Marc Gasol winning, or even with LeBron finishing 2nd. All I’m saying is that there is no reason Avery Bradley should be in 12th place here. NBA writers: please remove head’s from asses. At this rate, Carmelo Anthony is going to win the MVP Award. If that happens, I’ll quit life. Just saying.

Ponder this for a while, and when I’ve gotten more sleep I’ll be back with some more analysis-type goodness.

The Jordan Era Begins. Err, Crawford, that is.

As the dust settles on this year’s NBA Trade Deadline, there’s one thing we know for certain: the Celtics are a better team than they were yesterday.

Jordan Crawford: newest Celtic

Jordan Crawford: newest Celtic

Right around 2 pm eastern, an hour before the deadline, The Celtics swung a deal with the Washington Wizards to acquire third-year guard Jordan Crawford. In exchange for the talented young scorer, Boston sent the expiring contract of veteran C Jason Collins as well as the expiring contract of injured guard Leandro Barbosa to Washington. Rookie C Fab Melo was originally thought to be included in the trade, but Washington ultimately decided it wanted the cap space trading Crawford and acquiring Collins’ expiring contract would provide.

Crawford is in the third year of his 4 year, $5.5 million rookie contract, and will be a restricted free agent when his contract expires following the 2014 season, meaning the Celtics can match any offer another team makes and retain Crawford should they choose to do so at that time. Crawford also has a club option in 2014 for just over $3 million.

With the emergence of rookie phenom Bradley Beal in Washington at the shooting guard position, Crawford became expendable.

Disappointed with the team’s decision, Crawford had been relegated to bench duties for the past few weeks and wasn’t seeing much court time.

The former 27th overall pick has averaged 14.5 points per game in his career. This season, he is averaging 13.7 points and 3.5 assists. Crawford is most notably remembered for a monstrous 2009 dunk on LeBron James at a Nike camp that Nike reportedly didn’t want to get out. Several reporters’ tapes were confiscated, per the request of James according to people at the game. Some video did leak out though. Check it out below, right at about :34 seconds:

What does this mean for the Celtics?

Well, Crawford is a terrific scorer whose talent allows him to score in bunches, nearly at will. He’s shot 43% from the field this season and provides excellent depth for the Celtics bench, as well as at the guard position where they were a bit depleted following torn ACLs for both starting point guard Rajon Rondo and Barbosa. He’s also a cheap, team controlled, young scoring guard who is a nice piece for any rebuilding efforts the Celtics make, as well as a nice contributor for this team as they attempt to make another deep playoff run.

With Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee the starting guards, you have to think Crawford’s duties will be on the second team with Jason Terry. If Crawford excels and impresses coach Doc Rivers, he’ll earn more playing time. For now though I can’t see him getting an overwhelming share of the minutes. He’s nice depth, especially if anyone gets into foul trouble or injured, but this trade probably opens up more playing time for someone else…

Let the Fab Melo Era Begin!

Okay, so maybe I like this guy way more than I should, but Fab Melo has the raw potential to be the future defensive face

Fab Melo: Shot-Blocking Machine

Fab Melo: Shot-Blocking Machine

of this franchise. He isn’t terrible offensively, and has terrific defensive instincts. The guy is a legitimate 7-footer who looks more imposing on the court than anyone else when he’s out there. He’s listed at 7′ even, but I’d give him a few inches, for sure. He also set an NBA D-League Record with 14 blocks in a game, which ohbytheway he recorded a triple-double in. Then, in his next game, he had 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 blocks – something only 3 players ever accomplished at the NBA level. He’s averaging 11 points, 6.8 rebounds, and an astounding 3.4 blocks per game.

The point in this Melo gushing? He will very likely slide into the minutes left open by Collins, something that can only make him a better player under Kevin Garnett’s tutelage. Am I excited? HAH. What an understatement.

Of course, this could be a preemptive strike to signing a veteran forward like Kenyon Martin, essentially an older version of Josh Smith, who is rumored to be drawing interest from Miami after they traded reserve C Dexter Pittman to Memphis.

You decide: Was this a good trade for the Celtics? Vote below!

Celtics Moving Pierce?

Paul Pierce's hours in Celtic green may be numbered

Paul Pierce’s hours in Celtic green may be numbered

In a recent report by Yahoo! NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets are reportedly discussing a deal that would send beloved Celtics 15 year veteran Paul Pierce to Brooklyn. The package from Brooklyn would send forward Kris Humphries, talented young guard Marshon Brooks, and a  first round pick. It’s been speculated that Boston would also send rookie forward Fab Melo in the deal in an effort to save Boston’s future draft supply and not return any picks of their own.

This package from the Nets is the same deal that has been reportedly offered to the Hawks for swingman Josh Smith.

