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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Celtics’


It is election season. In all the hubbub about impeachment (for the last 3 years) it is easy to lose sight of the debates and televised town halls that have been going on for the last 6 months. The 20 has slowly been dwindling in our game of who offers the most free stuff and is most relatable.

TImage may contain: 1 person, tree, table, plant, sky, grass, outdoor and naturehere have  been plenty of policy proposals. Some of those are slightly different than current policies, and some are vastly different. Some promise “big structural change.” I won’t go into how that scares the pants off me for now.

In the September 28, 2019 edition of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney has an interesting piece on policy. She begins with a documentary called One Child Nation which examines the effects of China’s “one-child policy”.

In one clip, the co-director (who grew up under the policy but now lives in the states) says, “I left a country where the government forced women to abort, and I moved to another country where governments restrict abortions.” Well, some states do. She seems to think, Cheaney says, that the central issue is government attitudes toward women (hear the cries of the ‘war on women’). The issue doesn’t seem to be “human life itself.”

The people interviewed in the clips seemed to fall back on “Policy is policy.” People feel helpless in the face of government policy. They have less impact in a system like China’s. Here we can vote, and we should evaluate policy.

In China the policy was enacted by top-level party members. The expressed problem they were trying to solve was “overpopulation.” Abortion was a means of population control. The resulting unintended consequences are a demographic nightmare (not enough women because parents wanted sons to care for them in old age). They self-corrected to a two-child maybe policy where if you have a girl you can apply for permission to have a second child in the hopes of having a boy. Cheaney notes that in the future they may have to require two children to fix the problem they created with their one-child policy.

Bad policy creates very negative consequences that are often addressed by the same group of people who gave you the bad policy in the first place. They create problems and then try to fix them, often having the same level of success. The ACA tried to fix our healthcare system, for instance. At least that is what we were told before it was crammed down our throats with a series of statements that proved false. It really messed up the healthcare system because it “fixed” the wrong things (in my opinion) and in the wrong way. We elected people to fix it in 2016, and they failed to get the necessary votes (thanks to the senators from my state, both of whom are no longer senators but one ran expressly on getting rid of Obamacare). Now we have different plans proposed in these debates without substantial debate on the motives, means and consequences of the plan. We have this on healthcare, student debt, gun control, climate issues and more.

“Policy has become the end-all of politics. Bad policy caused the current mess, however we define the messiness; good policy will fix it.”

Cheaney rightly notes that policy should be at the end of the discussion, not the beginning. Policy is the ‘how’ of a solution to a problem. First we have to sort out the “what” and the “why” of the particular problem. She goes back to China’s one-child policy. The stated rationale was overpopulation and therefore potential starvation of the population (obviously not the party elite, they always seem to eat). They didn’t consider the effect of their policies regarding how food was grown. They didn’t evaluate their communist system and whether it could feed that many people or not. The issue was their economic and political framework. Because they failed to examine their presuppositions, they came up with really bad policy. They also failed to consider the nature and value of human life. What matters to them is the Party.

We have the same policy problems. We don’t look at our presuppositions that drive a policy proposal. We don’t stop to think about what caused a problem. We treat symptoms instead of the disease and have bigger problems before we know it.

LenBias.jpgHere is a policy gone awry. In 1986 the Boston Celtics won the NBA title AND had the 2nd overall pick it the draft. Choosing Maryland standout Len Bias, it seemed the dynasty would be able to continue beyond Larry Bird. He flew up to his press conference in Boston, went home afterward and died overnight due to a cocaine overdose. This was high profile! This prompted policy change so “this never happens again.” The Len Bias Law, as it came to be called, increased the penalties on the local distributor of drugs. As a result large numbers of African-American men were incarcerated. Once in that system, it is amazingly difficult to become disentangled. Getting out of prison rarely means freedom. As a felon it is hard to get a job (due to policy), and other limitations and policies make it even harder to be employable. The person imprisoned by bad policy finds him or herself continuously constrained by bad policy (however well-intentioned) that continues to keep them impoverished materially, emotionally, relationally and even spiritually.

