I haven’t fully accepted the Rajon Rondo trade emotionally this evening, so I’m holding off for a day or two before doing my final farewell to the final remaining star of the Big Four era. Instead, let’s take a pragmatic look at Boston’s acquisitions in as fair and balanced terms as we possibly can.
THE CASE FOR:
First, Rondo. We all know what Boston’s complicated situation was with its talented point guard, but let’s rehash in case any Dallas fans are poking through to see what they acquired (welcome, friends, please treat Rondo well, we love him). Rondo is supremely talented, and he had a genuinely massive impact on Boston’s offense. The Celtics will miss his production, but they will also miss the production he essentially created for other players — Tyler Zeller’s agent has to be the most disappointed person on the planet tonight.
All of that being said, Rondo will turn 29 this season, and this is his ninth season in the league. Even if the Celtics were able to get a top draft pick in 2015, by the time that player would be ready to contribute to a winning team, Rondo would likely be 32 or 33. Is that eventuality worth $100 million per year? Probably not to the Celtics. Waiting until the trade deadline was an option, but these were the deals Boston would get. They weren’t going to improve. Rondo’s trade value is uniquely low for a player of his caliber — never before have I seen a player I’d rate at about 88 on 2K receive only a low-70 players’ interest on the market. Such is his value. Such was Danny Ainge’s dilemma.
Thus, the Mavericks deal. Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Ray Felton, picks and a TPE. Briefly, here’s the case for each. Read the rest of this entry »
For the Celtics, Wright and Crowder are both young and athletic, and more picks will give GM Danny Ainge even more options moving forward. Celtics nation will no doubt be mourning the loss of their beloved Rondo, the last holdover from the Celtics’ championship era.
Adding Rondo makes Dallas an incredibly deep and well-rounded team while his departure from Boston brings more questions than answers about the rebuild. It is also reported that Rondo would strongly consider signing an extension in Dallas.
Sean Grande was quick to point out that in the last three years, the Celtics went 32-58 (.356) with Rondo on the court and 43-53 (.448) without Rondo. There will be plenty of stats, speculation, and reaction to come. Stay tuned.
Jared Sullinger, PF24 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +3After averaging just 3.8 points in his last four games, it was good to see Sully get off the schneid. Sully was aggressive off the bat, starting 4-5 for 9 points and even flashing a bit of a snarl when hitting the boards (but oddly, he didn’t actually grab that many rebounds).
Jeff Green, SF31 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +3Green was invisible for much of the first half, but he made his presence felt with two huge threes near the end of the second quarter. He warmed up a bit in the second half, but, for the most part, this was a productive if fairly inconspicuous performance.
Tyler Zeller, C20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -2Like Sullinger, Zeller started hot, as he once again proved himself to be the best pick-and-roll big on the squad. Defensively, he got into a bit of foul trouble again and wasn’t exactly hindering Nikola Vucevic from putting up his usual numbers (18 points, 13 boards).
Rajon Rondo, PG33 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 15 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 13 PTS | +14It was one of those mad scientist games for Rondo, where it looks like he’s playing his own private game within the game. He was sloppy with the ball (six turnovers), but his teammates seem to thrive off his aggression. He was aggressive with his shot, too, which is great to see when: A) he’s shooting well (6-12); and B) the Celtics seem to have the game under control.
Avery Bradley, PG33 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +23AB harassed the Magic guards, but besides a nice contested finish off a Rondo outlet, his game was forgettable.
Brandon Bass, PF22 MIN | 6-10 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +12Bass’ stellar play continues. The big(ish) man had 14 points in the fourth, which as we all know is not the Celtics’ usual time to shine. With all the trade rumors swirling, I’m surprised we’re not hearing more about Bass. There’s a ton of contenders that could use him.
Gerald Wallace, SF9 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +6You’re damn right I’m giving high marks to “the War Dog” (copyright Tommy Heinsohn). Wallace has adopted to his role as a non-shooter, sh*t-stirrer (he got into a nice little tussle with Kyle O’Quinn). In short minutes he had three hustle plays: a save, a break-starting steal and maybe the most gift-wrapped block I’ver ever seen. Evan Fournier set Wallace up like they were playing beach volleyball.
Kelly Olynyk, C30 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +21The hot streak continues, as Olynyk was 6-8 from the field. And Neon Jesus was RISING in this one. He had two blocks and another rejection of a Tobias Harris dunk attempt that was horribly called a foul. And Olynyk had three monster slams in this game! Sure, only one of them counted, but they all looked cool. I guess KO gets some extra pep in his step when his dad is in the stands.
Phil Pressey, PG19 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +3When your starting point guard starts to slow the pace, what do you do? Throw in “the Exhilarator” (copyright Tommy Heinsohn). It was a good shooting night for Pressey (4-8, with a nifty layup), and he had just one turnover to four assists. You can’t ask for a better backup to your backup point guard. (I think that’s a compliment.)