Personally, I’m in a love/hate relationship with this deal. It’s hard to imagine Paul Pierce playing anywhere but Boston, and will hurt to see if it ultimately happens. But is this a good deal? Well, it clears a lot of cap room…sort of. Humphries just signed a 2 year, $24 million dollar contract this past offseason with Brooklyn, meaning he is due $12 million next season and then off the books. He’s a terrific rebounder when he plays, and time with Kevin Garnett never hurt anyone’s performance. Brooks, while a terrifically talented scorer, still has a lot to prove. With Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley secured for the future at relatively cheap prices, it’s hard to see a spot for Brooks on this current roster, although with the absence of point guards Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa for the remainder of the season, he’s almost certainly see a good deal of court time. Brooks is owed about $5 over the next two seasons, and will be an unrestricted free agent following that season, meaning the Celtics have the right to match any offer made to him in free agency if they chose to do so.

Pierce on the other hand is still owed approximately $30 million dollars fully guaranteed over the next two seasons, should he decide to play out the entire contract. This deal is not about clearing cap space for Brooklyn, it’s about finding a reliable wing scorer for their team. Outside of Pierce’s contract, the deal is pretty sweet from Brooklyn’s vantage point, especially if they manage to steal Melo in the deal. This mean’s any thought of them buying out Pierce, effectively allowing him to return to Boston (a la Gary Payton in 2004-2005) is out of the picture. If Pierce gets traded, it’s for good.

Personally, I don’t think I would take the deal. There’s no guarantee what talent that first rounder will contain, and it’s not likely to be a lottery selection now that the Nets are a competitive playoff team. Plus, I really think Fab Melo has an incredibly bright future in the NBA, and whatever tutelage he can soak up from Kevin Garnett will do that future a world of good. And then there’s Pierce, who is playing out of his mind practically averaging a triple-double in the wake of the Rondo injury. I’m nearly teary-eyed thinking of it.

The NBA Trade Deadline is tomorrow (Thursday) at 3 pm.

So, would you make the deal? Vote below and voice your opinion in the comments section!

The Dwightmare Begins

The Dwightmare is seemingly over now that Superman has landed in Lakerville, but this may be the worst best thing that has ever happened to basketball

And So It Begins

I love the game of basketball, more so than almost anything else in this world. If it were a religion, the court would be my own personal Mecca. It’s a place I feel at home, can forget about the world and work out my frustrations. It’s the first sport I ever played, my first love. The first season I played, I tripped over my own feet more times than I scored (which for those of you keeping score at home was 2 points the entire season). I remember that basket, the tears that I quickly tried to hide as seemingly everyone in the gym cheered for the poor, chubby kid who ran around like a chicken with his head cut off, and the opposing coach sticking his hand out for a high five. That summer I worked tirelessly on one specific shot – a dribbling left to right semi-hook shot that looked more like I was throwing a shot put than shooting a basketball – because it was the best way I could beat anyone. Late that following season, I hit that very shot to win a game in the playoffs. I practiced and practiced and practiced and when I was done, I practiced some more. I watched YouTube videos and every game or special I could get my hands on. I started growing and was fed the fact that all the doctors predicted I would be 6’4″. I never grew taller than 5’10”, where I stand today, but always felt like I was a monster on the court. I played the best game of my life in an 8th grade tournament when I and started with and played through a concussion and pneumonia, scoring 14 points and sinking two free throws (something I was particularly bad at back then) that iced the game. When I was fourteen, I boldly proclaimed that if I played Michael Jordan in his prime one-on-one, I would win. Even bolder? I  truly believed it.

I proceeded to get cut from my high school team and go to every possible Varsity game to support the team over the next four years. I went nuts with one of the craziest fan bases ever as a sophomore when we won the Massachusetts State Championship just months after one of the seniors on the team died in a tragic car accident. I was the Head Manager of the team the following season as a junior and relished in the opportunity to just help the team in any way I could. As a senior, I took charge and stood front row with my best friends, leading the nationally recognized crowd to become the Greatest High School Fan Section in America as once again we took home the State Title. I am first and foremost a lover of the game of basketball.