One of the great ironies is that most of these candidates are lawmakers in DC. Amazingly, they don’t seem to have proposed any of these in the form of law to this point (which if they are so awesome their colleagues should all vote for them) . In other words, they haven’t been doing their current jobs as legislators but make policy proposals so they can become President, the chief executive. They don’t really want their policy proposals seriously examined and debated until after they get in office. This is not a 2020 issue, but has been this way for awhile. Rather than electing people who have a track record of good policy, we are continually asked to vote for people on the basis of their promised policy about problems they usually helped create by voting on bad policy in the past.

Policy has its place. Let’s put it there.

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The Boston Celtics have so many draft picks it nearly is their draft.

In the first round they have the 3rd (Nets), 16th (Mavericks) and 23rd picks.

In the second round they have the 31st (76ers via Heat), 35th (T’wolves via Suns), 45th (Grizzlies via Mavericks), 51st (Miami) and 58th (Cavaliers).

Way too many draft picks. This is 8 players, more than 50% of a roster.

They have 3 guys who are free agents: Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller.

They have players who have team options: Amir Johnson ($12 million), Jonas Jerebko ($5 million).

IF they just let them all go they still wouldn’t have enough openings for 8 draft picks. At least with the 2nd round picks there are no guaranteed contracts so perhaps only 1 or 2 make the team.

AND they have plenty of cash available combined with a desire to sign some elite talent.

All of this adds up to a roster crunch of enormous proportions. They have chips they can use, but every knows they need to move people and/or picks. So in one sense, they are over a barrel. Maybe.

There are no shortage of options. I can think of at least 2 deals that could include the 76ers, who own the first pick. The 76ers also have a surplus of bigs and a need for perimeter shooters. Lots of people advocate for a trade of the #3 pick, and perhaps a player or two for Okafor. There is another option. They could swap picks with the 76ers by tossing in another 1st round pick and some 2nd round picks or players. This means they wouldn’t have to pick a big at #1 but could draft a guy like Dunn who doesn’t want to go to the Celtics because they have too many guards. They Celtics could then draft Simmons or Brandon Ingram.

They could also draft a European player or two and stash them overseas for a few years. While Ainge seems to like Dragan Bender, I doubt he is NBA ready. Luwawu, though smaller, seems to be in the same boat.

Another possibility is drafting an outside shooter like Hield while using players like Smart or Bradley in a trade (with picks?) to get swing or inside players of note.

I’m not sure why high profile free agents would come to Boston. While it has plenty of money, this is a playoff team that will experience high turnover. The most important players will be back (unless they trade Bradley who is their best perimeter defender). You can stop imagining Durant or Horford in Celtic green and white.  The possibility of prying a player like George or Butler from their teams seems highly unlikely.

What seems likely is that we’ve seen the last of at least Sullinger, Zeller, and Turner. Probably the high priced Johnson as well. Like I said, lots of turnover.

What we do know is that we should expect the unexpected. We don’t know what it will look like, and we don’t know if it will actually make the team better.

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The NBA is back. The Celtics won their final pre-season game, and an ugly one at that, last night.

As I consider the upcoming season I have no idea what will happen. I was convinced last season they would end up with a lottery pick. A few changes around the trade deadline squashed my dream.

This season the changes aren’t about the rookies. I expect little to nothing out of the three rookies. They may spend plenty of time in Maine like Young did last season. They are largely for the future, or bench guys. Jordan Mickey may turn into an elite defender, or the second coming of Fab Melo. Rozier and Hunter will be good defenders on the perimeter.

The big questions surround the returning players, and new acquired players.

AveryBradley has gotten the memo about settling for the long 2 and stepping back to the 3. He’s apparently been watching Stephan Curry and doing the little dribble side-step to create space for his shot. This should help him take the next step, if he applies in during the season.

Marcus Smart has discovered that changing speeds is more effective than going full-speed ahead all the time. This may help him become a good point guard instead of just an elite perimeter defender.

Sullinger is rightfully still in the dog house. He has to prove he can play, night in and night out. This is why they now have Lee and Johnson. We will note that they were at their best with him sitting on the bench in a suit. It isn’t looking good for him right now.

Amir Johnson was not a name that impressed me. But he is a guy that may make the team better. He’s not a star, but does enough offensively to open shots for the smaller guys. And he can pass. Combined with Lee, they may actually have an inside game this year which will be a big improvement over last year.

