Gabe shares his last thoughts as I prepare to finally unleash mine later tonight....
I'm going to say this once and only once unless I change my mind: Watch out for Martynas Andriuskevicius. And not in the good way. Admittedly, I've never seen the kid play, but after everything I've heard about him, I just can't shake the feeling that he's another Nikoloz Tskitishvili. They've got more in common that just unusually hard-to-spell last names. Both are outside shooting centers from Europe, something that hasn't really worked in the NBA for anyone other than Dirk Nowitzki (Pau Gasol is a low-post player, a completely different mold).
The only time I really had an extended view of Tskitishvili was last year during the Vegas summer league, and trust me when I say that Skita took apart the competition. He averaged a league-high 25.7 points, including a 32 point, 11 rebound effort against the Cavs' summer team. He looked untouchable, but he did it without using a single post up move the entire time. A center can't survive in the pros with a game like that, and Skita's been one with the pine, first for the Nuggets and now the Warriors. Andriuskevicius looks like the same thing to me and that should scare off anyone considering drafting him.
It's officially time for the Isiah Thomas Death Watch in New York. As if the whole Nazr Mohammed fiasco wasn't enough, Thomas is now a mere health assurance away from dealing Kurt Thomas for Quentin Richardson and a draft pick. So now the Knicks will have Stephon Marbury, a point guard who should play shooting guard, Jamaal Crawford, a shooting guard who should play the point, and Q, a small forward best suited for shooting guard. Not to mention that Thomas is far more useful, especially being able to play the 4 and the 5, than most shooting guard/small forwards. Who plays center now? Bruno Sundov? Malik Rose? Channing Frye?
Thomas' problem is that he doesn't realize he's rebuilding in the Big Apple. If he did, he wouldn't keep trying to add barely-above-average talent to an aged and mixed up roster. It's time to sell players to teams looking for veteran help (Thomas being an excellent example) for draft picks and expiring contracts and purposely tank, as opposed to it happening accidentally and getting so-so draft spots. Because of their ridiculous payroll (starting at over $108,000,000 next season), it's going to take some time but it will take much longer if they never get started. If Thomas has a poor draft and his team starts slowly, and all evidence suggests it will, I don't think we'll be bothered by Isiah past the All-Star break.
Sox Aside: Funniest moments of the weekend-
1) NESN cameras catching Phillies Pitcher Brett Myers yelling (close your ears, kids) "How the @#$%^&* did he do that?!" after giving up a grand slam to Manny Ramirez.
2) David Wells "running" to cover first base on an infield hit by Jim Thome in the 5th inning.
3) Wells being held up at 3rd base, shirt untucked and all, after a David Ortiz single. Not even Dale Sveum would send him home.
4) Ortiz getting an infield hit and looking like a puma after watching Wells display his various sprinting skills.
- Back to the NBA. For all you who caught my Risers/Sliders piece yesterday, the guy that probably fits the mold of a riser who the Celtics would be interested in is Roko Ukic. Like Andriuskevicius, I've never seen Ukic play, and while I think it'd be cool to have a guy named "Roko" play in Boston, his status as a fast rising, under-scouted foreigner should definitely give one pause. Is he the real thing or just another sexy unknown? You have to wonder if a guy like Jarett Jack, unspectacular as he is, might be the better choice if the C's are determined to use their first rounder on a point guard.
- I asked Danny Ainge at Friday's press conference how much weight he attaches to individual workouts before the draft. His response: "Not Much." Why? "Because workouts are so limited. It's 2 on 2 basketball. Sometimes 1 on 1 basketball. It's not a good test of a lot of the things we're talking about. I'd say it's a chapter of a book and if you don't read the whole book you can't just read the ending. You better read the first ten chapters of the book."
· Finally, some juicy info: If the Celtics can get close to equal value for Paul Pierce, they will trade him. Clearly, it's just not working anymore and no one wants to deal with Pierce's pouting, not Ainge and certainly not Doc Rivers. One has to wonder whether Antoine Walker really brought all that goodwill and leadership back to Boston, or if he just did a good job of pacifying Pierce for a few months. Pierce is to the Celtics what Nomar was to the Sox, namely a killjoy. Say what you want, but I witnessed it. It was the same thing almost every practice and every game, save a few when Walker first returned. At a time when even Ricky Davis responded to Doc's instructions, Pierce tuned him out and fought him on everything. The captain's attitude is starting to wear thin on the C's brass and they won't hesitate to move him if the right opportunity comes along.