• On Iverson: Don’t start, please. Don’t tell me that maybe Memphis is desperate to be rid of him—and Chad Ford is reporting on ESPN.com that the two sides are close to parting—that maybe the C’s could get him in exchange for the expiring salaries of Tony Allen and J.R. Giddens. I know the salaries match. I know Danny Ainge wanted Iverson in 2006, and that the Celtics have been willing to sign some “difficult” personalities in the last couple of years. He’s radioactive, the Grizzlies players apparently don’t want him and he has shown zero ability to play a supporting role without becoming so disruptive that his teams just tell him to go away.
• Marquis Daniels was at a funeral yesterday, according to his Twitter feed. (Thanks to commenter Mark for the heads up).
• As for the other thing I wondered about after the Nets game—Rondo sitting the 4th quarter—Doc told the Globe it was a matter of strategy and nothing else:
And in the final minutes, he kept Rondo on the bench, making Paul Pierce the de facto point guard with Ray Allen and House on the floor with him. “We got a nice little rhythm going,’’ Rivers said. “The floor was spaced so much with Ray and Eddie on the floor, it allowed Paul and Eddie to get free.’’
• For the record, I want to applaud Doc for limiting the minutes of of every key player other than Ray Allen last night (41 minutes) despite missing Daniels. Paul Pierce (33 minutes), KG (32) and Rondo (30) all played fewer minutes than you would expect in a close game in which the C’s effectively had just nine players in the rotation. (Sorry, J.R.).
That said, Mike Fratello revealed something interesting last night (I had the Nets broadcast here in NYC): Fratello said that Doc told him before the game he has probably played the core guys too many minutes in this early stretch of 8 games in 12 days. Two things are interesting about that: 1) All the Celtics starters are playing fewer minutes per game this season than last season, and 2) Doc was fairly adamant before the season that those of us calling for the starters to play fewer minutes just didn’t understand basketball. He mentioned that Michael Jordan never played fewer than 37 minutes per game. So far, KG is playing 30 minutes per game, Ray Allen 35.0 and Paul Pierce 34.6. In fairness, in the above link, Doc suggests that playing stars fewer than 30 minutes per game (he seems fixated on the number 28 for some reason) wouldn’t work because it would disrupt their rhythm—and he’s sticking to that, since the Big Three aren’t playing fewer than 30 minutes per game.
But at the very least, the messages about minutes are a bit murky, right?
A few more links, after the jump
• Doc talks about how close the C’s came to selecting Chris Douglas-Roberts with the 30th pick of the 1st round in 2008; the C’s selected Giddens instead, and the Nets scooped up CDR with the 41st pick in the draft.
• C’s legend Sam Jones—a member of 10 Russell-era title teams and a Hall of Famer—gave a candid interview to NBA Fanhouse that got a lot of play earlier this week. I hate to say this, but Jones sounds a bit like the cliche cranky older retired player, bemoaning the huge amounts of money in the game today and the general lack of team play. But I can’t blame his generation for thinking that way, at least about the money. These dudes worked off-season jobs to make extra cash; meanwhile, Rajon Rondo can talk about how his daughter will never have to work a day in her life.
Jones also says the C’s haven’t been pro-active about reaching out to him and involving him in the organization:
FanHouse: It’s hard for me to fathom this disconnect between the Celtics and guys like you who made the franchise what it is today. Explain.
Sam Jones: ”We don’t have reunions, so there is no connection between the old and the new. There is no follow up on history. If you don’t want to be bothered, then I don’t want to be bothered, either. I have my peace of mind.”
These situations are always tough. The new C’s regime should obviously respect the team’s history, and I think they do. I mean, I’m not sure what they are supposed to do. If Sam Jones wants to come to a game, Wyc is going to get him as many courtside seats as he wants, right? In the same interview, Jones says Doc invited him to play in his charity golf tournament in Florida. That’s appropriate. If the C’s haven’t done enough of that sort of thing, it’s a problem.
But how far does an organization have to go to involve its former stars?
• Ryan Parker at Basketball Geek—who some smart team is going to hire in the next 12 months—is working his ass off to devise a more precise way to rank individual players defensively based on what happens when those players are on the court. His latest crack at this ranks KG and Rondo as two of the top 10 defensive players in the league last season. The only player among the C’s regular who fares poorly under Ryan’s system in Ray Allen. What’s interesting about what Ryan has done here is that his rankings—based on play-by-play data—produce a much larger variation between teammates than the defensive efficiency rankings at Basketball Reference, which are heavily dependent on team play.
KG, for instance, finishes with a rating of 90 points allowed per 100 possessions under Ryan’s system; Ray finishes with a rating of 113. Basketball Reference has KG at 98 and Ray at 106.
Ryan would be the first to tell you that his system isn’t perfect; for instance, he assigns equal credit (or blame) to all five players on the court for each made shot, since it is impossible to tell from play-by-play data who really should be blamed for a made basket—a big guy who didn’t rotate? The player who got beat initially? Someone who failed to switch on a screen/roll?
In any case, Ryan’s data seems to show that Ray’s head-to-head players shoot more than average and turn the ball over less. Food for thought.
• Another of the Web’s stat gurus, David Berri at Wages of Wins, likes the Rondo deal for the C’s and seems to think that it is the rare deal that compensates a non-scorer fairly despite his, you know, lack of scoring. Berri’s general thesis is that a player’s salary is determined primarily by his ability to score even though evidence suggests—according to Berri—that other variables are just as important in producing wins. Rondo obviously brings those variables—rebounding, steals, defense, passing, etc. I disagree with Berri that the C’s may have paid Rondo more than any other team would have offered at the end of this season. I really believe that Miami and New York would have been prime candidates to toss loads of money at Rajon in the event the Bron-Bosh-Wade sweepstakes don’t go those teams are hoping.
In any case, Berri suggests we may all come to believe Rondo is overpaid once the Big Three age and he proves incapable of taking on the scoring load. Let’s not think about that for now, OK?