A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Celtics

Should the Celtics trade for Amar’e Stoudemire?

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Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks addre...

Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks addresses fans at the team’s open practice session in October 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With Amar’e Stoudemire coming back from injury, all the talk is of what to do with him. The Knicks have clearly been successful without him, starting 21-8. A key to this is Carmelo playing at the 4 beside Tyson Chandler, the two providing a perfect harmony of offensive spacing and mobile defense. Carmelo and Amar’e have never been able to win while on the court together. The offensive chemistry and synergy between them is impossible with their style of ball-needing play. While Amar’e seems destined to come off the bench when he returns, this does not fix the issue. Carmelo, Amar’e and Chandler will need to play together a certain portion of the game – and I suspect Stoudemire will want to finish games and play the end of 4th quarters. Coming off the bench is one thing, but being benched in “winning time” is arguably an even bigger slight to star player’s egos.

Trading Amar’e is the natural move, the problem is he has the single worst contract in the league. At 2 years/45 million owed after this season, if his health issues prevent him from playing at a star level, he will be a massive albatross.

Here’s the team I like for Stoudemire: The Boston Celtics. Boston has started a disappointing 14-14 and looks in no way like a title contender this year. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are still effective, the problem is the rest of the team. All of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger are performing poorly. The Celtics frontcourt in particular has been ineffective aside from Garnett. I’m of the belief that when you have old stars like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, you should push all in to try and win the title. Because having players that effective is a scarce asset and it can take decades to contend for a title again after they’re gone. The Celtics only being a .500 team in a year they expected to compete for a title is a huge failure from that perspective.

The thing about the Celtics is that they’re loaded with long term deals. Jeff Green is owed 3 years/27.1 million after this season and may be a below league average player, Brandon Bass is owed 2 years/13.7 million after the season, Courtney Lee is owed 3 years/16.3 million after this year. Combine those 3 poor contracts together and financially, it’s almost an exact match for Stoudemire’s salary. The Green, Bass and Lee combination is owed 19.6 million in 2012-2013,  20.65 million in 2013-2014, 21.6 million in 2014-2015 and 14.9 million in 2015-2016. Amar’e is owed 19.5 million in 2012-2013, 21.7 million in 2013-2014, and 23.4 million in 2014-2015. Because the Knicks do not likely have room for 3 extra players in their rotation, especially an extra wing defender like Lee, a logical swap would be sending back Ronnie Brewer and 1.1 million expiring contract. Brewer has been losing minutes lately due to his lack of shooting and would be replaceable by Lee.

So the Knicks move on from their Amar’e conundrum and get a legitimate backup big who’s OK being a backup in Bass and give Green a try at SF and PF, while replacing Brewer with Lee. All of these pieces are more moveable in upcoming years than Amar’e himself. The important part though is avoiding the potential chemistry nuke of an unhappy Amar’e returning and being benched in 4th quarters.

As for the Celtics, they hope Amar’e can spark them to contention this year. With Terry, Pierce, Amar’e and Garnett, the Celtics would have tremendous offensive spacing for Rondo to play with. They would have an extra scorer to match up with Miami, Chicago and New York’s tough defense in the playoffs. Defensively they would have to hope the team thank to Garnett can get back to the heights they were in previous years. Getting Ronnie Brewer back may help that as well. Overall, it’s a gamble, but one that doesn’t cost them anything financially and they’re in a position where they need to take chances, if they want to compete for a Finals berth again this year. With Rondo, Pierce and Garnett on the team they can’t be far away from contending again. One more big gun could do it.

Written by jr.

December 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

33pt Thursday: Was “Feel for the Game” the secret to the Red Auerbach era Celtics and Greg Popovich era San Antonio Spurs legendary drafting?

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Tony Parker and Greg Popovich

Tony Parker and Greg Popovich (Photo credit: Tiago Hammil)

I believe feel for the game is ultimately under-represented in NBA personnel decisions, particularly in the draft. However that does not mean nobody has ever considered the subject. When I look at two incredibly eras for franchises, feel for the game stands out consistently in draft picks/decisions – and that’s Red Auerbach’s Celtics and Greg Popovich’s Spurs.

Now, this could be simply a matter of the Celtics and Spurs being fantastic at finding great players and it just so happening that most great players excel in feel for the game, therefore their successful acquisition correlating with feel for the game friendly players rather than being a cause of it. But for fun, let’s look at the histories of some of their picks:

Auerbach joined the Celtics in 1950. Bob Cousy was actually passed on by the Celtics, but ended up with them anyways after his team the Chicago Stags folded. Cousy was the Celtics’ first player with supreme feel for the game, the first truly great offensive mind in the game at the guard position. Bill Sharman, a draft pick soon after was another with a strong feel for the game offensively.

