The second half of the 2011-2012 NBA season is upon us! Rejoice! This lockout-shortened, offensively-challenged, morale-killing season is half over! Hooray!
The 2011-2012 NBA season has been anything but kind to the Celtics and we’re going to find out just how unkind in the coming weeks. Trade rumors are running rampant and pessimism abounds. No one knows what the future holds for this team but I’m sure it’ll certainly be unexpected and subsequently scrutinized for months.
To kick off this second half, let’s catch everyone up on the latest and greatest surrounding your favorite team.
KG Holds a “Players Only” Meeting
CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely hits the Celtics beat hard each and every day so it’s not surprising that he found this little nugget while talking to Keyon Dooling:
So before the team would venture off into the abyss that we know of as All-Star weekend, Garnett held an impromptu team meeting with a clear and very succinct Garnett-esque message.
If you’re not ready to step your game up the second half of the season, step aside and don’t come back because he doesn’t want you and the Celtics don’t need you.
Keyon Dooling, who like a number of Celtics has missed games due to injuries, felt Garnett’s message could not have come at a better time.
The Celtics (15-17) had lost their fifth straight, and Garnett could sense that coddling – not exactly a strength of his, anyway – was not needed.
He spoke the way he plays; in a strong, but firm and consistent tone.
“We understand what’s at stake,” Dooling told CSNNE.com. “We have to start, here and now.”
The main takeaway from this story, the real money quote, doesn’t come directly from any player: If you’re not ready to step your game up the second half of the season, step aside and don’t come back because he doesn’t want you and the Celtics don’t need you. We can only assume this is Blakely’s interpretation based on the conversation he had with Dooling. I like the sentiment but I’m afraid of the ramifications. If the meeting was necessary, does that mean that there are players who have already checked out? Is this a not-so-veiled reference to Jermaine O’Neal?
Whatever the reasoning, I’m not sure it matters much to Danny Ainge whether or not the players have bought-in. He’ll do whatever he thinks is best come trade deadline time.
Speaking of Trades…
You’ve heard all about the Rondo for Gasol/Gasol for Rondo trade rumors, so I won’t bore you with more of that. Instead, I’ll give you some generic Rondo trade chatter with just a smidgen of Gasol thrown in.
Sam Smith writing for NBA.com gives his odds on whether or not players around the league will be traded. Here’s what he had to say about Rajon Rondo’s prospects:
Rajon Rondo: The Celtics are playing just bad enough that GM Danny Ainge will not have any problems breaking up his old gang. There’s not much to get for the likes of Kevin Garnett, but Rondo is the guy. Even since they traded Kendrick Perkins you get the sense he’s checked out mentally, if not with his play. More the feeling that the organization doesn’t have his back. There have been Rondo for Pau rumors and I thought they should have tried to trade him for Russell Westbrook. Portland’s got a bunch of young players and is going nowhere, so perhaps something there. His contract is reasonable for an All-Star and long, so he’s desirable. And the Celtics don’t want to be caught in that early 90’s fall without trading someone.
Chances of Rondo being traded: 60 percent.
I don’t see anything scientific with his statistical projection and much of his analysis leaves me scratching my head. I think it’s common knowledge that Ainge would trade Rondo for Westbrook in a heartbeat (I would not, for the record) and tried to do so after last season. Also, what is with the Portland speculation? Rondo is clearly better than any point guard the Blazers have, but Rip City has a ton of young guard talent. Enough to cut Armon Johnson to make way for Joel Pryzbilla. I wouldn’t read too much into that.
I would, however, look pretty closely at this next rumor coming from Sean Deveney of Sporting News:
While there has been plenty of focus on Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, sources indicate Allen has generated the most interest from contenders. He is a knock-down perimeter shooter and a veteran who can blend well with any team. Even at age 36, Allen is in great shape and, as a free agent after the season, an easy fit into a team’s books.
The Celtics don’t want to trade Allen, but if they continue to slide and are offered a young piece or a draft pick, making a deal would be hard to resist.
I think each one of us at one point during the Big Three era have tried to trade Ray Allen away. He has decent value despite being so seasoned and has a fairly moveable contract. If Allen were to depart, it would absolutely signify the end of the Big Three era (thank you Captain Obvious!) by which I mean that the half court offense would have to be completely overhauled.
JO’s Hurt (Captain Obvious Returns!)
Good ol’ 4Z (Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston) has the latest news on Jermaine O’Neal’s latest injury:
Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal, who aggravated a left wrist injury last Monday in Dallas, remained in Boston on Monday while the rest of his teammates trekked to Cleveland in advance of opening the second half of the 2011-12 season Tuesday night against the Cavaliers.
O’Neal is expected to meet with team physical Dr. Brian McKeon and a hand specialist on Tuesday, according to the team.
Okay, so the wrist injury isn’t exactly new, however it is worth mentioning because it’s a reminder of how unreliable JO is and will be going forward. The C’s need another big body more than anything right now (well, maybe not more than health and desire).
At this point you may be wondering why I referenced the 16-bit of RPG Heaven to lead off this notebook post. The reason is simple. Musashi. Everyone knows you get Musashi by reading the small note outside the weapon/item shop in Prompt. He’s easily the best player in the game and getting him so late, after you’ve worked so hard to build your army up is like winning he lottery on the day you retire. It’s extraneous, but it doesn’t make it any less awesome. The Celtics need their Musashi. They’re old, but when healthy (eessshhh, I hate having to give that caveat) they are still awesome. They need their Musashi to come in the second half of the season to provide that dominating force to plow through the Armed Skeletons and Deamon Masters, and eventually Darksol and Dark Dragon.
Who will that Musashi be?