He's become a punchline. A joke. A sad joke that isn't worth laughing at. But what do we do about it? What can we do?
First of all, perhaps we need a little perspective. It is fine to dismiss Mark Blount as utterly useless when talking about him on a message board, but in real life, he does register a pulse. He's a veteran, even if he doesn't always act like one. He's got playoff experience, even though that didn't do him any good on the bench of the last few games against the Pacers. He's a legit seven footer, even though he spends the bulk of his time at the elbows and doesn't rebound.
I'm going to play bleeding-heart devils-advocate here for a minute. Suppose he's got a legitimate set of excuses to explain away his horrible dropoff in production. He did lose the coach that believed in him and moved him from 12th man to starter on a playoff team. He's had to adapt to a new system that even Paul Pierce struggled with.
Think about the time when he was most successful (if you can remember back that far). He was buoyed a great deal by the Chucky Atkins trade. For once in his life, he had a solid pick-n-roll point guard that would pull the defender away from the basket and deliver the ball to Mark as he cut to the lane. It was a pure, isolation, two man game that was simple and easy to understand. He even had Brandon Hunter throwing bodies around and boxing out so all he had to do was open up his hands and grab a ball out the air. He even worked well in the defensive rotations that Dick Harter had been teaching him the last several years running.
Now think about last year. New coach. New offensive system based on movement. New point guard that would rather post up than pick and roll. Often playing next to Raef who plays on the perimeter a lot. Best friend traded away (at his request) mid season. Fans breathing down his neck for his back to back to back 2 rebound performances. I guess I can see why the guy would sulk.
That's all well and good, but at the money he's making, there really are no excuses good enough. You earn your money or you'll hear it from the fans.
One thing that seems clear about Mark is that he's a proud man. I don't think he ever really gave up all hope and completely quit. I think he was just plain lost in a new system that didn't fit his strengths. On the other hand, I think he was extremely frustrated and didn't really know how to express that. I think he started blaming his troubles on the people around him and making excuses as I've laid out above. I think after a while, he might have even started wondering "why even bother?" and let up a little.
Oh man, if there is one sin that Celtics fans cannot forgive, it is lack of hustle. Give me a completely unskilled player with lots of heart over a skilled player with no heart any day. Mark was always marginally skilled, but we were ok with that when he was making small money and anything he gave us was a bonus. Now that he makes starter money, it kills us to see him sluffing down the court, grim look on his face, waving his arms at an opponent driving right by him. Basically he looks like he's dogging it.
But what do we do about it? Is he enough of a clubhouse cancer and payroll drain that we get rid of him at all costs? Is it worth throwing in Banks and giving up hope on a young point guard with a world of talent (if not smarts ...yet)? It seems like the C's are at that point. Will another team bite? Will we get anything of worth in return? Cap space at least? A backup point guard? Is it worth swapping him for another bad salary just to get his attitude out the door?
Or do we gamble on keeping him around? Gabe has told us that the C's aren't as sour on him as we all are. He's performed before. He's had that 15 footer all along (even this last year). On occasion he even will play defense. Is he salvagable?
Aside from some roster tweaking and a backup point guard signing, this seems to be the last question of the summer. We'll see how Danny plays it.