Post-game Reactions

By now you all have heard the rumor from the Bill Simmons B.S. Report Podcast (h/t: ESPN Boston) that the Celtics were initially after James Harden before settling on Jeff Green in the trade with OKC.  This news is disappointing for a few reasons, but not for the ones that are immediately evident.  While his offensive production with the Celtics would have been undoubtedly more substantial than Green’s this season, it’s highly unlikely the swap would have made a ton of difference in how the season ended.  Perhaps Harden’s addition would have prolonged the season by a game or two, but adding some offensive firepower off the bench wasn’t going to help the Celtics defend LeBron James.

We know now that the addition of Green didn’t really help the Celtics defend James like they had hoped (save for maybe Game 4 and a bit of Game 5) but this reality couldn’t not have been entirely predicted.  What could have been predicted is the sour taste in Celtics’ fans mouths when they hear that Harden was potentially a trade possibility in place of Green .  I’ll be honest: the thought did cross my mind when the trade was made official.  After all, Green was a starter on a good playoff team and Harden was the sixth man.  Couple that with the idea that the Celtics weren’t about to give up their starting center for nothing in return.  The story of Green and Harden respective usefulness changes, however, when you start throwing out words like “potential” and “future impact”.

The truth of the matter is that Harden has unquestionably more potential than Jeff Green.  Hell, he may have more in the way of present-day ability than Green despite their stations on the Thunder.  The Celtics completed the trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for a few reasons, and ones that we’ll discuss ad nauseum over the offseason (hey, it’s not ideal but since this story will never die, we might as well weigh-in and weigh-in heavily).  For right now, I’m interested in viewing the trade from the viewpoint of the Celtics interest in bolstering the offensive firepower of their bench.  Not only does Harden do that better than Green statistically, he does that in more obvious ways.  Harden is a guy that can create his own shot.  When the Celtics moved Nate Robinson, they ONLY guy on their bench that could create his own shot was Delonte West— and his creation was limited to dribble-step-back two point jumpers; not exactly inspiring fear in the hearts of the Celtics’ opponents.

Again, Harden’s ability to play the role of combo guard- make quick moves to get all the way to the rim, shoot well from deep, and be consistent from midrange– wasn’t going to substantially help the Celtics this year.  It would have, however, given me a lot of more confidence moving forward than having Danny Ainge all but commit to over-paying Jeff Green this offseason.

Bottom line: Paul Pierce is not getting any younger and the Celtics are quickly losing their go-to wing player without having anyone waiting in the wings.  The front office tried by drafting J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker. They allowed them them fight for the role of Pierce’s heir-apparent.  They both lost.

Now with Green all but in the future fold, the Celtics are staring boldly into the abyss with a guy who’s PER mirrors that of Marvin Williams instead of a shade under Andre Iguodala (Green: 12.91, Williams: 13.45, Harden: 16.48, Iguodala:  17.27).  Isn’t HoopData great (and revealing?)?  Even if the Celtics were to somehow snag a guy like Dwight Howard via free agency or trade, a core of Rajon Rondo, Green and Howard when compared to Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett?  It’s just depressing.  Swapping Green for Harden could have made it a little easier to stomach.

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  • dan

    Presti pulled out last minute and Ainge had his eyes set on on one of the two. They weren't going to get Harden it didn't makes sense to OKC finacially think about it, Green turned down a fifty million dollar extension and remember Harden is under control for a two more years. So what bring perk in sign him to that contract and Jeff Green, Presti pulled out smart move

  • Dan

    I disagree with your assertion that Harden wouldn't have helped this year. 4th quarter offense, bench offense, and offense in general were huge issues for the Celtics against the Heat in a series decided by a number of close games – Harden is both a playmaker and shot-maker and could have helped alleviate these problems. In addition, the big 4 were very bad statistically in the 4th quarter- Harden is young and athletic and could have eased the burden on the big 4 to create. Finally, Harden could have covered Wade and maybe even James- it's not like Wade wasn't brutalizing the Celtics anyway and we've had Rondo cover James before anyway.

    There was also nothing to suggest Green was a good defender of small forwards. The only thing we did knew coming out of OKC was he couldn't defend power forwards, not that he could defend small forwards.

    Ultimately, it looks like Ainge compromised on the trade and that is disheartening for the future of this team. Green doesn't look like he'll amount to much while Harden looks like a future all star. I might've even thrown in Ray Allen to get Harden but it doesn't matter now because Ainge blew the opportunity.

    One last thing – why isn't Ainge getting more heat for the Semih trade – he gave away a decent back up center from the second round for another second round pick.

  • Chris

    Whoa everyone….Green is a solid player that has to find his niche with the C's. Going from starting on a young team and logging about 40 minutes to playing about 24 minutes with (got to love this NBA term) "no rhythm" or flow is not enough to say that this wasnt a good trade. Yes we miss Perk, and yes we gambled with Shaq and the bigs we had, but the idea was to get younger and more athletic. Frankly he was not utilized correctly, and sadly the late season aquisitions for the last few years were not as well. These are different kinds of athletes that need offense tailored to them not just getting in where they fit in. With the changing scene of the NBA and the age of the C's…Doc has to learn how to accept that there are multiple ways to win offensively and that you have to mix it up.

