Three in the Key: Rebuilding Beantown
Where to for Celtics?
All credit to the 2012 Boston Celtics. They outperformed the expectations of most pundits, managing to squeeze another season from some of their older stars, and could easily have eliminated the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, that wasn’t to be, meaning that it’s now the Celtics’ front office that has work to do. And, as sensational as they were in stages this year, Boston’s “big three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have competed in 44 seasons combined.
In other words, there are certainly a lot of miles on their proverbial clocks. When combined with the litany of injuries that have dogged the trio, the situation only looks worse in Bean town.
The first two questions that need addressing are the contract statuses of Garnett and Allen. Both are unrestricted free agents in the upcoming summer, leaving them free to listen to offers from all corners of the league. Garnett should be immediately re-signed. While his on court antics mean that he isn’t every fan’s cup of tea, “The Big Ticket” is still capable of producing at a high level, and serves as something of a leader for the Celtics. One or two more years, assuming he can stay injury free in 2013 – sounds about right.
Allen on the other hand will probably move on to greener pastures. No Celtic had a more evident drop-off in 2012 than the former Connecticut Huskie, a slide that coincided with the emergence of Avery Bradley in the line-up. Allen is expendable, so don’t expect the Celtics to keep him around. Ironically, for a player forever tied to Hollywood - thanks to his performance alongside Denzel Washington in Spike Lee’s 1998 film, He Got Game – the Clippers would be the ideal suitor for his services.
In return, the Celtics will be able to get younger and retool quickly. Rajon Rondo is one of the league’s top five point guards, Bradley is blossoming into a very serviceable young guard and Jeff Green – the forgotten Celtic – should be able to return to the hardwood after missing the entire season due to a heart condition. Add in a couple of smart free agent signings - O.J Mayo seems a perfect fit, and a suitable draft selection – Jeremy Lamb or Fab Melo would help fill the gaps, and the Celtics should be able to contend for titles again relatively quickly.
An era has ended for the Celtics, and despite their 2008 championship glory, it was an era that arguably failed to deliver. Boston fans will be hoping the next generation will follow a different script.
Finals a battle of jilted fanbases:
With the NBA Finals underway, spare a thought for the scorned fanbases that both clubs have created in recent years.
The first one is obvious; it is safe to assume that the entire Cleveland Cavalier supporter group is hoping that the Heat, and LeBron James, fails again in spectacular fashion. We know that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert certainly will be, if for no other reason that to keep his infamous “we’ll win a title before Miami” promise. Certain elements of the league may be slowly beginning to forgive James for “The Decision”, don’t expect much support to come their way from Ohio.
The other scorned group is of course, Seattle. It’s hard not to sympathize with fans of the now debunked Supersonics, especially when considering that the argument could be made that the team would be in the same position, even if it hadn’t picked up sticks for Oklahoma City. The Thunder built their team mostly through the NBA draft - Durant of course played in Seattle in the pre-Thunder days, meaning that their list would be relatively similar for the most part.
Whichever team is able to hoist the trophy to the delight of their own fans in late June, spare a thought for the sorrow of another franchise or two.
Bobcat shopping list:
As incredible, unbelievable, sensational and any other adjective you want to use to describe Michael Jordan’s playing career, his performance as GM of the Charlotte Bobcats is the exact opposite. Yet, reports that surfaced in the past week indicate that MJ might actually be making some sound front office moves.
After the Bobcats were relegated to the second spot in the upcoming NBA Draft, it’s pleasing to hear that they are shopping around that pick, with two first round selections their supposed target. Out of the three sides they could legitimately make such a trade with – Portland, Houston and Golden State – the Trail Blazers appear to be the best option for the Bobcats. Portland could in theory offer their two first round choices, the sixth and eleventh choices overall, in order to acquire the second pick from Charlotte. In a draft where great depth appears its best feature, the Bobcats shouldn’t hesitate to make that trade, if it were to emerge.
Sure, they could select either Michael Kidd Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson with the second pick, or they could sign a top five caliber player – Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes or Andre Drummond, depending on how the other picks play out – and another late-lottery talent. It would certainly speed up the rebuilding operation in Charlotte.