Thursday, June 29, 2006

Feeling Green

At the risk of turning this into a Celtics/NBA blog, I have to comment on their draft night performance, and the rumored Allen Iverson trade that's in the works. Don't worry, readers, I'll soon disappear again to the comments section on, and we can resume the Chris Pronger saga.

• I'm still crushed that they didn't end up with Randy Foye. I think his immediate contribution will be greater than what Sebastian Telfair or Rajon Rondo bring to the table in 2006/07. Also, he can shoot the ball, unlike the two points they ended up with. That's a plus. However, I was also crushed when the Celtics missed out on Keith Van Horn in the 1997 lottery, so I've been known to be wrong on occasion. Now that Foye is a Timberwolf, I hope this is one of those times.

• The only thing that salvages the Telfair trade is that they dumped LaFrentz and Dickau onto the Blazers. Ratliff may be aging and injury-prone, but at least he can play defense and block shots. That at least makes him a rotation player.

• I don't understand the rationale of agreeing to trade your top pick before you know what's on the board. If the Cs didn't want a rookie on the team, they definitely could have gotten better value had they ended up with Foye, Roy, or Gay, then flipped them elsewhere. I would have preferred to end up with Shane Battier (a great defender), who will be shipped to Houston for Rudy Gay.

• I'm not sold on Rajon Rondo. As I said in an earlier post, guys just don't learn how to shoot in the NBA. If you haven't picked up the basic skill of basketball by the time you're 20, it's probably not happening any time soon.

• As for Sebastian Telfair, it occurred to me last night that I don't remember ever seeing him play. The descriptions of him don't fill me with confidence, though I should reserve judgment until I actually see him play. Again, if he's a poor shooter, he's probably not going to get much better.

• Relating to both Telfair and Rondo, I have to dispute the notion of 'the pure point guard', which the aforementioned two players were described as. Used in context, it would seem to imply that they do other things well - namely, getting their teammates involved, and setting up plays. There seems to be this myth that if a point guard can do those things well, his job is done; he's not expected to contribute to the offense otherwise - almost like the guy in volleyball who's job is to set up the ball to be spiked. That's just not the case, however. For one, if a point guard can't shoot, that just means that the 2-guard or the small forward is going to be double-teamed a lot of the time. Furthermore, on good teams, everyone cycles the ball; it just traditionally has been run through the point guard. How does this relate to the Celtics? Teams are going to give Telfair and Rondo all the open looks from 15-20 feet that they can, until those guys start stroking the ball consistently. The 'pure point guard' title seems to hearken back to this mythical era when point guards were all like Steve Nash - unselfish, great passers, got the team involved. That's simply not the case, all the good ones that people talk about (Nash, Isaiah Thomas, DJ, Magic, Stockton, I could keep going...) could also shoot the ball. Very well, in most cases. That's the difference between good point guards, and 'pure point guards'. The guys described as 'pure point guards' are better suited to come off the bench and provide a bit of energy and a change of pace for short spurts of time.

• I'm not sure how I feel about the Allen Iverson trade, which will probably manifest itself as a three-team trade (Cleveland is a possible partner). My main concerns are:

1. How much do the Celtics have to give up for him?
2. How will he adjust to being option 1a or option 2 behind Pierce?
3. How will playing at the 3 more often affect Paul Pierce (assuming they need to move Wally as part of this deal)?

As for the first question, as long as it doesn't involve a major piece of their youth (Al Jefferson or Gerald Green), I can live with it. The return on superstars being traded has tended to be 3 players/assets - Shaq went for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant; T-Mac was traded for Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Kelvin Cato. Even C-Webb, when being shipped to Philly, netted Kenny Thomas, Brian Skinner, and Corliss Williamson. Given that he's played a lot of minutes, and is on the wrong side of 30, I consider Iverson's value on the trade market to be above what Webber's was, but below that of Shaq or T-Mac. Shaq was closing out his prime years, but still had more value because of the scarcity of talented centers in the league. T-Mac had more value because he was (theoretically) entering his peak years. They both netted one all-star caliber player, one complimentary player, and one big man (who helped match up the salaries). Given that, I think Wally Szczerbiak, Rajon Rondo, and one or two of Tony Allen, Ryan Gomes, Brian Scalabrine, or a future first round pick would be fair compensation. If they pay more than that, I would have reservations.

As for the second, I hope he realizes that his best chance at a championship is in the next couple of years, and would defer to the captain of the team. I don't know if it will happen. As for the third, I worry that playing the 3, and having to defend more in the post (and against bigger players) would add more wear and tear to Pierce's body. Given how many minutes he already plays, this is a concern for me.

I like that the Cs are targeting another star player to team with Pierce. With Detroit on the way down, and Miami fielding an aging team around Dwyane Wade, the window could be wide open in the next 2-3 years for teams in the East to make a run. Unless Kevin Garnett is on the market, adding Iverson may be their best opportunity to do so. I just wouldn't sell the farm to make it happen.


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