A Trade Too Far
There's virtually no chance of Boston trading for Kobe, but recent rumors have vaguely connected the Celtics to the temperamental one. That's one wacky notion. I mean who came up with this idea, Salvador Dali? Even though it's far-fetched, the mind has been sent spinning so here we go:
Trading Shaq to Miami hasn't worked out too well, has it? The entire backdrop of Laker championships is based on flagrant larceny of other cities' giant centers. They weaseled Wilt from Philadelphia, kleptoed Kareem from Milwaukee, and shuttled Shaq out of Orlando. (Plus they moved Mikan's banners from Minneapolis.) Only after having their pilfered behemoth in tow did the the diabolical purple and gold ever succeed. So when they traded away Mr. O'Neal instead of Mr. Bryant they went against their entire sordid history.
...and now they're paying the price.
Kobe wants out. The Lakers want something substantial back. Many teams have been linked to these stories including Boston. Oh I'm sure Danny Ainge has spoken to Mitch Kupchak. In fact I'm sure everybody has talked to everybody about everybody at one time or another, but I highly doubt any Celtic/Laker discussions regarding Kobe Bryant have ever gotten serious.
First off the Lakers would want too much. It would start with Paul Pierce and then you'd have to add at least Rajon Rondo, if not Rondo AND Ray Allen. That's too high a cost for someone with so much potential for instability. I could see LA going for it because they're not going to get anything better, but Boston has no urgent need to make that swap.
Let's just be patient here and see what the Celtics have. A trade like this could easily be one too many. Let the Lakers do whatever they will. While Boston is testing the parameters of their new might, the disintegration in Los Angeles will be an entertaining sideshow.
There's another lesson in all this: If any of you are thinking of betting your franchise on a volatile, unpredictable, high-strung fellow, please remember to NOT give him a trade veto.
...I almost forgot to add: Heh heh heh.
No Second Unit
From Mark Spear's article in the 10/31 Globe: "Rivers hopes Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce will play fewer than 40 minutes per game, but would like at least two on the floor at all times, and one 'is almost mandatory.'"
Very good. There will very rarely be five subs playing together at the same time, not until the game is determined. That means the worst team the Celtics will ever have on the floor this season will be equal to the best team they ever had on the floor in 06-07. If things get hairy for the back-ups, you just reinsert another all star. Isn't life grand?
If you're the coach and you need to turn to someone resting on the bench and say, "Get in there and change the momentum," who would you rather it be: Ray Allen or Allan Ray? That's last year versus this year in a nutshell.
Scheduled In Advance
Before the lottery, I think the league might have had "San Antonio and Duncan versus Whoever Gets Oden" pencilled in as the season's introductory game. Fate wrecked that tantalizing debut and so the first game of the season was the powerful Spurs against the talented but not-yet-ready Oregonians. I'm sure if they had it to do over again it would have been SA/Boston. LaMarcus Aldridge sure looked good offensively though.
Eastern Teams Worth Eyeballing...
...as far as how they match up with the Celtics. I'm not too worried about Orlando no matter how good Dwight Howard looks, because Perkins routinely seems to be able to slow him down. Cleveland has big problems. Miami might be good enough, but they have those health issues. I don't worry about Jersey or Washington because our big three are bigger than their big three. (So there.)
Until Miami stops limping, here are the teams I think match up well against the Celtics and could give them problems on any given night: Detroit, Chicago, and Toronto.
Detroit is polished, about as good as ever, and when they click they can beat anyone.
Chicago is one of the very few teams that has hope of covering Pierce and Ray Allen straight up, one on one. Deng has always bothered Pierce, and the same for Hinrich on Allen. Still Kevin Garnett has historically shredded the Bulls, so unless Tyrus Thomas and Noah develop quickly, Boston should still have a big advantage inside. Boston against Chicago is my co-most-anticipated contest, along with San Antonio.
Toronto, with their outside shooting is just one of those quirky teams that can clobber you when they're hitting from long range. Bargnani is really hard to cover out there, and Bosh takes Garnett's attention leaving the sharpshooting Italian free to hoist them at will. Like Chicago they're young and deep. They're not finalist level yet, but the Raptors are worth watching.
Add a vigorous Miami and there are four or five teams that could come out of the East. The only guarantee for the Celtics this season is the one they forge themselves. This will be fun— maybe 1950's, 60's, 70's and 80's caliber fun.
A Modest Man
Danny Ainge has spent a lot of time answering big 3 questions, contrasting the new trio to the legendary 80s troika. Again and again he's stated that Larry, Kevin and Robert had great help, citing DJ, Sichting, Maxwell, Walton and Wedman, while never mentioning a certain #44.
The modesty is admirable but c'mon Danny, knock it off. You were hell on wheels yourself. We can only wish the current team had circa 1986 Danny Ainge playing on it.
Oh Yeah, There Was A Game Friday Night
Ooooh, very nice. With numerous Celtic greats looking on, the new Green Machine smoked Washington. The Celtics were poised and powerful.
Doc River's substitution patterns were flawless, resting Pierce early, then inserting him back in with the subs to lead the second quarter charge. Scot Pollard didn't have his wind but he did still have his height, sparing Garnett from going it alone down low while Perkins sat. Rondo was brought back in at just the right moment to control the pace. The few times the Wizards did manage to capture the some momentum, Doc squashed it with a timeout. Pierce sliced, Ray Allen glided, Garnett thundered, and the raucous Garden crowd went home satisfied.
The scary thing is, I thought they only scraped the surface of how good they can be.