The 2006/07 NBA season for your Boston Celtics bears a strong resemblance to a multi-car wreck on the interstate. The Lifestar helicopters have been circling overhead, prepared to airlift the injured while traffic is backed up for miles.What else could account for the 17,000-plus hardy fans that are braving the snow and sub-freezing temperatures to populate the Vault in the face of a wintry 4-21 home record and a franchise record 13 straight home losses? For a crowd that generally reserves its boos for an easy target such as Brian Scalabrine, the good folk of New England have been relatively kind to their bumbling team. Perhaps they have felt the team has been dealt a losing hand by fate and have not wanted to add to the misery as long as the boys were giving it their all every night.
On the other hand, like those motorists at the scene of an accident they may be just rubber-knecking, peeking through covered eyes to get a glimpse of the blood and gore on the parquet. â€œOoh, get ready for another crash!â€ It appears to them that David Cronenberg is directing the games.The Canadian director would be an apt choice to convey the surreal horror of this season. It would not be much of a stretch to imagine Wally Szczerbiak stepping into the transporter used in â€œThe Flyâ€ instead of Jeff Goldblum and emerging with the same familiar body except for two ankles that were decidedly not human. Or couldnâ€™t one envisage Paul Pierce taking Jeremy Ironsâ€™ part in â€œDead Ringers,â€ saddled with a twin body that kept breaking down where he least expected it. Maybe Doc Rivers plays the James Woods role in â€œVideodrome.â€ No matter how much tape he watches, it just keeps spinning out of control more and more. Thereâ€™s no doubt this must be the Season of the Witch in Boston.
The purpose of any sportswriter or blogger in situations such as these is to pick over the bones like a vulture and dissect the cadaver. You can be sure that is exactly what Danny Ainge is doing as he puzzles over which players to keep around and which ones he should put on the block. Weâ€™re going to offer him some help in this regard. Weâ€™ve seen enough â€" more than enough really â€" to have some cold-hearted opinions.
SO LONG ITâ€™S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YA
Brian Scalabrine â€" A redheaded version of Jungle Jim Luscutoff without the muscles, he was not made for the modern NBA. I wonder if the Nets would consider taking him back.
Sebastian Telfair â€" Hopefully thereâ€™s still a market for a point guard with potential less than three years removed from high school. They should be showcasing him big time over the next few games.
Allan Ray â€" Youâ€™d like to think he took some foreign language courses in school because the only place this guy should be in uniform on a play-for-pay basis is overseas.
Wally Szczerbiak â€" He canâ€™t stay healthy long enough to be showcased. His future is coming off the bench where he has a decent chance of scoring more than he gives up with his pathetic defense. Thereâ€™s gotta be some team that could use a shooter: Utah, Houston, Nets, Knicks, Magic.
Theo Ratliff â€" Could be the MVP of the team without playing. Has an expiring contract that is going to be paid by some unlucky insurance company. Any team looking to get under the cap will be knocking at the door.
ML Carr â€" Supposedly he took a bullet for the franchise back in 96/97. He brought bad karma to Secaucus and the bad vibes hang around this team to this day whenever he walks in the building. You get the same feeling when you mention Pete Rose and the Cincinnati Reds. Heâ€™s made a list of all his misdeeds. My Name Is ML.
Lucky the Leprechaun â€" The promo spots are dumb. How this guy has lasted through Len Bias, Reggie Lewis, the 96/97 tankers, Rick Pitino, etc is hard to fathom. Give him a ham sandwich and send him down the road.
Tommy Heinsohn â€" This is what happens to a person after years of Kool-Aid abuse. Whatever shred of objectivity he might have once had is now buried so deeply it will take years of rehab to bring it back. It is possible to be a color commentator without being a total homer (Walt Frazier, Sean Elliott). I wish Bob Cousy would accept the job for more than a handful of games each year, but he was looking for a flight back to Florida before the last game he worked had even ended. Canâ€™t blame him there.
THIS IS WHY THE NBA HAS 15-MAN ROSTERS
Michael Olowokandi â€" The erstwhile former number one overall pick might have actually cared back in training camp when he didnâ€™t have a team. How do you think he feels now? It is curious how Doc Rivers has rarely seen fit to play him despite the inconsistencies he sees in his big men.
Leon Powe â€" If he had any outside game at all, you might see him taking some of Scalâ€™s minutes. For the love of God, Leon, develop a 15-footer at least and help us get Veal off the floor.
Bill Simmons â€" I keep expecting ESPNâ€™s Page Two guy to announce heâ€™ll be suiting up for the Celts one day soon. The Boston Celtics â€¦ Fantanking!