As a lover of the game, when I heard about Dwight Howard heading to the Lakers I practically started drooling. Another Super Team to challenge the likes of LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the Defending NBA Champion Miami Heat? A team already featuring the greatest player since Jordan in Kobe Bryant and second in league history with 16 NBA Championships? This couldn’t get much better. The Lakers made big moves earlier this offseason when they added 2-time MVP point guard Steve Nash, an up-tempo point guard the Lakers haven’t seen the likes of in over a decade, and wily veteran forward Antawn Jamison who provides a huge offensive and defensive punch off the bench. The Lakers, two years removed from going to 3 straight NBA Finals and winning the latter 2 of those, have looked old. Now, they pull off a trade in which they keep star power forward Pau Gasol, become much younger, can run with the  Miami Heat and defending Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder, can slow the game down in the half court with a phenomenal high post/low post duo of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard that neither Miami nor OKC can match, and have found the heir to the throne as King of Lakerland in Dwight Howard. As if that’s not enough, check out this stat, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info:

Watch out, NBA

To a fan of the game who just loves good competition, this can’t get any better. However, I’m not just a fan of the game. I’m a diehard Boston Celtics fan and, to put it simply, I’m pissed. As far as my eyes can see (and the further I look, the greener the tint gets) this could be the worst thing the league has ever seen.

The Problem

We’ll start with this texting exchange I had with a friend this morning in the aftermath of the Howard deal:

Her: “But seriously, F*** the Lakers”

Me: “Currently [hate/want to screw them over] more than the Yankees”

Her: “Agreed. But it’ll be okay, don’t worry”

Me: “If by ‘okay’ you mean Kevin Durant (my absolute favorite player) not winning a title for at least 3 more years, OKC probably semi-blowing up their team because of financial issue by then and Durant possibly NEVER winning a title, the Lakers pulling ANOTHER 3 peat, tying the Celtics for most NBA Championships EVER this year (17), passing us the year after, Kobe tying Michael [Jordan] with six rings and then passing him, Michael committing suicide at a young age after attempting another comeback in his 50s with the Bobcats and failing miserably (maybe a stretch, but still), then Kobe challenging Bill Russell for the most rings EVER when all is said and done, then yeah, everything will be okay and I have nothing to worry about.”

Her: “Oh my”

Houston, we have a problem. This isn’t just bad, this is Independence Day-esque bad, with no Will Smith in sight. As a Celtics fan, this is the epitome of all evils: The Lakers win, win again, and in the process of winning, trump you as the greatest franchise in NBA History. Think about that for a minute….This. CAN’T. HAPPEN!!! Dwight didn’t want to be there. He didn’t! And now, suddenly, he pushed for this trade to LA? Hold on…this smells fishy and oddly familiar to another recent event of my sports past:

In the winter following the 2003 Boston Red Sox’s devastating Grady-Left-Pedro-In-Too-Long Game 7 ALCS loss to the Yankees in which Aaron F@!$ing Boone hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh off poor Tim Wakefield, I found new levels of hate, the likes of which my almost-12-year-old self had never known. The Red Sox were in on the hunt for SS Alex Rodriguez when suddenly, Yankee 3B Aaron Boone, owner of 99% of all the hatred and heartbreak I had ever known, blew out his knee in a pickup basketball game, prompting the Yankees to go out and trade for Rodriguez, one of the best players in the game. The rich just got richer. Later that offseason, Larry Lucchino, Red Sox President and CEO, reiterated his feelings about the Yankees, once again calling them “The Evil Empire”.

What about this story reminds me of this whole D12 shebang? I hated Aaron Boone on two separate occasions: once for ruining the Red Sox World Series dreams, the next for getting hurt and luring the Yankees to go out and get A-Rod. Picture this 2012 Howard debacle as the Hollywood reboot, with the Lakers starring as the Yankees, Dwight Howard starring as Alex Rodriguez, and Dwight’s back starring as Aaron Boone. That’s right, I’m blaming his back. Howard’s back single-handedly elimanted the best chance of kicking the Miami Heat out of the playoffs before they faced the Celtics, scared me for 3 months leading up to the Olympics about how Team USA would respond without their starting center, and caused him to need surgery in which he was rehabbing at a facility in LA all summer which in turn (as Bill Simmons points out here), has most likely led to his realizing that being a superstar in Los Angeles playing for one of the most popular teams in the world alongside one of the most popular and best players in the world really couldn’t be all that bad. So the Lakers, realizing Howard would come to his senses, waited without panicking and slowly managed to go from a trade that would have forced them to absorb a bad contract (Hedo Turkoglu’s), trade their All Star Center (Andrew Bynun), trade their perennial All Star power foward (Pau Gasol) and trade multiple draft picks, to simply trading Bynum and one future, first-round, lottery-protected draft pick. I can just picture Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Owner Jerry Buss sitting in a lavish room on the phone with Rob Hennigan, new General Manager of the Orlando Magic, force choking him, and saying something malicious like “I have you now!” while they steal another All-Time NBA Great to be. The Lakers are the basketball equivalent of The Evil Empire, only much, much smarter. Making matters worse? Hennigan is from Worcester. A Massachusetts native. The guy is a CELTICS fan!  Dear God, I’m pissed.