    • Renato Afonso

      I don't agree with everything you said specially the "yes, we miss Perk". I agree with that from an emotional point of view but considering the series against the Heat, what the C's needed was offensive production from the Center position and Perk was not going to give you that.

      However, while I don't think that Green will ever be an all-star, he can fit into the right system as a solid starter. IT is not reallistic to have the big 3 plus Rondo and get an all-star talent to ride the bench. This is the NBA and there are 150 starters. All-star talents would be around (considering snubs) 30 to 40 in the entire league. Can you expect the Celtics to have 5 or 6 of them?

  • Tos

    I wouldve preferred Harden. He at least fit into the role we were actually looking to fill… But a las only a bunch of “what ifs” now.

  • James Patrick

    what's it matter now?

    • I had trouble deciding whether to thumbs up or down your comment. I agree with it whole-heartedly, but it depresses me so much I want to thumbs it down.

      • James Patrick

        I hear ya, but hindsight isn't gonna win us #18.

  • Scot

    I watched every OKC game for the last two years. There's a reason why Harden was coming off the bench and playing behind Sefalosha, his defense is really suspect! His shot is inconsistent and he often lacked confidence to the point where he was a liability on the floor. Green needs to be more aggressive but he has the physical tools to be a very good small forward in this league. It's up to Doc to really figure out how to best utilize his skills. Green needed out of OKC as he was literally drowning in Durant and Westbrook's shadow. Can he flourish in Boston? I think he will be a better fit, if Doc can do his job, than Harden would have been.

    • duggyfresh88

      While I admit I don't watch a ton of OKC games, from what I have seen Harden is a very good defender. Maybe he just isn't consistent with his effort? Or we are just seeing something different? But I saw one of the Heat Thunder games this year and Hardens defense on LeBron was fantastic.

    • duggyfresh88

      Also, here is a video of a sequence of several plays in the Lakers Thunder game this year where Harden plays shut down D on Kobe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63TDVWnZ5K8

      • TedL

        I had the same reaction as you, duggy. Maybe it's because I only watch the Thunder in national games, and not too many of those. But when I see Harden, I see an athletic freak who's capable of high-energy play. He's got talents we really don't have at all.

        That said, maybe that's a sometimes thing with him. We'll never know what Doc and KG coulda done with him.

  • Jon

    I really think Jeff was not utilized properly and under utilized. I think that Doc need to make sure he includes Jeff more in the offense and not just by setting pick the whole time he is in the game. I watched the games extensively and you could see it was basically one set run for jeff which he would flash from the corner to the post and that was it. He has the ability to knockdown 3s and the same open jumpers BBD couldnt hit. I also know that he can drive to the basket off the dribble also (this wasn't seen with the Celtics as of yet).

    I mean if the coach isn't believing in your ability and trying to get you the ball I think that has a little to do with why he wasn't as crisp as he could be. Thinking of Jeff as just a post player is selling yourself short

    • bottom line green is softer than a babies azz, has no D, he choked whn gm was on the line, he is an avg player no superstar, celtics need sum grimy players not no soft ass green dude 6'8 and he never dunks, i may have seen 1 or 2 dunks since he been here

  • SteveB

    I'll stick with Green over Harden right now. I disagree that Green can't create his own shot. He's able to post up guys as well as drive from the wing and hit outside shots. I'm glad the post talked about Bill Walker. Think how things might have been different had we not traded him away for Nate. Walker could have been that backup to Pierce, not the best one I know, and the trade may never happen. That's not to say I hate the trade but it wouldn't have been necessary at that point. That's one of the reasons you hate to give up on young players. People wanted to give up on Rondo and he's gotten nothing but better every year. Hopefully Bradley can do the same. Whether we win it all the next few years I enjoy watching this team.

    • talesofJP

      he's not great at creating, but he can do it in a limited fashion. He's still young, and needs to put in the work this summer. Maybe the Celtics vets will have that kind of impact on him where he wants to work on some things in the summer, to get better. He isnt great at anything yet, but there is potential.

  • Dan

    Green has been in the league for 4 years and hasn't developed any consistent part of his game. He is decent at posting up small forwards but struggles to guard them and that isn't a reliable go-to part of his game. He has continued to flame out in the playoffs and has not improved noticeably in any of the last 4 years. The only place on the floor he shot average-above average last years was between 16-23 feet and even that looks like an abberation based on his shooting in previous seasons. Rondo flashed talent in his second season and was a well above average player by basketball reference. Harden flashed talent in his first season and is now playing great in the playoffs.

    How often has a player whose been in the league for four years without character issues or flashing obvious talent ever developed into a great or even very good player? And while I have hope for Bradley, that he struggled to even dribble the ball in his rookie season is a bad sign.

