This preseason inspired a feeling Celtics fans have not had in a very long time, a belief better, happier days are here. There is no looming sense of dread if any obstacle happens to land in their road back to decency. This assembled cast of characters are even-keeled, cool, selfless personalities who mesh extremely well considering they don’t know one another all that well.
For all the bright spots, there is one murky figure that still resides. A reminder of what the franchise ultimately lost since his signing. The once rising star of Gordon Hayward undoubted cratered through no fault of his own (the fault lies with Kyrie Irving). Five-minutes into his Celtics tenure, his apprehended was supposed to usher in an era where Boston graduated a step above from scrappy contender status, to title favorites. Quite possibly, the 2017-18 Celtics are the greatest squad you’ll never have gotten to see full strength considering all they’ve accomplished losing Hayward – and later Irving to season ending injuries. I’ll go to my grave believing that was a championship team.
While the good vibes have seemed to also effect Hayward looking to recapture what made him an All-Star in Utah, his remaining in Boston reminds me of what should have been, but never will be. His contract is a hefty sum with two-years, a player-option for 2020-21. If he does return to his pre-injury form the Celtics likely will lose him to free agency this upcoming summer. Jaylen Brown‘s rookie contract will expire at the end of the season and Jayson Tatum is due for an extension at the same time. These pressing issues lingering on the horizon is why Ainge carefully constructed his title window for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. Unforeseeable circumstances destroyed any chances of lasting success and Ainge is in a position many GMs are of running on the treadmill of not mediocrity, but constantly reshuffling the decks to sustain a good, but not great team. While the Toronto Raptors were in a similar position prior to trading for Kawhi Leonard, Masai Ujiri had to wait a long time for the superstar to become available on the market and had to endure multiple seasons of the Kyle Lowry/DeMar DeRozan duo getting emasculated annually in the playoffs.
The Raptors have just extended Lowry for another season and are probably looking to maximize their chances in a wide open conference despite lacking the caliber of star Leonard was that put them over the top. If Hayward resembles his old self, it’s smart to consider a simple swap of Hayward for Marc Gasol. The Celtics cannot reasonably hope to contend for a title against the likes of Joel Embiid with Daniel Theis, Robert Williams and Enes Kanter. The Raptors are deathly shallow at the wing and Hayward can become rejuvenated in a new city clearly still high off the fumes of their title.
The loss of Al Horford could be blamed solely on Irving’s antics. His grandstanding, preaching empty sentiments of leadership and promises to flip the switch in the postseason drove the reliable Horford into the arms of dreaded rival Philadelphia. It is likely that if Horford learned not only Irving was destined for Brooklyn, but he was being replaced by Kemba Walker that he’d return to the Celtics on a new contract. But timing is everything and that factor has rarely played in the favor of Ainge.
Gasol is sitting on the last year of his max contract worth $25 million. A straight up swap leaves just $606,000 to be filled in salary to make the numbers work. He’s slowed down a step and it showed during his half season in Toronto, averaging a unspectacular 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists line. But in the final 23 games after the All-Star Break, Gasol sported an offensive rating of 119.6 and a positive net rating of 17. It isn’t hyperbole to suggest Toronto doesn’t win the title without Gasol’s subtle contributions.
The in-house solutions aren’t very much solutions. Theis is limited athletically, Williams cannot so much beyond just block, and Kanter is, sadly, unplayable in most scenarios. It’s amazing Terry Stotts managed to coach around Kanter’s limitations on defense as well as he did.
Unless Hayward is a top-15 player by the All-Star Break, this is the trade every Boston fan should be praying to become reality.
It’s the nightmare we fear to wake up to. The pit in our stomach that grows with each tweet from Brian Windhorst or Chris Hayes. You get the feeling those in the media kinda want it to happen. They subtly cheer for your favorite team to crash violently in the dirt. The negative media environment makes me hesitant to even check in on my favorite Celtics podcasts, such as “The Rainin’ J’s”, “Celtics Beat” and “Celtics Stuff Live” for fear of them validating my fears.
They all speak of one man and where he will play basketball next fall.
