About three weeks ago I asked CelticsBlog readers to submit their questions for the mailbag. While it has taken awhile to get to these questions, I figured it would be good to answer them on a slow news day anyway. Today being the Saturday before the Boston Celtics' first preseason game, I thought it would be a good time for the mailbag. With that, I present you the "it's almost time for the preseason!" edition of the CelticsBlog Mailbag.
Q: Do you think Rajon Rondo will ever be taken seriously around the league as a point guard? Us Celtics fans esteem him very highly within the position, but the rest of the league does not. Will he be at same level of notoriety I guess such as Chris Paul, Westbrook, Rose, and Parker? If yes, then when will it be?
A: This is a very difficult question to answer. Rajon Rondo is extremely popular as he has consistently been a top jersey seller. Fans obviously respect him as a talented point guard, especially one that makes his teammates better. So, that makes me think that he is already taken seriously around the league. As for being considered in the same class as the point guards you mentioned, I think everyone will look at him as such if he averages 18 or 19 points per game. But if he averages under 15 or 16 a game, no, I don't. Most basketball fans like scorers and Rondo is not that; he is a pure passer. Should Rondo already be in the discussion? Yes.
Q: What do you think about Doc Rivers coming back to Boston and stirring up the pot with his thoughts of the past, with gems like, "I didn't want Paul to go, even though I knew it was coming?" And in regards to trading Pierce and when he called the Kendrick Perkins-Jeff Green trade a mistake? Plus the ongoing "he said - she said" thing he has going with Danny Ainge about how it came to be that Doc left to coach elsewhere. ---getyoursoxon
A: Both sides of it is a bunch of nonsense to me. I honestly don't care what exactly happened, I just don't. I know a lot of people will ask me, "Kevin, how can you not?" I don't because it happened, period; it doesn't matter how it happened. It's obvious that Doc probably didn't want to see through a rebuild and that Danny knew he could get something valuable for Doc. Thoughts probably went through both of their minds. The only way I'd ever care is if one of them directly said, "we MUST move on from each other." But we know that didn't happen. All I know is that when Doc returns to Boston I will give him a standing ovation, whether I am watching at home or at the TD Garden. Doc deserves it for all the good times that we had. I like to remember the good times, don't you?
Q: For Kevin Garnett is dealing with the scale and crowds of NYC on a daily basis a big adjustment after Minnie and Boston? --- mrlecorbeau
A: I assume Kevin Garnett will have a lot of adjusting to do. New York City is a huge city and that drive to the Barclays Center is rough. Remember during their introductory press conference he asked Jason Kidd about the drive to the arena? Then he had a "oh, damn" type of face expression after Kidd said the long drive was true. However, I can't imagine that this will get in the way of KG's success in Brooklyn. He's a star and has had the limelight on him since his time in high school. This extra drive won't hurt.
Q: I don't consider DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond or Omer Asik as realistic trade targets, but which center out there might be worth a shot AND available for the right price (ie not Rondo)? --- Christian
A: Great question. First we must ask, "well, what are we trading?" A first round pick? Or just Jordan Crawford? Or a package of these players? I know he's a basic answer but Marcin Gortat is still the player I'd love the Celtics to bring in (if they trade for a center). Gortat can do it all and would come at an affordable price. Ideally, I'd prefer to stick with what we have now to see how these young players develop.
Q: So at this point we know the Celtics aren't actively "tanking." But do you see Stevens developing game plans that would help inflate a player's trade value but hurt the team's overall efficiency? For example, rather than have Humphries play help defense, he would always stay home on his man so he can box out and grab more rebounds. Overall, the defense would give up more points but KH would grab more rebounds, thus inflating his trade value.
A: No, I don't. I think the Boston Celtics have a lot of talent and both Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens want this team to be in the playoffs. Kris Humphries will get 30 minutes per game because he is a quality NBA talent, not because the Celtics want to show him off. The same goes for any other player on the team.
Q: Which of the younger players- namely, Marshon Brooks, Avery Bradley, Phil Pressey, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger- do you see as a shining star in the upcoming season? -- yanksrule
A: I don't see any of them as a shining star in the Paul Pierce sense of the phrase, but I do see Avery Bradley taking a huge step forward in his career. Bradley is now completely recovered from his double-shoulder surgery and his shooting averages should jump back up. Once Rondo returns Bradley will also be able to apply defensive pressure, and potentially be named to the All-Defensive first team.
Q: Obviously the Celtics will look considerably different on court this year, but in terms of style of play how different do you think the Stevens - Celtics will look in comparison to Rivers - Celtics? ---- NickHow1982
A: First off, at a fundamental level this team will be focused on improving day-to-day and not just have their sights set on the playoffs. Philosophically this team is taking a complete 180-degree turn. As for their play on the court, honestly, it's too early to say. Brad Stevens employed a number of different types of play at Butler but I really need to see some practices or preseason games before I take a guess here. Judging from some of the comments some players made, I would guess it would be much more up-tempo. Kris Humphries talked about how he's looking forward to an up-tempo style of play, so Stevens may have spoken to him privately about that. We have also heard reports that the team is playing more up-tempo in training camp, but until the games really start, we won't know for sure.
Q: Would you agree that SullyNyk + a decent defensive center = potentially one of the best frontcourts? (Sure, there are no stars but it's hella solid, like Memphis-lite). ---- Mouserat
A: SullyNyk? I like it. Or maybe "Sulynk." "Sul-lyn-yk." Anyway, sure, I think it could potentially become one of the best frontcourts. Jared Sullinger can crash the boards at a high level and can score in a myriad of different ways offensively. I think his mid-range jump shot was underutilized last season, mostly because Garnett and Bass covered that area of the court. We know he has it and could add dynamics to his offense this year he gets to shoot more. Kelly Olynyk obviously does it all offensively and I look forward to seeing him transition to the NBA. But they both are subpar defensively and could really use a defensive center, as you mentioned. If one were matched up with them, it'd be terrific. Too bad Fab Melo didn't work out, huh?