Checking it twice - answering the holiday mailbag

Jared Wickerham

Answering my favorite questions from the mailbag.

JC -- What would you say, in your opinion, is an accurate description of Jared Sullinger's ceiling as a player? Is he really the potential Kevin Love of the East, or just a good starter on a decent team?

As a general rule I dislike player comparisons because they aren't really fair to anyone involved. I admit that Sullinger does seem to have a game that is similar to Kevin Love but even if he approached 80% of Love's productivity then I think everyone would be thrilled with that. I'm just hoping for him to be the best Jared Sullinger he can be.

SirGreen18 -- What in Saint Nick's name happened to Vitor Faverani? El Hombre Indestrucible! He was one of our biggest surprises when the season started, and we thought we had our missing true center. Now, he has pulled off a vanishing act that makes Houdini jealous. What is is role now, and what should we do with him?

Everything around Vitor is about expectations. When most fans had zero expectations (fair or unfair. he was seen as Fab Melo 2.0). He exceeded those expectations by knowing how to play basketball. So I think we all got a little over-excited about that. It seems that he struggled with some of the things that Stevens was trying to do and so he lost time to Sullinger, Humphries, Bass, etc. I think he's got the potential to be a solid backup center for years to come. It just might take some time to get there.

Dingo -- Should the Celtics try and sign free agent Paul Pierce for next season and if so what type of contract should they offer?

I hope and pray that this is the plan. It all depends on how close to retirement Paul Pierce thinks he is. If he's really close to being done and wants to take a victory lap of sorts, then I could see him signing for the veteran minimum. I'm not sure if the Celtics would be willing (or able - depending on their cap situation this summer) to give him much more than that.

At a bare minimum he could be signed to a non-guaranteed 1 day deal that would simply allow him to technically retire a Celtic.

Nowak_PL -- What if... back in the 2011 David West had not signed with Pacers but Celtics?

There have been so many what if's since 2008. What if KG didn't get hurt? What if Perkins wasn't traded? What if Rondo wasn't hurt? But missing out on David West - in particular when there were reports that the deal with the Celtics was almost done - ranks up there. He brings so much to the table that we lacked and might have been just what we needed to give us that little extra edge we needed to get past Miami. But it is best not to dwell on these things too much. We got banner 17 based on a lot of things that fell exactly right. Lots of teams and fans don't get anything close to that.

Izzy -- What is Rondo's trade value right now? Could a team get a top 10 pick for him? Top 5?

I'm not exactly sure what his trade value is. I know that his value to the Celtics far exceeds what another team would be willing to give up unless they are a desperate team. I agree with Ainge that I'd insist on another start player in return for him. If you have to measure it in draft picks then I'd wait till draft night.

I'm not a scout, so I don't really know the upside of the top 5 picks. Perhaps they would be worth a Rajon Rondo depending on who was available at the pick in question. I doubt very highly that a pick after 5 would be worth him though.

Rondo is a star point guard right now and he's got several prime years ahead of him. As great as the draft class is, each one only has a percentage chance of reaching the level that Rondo already has. Or said another way, a Rondo in the hand is worth two in the draft.

anon -- Is there no trade market for Humphries? Letting his contract expire (and not getting significantly under the cap) seems a completely pointless thing to do. In my mind he is a must-trade piece unless we some how dump Wallace, Bass, Lee, and maybe Green. Particularly Wallace, that seems extremely unlikely.

Expiring contracts have value on the trade market because they allow teams over the cap to free up cap space (or get you closer to doing so). The Celtics happen to be right up against the tax this year and are projected to be right near the cap with Humphries number coming off the books. If you can find a trade for him that adds value to your team long term, by all means. But you don't make a trade just to add other spare parts and eat up your future cap room. His value to us might just be the fact that he'll come off the books this summer. I don't see that as a bad thing.

Joseph Ortiz -- What happens to Jordan Crawford once Rondo comes back? Does he become our 6th man, or will he replace Avery Bradley as the 2 guard? How do you think Crawford will react if he is benched?

I like Crawford coming off the bench as the first combo guard. He can play with Rondo or take over the PG duties when Rajon needs a rest. I like the Rondo/Bradley lineup and Crawford gives us a scoring option off the bench. As long as he buys into that role and finds a comfort zone doing it, I prefer that for him. Lee and Pressey might be the ones that see their time cut dramatically. I don't think any of them would like to spend any additional time on the bench but they have to know the math. We've got too many guards who should be playing and unless Danny finally makes a deal, someone's going to be sitting.

mcpu40 -- of all the current celtics, who would make the best santa?

Well, Courtney Lee did give all his teammates an XBox One, but I'm going to go with Jared Sullinger. He's got the ...um, physique to fill out the costume, a genial attitude, and he's got soft hands (for catching rebounds or kids). Dress him up and I think the kids would get a kick out of him.

paulpierceistheman -- Do you think Rondo will come back a good jump shooter, and even, dare I say it, a good 3 point shooter? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Celtics fans!

Dare to dream, my friend, dare to dream. I'll put it this way: Being forced to shoot hours and hours of jumpshots because it was the only thing he was cleared to do until recently can't be a BAD thing for his jumper. He was making progress last year in the mid-range shot, and with any luck he'll come back shooting at least that well, if not better.

I get that this is always pointed to as his big flaw, but if teams want to focus on that and ignore all the things that he does so well, then by all means, underestimate him. Be my guest.

vgarcia890 -- Where do our 2014 draft picks project at currently? What is our full set of draft picks in the next few years after all of these trades?

Let's see, as I type this (Thursday night) the Celtics are the 8th seed in the East whch makes them the last non-lottery team in the draft. If the season ended now, that would put them at pick number 15 (with no shot at the lottery).

The other pick we own this year (via the Nets trade) would be the Atlanta pick, which would currently be number 20 (if I did my math right).

That's two solid picks in a year when it is good to have any picks - never mind multiple ones. It would be nice (purely from a draft standpoint) if we had a shot at a top 10 player but I'm not sure that's going to happen with Rondo coming back. We'll see how things play out though.

After this year we've got...

  • the Clippers pick in 2015
  • the Nets pick in 2016
  • the right to swap picks with Brooklyn in 2017 (if we do, then we give them a 2nd rounder)
  • the Nets pick in 2018

That's quite the haul. It also hamstrings the Nets from getting much better in the future, so it could be the gift that keeps on giving.

deftouch -- which player in the league are the C's targeting to rebuild around?

Rajon Rondo

oldutican -- Do you agree that making Jeff Green part of any trade for Asik would insure the Celtics fall into the lottery?

Probably.

Blue Steel -- Rondo, Bradley, Green, Sullinger, Asik = contender?

For the playoffs? Sure. Beyond that, not this year.

Master Po -- At what point did you notice Rudolph had a built night light? In some pictures I see you with a whip in your hand riding in the sleigh....do you whip your reindeer? Should I call PETA?

Did Nate Robinson ever work up at your workshop?

Finally, In 1970 when I asked for an ABA leather basketball and white High Top Converse why did I get a rubber ABA basketball and some Sears High Tops...I wasn't happy with you then. I mean seriously....The rubber ball I sort of understood... butt Sears high-tops? I began to have serious doubts about you after that - and still do!

By the way - I have one word for you on little Danny Ainge - COAL

Ummm, ok, I'll pass that along to Santa.

Thanks everyone! If your question wasn't featured, ...well, try harder next time.

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