I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day

After months of speculation and insanity, it looks like KG will end up in Boston in exchange for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff and his expiring contract, and Sebastian Telfair. (All comments here work off the assumption that this deal will go through soon. Judging by my recent luck, though, I fully expect to wake up tomorrow morning and hear that it all fell through.) At first glance, this deal seems to make the Celtics a strong contender for the East title and the sort of squad that could at the very least put a mighty scare into the West champions. On the other hand, Ainge better be sure this team will contend for a title in the next few years. Without much help aboard for Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen, there won’t be much of a window, so I’m not confident this deal will result in another Larry O’Brien for Boston. However, I admire it for their willingness to go all out for one of the best players in the league, even if it meant giving up one of the best young post players in the NBA. At a time when too many teams seem unwilling to do what it takes to get to the next level, at least Ainge appears to want his team to win.

Let me begin with the obvious: the Celtics now have Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Basketball is obviously won by having more than three really good players, but that trio’s nothing to sneeze at. With Pierce and Allen on the perimeter, Boston has two legitimate shot takers in crunch time, and Garnett’s versatile enough to be a great option in those cases, too. It’ll be virtually impossible for teams to key on any one of those guys at the risk of letting the other two go off. I suppose it’ll be possible for opponents to focus on two players, but that still leaves one of the triplets open. It’ll be a “pick your poison” situation in every Celtics game this season.

That foolish-sounding double double-team strategy, though, is only worth mentioning because the Celtics now have just a few role players who actually deserve major NBA minutes. Rajon Rondo can play the point, but he can’t shoot jumpers at all, which is all he’d really need to do for this team. Ryan Gomes is one step closer to carrying out Billups’s recent suggestion and changing his position to “I SET FUCKING PICKS. IT’S ABOUT AS FUN AS IT SOUNDS.” Uh...who’s after that? Leon Powe? Big Baby Davis? Brian Scalabrine? Maybe Doc Rivers should suit up. Does anyone seriously think those guys can be major contributors on a title team? (Particulars of the deal are still open to change—perhaps Rondo subs in for Green and Bassy—but my point remains the same no matter who gets added.)

Putting the present aside for a second, Ainge just completely sold out the Celtics’ future. Jefferson’s only 22, so his best days are ahead. Ditto Gerald Green, although who knows how good his best days will be. Boston also won’t be getting many quality draft picks for the next few years because of their likely solid record, so they shouldn’t expect a seamless transition once Allen, Pierce, and Garnett leave.

Where does that leave the Celtics? A championship is unlikely and future pain is all but assured: this would appear to be a bad trade. For a moment, though, I’d like to take off my objective analyst’s skirt and put on my ass-masking NBA fan pantsuit.

As I lamented last week, too many teams (SUNS!!!) are unwilling to do what it takes to win championships. The league employs too many full weak-ass general managers who don’t want to break up their limited successes out of fear that they’ll lose their jobs. The best example of this sort of general manager is John Paxson of the Bulls, who refuses to pull the trigger on trades for legitimate stars (Gasol, Garnett, et al.) because he has some nice young talent running around the United Center. Of course, these Bulls probably won’t ever make it past the conference finals. I'm sure Paxson's drowning out the Garnett news with his favorite Rick Astley song as we speak.

I imagine that Danny Ainge realized that the post-draft Celtics were not much better than a four-seed in the East—not exactly worldbeaters. Picking up Garnett probably vaults them into a top-two-or-three seed, which, while not spectacular, at least puts the Celtics in a realistic position to get to the NBA Finals. Last week, the Celtics were going nowhere with contradictory team identities of aging, productive all-stars and young kids—now they have a clear look with three legitimate stars. I’m not sure how much I actually agree with Ainge’s move in strict basketball terms, but I love that he’s going balls out with this one. It’s even more impressive when you remember he’s Mormon.

Simply put, you can’t get better by standing around, but you can make things better by being proactive. Things can also get terrible, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Phrases don’t become clich├ęs by accident.

Oh yeah, the Timberwolves are involved in this one, too. It should be clear that they’re going to be terrible next season. McHale better spend a lot of time watching Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, and OJ Mayo next year.


Jason said...

I wonder how much of a role Ainge's desperation level as a GM factors into his willingness to gamble the future of the team. It's a lot easier to "go all in" when you know that standing pat will probably get you fired at the end of the season.

knicksgrl0917 said...
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Ric said...

not so sure rondo will still be there...heard it might be jefferson/ratliff/rondo.

Ben Q. Rock said...

I really hope you jinxed this deal into oblivion. Simmons won't shut up about the Red Sox, and if the Celtics become relevant again, his columns will be unreadable. That, and the increased level of competition in the East would make things difficult for the Magic. Shit.

Also, the opening picture of KG in Celtic-green is taking forever to load. Bandwidth is a bitch.

Ty Keenan said...

Yeah, I'm sorry Ben, this can't be a fun day for any fan of an East team. I find Simmons worse when the Celtics are bad, though. Remember his "who deserves the lottery" article from earlier this summer when he claimed the Celtics had only average levels of historical success.

Jason: I think Ainge needing a job definitely factors in, but I think the team was playoff-caliber last week. This trade ensures that, for sure, although I guess it could conceivably buy him a few extra years either way.

Ben Q. Rock said...

The Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox could all win titles this year. Prepare for the apocalypse.

Actually, I'm not ready to label the Celtics contenders yet. They haven't played together yet. Call me after 30 games and we'll talk. Until then, the road to the Finals goes through Auburn Hills. I think. Maybe even Toronto.

Did I just say that? Jesus Christ.