Friday, January 27, 2006

Wally's World Hits The Gahden

The Celtics and Timberwolves pulled off a big trade yesterday. Seven players are on the move, with the biggest names being Ricky Davis and Wally Szczerbiak. In addition to these players, the T-Wolves will receive Center Mark Blount, Point Guard Marcus Banks, and Forward Justin Reed. The Celtics receive Center Michael Olowokandi, an excellent addition since his contract is up at the end of this season, and rookie Center Dwayne Jones. There's also a swap of draft picks involved.

I have to say that as a Celtics fan, I love this trade. Marcus Banks was expendable with Delonte West firmly established as the starting Point Guard, and the combination of Dan Dickau and Orien "The Hunter" Green backing him up. Justin Reed was a valuable member of the bench last year, but rookie Ryan Gomes has supplanted him, and will likely have a more successful career. Ricky Davis had been playing well, but is at best an average second, or good third or fourth option for a team. I think he's actually best suited to be a 6th Man on a good team; his energy and ability to create offense would be dynamite. I don't think the Celts are losing anything by swapping him for Szczerbiak. Here's how they match up statistically so far this season:

Davis vs. Szczerbiak (thanks to for the numbers)

Davis 42 42 41.6 .464 .320 .787 1.00 3.50 4.50 5.3 1.17 .21 2.74 2.20 19.7
Szczerbiak 40 40 38.9 .495 .406 .896 .90 3.90 4.80 2.8 .53 .38 2.15 2.30 20.1

Despite playing a couple of minutes less per game, Szczerbiak is outscoring and outrebounding Davis. The only categories where they're losing out is Assists and Steals. I haven't watched enough T-Wolves games to make a truly educated comment, but Wally's not known as a ballhog, and if he is a downgrade defensively, the Celts always have swingman Tony Allen as a defensive specialist. Wally's probably best suited as a third option offensively, but he's a decent number two behind Pierce. His long-range game is another definite asset he has that Davis lacked. So on a whole, I have to call the swap of the two key players to be a win for the Celtics. The only potential downside I see is Wally's high cap figure ($38 mil over 3 years left), but with a younger team it shouldn't be detrimental, and in three years time the likes of Gomes, Allen, and Gerald Green should have developed enough to make him expendable.

Amazingly, the player I think the Celtics will miss the most in the short-term is Mark Blount. He's been much maligned by Celtic fans, notably Bill Simmons, and even more notably, Bill Simmons' dad. By and large, I think he deserves it, but he'll still be missed. His offensive stats are respectable, though his rebounding numbers are far below what they should be. He eats up a fair number of minutes, and can put up the big game every now and then. The Kandi Man puts up better rebounding numbers, but won't replace his scoring. I don't think Kendrick Perkins is ready to carry the load in the paint either, so that leaves Raef and Al Jefferson (who again isn't ready to carry the load) as the only scoring options down low.

With all that being said, I'm glad Blount's gone. He may be missed in the short-term, but he was in the second year of a 6 year, $40 million contract, which pretty much everyone agrees he is not worth. So flipping him for someone in their contract year is great news. With the big man on his way to the Midwest, that leaves only the LaFrentz and Scalabrine deals as the only truly bad contracts on the club. So as long as the ownership tells Danny Ainge that he's not allowed to sign any big white men to long-term contracts, we should be looking good for the next few years.

I'd be remiss in not mentioning Dwayne Jones, the other acquisition. He was part of a winning program at St. Joseph's, and is putting up respectable numbers in the D-League, but I doubt he'll ever play an important role with the Celtics. Swapping two second round picks for a future T-Wolves first rounder (albeit a protected one, though we don't yet know what it's protected from), is another good aspect of this trade.

This trade probably won't get the Celtics much closer to being a contender, much less a playoff team, but it offers them an important upgrade in the starting lineup, and increased flexibility within the salary cap structure starting this off-season. Danny Ainge has often been accused of tinkering with his club too much, but with moves like this I say tinker away.


At 4:27 PM, Blogger sacamano said...

Wow! First the Oilers' trades and now this.

I love Wally Z. He is a perfect
fit for the Celtics - Big, Slow, White, Can Shoot The Lights Out,
Can't Play Much D. It is a match made in Heaven.

While I am a lifelong Celtics fan, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't watched a single game this season.

I sort of lost interest in the NBA when it turned into a league of just isolating guys for one-on-one -- you know, the anti-Celtics kind of basketball. The last three or so years, though, it looks like the passing, running, and post game is returning (Phoenix, San Antonio, etc.).

Maybe the Wally Green Giant will bring me back.

Man, if "Wally Green Giant" gets picked up by anyone, I want royalties. I'm killing myself here.

On the downside, I can't help but think that any trade which looks good for the Celtics on the surface (as this one does to me) must
actually be bad. Afterall, Ainge is still calling the shots, right?

Fun Celtics anecdote #33. My best Christmas present ever is still the year that Santa brought me a
single share in the Boston Celtics. They were, at the time (and still
might be for all I know), a publically traded company. It was such a great feeling to be able to say:

"Damnit ML Carr! As a shareholder in the Celtics, I'm telling you that you better get your head out of your ass!"

Alas, there was an enforced byout, and now I am just another civilian yelling at Ainge.

NBA. It's Fantastic!


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