Will Kyrie Irving leave the Boston Celtics? A team that, by all accounts, has done nothing wrong by him or have given any indication they are unable or unwilling to build a title contending team, all because one season went awry? Possibly. We are in the era of “Player Empowerment.” Despite the air quotes, this is the appropriate label for the period the NBA is currently in. Kevin Durant is about ready to leave the Golden State Warriors after two championships and three straight Finals appearances. Why? Simply because he feels like it. Winning doesn’t matter to players anymore. And let’s be honest, it probably never did. Last summer we seen LeBron bolt a seemingly weak conference where he could coast for an entire season and still make it out of the East to go to Los Angeles simply to make movies. If winning doesn’t matter to LeBron then it’s safe to assume it matters to no one.
If Irving departs Boston for New York, he’s insane. If it’s for the Lakers, he’s doubly insane and it’ll be a heel turn for the ages. Irving and Durant are weird, sensitive and reclusive individuals. Nobody can get a feel for what they are capable of doing. They could form a super-team one day and rapidly decide to change their minds before the ink is set to paper. The Celtics franchise is at the mercy of a cosmetic hippy who told a packed TD Garden he intended to re-sign in Boston seven-months ago. Now he wants us to ask him on July 1st.
It’s Irving’s life. I don’t have any control over it, nor should I and neither should you. But we’re fans. We at least deserve the right to bitch and moan when a rich man makes a decision we don’t agree with.
The options to fill in the gigantic shoes of Irving are slim and to make matters worse the Celtics are over the cap and have limited resources this summer. Armed only with rights to their own free agents (Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier), minimum contracts (Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, Robert Williams and Brad Wanamaker) and a sizable war chest to make trades if they want to risk the future for a quick-fix.
As far as free agency goes the Celtics only big fish they can conceivably sign is the player they already house in Irving. If he leaves, look out for possible reunions with journeymen guards such as Darren Collison and former friends Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Thomas. The last two are likelier to not be priced out of Boston’s modestly sized Mid-Level-Exception, worth about $5.4 million. I’d prefer Ricky Rubio, but I think we’re getting Rondo
I’d rather have Rubio. He’s younger an better on both ends of the floor. But he will likely be out of Boston’s price range. Rondo is damaged goods, so his value is at an all-time nadir. Their last two seasons aren’t all that different. Rondo looks better if you apply context to his last two years jumping to Los Angeles and the clown show the enviably follows LeBron at every stop.
Ricky Rubio last 2 seasons
41.2 fg%, 33.2 3p%, 12.9 pts, 5.7 ast, 4.1 trb, 1.5 stl, 14.7 per .104 ws/48
43.8 fg%, 34.6 3p%, 8.7 pts, 8.1 ast, 4.6 trb, 1.1 stl, 13.8 per, .077 ws/48
I might as well preemptively start the hype-up process for Rondo…
Dude can still play. While guilty of phoning it in on defense, a players engagement level usually hinders on how the team is playing as a whole. Irving’s defense these last two seasons in Boston, under the team-first culture banner, has been his best outings on the opposite end of the floor in terms of effort level. Rondo can gamble for steals and potentially can take charges if he’s engaged.
Rondo is very much someone who’ll thrive in an environment that isn’t toxic. Los Angeles was toxic. Same with Sacramento. After his stops in Dallas and aforementioned Sacramento everyone wrote off Rondo as a has-been. Since then, he’s signed with New Orleans in the one year the team got its act together and made a respectable playoff run.
Rondo is definitely guilty of playing the role of “Bizzarro-Kobe,” to be more specific and raunchy an assist-whore. Given the circumstances the Celts are facing in their first year without a superstar and where they have to start building around The Jays, it’s best to give them a guard who’ll not hesitate to give them the ball.
Throughout the entirety of the Celtics season they’ve played similar to a person with a personality disorder. One minute everything is fine. The ball is finding the bottom of the net, passes are extremely crisp and seems like everyone has their dribbling down to a science. The literal next minute the offense becomes subject to multiple hijackings, bad shot selection and ball movement. Heading into the first round series versus the scrappy Indiana Pacers missing their superstar and lone offensive spark Victor Oladipo. I believed their chases to upset the more talented Celtics because Indiana, for their lack of individual athleticism, at least they played like a team. A tired old cliche for sure, but right nonetheless.