Kelly Olynyk is the Celtics’ version of Kyle Arrington. It is all about confidence. When he has it- great. When he doesn’t- oy vey. This means a very talented guy who is inconsistent and therefore perpetually frustrating.

Sadly, the best part about the Celtics is Brad Stephens. He has done some great things with this team so far. He will continue to push spacing and passing. This has generally looked good in the pre-season, but that is the pre-season.

His other big challenge is managing Isaiah Thomas. Very talented scorer who wanted to start but was able to consider the good of the team over his own desires. Will he be the Randy Moss of 2007, or 2009? Will he continue to be about team and contribute that spark and scoring off the bend like Vinnie Microwave Johnson and Andrew Toney, or will he put self ahead of team and become a monstrous headache like Bad Randy?

Too many question marks with this team to really know how it will turn out. The good news is that they don’t need to get a lottery pick. They should get one courtesy of the Nets.

 

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That was interesting.

No trades at this point, though one may be looming for Rajon Rondo after they drafted Marcus Smart. He’s not the guy I would go after. But, he is a strong defender and rebounder but not a great shot as a point guard. Does that sound vaguely familiar?

Gordon, the guy I thought they would take wasn’t there thanks to the Orlando Magic. They took him at 4. As I noted, Randle and Vonleah were essentially redundant for the Celtics.

The draft is unpredictable which is why we watch. The Magic’s unpredictable move probably forced a change of direction by the Celtics. Probably. I obviously could be wrong, but I do know that Ainge spent a good amount of time researching Gordon.

I thought they would replace Bradley with the 17th pick and Harris from Michigan State was right there. I was hoping for Nick Stauskas but figured he’d be gone by then. He was. Harris seemed like the logical choice.

Wrong. James Young, a small forward out of Kentucky, was the pick. He was on a stacked team, so he didn’t get as many touches as some other guys. He scores. He might replace Jeff Green aka Mr. Inconsistent.

I’m not sure where this leaves the Celtics. They needed a rim protector. Talked about a rim protector. That was a big part of why they were getting killed in the second half of the season. They really didn’t address their need for a true center. Now we’ll see if they are able to do that or if we’ll endure another season of watching teams kill us down low.

Tonight I’m fairly disappointed. Maybe that will change in a few days, or a few years.

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Some people think “All You Need is Love.” I’m not one of them. Looking at the rumors, any way, the price seems too high (3 #1 draft picks, Sullinger and Olynyk) so you are left with Rondo, Love and not-quite star Jeff Green. Enough to make the playoffs, but not enough to seriously contend for anything.

The other option being bandied about is to trade Rondo and do a complete rebuild. The team mentioned most often is the Sacramento Kings. Old rumor reignited.

There are rumors of getting a 2nd round pick. Rumors of trading up. Rumors, rumors, rumors.

One rumor that has been ended is trading for Omar Asik was traded to the Pelicans.

What do I see happening? Well, he is nicknamed “Trader” Danny. There may be a trade out of the blue. I  don’t know who he could trade for at this point. Right now the Celtics don’t have the cache to attract people. They may want to play with Rondo but who knows if he’ll be around next year.

So, if all things remain equal …

I’d like them to take Aaron Gordon at #6. I don’t want Embiib. I see a situation like Bill Walton or Greg Oden. He’s already had back issues and now has screws in his foot. Not trending well.

Gordon is a high-energy defender who might learn how to shoot and turn into a Scottie Pippen-type guy.. He has actually gotten much better with changing his shot. It is a bit of a gamble, but so is the hope that Randle actually plays defense. Defense is mostly about effort, not technique. They also don’t need yet another power forward- like Randle or Vonleh. Gordon’s original spot with Arizona was small forward, and he can play there. See, Pippen-like.

With their other first round pick I think they will go after a replacement for Anthony Bradley at the shooting guard or a back-up for Rondo. Actually, they will probably replace Rondo, so to speak, in the 2nd round. Bradley, I think, will want too much money considering he’s been hurt every stinkin’ year.

Now, let’s see what really happens.

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For the past few months I’ve been working on a seminar presentation about gospel-centered discipleship. It is part of a series of seminars some local churches are doing on the Great Commission.

In my preaching I’ve been addressing sanctification in the epistle of the Colossians. But with April here, our congregation is having a Missions Month. So I won’t be preaching. I am praying that God will stir up our hearts for missions.

