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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Celtics’


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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Who’d of thought he’d be such a huge loss?

Since I can’t find my copy of Four Views of the Book of Revelation in order to cover the 3rd view, I’ll consider sports. I’ve been meaning to work on this post for a few weeks, but haven’t had the free time and mental space. You may think I still don’t have the mental space for it.

I want to consider a similarity between the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics: injuries. The point being how injuries have derailed the last few seasons for both teams. Sports teams are really fragile things. There are times when teams can survive and even thrive during a rash of injuries. The Green Bay Packers did this to win the Superbowl in 2011. Those instances are rare. Most often, the depth of a team is tried and then depleted. Hopes vanish and dreams are squashed.

The Celtics won the NBA title in 2008 and seemed poised to win a few more before the New Big Three fell apart. But injuries have continually derailed that hope, and Celtics fans are disappointed. In 2009 it was Kevin Garnett’s various injuries that left them depleted. Without him they nearly beat the Magic to advance in the playoffs, but it was not to be. A healthy KG, and the Celtics go to the Finals. The next year, KG was not healthy, but was playing. They made it to the Finals against the Lakers. Then, in Game 6, Perkins blew out his knee. His presence in that abysmal Game 7, the film of which should be burned for the sake of both teams, may have made a significant difference. We won’t know. But the Lakers did triumph.

Then there was last year. KG was healthy, but there was the big trade that sent Perkins packing for 2 players. He was still not right, but the emotional toll on the team seemed too big. Both O’Neals had injury problems. Until the playoffs. They put it together after their late season skid. They made it to the conference finals against the arrogant Miami Heat who hope to win 7-8 titles in their imaginations (Father, may it not even be one- oppose the proud!). In a painful moment caught on film, D-Wade pulled down Rondo while falling. Really cheap play, and their series this season against the Pacers shows they are inclined toward the cheap plays. Rondo’s dislocated elbow sunk the Celtics. He valiantly tried to play, but with only one functioning arm, his defense was a liability. That moment dashed the Celtics hopes.

We felt his pain.

The Red Sox are in a similar state of affairs. They won the World Series in 2007. Despite injuries to Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, the Red Sox made it all the way to the AL Championship against new rivals the Rays in their first ever play off appearance. Beckett pitched, but was a shell of himself. So close, but they fell in 7 to the Rays who would get handled easily in the World Series. Oh, for a healthy Beckett or Lowell. Just one would have tipped the scales enough. Just one.

2009 was just a mess for the Red Sox. It is a blur of injuries in the last few months that sunk a promising season. I have erased it from my memory.

2010 looked so promising. In the opening weeks they lost Ellsbury and Mike Cameron for essentially the season. Beltre not only provided power to the line up but single-handedly destroyed the outfield.  The only remaining starting outfielder was J.D. Drew, and we all know he’s good for a few trips to the DL. Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald came out of nowhere to provide some spark. But then the injuries began to mount up- Youkilis, Pedroia, Martinez. So many injuries to key players- there were done. D-O-N-E.

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