So why have they failed to even win a game thus far? Simple. They don’t have any answer for the likes of Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum, and eventually Jaylen Brown when he got going in Game 3. Are the Celtics dramatically better coached than they were in the regular season? No. The minutes distribution is better spread out. Upping Gordon Hayward and Brown’s minutes to 30 per game for the series after playing bit roles coming off the bench for the bulk of the regular season. But the same complaints I’ve had towards Stevens remain prominent. Brown absolutely had a ball in Game 3. Scoring a game-high 23 points on only nine shot attempts. In contrast, Morris attempted eight shots coming off the bench.
Why is this happening? How come Stevens cannot figure out how to simply feed the hot hand and cease turning to the frigid hand? It’s difficult to control every possession and to have players break out of bad habits they’ve developed over the years they spent in the professional ranks. Maybe coaching isn’t exactly to blame for why Brown isn’t more aggressive and willing to shoot, maybe it is Brown himself. Like Tatum the third-year forward from California State is mature, reserved and wise. A calming presence no doubt. In my three years of watching Brown play for Boston I’ve never thought to myself “Okay, you need to stop shooting now.” He knows when he doesn’t have his fastball on a particular night.
In contrast, Morris doesn’t know the meaning of the word “slump” a 2 for 11 game is all the same as a 8 for 10 outing. Both sides of the spectrum can be admired by the fans. Both equally hurtful to a teams high aspirations. I’ve been critical of Brown’s shot the first two games of this series, but that’s because I’m a pessimistic, miserable prick unable to listen to reason while I am in the middle of one of my freak outs. If you ever wondered what Boston sees in a potential future if they choose to build around The Jays, look at that game. We have issues with Tatum taking long-twos, but it’s not like they weren’t open shots. Indiana could not succeed in double-teaming because it was a given one of the other Celtics would leak out and nail the outside shot or sneak under the basket for the easy lay-in.
When he is going Jaylen Brown’s stroke is unbelievably smooth. Given a head of steam coming down full court he is a terror to guard. You can try to foul him but he may just pass you before you can.
We saw a semi-aggressive Brown in Game 3. He’s been so all series, only in different ways. Hustling on defense, gunning for loose balls and battling for rebounds against the likes of Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Thaddeus Young. Game 3 was the first time his fingertips let loose some fire. If this is the Brown we are going to see in future games this playoffs then just book the Celtics ticket to the finals now because this team is dangerous when they can get that crucial third player involved. If only Brown would take the initiative.
New England is an odd sports town. Spoiled by success by all of the four local teams a generation of fans have had a long time to learn the new reality that sports isn’t just one constant gut punch after another. Even somebody like me, born near the coming of the new millennium, is unable to come around to the belief all is not unwell. As for the rest of New Englanders, the type of characters this region houses is the complete antithesis to the outgoing, free spirited Celtics in the locker room. We can barely handle the quiet, uniform sound bites Patriot players provide on a weekly basis without drawing conspiratorial connections and professing the team’s imminent downfall.
Boston is a baseball town first. Hockey second. Football third. Basketball last. Certainly this has nothing to do with the game itself. Boston loves them some Bill Russell and Larry Bird. We just easily get annoyed when Kyrie Irving constantly says stuff that seeming he’s taken a trip to a Deepak Chopra quote generator website. In a year Irving’s approval rating among the crowd of people who listen to Felger and Mazz every day. Fans simply don’t trust Irving like they trust Tom Brady; they don’t even completely believe he is genuine. You’ll still find people complaining he didn’t participate in optional off-season O.T.As over a year ago.
Why are we so negative? Is the fictitious “Curse of the Bambino” and all its emotional scaring it caused in its 86-year reign of terror caused some lingering effects despite the fifteen-year stretch which saw four world championships since? Why, yes. That’s probably the case. We are raised by our dad’s who were spent most of their lives being traumatized. Many of them remember Roger Clemens stroking his Toronto Blue Jays cap his unapologetic demeanor towards fans who he put through Hell by giving them constant cold shoulders and repaying the team who paid him handsomely by getting overweight and declining noticeably. Many of the older generation just assume that’s who Kyrie Irving is: a hired mercenary. A damn fine one. But he is not loyal to anyone but himself and will jump ship even if logic suggests it isn’t the best move if he wants to win basketball games.
