The Celtics Aren’t Done Just Yet

Gordon Hayward’s injury sucked.

It sucked for a number of reasons. It was disgusting to see, it happened to a very likeable person, and it happened to a guy who had a lot of potential in a new city on a contending team. 

And now that contending team is in a bad spot. Their max contract superstar is hurt. Irving and Horford are very good players but aren’t enough to beat the best of the best. Brown and Tatum are off to a good statt, but rookies, and we don’t know how they’re going to develop. Smart and the rest of the bench are a collectively good bench, but they’re just that- a bench. Marcus Smart isn’t ready to be a primary starter and play all-star-level minutes and put up all-star-level points.

But they’re not done yet. Hayward will be out until at least February or March, likely a bit longer, but there’s a very good chance he comes back for the postseason (and this team is good enough to get at least to the playoffs). Kyrie Irving is a top 15 player in the NBA, closer to top 10. Horford is a very good big man.

Besides their 3 stars, they have a cast of talented role players. Smart is a borderline starter. Brown and Tatum have tremendous potential, and showed that against Cleveland last night. Aron “All of Australia” Baynes showed that they finally have a solid rim protector. Rozier is a good bench point guard. And the team showed a tremendous resiliency in the face of a horrific injury to their best player, as they did last year when Isaiah Thomas got hurt in the playoffs.

So the Celtics will be down, but certainly not out just yet. If Hayward doesn’t come back, theyll get eliminated in the second round or possibly the cinference championship depending on the matchups. But there’s a lot to be hopeful for despite the terrible first quarter injury yesterday.


Random Drug Tests

I see this every damn time someone hits multiple home runs in a game (congrats, JD Martinez). Everyone complains about how they’ll get “random” drug tests, and it’s clearly not “random”. It happens every 4/20 too.

Here’s the answer: it isn’t meant to be random. “Random” only applies to the player. The MLB (and NFL, and NBA, etc.) Have the authority to do it *randomly (I.e. at their discretion, without warning the player in advance) as a way of potentially catching a player in the act of cheating. It’s to deter people from cheating. It isn’t random for both sides because there would be no practical benefit for that.

Isaiah Thomas Deserved Better

Isaiah Thomas got traded along with Jae Crowder and the Brooklyn pick for Kyrie Irving. The trade comes as a bit of a shock to me, considering that Cleveland is now trading its second best player to its closest conference contender, but at the same time they’re falling apart by the minute. I think Boston honestly comes out the better team, without the salary issues that come with keeping IT4 and debating whether to give him a max deal. Irving is even a better overall player than Thomas. Crowder is a decent at best player whose best attribute was his team-friendly salary. Brooklyn is finally improving, and has the potential to be a much higher lottery pick rather than first overall like last year. 

But to my main point: Thomas was the heart and soul of this team. He’s the reason Horford and Hayward signed in Boston. He was the iron-balls champion of the fourth quarter. He is the singular reason why the Celtics’ rebuilding process ended up lasting one season before they were able to reach the postseason again. To be traded away now that they’re on the cusp of beating Cleveland really sucks. 

To be clear: Irving is a better all-around player. He has demonstrated that he has the ability to be clutch, and is a better point guard (which works better now with Hayward) who can still score if he has to. The Celtics are definitely better now, especially defensively. But Thomas was the Celtics, and to see him go like this is shameful after all he’s done to bring Boston basketball back.

I’m OK With The Celtics Trading Avery Bradley

Let me start by saying I like Bradley as a player. He’s a top tier perimeter defender, a good (albeit inconsistently so) shooter, and a likeable personality. But the Celtics saw it in their best interest to trade him (and a second round pick in 2019) to the Pistons for Marcus Morris. The move has been met with mixed reactions, particularly from fans.

The trade comes following a solidly successful postseason run for a team that wasn’t expected to make it as far as they did at the beginning of 2016-17. Bradley established himself as a solid two-way player, and managed to finish second on the team in rebounds per game.

While it is a bit sad to see the last member of the “Big Three” era leave, the trade addresses a few key concerns of the Celtics’. The primary concern, at least from my perspective, was salary cap space. Bradley is due for a new contract after next year and he is expected to get upwards of $20million in free agency. With Horrors and now Hayward taking max deals, and other players like Smart and Thomas due for new contracts as well, someone had to go. Bradley does not have the same ability to score as Hayward, or to defend the interior as Smart, so his role would have been diminished in 2017-18 anyway; his departure gives Brown and Tatum a chance to play more as well. The only downsides to Bradley’s game have been inconsistency at times and injury issues, which have come at some rather inopportune moments like the Hawks playoff series in 2016.