Evan Turner, SG18 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +2Turner racked up another nice game. It’s happening so consistently now that it’s almost boring, which is conversely very exciting.
Dwight Powell, PFDNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | Who’s the last Celtics bench player to look this apathetic? Olowokandi? Hand out some dap, Dwight! Know your role!
Marcus Smart, PGDNP LEFT ACHILLES TENDON STRAIN MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | Way to step up the suit game! Smart crushed Young in the rookie sartorial rankings in this one.
He’s still tinkering with rotations and riding the hot hands. For the second straight game, it was the bench unit that won this game for the Cs. It’ll be interesting to see what new alterations Stevens makes in the future.
“But seriously, which Western Conference team has A) the assets to acquire Rondo and B) the interest in doing so? The upper echelon (Memphis, Golden State, San Antonio, LAC, OKC and Houston) doesn’t need him. The mid-levelers (Portland, Dallas, New Orleans) don’t need him.”
The past two games have been a real resurrection for Kelly Olynyk, who looked sapped of comfort and confidence for quite a while. Then he hung 30 on the Sixers and, two days later, dropped this down on Kyle O’Quinn’s skull.
Not Kyle O’Quinn’s proudest moment, if we are being honest.
Olynyk finished with 15 points, six boards and a surprisingly solid defensive effort against the Orlando Magic, as the Celtics cruised in the fourth quarter (!!!!) to a 109-92 win. Seven Celtics players finished with double-digit point totals, including Rajon Rondo who, seemingly unperturbed by the trade rumors that once again began swirling before the game, dished out 15 very sexy assists and scored 13 relatively efficient points. At some point, perhaps you become deaf to all the white noise.
Boston comes into tonight’s game against Orlando on a one-game win streak, though the Celtics’ blowout win against the Sixers Monday night was not the biggest news to come out of Philly. Instead, we learned that one Celtic may be some sort of messiah, or otherwise completely crazy. Presenting Our Savior, Evan Turner.
Divine or not, Turner kissed babies, signed autographs, and chipped in 12 points in his second return to Philadelphia on the year. He was also booed by the Sixers home crowd, which is a little unwarranted, but we can all understand their frustration.
Tonight’s game between the Magic and Celtics will feature two teams with unclear fates. Either could conceivably sneak into the playoffs or just as easily end up towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Its far too early to tell, especially with all the trade speculation brewing. Read the rest of this entry »
The report, which also mentions that the Celtics continue to shop Jeff Green in trade talks, says that Boston’s renewed interest in dealing Rondo may very well indicate that Boston is looking to move up in the 2015 Tankathon, extending what is already beginning to look like a multi-year rebuild into something deeper and sadder (the “deeper and sadder” bit is me editorializing, not Woj).
I don’t need to tell you how often we’ve heard these rumors, how quickly they stir everybody up into a frothing mass of humanity (“RONDO SUCKS!” “RONDO IS THE GOAT!” “YOU SUCK!”), and how tired most of us are of listening to people complain about it. Instead, let’s take a look at three quick things this article might tell us.
Jared Sullinger, PF29 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 5 PTS | -3The shooting slump remains intact, but that didn’t stop Sullinger from doing some damage on the glass.
Jeff Green, SF27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 5-8 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +11Thought he played worse than his final line indicated. With that said, anytime you get 14 points from Green in an “off” game shows that he’s come a long way this year with his offensive consistency.
Tyler Zeller, C16 MIN | 1-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -13Fouled early and often during Boston’s ugly start to the game. After that, was glued to the bench for the majority of the next three quarters thanks to the Olynyk clinic.
Rajon Rondo, PG24 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | +6A couple ugly turnovers, but still pushing the ball and rebounding with reckless abandon. Didn’t mind him only taking 3 shots in this one after Olynyk caught fire.
Avery Bradley, PG31 MIN | 6-20 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +1Avery picked a good game to go 1-for-11 from the field. Shake off the rust all at once!
Brandon Bass, PF20 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-5 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +23Classic Bass, just feasting on a inferior bench unit with efficiency. His defensive was nice as well.
Gerald Wallace, SF12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +14Defensive intensity really picked up nicely when he came into the game in the first half. Just plays hard and smart, while knowing his role (no shot attempts).
Kelly Olynyk, C31 MIN | 12-17 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 30 PTS | +29His former career high came against Philly last year in April (28 points), so we at least know Olynyk can be an All-Star against a subpar front line. In all seriousness though, his hot streak at the end of the first quarter was Bird-esque. Fun to watch him show that kind of aggressiveness. His defense was stellar too all night.
Phil Pressey, PG20 MIN | 0-3 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +9He just breaths energy into the game when he comes in. Loved his speed and how he set up Olynyk for countless shots at the end of the first quarter. The jump shot still isn’t falling, but other than that, it’s great to see him keep the foot on the gas in games like this.