Even if Irving signs the contract pledging his prime years to the Celtics organization the feeling of distrust will remain prominent amongst New Englanders wry of his attitude.
This playoffs are important for Irving. Not only is this is first rodeo without LeBron James, it’s his chance to rewrite the narrative and undo the perception he’s an overrated, cancerous figure. The two games against Indiana Irving’s played in one rock fight demanding constant attention to detail on the defensive side, and a contest where the team needed his scoring desperately after being down twelve-points heading into the final period. Each game the Celtics came out victorious. In Game 2 Irving dawned his Superman cape and rescued the Celtics after a disastrous third quarter cost Boston their slim 2-point lead. Draining everything in sight. When Myles Turner patrolled the paint like the British when they embargoed the United States in the early 19th century, blocking entry from every white jersey, Irving turned to his long range game nailing three after three after three to wrestle his boys back into it.
It’s quite the feat considering that Marcus Morris, on some nights Boston’s second best scorer, was zero of eight and thankfully Brad Stevens shifted away from him late to play Gordon Hayward in crunch time.
Irving is without his running mate, but isn’t saddled with a bunch of bums. They just sometimes find themselves unable to put the ball in the cap for long stretches. However, Irving is so far doing just fine in his first stint in the playoffs without LeBron. Proving he is well worth his billing.
As the playoff picture unfolds there are still some twists and turns left to be taken before anything is set in stone. However, the Celtics possible opponents come spring are more condensed than others. Despite a 10-10 start which acts as a crutch for the entire season in terms of their own seeding, the Celtics have rebounded and won 33 of their last 50. As of late the team found their collective mojo. Jaylen Brown is making a strong for him being reinserted into the starting lineup; and before suffering a neck strain Gordon Hayward seemed to have found a groove.
Boston can hope to advance no further than the third seed in the playoff standings. It’s likely the first round matchup will be either the Philadelphia 76ers or the Indiana Pacers. It is not a given Boston will have home-court advantage. The green team sits two games behind both Indy and Philly. This is crucial since the Celtics currently are 17-17 on the road versus 26-10 at home.
The Pacers have shown great strength in not cratering since losing Victor Oladipo for the season. Currently sporting the best defense in the N.B.A. Anchored by two young bigs Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, the former leads the team in rebounding (9.2) and the latter in blocks (2.8). The health of Boston’s bigs are immensely crucial to this series. Without either Al Horford or Aron Baynes the Celtics will lose this series on the boards. The loss of Oladipo dropped Indiana’s offense in to the bottom-tier of the league. Someone whose supposed to carry the torch, Tyreke Evans, hasn’t cut the mustard and picked a helluva time to have the worst season of his career. That all being said, the Pacers are still scary to a team that can’t get out of their own way like Boston.
Turning to the Sixers, the old cliche “there’s no loved loss” rings true. Amongst the fans that is. Philly’s gone under an extreme makeover since the season began. Gone is the faltering number one pick Markell Fultz. Defensive stalwart on the perimeter Robert Covington and power forward Dario Saric, who was an underrated thorn in Boston’s side last playoffs. In are Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Jonathon Simmons. This is Philly’s best collection of talent in almost two-decades and its all because they whiffed on the number one pick…
For the constant reshuffling of the deck Brett Brown is able to still field a top-10 team in offensive and defensive rating. No matter how you slice it Butler is not a good fit next to Simmons or Embiid. Yet, they are able to overcome the growing pains and remain a force in the east. No team or player can even remotely hope to contain the fearsome twosome that radically altered the floundering franchise to fringe title contender status.
Well… except for Al Horford. Whatever the reasoning Old, Steady Al (as I am trying to nickname him) constantly gets the best of Embiid. J.B can do it all, yet against Horford a bullet in the chamber is unloaded and Embiid is forced out of the paint and turned into a spot-up shooter. It’s magnificent to witness as it still doesn’t make any sense. It’s like I am watching Paul Pierce versus LeBron James before his Miami-days. The future of the N.B.A getting constantly bested by who many deem irrelevant and “overpaid” and “average”.
If Mike Budenholzer is guilty of annually fizzling in the playoffs, but getting the best of Brad Stevens. Stevens deserves the label of someone who owns Brett Brown.