WHO KNOWS WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS
Delonte West â€" Doc Rivers loves him, which should be enough to give pause. Some of us have been insisting since the day he was drafted that he is not a point guard; instead more of a back-up swing guard. If he stays, his role is to become a Bobby Jackson type energy guy off the bench.
Ryan Gomes â€" Another tweener with heart. His game is expanding but that still doesnâ€™t make him capable of defending small forwards, which means the Câ€™s have a weak defensive team if he and Pierce are the starting wings. Does the team go small like the Suns with him at power forward or do they bring him off the bench? Or do they package him with West for a quality veteran?
Kendrick Perkins â€" The hulking center has a troublesome foot that hurts him when he runs, and when he puts it in his mouth (KG is overrated!). He might be seen as a career, six-fouls-to-give reserve or possibly he develops into an Erick Dampier like starter whose calling card is defending the post. I might see what I could get for Perk, West and Gomes.
Paul Pierce â€" From ownership on down, the word is weâ€™re going to continue building around Paul. That might be okay if he was as good as Wade, Kobe, Lebron, or McGrady. The Truth is close but no cigar. I still might see what Jim Paxson would offer for him at the deadline if it becomes clear the Bulls will not acquire either Garnett or Gasol. Would a package of Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and PJ Brown for salary balancing cause Ainge to reconsider his blueprint?
Rajon Rondo â€" Iâ€™m not sure that I love him as much as Tommy does, but in spurts he looks like the point guard for the future. Tony Parker took a few years to develop a reliable jumper, so Iâ€™m not worried about that part of his game. I also think passing on Marcus Williams was a huge mistake, though, but you canâ€™t unring that bell.
Tony Allen â€" The best teams have someone in the starting lineup who can defend the top wing players, and the Celtics best (and only) option for that task is Allen. We can only hope he is the same player after the second major knee surgery of his career. We must also hope Allenâ€™s idea of lockdown is not at the Illinois State Penitentiary.
Al Jefferson â€" It would have been interesting to see how quickly he might have developed playing with someone like Steve Nash. Big Al has not had any easy start to his NBA career with injuries and a dysfunctional team hindering his progress. I think he can be every bit as good as Jermaine Oâ€™Neal, and thatâ€™s good enough to keep him in my book.
Gerald Green â€" His increased minutes have probably hurt him in the eyes of some fans who saw him as the second coming of Kobe or McGrady. GG needs to work on his handle. He should be so much more than just a spot-up or come-off-picks shooter. As one who remembers McGrady struggling off and on in Toronto his first few years in the league, Iâ€™d say we need patience with Gerald. I fear we would regret trading him as much if not more than Joe Johnson.
YOU SAY GOODBYE, I SAY HELLO
Doc Rivers (and coaching staff) â€" Thereâ€™s a lot of manpower, if not brainpower, on or behind the bench. The fact that the team has not gotten the job done in terms of the W/L record should not be the only gauge of the merits of Doc and his gang, but itâ€™s a good place to start. I have no idea what Docâ€™s birth sign is, but if it wasnâ€™t for bad luck heâ€™d have no luck at all. Is the teamâ€™s less than scintillating performance reason enough to whack him? My guess is management decides to stick with him into his Lame Duck year to see if he can turn the teamâ€™s fortunes around with a healthy roster and stud draft pick at his disposal.
Danny Ainge â€" You may not like some of his moves, e.g. Scalabrine and Dickau free agent signings. And his draft day deal for Sebastian Telfair is looking pretty bad right about now, although Iâ€™ll wait to see what benefit is reaped from Ratliffâ€™s expiring contract. Should he get lucky and nail a top draft pick, we just might see a clearer Vision sooner than later. Overall I think heâ€™s done as well as could be expected under the circumstances. Trust me on this: If the Celtics turn it around next year and have a solid playoff team (it could happen), no one will care about Roy, Foye or Ricky Davis.
Wyc Grousbeck & Company â€" One thing Steve Pagliucca and the other owners have going for them at this point is that Wyc is the face of management and, thus, takes the heat. Yes, there have been a couple of mis-steps: Following Redâ€™s eulogy with the unveiling of the dancers, allowing his wife and her girlfriends to have a blondes-night-out in the locker room with the players after a game. But Wycâ€™s been a pretty good steward for the franchise, especially in comparison to some of those who came before him. At least heâ€™s not an egomaniacal nut job like James Dolan or Dan Gilbert. Heâ€™s not a tightwad like The Donald (West Coast version) or a shyster even his fellow owners detest like George Shinn.