In 1956 the Celtics made arguably the biggest history changing NBA trade ever, trading for the rights to Bill Russell for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. Bill Russell of course is in the conversation for greatest feel for the game of all time. His awareness of the court makes him the greatest defensive genius in NBA history, while his elite passing game for a big proved his awareness offensively. Read the rest of this entry »

Dwight Howard in Tragic Kingdom

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Image by Carmela Nava via Flickr

And so here we are. Again. Another star at the crossroads.

Odd that a year ago at this time, the idea of superstars changing teams seemed such a longshot, and now it feels so inevitable in the case of Dwight Howard. A lot’s happened in a year, true, but there is more to it than that.

Here today, gone tomorrow

With the apparent trend toward superteams in Miami and New York, there is a fear that every superstar will seek join or form a superteam. This trend though is quite a bit more fragile than most realize. What makes joining such a team sexy to players, is the idea that by simply joining with talent, great team success is sure to follow immediately. This idea is strongly influenced by what happened in the ’07-08 season where the Boston Celtics essentially jettisoned the vast majority of their team to acquire two stars (Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett), and went from being a 24 win team, to having the single best season of the past decade. Then there was also the Lakers acquisition of Pau Gasol and their subsequent move from a solid team to a potential dynasty. These ideas seem to prove that stars who don’t win are simply suffering from a lack of supporting talent around them.

Suppose though that these nouveau superteams fell on their face? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

May 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm

NBA Playoff Preview – The Biggest Questions

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Twas the night before the playoffs and all through the house, not a soul was stirring, not even Eddie House…

Rajon Rondo, the 21st pick of the Boston Celtics

Is Rajon Rondo the playoffs biggest X-factor?

Matt won’t be back till next week, so you’re stuck with me for A Substitute for War’s lack of playoff preview wisdom:

First, here are my opening round predictions:

East: Chicago over Indiana in 5, Miami over Philadelphia in 6, Boston over New York in 6, Orlando over Atlanta in 5.

West: San Antonio over Memphis in 5, LA over New Orleans in 5, Portland over Dallas in 6, Oklahoma City over Denver in 5.

Since that’s over, instead of spending a couple thousand words telling you why Chicago is better than Indiana or LA is better than New Orleans, I’ll spend some time dissecting the favorites and what they need to prove to win the title:

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What Kendrick Perkins is doing for the Thunder and The Ben Wallace, Dave Debusschere effect

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Image via USA Today

I’m going to eat some mini crow for the Kendrick Perkins trade. I didn’t post about it on here, but my original reaction was a “calm down” to fans saying the Thunder robbed Boston and now had a title shot. I saw the combined value of Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic’s superior offense due to their range as equally valuable as Perkins D.

Well right now the Thunder are rolling and the Celtics are crumbling. The playoffs will prove how valuable the trade is to both teams, but right now OKC is the one laughing. While switching Green for Perkins has shored up their interior defense, I believe the real impact is intangible. Perkins has become the Thunder’s mental anchor as much as their on court defensive one. He gives them a desperately needed toughness and winning swagger from the center position they needed. He is their on court defensive leader and makes no qualms calling out his younger teammates if they make a mistake defensively. He’s brought the Thunder together defensively. What it reminds me of is Ben Wallace.

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Written by jr.

April 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

Ranking the NBA title favorites before the ides of March

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After a day of elite on elite action on a Sunday with a little more than a month to go in the regular season, seems like a good time to evaluate the title contenders.

First let me give an updated chart of how the elites have done against each other. (My original table from last month was in the Guts & Domination post.)







It’s ordered by the significant margin wins based on the theory that those are the truly telling results. This seems fine to me generally, but reader lpb has pointed out that Chicago’s record is heavily skewed based on what happened early in the season. In the last 3 months, the Bulls are a remarkably 10-0 against the other elites, with half of those being >5 margin wins. Damn impressive. Still not enough for me to pick them to win the title.

The Favorites, from most to least

1. Boston Celtics

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The Building (and the Luck) of the Celtics

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current logo 1996–present

Image via Wikipedia

The Sloan conference, as one would expect, is producing tons of great food for thought. The latest article on TrueHoop reports on Boston Celtic co-owner Wyc Grousbeck‘s statements about building the current stellar Celtic teams. The gist:

Grousbeck and his partners bought the team in 2003 and apparently decided that while the team was good it wasn’t good enough to win a title, so they tore it apart and re-built it with the specific idea of acquiring a Big 3 with one true superstar among the trio. These guys sound like visionaries don’t they? The TrueHoop piece mentions the risk involved in such a move, but that just makes the ownership group look all the more bold and unwilling to accept any form of mediocrity

I don’t mean to knock the Celtic management, but I think it is wise to look at the details here to get a more nuanced perspective on thing.