I am going to regret saying this, but I think Boston can win on the road in Philly and can’t do it anywhere else. Because I’ve seen them steal one before down there and they have yet to have lost a game to Philly this season.
We’ve seen superstars uproot themselves from their small-market scene in favor of brighter lights and greener pastures. LeBron (twice) and Kevin Durant are the most recent examples. The common consensus is the team losing the superstar is left in shambles and without hope. This only applies to Cleveland. The Oklahoma City Thunder still fielded a competitive roster. When you have Russell Westbrook winning 45-wins isn’t a tall order.
Since January the media is painting a dire picture for Celtics fans hoping to retain star Kyrie Irving beyond this season. There are rumblings he’s unhappy, disconnected and the piling up of loses isn’t helping the situation look any better, let alone encourage him to stay. We’re in an era where it there is no instant pathway to the finals you’re in no position to sign a star on the level of Irving and should expect to lose the one they already have. But maybe the Celtics are better off if Irving leaves and subsequently if all of the free agents also depart Boston. Watching the Celtics play I see two things, I see a collection of very talented, multi-layered personnel that do not fit together. And I see the growing of the divide between two factors. The Half-Court faction led by Irving. Irving left Cleveland to show he can be the straw that stirs the drink and that lead a team to victory where he is the best player. The other side, the Fast Breakers, made up of young guys and the coaching staff the FBs want to run the floor and play a high-flying pace of basketball. Maybe they are right. Boston ranks, as of today they are seventh in fast break points per game (16.3). Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are wildly attackers. Not shooters. Not yet, anyway. The Jays don’t fit so well next to Irving.
The best team basketball I’ve seen Irving play in his career was the brief time Brad Stevens was able to limit his ball-domination. If you were to look at Irving’s stats they’d look similar to his output when in Cleveland. It goes beyond this. Back in the 1990s Phil Jackson moved Heaven and Earth to get Michael Jordan to focus his energy getting those around him involved. The last two-minutes was Jordan’s playground. This is exactly how Irving played. Not anymore.
Boston needs to give opportunities to not only Brown, but also Robert Williams and Semi Ojeleye. Energetic, strong defensemen that can potentially swing a seemingly unfavorable matchup. Ojeleye did a great job guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first-round of the 2018 playoffs. And guess who is averaging 5.2 blocks per 36… “TimeLord.”
No team in NBA history to have ever lost a star will be in a better position to remain competitive. If the Memphis Grizzlies are not a bottom-eight team and if the Los Angeles Clippers sneak into the playoffs the Celtics stand to own 4 first-round picks in the upcoming draft. Potentially four picks inside the top-21.
The Celtics aren’t better without Irving. But watching them play with Marcus Smart or even the beleaguered Terry Rozier in Irving’s stead the team jells significantly better as a whole.
Uh huh, life’s like this
Uh huh, uh huh, that’s the way it is
‘Cause life’s like this
Uh huh, uh huh that’s the way it is
Coming to grips with the choppy season which began with so much promise, Celtics fans mouths watered as they appeared to have the deepest, most complete roster in the entire league.
Chill out, what you yelling for?
The piling up of loses has made the normally calm leader Al Horford collectively lose his final nerve. He’s yelling more often on the court, lashing out at refs and is aggrieved because he’s seen his teammates play at a high level before. The sudden depletion of their abilities simultaneously is befuddling and maddening to the veteran.
Lay back, it’s all been done before
And if, you could only let it be, you will see
I like, you the way you are
We want the Cool Celtics back. Before Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward there wasn’t anything buttoned up about the merry band of castoffs working together to collectively flip off the rest of the NBA for writing them off. After some awkwardness, we fell in love with Irving and fell head over heels as his former team must’ve. Now, beset by expectations and impending free agency, the media will not let up continuously asking where it is he will play next season and linking him and Kevin Durant to the New York Knicks with nothing but trivial comments about leadership and failure.
When Hayward – and subsequently Kyrie were lost for the season the team rallied around misfits like Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. We’ve seen them win games before almost single-handily. Like Irving, T-Ro and Mook have summer plans too and expectations how big their next check will be. This forces them to force the issue on offense to impress potential suitors because they know they’re not long for Beantown.
