God, this lockout is awful. Has anyone figured out a way to handle it? I went to see Drive yesterday and sort of freaked out when Ryan Gosling turned a Clippers-Raptors game on his car radio. This is so stupid. I should be trying and failing to recruit friends to go to preseason games with me right now.
Instead I have to read “The Boston Issue,” an issue of ESPN the Magazine designed to make everyone hate Boston sports more than they already do. Along with a serious piece of journalism about how to rob Fenway Park, there is one relevant Celtics article in the issue, and it’s about how the Perkins trade was a smart move for the Celtics’ future. The article is Insider-only, but maybe don’t subscribe just to read it, because the future they predict for the Celtics is pretty disappointing, even as they try to make it seem like a good thing.
Here’s what the Celtics are positioned to accomplish because of the trade, according to some guy quoted in the article:
“Fiscally, that should make keeping Green even easier, and a nucleus of Green, Rondo and Pierce “is definitely a playoff team, especially in the East,” says an Eastern Conference executive.” (italics mine)
Wow!!! An Eastern Conference playoff team? Like the 76ers and the Pacers? Like the legendary 2008 Wizards and, dare I say it, the 2007 Raptors? The opportunity to be one of the eight teams competing for a Conference championship…how exciting! Because you know what they say about playoff teams: “They each have a one in eight chance of winning (the Conference championship)!”
No, sorry, no. Nobody has said that ever. Because everyone knows there are only a handful of teams with a chance at an NBA championship in a given season, and every single one of them is led by a brilliant shining superstar. That one in eight (12.5 percent) chance of even getting to the Finals is closer to 1 in 50 if you’re not top-three, and even then you have to beat one of the best teams in the better conference to get the big trophy. Being a low-level playoff team in the East for four years in a row, or however long they sign Jeff Green for, would not be that much fun.
But let’s let the nameless executive (my guess is Hawks Assistant GM T. Scott Wilkinson; it just reads like him) finish his argument:
“Outside of Miami and *maybe Chicago*, who has a better core than that?” (stars mine)
“Maybe” Chicago? As in, like, not definitely? Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng/Taj Gibson isn’t definitely better than Rondo, Jeff Green, and old Pierce? I think you are “maybe” insane.
Okay, so based on core alone, this guy’s basically saying the Celtics are the third-best team in the East. Except, when you think about it, possibly Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Kris Humphries. Or Stoudemire, Carmelo, and Landry Fields. Or Dwight Howard and two dogs. If I’m being honest, I would take any of those combinations over Rondo, Green, and Paul Pierce ages 34 through 37. So maybe the six seed is closer to what we’re looking at here?
Either way, all this talk about “core” is pretty scary. Because it’s very possible that Ainge’s plan basically comes down to this: bring in a bunch of decent-but-not-great players to build around Rondo. Not to be a pessimist, but that plan has basically never worked, and pretty much every other time it’s been attempted, the point guard could score.
Ryan DeGama and I have discussed a couple times our shared fear that the Celtics’ rebuilding plan is going to take the kind of shape described above. Neither one of us really believes that Rondo is capable of carrying a championship team. To have an actual chance at a title in the next decade, somebody’s going to have to be replaced in that “nucleus.” You are invited to disagree below.