The new guy,, Morris, will be a more effective interior rebounder than Bradley (his rebounding stats are somewhat misleading because of Andre Drummond), and his salary will be significantly lower than Bradley’s for at least the next two seasons. His toughness and durability have been lauded throughout the NBA since he began his career, and his personality has reportedly been a clubhouse benefit.

Danny Ainge called Bradley one of his favorite players when the trade was officially announced, and it’s easy to see why. People are questioning whether he “won” this trade, but that will not be apparent until we see how much Bradley gets in free agency, how the players react to their new teams during the upcoming season, and what the Celtics do with their additional cap space. On paper, Bradley is a better piece to have, but Morris may fit the team’s needs better; for that reason, i can’t say Ainge won or lost the trade by a wide enough margin to be certain. For now, though, best of luck to Bradley in Detroit and beyond, and I look forward to seeing what happens with Morris and the Celtics this year.

Why The NBA Offseason Kicks The Other Leagues’ Asses

The NBA may be in offseason mode, but the sports world is abuzz with trade rumors, free agency whispers, Woj retweets, summer league rookie highlights, and, of course, fan rage. Shitting on the Knicks, speculating on how many games the Celtics will last against the Cavaliers, wondering whether the Spurs or Rockets can find a way to take down the Warriors, the ever-boistrous Lavar Ball’s predictions on Lonzo and the Lakers, and a whole host of other teams’ concerns keep people talking about the NBA, even though it’s been less than a month since the season ended.

No other league has quite the offseason that the NBA has, and other than the NFL the excitement isn’t even close. The NFL draft is always big, but free agency isn’t nearly as wild. The MLB and NHL are fairly quiet when their seasons end. So why is basketball so popular after the season ends? I thought of a few potential reasons:

1) The Draft 

The NBA easily has the most exciting draft of the four leagues. Part of the reason for that is the size of the draft: it’s only two rounds, and lasts just a few hours. The NFL draft, by comparison, is seven rounds long and spans multiple days. The boradcast itself is also presented very well: between picks, the players are compared to current or past NBA stars, their skills are highlighted, and their potential role on their new teams are discussed; almost no time is wasted. The broadcast also manages to keep the fans posted on trade rumors, a staple of any draft, without getting carried away with too many. Adam Silver is also commly respected among most fans, and carries himself well during the draft; Roger Goodell, to compare, is almost universally hated among NFL fans, and has all the charm of a fax machine.

2) League Size

There are 30 teams in the NBA, same as the MLB. There are 31 now in the NHL and 32 in the NFL. The key difference is roster size. The NFL has a 53 man roster, the MLB has a 25 man active roster, and the NHL has a 23 man roster. The NBA only has a 13 man roster, about half of the next two biggest. 

Why is that important? It means that any roster change will have a larger impact. losing one valuable starter or even role player or can hurt an NBA team immensely; the “Big Three”Celtics arguably lost a championship because Kendrick Perkins got hurt, and he was by no means a star. The salary cap is another factor, though it can be worked around to an extent. Teams have a limited number of max contracts, preventing them from signing top talent across the lineup as is theoretically possible in baseball. Salary rules limit trades as well.

Free agency is impacted further by the limited number of desirable free agent destinations. Though the few very successful teams can land free agents easily due to championship potential alone, relatively few teams have the attraction that many free agents desire. Miami and LA are popular destinations for weather and culture, and LA and New York are the biggest media hubs (so becoming a superstar becomes a easier, assuming performance). After those destinations, players are usually impacted only by their “hometown” (I.e. Dwyane Wade in Chicago) or by where friends or former college teammates/coaches are (I.e. Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens reuniting in Boston). Bidding wars and free agency meetings become desperate attempts to lure players, which can be incredibly fun to watch from a fan perspective. 

3) Star Power

A single player can have a far greater impact on his team in the NBA than in just about any other team sport. Few positions in all of American sports can muster that kind of effect: a quarterback or goalie can make or break a team, but only plays one side of the game. A pitcher can have the same effect for one game, but doesn’t play every night, or more than a handful of innings if he’s a relief pitcher. All 5 positions of an NBA team can have that impact, and a star in the NBA is far more valuable than a star in the other leagues.

In addition to that, all 5 positions in the NBA can produce star players, and have consistently done so throughout the history of the NBA. The NFL has a limited nunber of “star-making” positions (how many offensive linemen from the 70’s and 80’s can you name?), and the NHL and MLB are nowhere near as good at marketing their superstars. 

The NBA playoffs this year sucked. They were way too predictable, and too few teams had a chance to even compete against their opponents. (I think the only underdog to actually win a series was Utah) But the excitement of the off season has allowed us to forget the almost boring playoffs and look forward to the hope that next year could be much better.