When we’re, driving in your car
And you’re, talking to me one on one but you become
Failure can be a powerful teacher for those trying to achieve success. These Celtics tasted much success in the short time they’ve been together. The ultimate failure is failing in seven-games to LeBron and Cleveland, perhaps we underestimated the demons the contest produced?
‘Round everyone else
You’re watching your back
Like you can’t relax
You’re trying to be cool
You look like a fool to me
Kyrie is battling the media every single night, along with his inability to put in simple terms what his struggles particular are this season when compared to how smoothly he fit into the Celtics system last season. The walls are caving in.
Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?
Years of Brad Stevens getting endlessly praised by the media and his fellow coaches around the league, the reception of the young head coach makes us question whether he can lead players on the level of Irving and manage egos sufficiently. Stevens stinginess and unwillingness to become more flexible with his lineups for fear of rattling his teams already fragile confidence this late into the season is surely something that should be talked about more.
I see the way you’re acting like you’re somebody else gets me frustrated
Life’s like this you
And you fall, and you crawl, and you break
And you take, what you get, and you turn it into
Honesty and promise me I’m never gonna find you fake it
No, no, no
It’s no just Kyrie. 2nd year forward Jayson Tatum somewhat regressed, settling for long two-Point attempts as his scouting report warned of his tendency to. Despite being fed objectively great looks, Tatum can’t find it in himself to take that one step backwards in order to continue his progression. I still have faith in him though. If the Celtics could get Avery Bradley to take three-points and make them at a decent rate then Tatum will too. Eventually.
You come, over unannounced
Dressed up, like you’re something else
Where you aren’t where it’s at you see
You’re making me
Laugh out, when you strike your pose
Take off, all your preppy clothes
You know, you’re not fooling anyone
When you become
Weird Celtics Twitter gave this team an identity while many teams fans bases struggle to stand out, WCT embraces the weirder memes of the dark web and admires the unheralded heroes of the Celtics.
All in all, the Celtics have forgotten who they are and are wandering around like they’ve never played together before and are just hoping their sheer talent will carry them to victory. Will it? Even if adjustments are made no one on this team shown themselves to be consistent enough to inspire much faith heading into a postseason where the talent pool will be massive.
If you’re Bill Simmons, you’re panicking because your favorite team people accuse you of shamelessly shilling for – of which now he now needlessly maligns – you need someone to blame. So you take a quick scroll to Spotrac.com to see who fits one or both of these two boxes “Who is getting paid the most” and “Who is a free agent, likely to leave in July.” The answer to both is Kyrie Irving. Also known as the lone source of offense for a team who battles constant streaks of being unable to put the orange, circular ball into the basket.
Yes. It’s Irving’s fault. All of it. Not Marcus Morris for reverting to Marcus Morris after flirting with a 50/40/90 the first half of the season. Not Terry Rozier for conspicuously losing the ability to play basketball. Not Brad Stevens; he’ll blame the coach he so smugly dubbed “The President,” but he can’t articulate why it is Stevens struggles. In the simplest way I can put it, he trots out the same exact lineups that’s proven to not work. His faith in T-Ro knows no bounds. Rozier will likely reclaim his spot in the rotation once he recovers from his minor knee injury and it’s no secret why. Anytime a player is a negative-9.4 when on the floor over the last five-games you can’t live without him.
For anyone who is hostile towards Irving’s apparent ball-stopping, what Rozier does is undoubtedly worse. He’s Irving on offense without the court-vision, handles and ability to throw a sufficient alley-op to the rolling big man.
Danny Ainge made one crucial mistake over the summer that neither I or anyone would have predicted at the time is his running back the same exact roster from last year hoping the returning players would smoothly fit into their respective, reduced roles with the returning superstars.
Say if our worst fears are realized, everyone who can leave leaves. Kyrie Irving. Marcus Morris. Terry Rozier. Three huge pieces to this talented, but inconstant and dejected cast of players who was supposed to steamroll through the conference en route to the NBA Finals. All the 2019-20 Celtics are left with is Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Robert Williams, Gordon Hayward and hopefully two rookies from the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers (top-14 protected) picks that can convey this year.