Sometimes we struggle with putting these two things together. Some focus on mission as ultimate. Others see sanctification as ultimate. Obviously, some people have other views of what is ultimate (theological purity, worship, social justice etc.).

God’s glory is ultimate. God’s glory is to be revealed in sanctification (being conformed to Christ!), mission (seeing people come to faith in Christ), worship (worshiping Christ), social justice and theological purity. When we make one (or more) of them ultimate we get into the petty bickering that distracts us from doing what we ought to be doing in all its fulness.

For my seminar, I’ve been reading Following Jesus, The Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship by Jonathan Lunde. Overall it has been a good read (I’m about 2/3rds thru it). I was intrigued by that “covenantal discipleship” idea. There are many good things about the book. One critique I have is that he makes mission ultimate.

But he rightfully sees a relationship between sanctification and mission. He points out how they were related in the OT such that Israel’s holiness was intended to make here a light to draw others to faith in the one, true God.

Obviously we see them joined in the Great Commission- which must be seen within a covenantal context (the whole point of Matthew is to see Jesus, the son of Abraham and the son of David, as the fulfillment of God’s covenants with Abraham and David). Mission is intended to produce obedient Christians. Obedient Christians are on mission as salt and light. They are inter-related instead of one having priority over another.

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When you know you’re going to be up late the next day because you are going to an NBA game and driving 90+ minutes to get home, the last thing you want to do is not sleep well. Guess, what I did? Yes, I was up around 3 am with my mind fully engaged considering the next couple of sermons.

So I spent the wee hours blogging, reading and preparing breakfast before we all headed north to Phoenix. By the time we left, I had had 2 mugs of tea and been up about 7 hours, and was wiped out. I was not looking forward to a day at Ikea and then a basketball game.

But first, CavWife had a last minute doctor’s appointment in Phoenix. We both sort of but not completely remembered how to get there. Of course neither of us slept well. That doesn’t make for the best combination. Thankfully, we only made 2 wrong turns. This was good, because the tea, well, … you know.

While she met with the doctor, I read to the kids. First was a Powderpuff Girls story for Micah. Then the same Scooby Doo story I read Eli every time we go to this doctor. The doctor’s wife, who was in the office, really appreciated my character voices. The PP Girls book was missing 4 pages, and had some bad grammar (using adjectives when an adverb should have been used). So there were comedic side remarks throughout both stories.

Finally we were off to Ikea. Once again, there was a wrong turn. Since it was after noon, we started with lunch (thankfully we didn’t have the meatballs) . It wasn’t too busy, to the kids actually got to sit at a kids’ table leaving us to actually be able to have a conversation. Then we went to drop off the kids in the play area. But they were full and short staffed. So, we entered the Ikea maze with 4 kids, uncertain of what we were looking for in addition to new shelves. I forgot our stash of breadcrumbs. I was a zombie trying not to run over people who stopped inexplicably while on their cell phones. I think one woman was a serial offender. While getting out of someone’s way, I backed into a some merchandise nearly tripping over it. This was not fun.

One the way out we noticed a hammock. If we get our porch extended, I want one (if CavWife reads this, it is a hint for Father’s Day). I tried to get a nap, but at no point did I have few than one child on top of me. CavWife missed some really good photo opps, but it is okay, she was tired too.

We made the short trip to Dunkin Donuts to grab some caffeine and a snack. I, of course, missed the turn into the parking lot. After they headed back to Tucson, I stayed in the parking lot in a shady spot to take a nap. My snoring kept waking me up. Around 4 I decided to sit in one of the chairs outside the DD’s. It was nice in the sun. Still in a daze, I made a quick turn and impaled my Vanilla Chai on a chair. My stimulant poured out on the pavement. This wasn’t going well.

Around 4:30 I headed toward the arena to meet a friend. I didn’t notice any event parking set up yet, so I settle for the parking garage next to Chase Field. It exited on Jefferson, the road that would take me back to I-10 and home. I got a great spot so I could pull straight out and onto the exit ramp. There was a small amount of functionality left. I waited for my friend there since I was driving him back to Tucson and he had stuff to put in the car. Thankfully I caught a 2nd wind.

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