The Solution

Sam Presti, GM of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is one of the smartest men in basketball. He drafts well, trades well, takes low risk-high reward moves and almost always seems to end up with a win-win situation. He is also the man who pulled the trigger on the trade that landed Kendrick Perkins in blue and orange, much to the horrific dismay of every Celtic fan worldwide. Sam Presti is not a dumb man, but in the wake of the Thunder’s NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat this past June, some people are questioning whether or not the Perkins trade was one of his best. Perkins has battled injuries the last few years, some believe his skills are declining and, this combined with his salary (owed $25M over the next 3 seasons), has many people in OKC’s circles crying “uncle” on Perk’s contract. Personally, I think Scott Brooks coached terribly the past two playoffs and didn’t utilize what he had in Perkins. To be fair, Kendrick doesn’t exactly fit into the run-and-gun, high-octane offense of the Thunder. But to be more fair, the Miami Heat are the best in the business at doing just that, have the greatest player on Earth, and simply beat the Thunder at their own game. Still, many think the money could be better spent elsewhere. Bleacher Report had this to say about the situation:

“Here’s the catch, though: Oklahoma City may be forced to amnesty Perkins this offseason.

Why?

Well, think about it. The Thunder have to make commitments to James Harden and Serge Ibaka for the future, and they have already signed Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to lucrative long-term deals.

It’s going to be extremely difficult for Oklahoma City to lock up one of Harden and Ibaka, and then when you throw Perkins’ contract into the mix? It just makes for a very messy situation for GM Sam Presti, and his hand may be forced here when it comes to Perkins.”

Sam Presti is not a dumb man, but if he thinks he can improve his team by using the Amnesty Clause on Perkins’ contract and spending that money elsewhere, he will. Suddenly, in a world where I never thought I’d see the Big Mean Green Machine back in a C’s uniform ever again, I have a vision. It’s Kendrick’s cell phone buzzing. He just received a text from his best friend, Celtic’s point guard Rajon Rondo. It’s a picture message, with the following words underneath:

“You’re gonna like the way you look…”

Then Kendrick’s phone rings. He answers and hears Kevin Garnett on the other line.

“I guarantee it”, says Garnett, and then hangs up.

And BAM! Just like that Perk comes frolicking through meadows and receives a police escort back to the Garden where his old teammates are waiting with open arms for the press conference re-introducing Perk as a Celtic. Yes, I’m telling you Kendrick Perkins is the key to solving every single aforementioned NBA crisis. Don’t believe me?

Let’s just put it this way: if Dwight Howard were Jesus, Perkins would be the anti-Christ. However, now that Howard is a Laker, I see him as more of a demon. Therefore, Kendrick Perkins qualifies as John Constantine, a demon hunter whose sole purpose on Earth is to send demons back to the nether regions. Kendrick Perkins is the Chosen One.

…wait. Did I really just compare Kendrick Perkins to Keanu Reeves?

(::Gets on knees, begins reciting Act of Contrition:: “Bless me Father for I have sinned…”)

Actually, yes I did, and it makes sense. The Matrix (starring Keanu Reeves) was awesome and Constantine (also starring Keanu Reeves) was an entertaining thriller (it got 3.5 out of 5 stars!), then all of a sudden Keanu disappeared and now no one likes him or thinks he is worth anything. Sound familiar? Keep in mind that at the time of Perkins’ trade from the Celtics, he was widely considered the second best center in the league (next in line only to Howard), despite his offensive deficiencies and coming off a torn ACL in his knee. He was also one of the defensive anchors of the Celtics’ record setting defenses. Still not buying it? Please refer to the following:

  • Games 6 and 7, 2010 NBA Finals. Perkins blows out knee with Celtics up 3-2, Lakers win Title.
  • February 2011, Celtics finally healthy are on their way to another championship,get Perkins back from injury. Perkins gets traded, Celtics lose in 2nd Round to Miami Heat.
  • Games 6 and 7, 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. Celtics up 3-2. Big man Chris Bosh returns to Miami lineup, moving Garnett outside the paint allowing LeBron to have one of the single greatest playoff games ever in game 6, Celtics lose in 7.

By my count, that’s THREE banners that are not hanging from the rafters in Boston. Three banners we would have had with Kendrick Perkins in the lineup. If Kendrick Perkins comes back to Boston with this already retooled lineup, we’ll be seeing a Celtics-Lakers Finals for a few years to come. The Celtics will almost certainly win at least once more if they get Perk back. Besides, if the Lakers want to win and pass the Celtics in Championships, shouldn’t they have to go through us to do so? Now that would be entertaining basketball.

The irony in all of this? Danny Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins in the first place because he firmly believed he could convince Dwight Howard to come to Boston. Now, he’s in Los Angeles.

God, I hate the Lakers.