Evan Turner, SG27 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 12 PTS | +16Very impressive all-around line, as he continues to hear the boos for no good reason in Philly. Guess you can’t blame those guys for being miserable though.
Docked him for not starting Olynyk over Zeller at the start of the second half. Otherwise, no complaints after he leaned heavily on the bench all night.
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So far the Celtics have not taken advantage of their easier December schedule, but tonight they will have a serious opportunity to pick up a win. They’re up against the plebeians of the NBA, those hapless Sixers.
At 7-14, the Celtics are coming into tonight with their own three game losing streak. Their most recent loss came at home, embarrassingly at the hands of the dysfunctional Knicks.
Marcus Thornton, Marcus Smart, and James Young are all out for tonight’s 7pm tip-off. The rest of the Celtics squad should be looking to play their best basketball, because losing to the Sixers would be another nail in the “The Celtics aren’t very good” coffin. Read the rest of this entry »
A quick programming note: Our apologies for the lack of grades from the Knicks game. The good news: Everybody who played gets participation credit! Good work, team. Way to thrive off someone else’s mediocrity.
Anyway, let’s talk about Jeff Green.
When I discuss Green with my dad or my friends, we mostly share the same opinion: He’s been surprisingly good this year. We see the 20 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, the career highs in both free throws per game (5.2) and free-throw percentage (85 percent), and we get excited about his future.
Green is one of the few Celtics for whom there is no downside whatsoever if he plays well. If Rondo plays well, he ups his value in free agency. If Sullinger and Olynyk play well, they might help win the Celtics out of a good draft pick. Don’t get me wrong: Boston certainly wants Rondo, Sullinger and Olynyk (and everyone else) to play as well as possible (and we should want the same, even if we are fully on board with another tanking season), but the give-and-take of a rebuilding team is incredibly complex.
But Green? As he demonstrated on Friday, a good game doesn’t necessarily lead to a tank-derailing win. It’s also aesthetically pleasing — Green’s swooping layups, emphatic dunks and smooth jumpers are fun to watch. Meanwhile, if he takes a big step forward this season, the Celtics have two attractive options: re-sign a 6’9 hyper-athletic small forward who took a big step forward, or let him walk in free agency and open up $9 million in cap space. Oh, and that free agency? If Green continues to play well, he will almost certainly get considerably more than $9 million, which means he might very well decline his player option after this year. Boston’s books could open up substantially as soon as this offseason.
This is where we stand as Celtics observers: One of the best players on the team is putting up career high totals, and we are forced to wonder about the cap situation rather than how he can help the team win. What a weird team.
Let’s take a closer look at Green, though: Why does he seem so much more effective this year? Can we even say with any certainty that he has been?
Green’s per-game production has been objectively better — he is averaging over three more points per game and nearly exactly the same number of minutes. His efficiency is up as well: Green’s true shooting percentage so far is a career-high 56.5 percent, which is a four-percent jump from last season.
When we look closer at Green’s statistics, there are a few holes to be poked in his game. My eye test says Green is shooting really well from 3-point range, but apparently I need glasses: He’s averaging just 31.8 percent behind the arc — his lowest total since 2010-11. Meanwhile, 33 percent of his shots are from deep. That’s both good and bad: The Celtics want him taking efficient shots, and generally 3-pointers have been efficient shots for Green, but they also want him attacking the rim and Green has a tendency to float around the 3-point line if he’s making shots from long range.
Once again, however, there’s good news: Green’s efficiency has spiked this season because he is attacking the hoop. Roughly 45 percent of his shots have come from within 10 feet, where he is shooting 61.1 percent. According to the NBA’s stat site, he’s shooting 50 percent from 5-9 feet from the basket. That’s an odd area to be efficient from, except that it confirms what we know about Green’s drives to the hoop — they often end a little earlier than drives by other players because Green is long, athletic and able to finish layups from further out than most players.
This is where the death of the every-man version of Synergy Sports hurts. I’d love to tell you what Jeff Green’s post-up numbers are, because again, he seems to be going to post-ups against smaller players more often this season. All we can go on is the eye test and his 61 percent shooting inside 10 feet. The latter is, of course, considerably more reliable than the former.
@Tom_NBA@CelticsHub Green in post via Synergy: team-high 52 plays finished, 1.077 ppp, 86th percentile. Accounts for ⅓ of Cs total posts. — Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) December 14, 2014
@Tom_NBA big improvement from last year so far. last year: 173 total post plays finished (3rd on team); 0.884 ppp, 62nd percentile.
There’s some room for improvement. Again, Green’s 3-point numbers might level out to his career average: 34.2 percent, and he could improve his shooting a bit from 10-16 feet. But Green is taking all the right shots. He’s firing up a career-low in long twos (from 16-23 feet), attacking the basket hard and getting to the free throw line. That’s a lot of things to like.
Green’s place on the team may be in question, but he’s clearly having a good season. Whether that continues, and what it means for his future with the Celtics if it does, remains to be seen.