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!