Rebuilding not with a bang, but a whimper

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Guts & Domination Revisited: NBA ’10-11 Elite vs Elite Records

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With 4 of the top 8 teams playing against each other today, I thought it was a good time to look at how the top teams are doing against each other.  Here they are, with the explanation and takeway conclusions below.

What I Did & Why I Did It

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The Right Name for the Nets: Brooklyn Renaissance, aka The Rens

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Harlem Renaissance Musician

Image via College Publisher

Okay, this is a topic dear to my heart.

As most know, the Nets are planning to move to Brooklyn and there is quite a bit of talk about changing the team’s name.  This excites me for a number of reasons.

First, people don’t seem to realize the history that Brooklyn has going for it.  Excuse while I nerd out, but Brooklyn is no mere suburb.  In the late 19th century Brooklyn was the 3rd largest (behind New York and Philadelphia).  It was only after the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge that New York City and Brooklyn started operating like one super-city and thus merged.  So when people hear about teams like the old Brooklyn Dodgers, know that this wasn’t some random team name:  The Brooklyn name was used because Brooklyn is its own metropolis.

Second, and this is no secret:  The name “Nets”, kinda sucks.  They came up with it to try to connect the old ABA franchise to the New York Mets & New York Jets, but Nets paints a picture of a team that just hangs out out passively while the other team beats their brains in.  Though to be fair, the currently bandied about name “New Yorkers” I dislike even more.  The whole beauty in using the city name “Brooklyn” is in taking pride in the borough.  To then use the nickname “New Yorkers”  essentially says “Yeah, we’re different from just another New York team, but please New York don’t think we’re abandoning you, we love you and would use the name ‘New York’ if only the Knicks didn’t exist”.

Last and most importantly, the Harlem Rens dammit.  There have really been two teams in New York history with a claim for being the best team in the world.  One was the Original Celtics of the 1920s – whose name is forever unusable beacause of the Boston Celtics.  The other was a team sometimes called the New York Renaissance, or the Harlem Renaissance, or just the Rens.  This was the dominant black team of the 20s and 30s, and they were based in the Harlem Renaissance Casino and Ballroom which came to the forefront along with the Harlem Renaissance literary movement.  Understand, using the name “Renaissance” doesn’t just channel great sport, it  channels Langston Hughes and one of the great literary movements of the 20th century.  How bad ass is that?

I hear all sorts of other names suggested for the Brooklyn franchise and to me not of them hold a candle to the new Rens.  I hear names like “Brooklyn Knights” and I think, well that’s not terrible.  I just want everyone to recognize that there is a deep connection to the Ren name that just can’t be touch by other nickname.  I’ve been trying to promote the Renaissance to every blog and forum I can think of, and I’ve yet to get an overwhelming response for the name.  If you are with then I need you to preach brutha.  I imagine that the Russians who own the team will decide on a name shortly, so we don’t have much time.  Help me fight the good fight.

Some thoughts on the first week

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It’s only one week.  I’m trying hard not to rush to any judgments, because I know it can often take teams a good dozen games or so to really show their true colors, but that doesn’t mean what I see isn’t weighing on my mind.  So here’s some thoughts on a few different teams so far…

Miami Heat

Personally, when LeBron announced he was moving to Miami, my main reaction was excitement.  Not because of any fandom bias, but simply because we rarely get to see this kind of “What If?” experiment.  Will the team of dreams actually be a Dream Team?  Will it happen right away?  How will the team grow over time?

What we’re seeing so far is mediocre offense and absolute lock-down defense, which is about the least discussed result possible.

Take 3 offense-first stars put them on a team, the thing you’d most expect is that the offense would improve.Instead, we see an offense full of guys who don’t really know how to multiply their games together.  It’s either the LeBron show, the Wade show, or the Bosh show.  Funny how that works.  Certainly it speaks to the team aspect of the game, but let’s remember that offenses don’t always take time to work together.  Steve Nash went to Phoenix, and the offense went to GOAT levels overnight.  Does Miami’s struggles say something damning about the Thrices ability to really play team basketball?  Eh, let’s give them more time before saying that.

Meanwhile the defense has been extraordinary, something along the lines of the Garnett-infused Celtics of ’07-08.  Now, there’s things we can point to to fit this in with a larger pattern.  While Kevin Garnett is a fantastic defender, he wasn’t capable of creating a defense like that on his own – the bigger factors were probably the extremely hyped up motivation of the Celtic crew (of which Garnett was a big part) and the fantastic team-oriented defensive scheme that guru Tom Thibodeau drew up.    Well the Heat already had a strong defense last year (much better than their offense), and I think we can all agree now:  The members of the Heat, led by the 3 stars, are hyped to within an inch of their life.

Los Angeles Lakers Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

November 1, 2010 at 11:56 am