    • kricky

      Yup. All this talk about Green and his potential is BS. Good players step up when given an opportunity. And what better opportuinty than to play for a title contender???

      This team needed a player to play solid D and contribute offense in limited minutes.It's not like we were asking him to lead the team in scoring. Green simply did not meet the challenge because he is Mediocre. Like BBD he will consistently continue to frustrate us as long as he's with the team.

  • WTF

    Was it possible to package Perk, Rondo and other pieces for Westbrook, Harden and others? That'll set the future of this team in both the guard positions and the team can build on that.

    • westbrook come on dude, the man is not a true point guard, u get him the team would of lost 1st round

  • talesofJP

    I don't think trading Rondo for Westbrook helps either team, basically similar players (flawed in different ways) except that you kill chemistry on both teams. No one knows a team better than the point guard, trading away your All-Star point guard won't help you. Not sure Westbrook would play with a dislocated elbow either.

  • kricky

    Harden is a better player than Green with more potential. But he really wasn't the player we needed this year.

    I'm surprised that we couldn't get a better player for Perk. Prince and Battier were still out there and maybe we could have worked out a 3-way trade or something for them.

  • Hondo

    Green had to come in and learn a new play book on the fly while adapting to a new role and a new city. His unfamiliarity with the offense was at times painful to watch. When Doc talks about potential, he's banking on a full training camp from a guy settled into his new digs. His coach at G'town lauded his high BB IQ. So he still has a tremendous upside. Still unrealized potential, but potential nonetheless. Doc Rivers is one of the best coaches in the NBA, and unequaled at motivating and getting the most out of his players. (Except for Big Baby, who's living up to the "baby" part of his nickname; see ya, Glen.) I trust Danny Ainge to find a creative way to fill the gaping hole at center, and for Doc to give the kids enough significant minutes to reduce the season-long strain on the elder statesmen, allowing the Celts to advance farther in the playoffs next year. Oh, and by the way: Heat and Bulls? Two not too shabby teams.

    • Dan

      Who has Doc gotten the best out of? Pierce, Ray and KG are all established veterans. Rondo is one success story but (I didn't watch basketball then) Simmons talked about how Doc jerked around Rondo's minutes constantly before the Big 3 and may have been hurting his development in some of his older columns. Big Baby never reached his potential, BIll Walker and JR Giddens are gone, Al Jefferson was pretty good but not great. Maybe these weren't the best players, but I don't see anyone "coached up" by Rivers that would give me hope he can salvage a 4 year player who has shown nothing so far.

      Also, why is the word of his college coach credible? College and the NBA are different games and any college coach would want their players to succeed. Also, I think a player with a high bball IQ would grab more than the pathetic amount of rebounds per game Green does and would box out his man more consistently. While I maintain some shred of hope that Doc can get something better out of Green or the Celtics pride thing/Ray Allen will wear off on his work ethic, pragmatically I'm not optimistic.

  • I_Bleed_Green

    C's would've won it all with James Harden at the starting point guard.

    • Batman

      LOL why don't u just say "Here's my dumbass Rondo jab of the day"

      • I_Love_Green

        He's trying to be more secretive about it Batman.

  • J. R. Shaw

    Could we possibly have gotten both Harden and Green? that might have made having to eat the contract of the defensively feeble Krstic more bearable for Ainge. As someone who grew up in OKC but has lived in Boston for decades now my feelings would have been split with either trade.

  • Brady

    Chalk this article up to a classic over-reaction. And it's an over-reaction to two different things: 1) the result of this year's post season run by the Celtics. If the Celtics are still playing nobody is talking about this, period. And 2) Harden's post-season surge. At the time of the trade, Harden wasn't actually playing that well and struggled mightily for most of this season. He looked lost many times on the court with the Thunder. Just because he's hitting some shots for OKC and his team is still playing does not mean Danny made the wrong move. Green never seemed to catch his stride with Boston but still had plenty of moments. Krstic should be re-signed and will be a solid piece moving forward. A full training camp will give Green the time he didn't have to fully immerse himself into the system. This trade will be a good one at the end of the day. And by that time, this blog post will look like the classic over-reaction that it is.

  • Brady

    Talk about an over-reaction…

  • BOS 17 LA 11

    Brady is exactly right. Not only is this an overreaction to where both teams are right now and how they got there, but it's complete revisionist history to argue that Harden better fit the need we were trying to fill. Just the notion that "Danny really wanted Harden instead of Green" is hard to believe. Hello, the main reason Danny made the trade was to get a backup for Pierce. After Marquis went down, we had not a single SF coming off the bench. You're saying we should have aquired a 6'5" SG to do that? Lol. Harden is a better 3pt shooter than Green, but that's about it. Green shoots it better from the field overall, can play the 3 or 4 if needed, and can post up. (I venture to say that he has always played further away from the basket- and taken more threes- than he should, and that when Doc properly has him playing more in the paint both his scoring efficiency and rebounding will improve). Anyway, our backcourt was and is solid. What we needed and got was frontcourt depth.

  • i agree danny should be hog tied and whipped

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