Why is this so bad? If the Hospital Celtics we’re low on staff, this year’s Celtics are an example when a team is subject to the old adage “Too many cooks in the kitchen” ringing true. Not one particular Celtic is the problem. It’s all of them. They simply do not mesh together. Everyone not named Kyrie or Horford are simply overqualified for their minimized roles. Even Terry Rozier, someone who’s floundered all season, is someone who’s able to cobble together solid stats when inserted as a starter – and at home.
What-if the worst case scenario is realized? The Celtics flame out like their similarly built ancestor ‘83 Celtics did and the dreams of obtaining Anthony Davis are dashed, how bad is it shaping up for the Celtics future?
To be honest? Not really. Al Horford is in the last year of his max contract and Boston’s enjoyed his services and will not shed many tears if he opts-in for his $30 million player-option. Once again, Horford proven himself to be the Celtics team MVP and their leader – no matter what Irving says.
The Jays are under team control for a very long time, both still on their rookie contracts and if Gordon Hayward returns to form in 2020 you can beat he’ll opt-out and re-enter the free agency market freeing up more capital for Danny Ainge & Co. to lock down the Jays long term.
What the Celtics desperately need right now is an injury. They need Morris to experience knee-tightness so the window can open for Brown to reclaim his spot in the starting lineup. Rozier needs to sprain his wrist, so Hayward can grow and become more assertive leading the second unit. Hayward’s been looking a lot better since the turn of the calendar year. He needs just one more nudge to get him that crucial step forward in his recovery.
The few bright spots this season’s shown is Smart is ready to start on a fringe 50-win playoff team and Tatum is the legit real deal, his only issues are his inability to grift for free throw shots and poor shot selection. What Boston needs is to get the Jays more involved, having them start over Hayward to begin 2019-20 is a great way to accomplish this.
When I am trying to resist the temptation to delve deep into the abyss of negativity Celtics twitter becomes during any rough stretch, I am reminded of the old “Family Guy” joke satirizing The New Yorker comic section. “I’d be more apathetic if I weren’t so lethargic” meaning, he wouldn’t care more if he weren’t so tired. Kinda summarizes the Boston Celtics nearing the All-Star Break. A week ago they are flying high, ripping off wins behind the sudden hot shooting of Marcus Smart and taller doppelgänger Marcus Morris.
Eventually, Morris regressed to the mean. If I can pinpoint one thing Danny Ainge probably should have done during the lead-up to the trade deadline it’s cash out on Morris to add depth behind Kyrie Irving. Unfortunately, when a player is nearly averaging a 50/40/90 it is hard to resist riding it out. Safe to say, the magic carpet ride came to a screeching halt. While Morris can be commended for speaking truth to why the Celtics are suddenly performing under expectations, he isn’t exactly the answer to what is ailing them.
The answer is the even-keel Jaylen Brown. Yes, the same Jaylen Brown that played arguably below replacement level to begin the season. He’s quietly experienced a renaissance in his new role coming off the bench, after Smart usurped him after Thanksgiving. Shooting 48 percent from the field to compliment his 37 percentage from beyond the arc, and his positive net rating of 6.4.
For all the talk of sacrifice nobody willingly took a backseat role for the betterment of the team than Brown. Not only has Brown done this so Smart and Morris could flourish together, but to give the struggling, rehabbing Gordon Hayward continuous changes to work himself back to game day shape, both physically and mentally.
Out of all the players whose sacrificed the least, the honors goes to Kyrie Irving and the aforementioned Morris. So it’s pretty ironic to hear Irving speak about his leadership role and Morris commentate on others lackluster attitudes. While Morris is correct, I feel like he internally knows what’s the answer to the issue of teammates not playing for each other and that’s him taking up the reserve role.
Morris hasn’t changed himself aesthetically, he’s simply been a better version of himself up until this point. We know Brown can play regardless if he’s starting or not. It’s the little things Brown does better than Morris, be it rotating or closing out on three-point shooters.
This Celtics team continuously bickers at each other, thankfully they don’t hate one another just yet. But for Irving and Morris to complain about the team and it’s collective attitude and seemingly apathetic emotional play style, they honestly should look into the mirror and ask why that is and what THEY need to do to fix it. You can’t lead by simply pointing fingers at those under you ordering them to be better.