Monday, May 22, 2006


2006 Season in Rear View - part 2 "What Went Right"

Here I am sitting in the aftermath of a grotesque Preakness Stakes with many jotted notes and half-finished articles about the Celtics 2005/06, and very little by way of actual coherence. Fittingly, much like the team itself, everything I write about them seems disjointed, unclear and uninspired. Perhaps this is the natural consequence of the process of autopsy, but it amazes me that other blog-sources are able to maintain an enthusiasm about the future of a team that seems to promise nothing but more DOA seasons like the one we just witnessed.

Anyway, I'll try to get more current later this week with the talk about Doc's future and the revisionist motherfucking of Ricky Davis, but for now, our 2005/06 wrap-up continues with the few things that went right this season.

Kendrick Perkins – Perk started the season on a precipice, with a body of work in 04/05 that ranged from impressive difference-making performances to psychotically out of control embarrassments. After a phenomenal pre-season, he was inexplicably buried on the bench in favor of Mark Blount and Brian Scalabrine, but managed to force his way into the starting lineup as the season progressed, simply by virtue of the fact that he was (and remains) the toughest Celtics big man and the only one who can consistently rebound. His shoulder separation injury robbed him of 13 games, and Doc’s stubbornness/stupidity robbed him of full time minutes in many more, but he showed this year that despite 5.2/5.9 averages, he could become a legit 12/9 type player when he fully matures. Not earth shattering, but definitely worth re-signing, and something of a steal for an under-celebrated high school-er picked at 27 in a top-heavy draft. Celtics fans everywhere are uncertain whether to celebrate or bemoan the fact that his modest production and consistent improvement have managed to overshadow the once blinding light of his fellow man-child, Al Jefferson.

Trading Mark Blount – Danny’s greatest folly as a GM was signing the softest and dumbest big-man in the league to a 6 year deal after the 2004 season, committing over 10% of our total payroll to a no-talent locker room cancer who showed all signs of shitting the bed big-time after having had an irreproducible career season. In the two years after signing his deal, Blount became a classic case of a guy who gets minutes simply because he's owed big money, and regardless of how badly he fucked up on and off the court, he was given infinite second chances to regain a prominent role on the floor. For a team that had to endure years of inept front court play from Walter McCarty and Antoine Walker in the service of Jim O’Brien style small-ball, Blount’s inability and unwillingness to pursue rebounds or play adequate man-to-man defense was too much to forgive, regardless if his strangely pristine 15 foot jump shot was falling. Blount is about as big of a fuckhead as you’ll find in the league, and though it required us to take on the overpaid/under-knee-ed Wally Szczerbiak, any deal in which he and his grotesque salary are jettisoned has to be considered a steal.

Gerald Green – After sliding from a likely top-three pick all the way down to the Celtics at 18, most observers (this one included) concluded that our pit-bull loving teenager had raised a red flag large enough to be seen from Portland to New York after a controversial work-out cancellation started a storm of murmurs prior to the draft. In hindsight, he probably had his head up his ass after all of the "next McGrady" talk, but thankfully the Celtics actually handled his situation correctly, allowing him to get torched in training camp so that he himself recognized the utility of going to the NBDL for some seasoning and professional coaching. To his credit, he came back, yes, with humility, but more importantly his enthusiasm was undiminished, and when he finally got some run towards the end of the season, his dunks, his beautiful jump shot and his joy for the game were a lot of fun to watch. It’s still difficult to determine if he’s on the road to becoming a baby McGrady or just a Desmond Mason with insane hops, but he was a good pick at where we got him (I’d still take Granger had he been available) and the Celtics ownership, ever aware of the marketing implications of a young, dunk-happy athletic freak, seem committed to seeing what he can do next year.

(NOTE – these were selected for their lack of ambiguity. For instance, Delonte West was a highlight this year, but as much as he became a fan favorite and a reliable shooter, he still raises more questions than he answers. The same goes for Paul Pierce, who had the best season of his career contrasted against the stark reality of a 33 win season)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


2006 in Rear View - Part One

The most surprising aspect of the Celtics 2005/2006 season is that it was even worse than most people were expecting. For a team that entered the season with every pre-emptive excuse imaginable already siphoned out to the media and fan-base in an effort to reduce expectation, they still managed to be a brutal disappointment. That they fell short even of the expectations of a blog called “Celtics Doom” (prediction: 35-47) is simply a useful shorthand for what has to go down as one of the worst seasons in the franchise’s history, a history which is notable more and more only for its rapidly diminishing relevance.

Ultimately, this was the season where it was confirmed that the Wyc/Ainge era is nothing more than a series of shortsighted decisions that have amounted to nearly three years of the franchise spinning its wheels. It was the season where it became abundantly clear that the failure-of-nerve and fiscal meanness of their "leadership" has landed us firmly in the horse latitudes of NBA irrelevance, and we are probably going to be stuck there for a long time. We saw that the refusal to invest real money into the team via free agency or trades, combined with over-hyped draft picks and a fetish for “good character,” has doomed this franchise to a kind of mediocrity that only a complete dismantling will ever undo.

So, in no particular order, these were the three biggest disappointments of the season, the things that should give us absolutely no hope:

1) Doc Rivers cannot coach: It cannot be understated how bad of a coach Doc Rivers is in every aspect of the profession – he fails at the x’s and o’s, he treats players with a transparent double standard based on personal bias, he refuses to adapt when his schemes prove unworkable, and he shits all over players to the media to deflect criticism from himself. Substitute Doc with a competent game coach and we might have eked into the playoffs. Leave Doc in for another season and we’ll have a complete mutiny. The second game of the season (with the egregious failure to defend the inbounds pass against the Pistons) provided an abundantly clear synopsis of why this guy is a terrible albatross - firing Doc should be priority #1 if the Celtics want to be taken seriously.

2) Paul Pierce at his best is not an impact player: This blog was at times virulently anti-Pierce in 04/05, and this year we appropriately had to eat some humble pie when he turned in the best season of his career. Unfortunately, even with Pierce playing out of his mind, the Celtics still finished as the 7th worst team in the league, and there are few left (outside of Celticsblog loyalists) who believe it possible to build a championship contender with Pierce as its centerpiece. This is no diss on Pierce, really. The far more highly regarded Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson didn’t make the playoffs either, but it does go to show the difficulty in building a team around a scoring swingman who doesn’t like to play defense and has no particular talent for making his teammates better. Pierce is a good rebounder and great at getting to the line, but he is a miserable ball handler and a playmaker of wildly vacillating acumen. The team will never improve until a rock solid PG is in place who can get the ball out of Pierce’s hands and ensure a consistent TEAM offense. Unfortunately, the team balked at the opportunity to pry the very serviceable Earl Watson from the Nuggets, most likely because they were more concerned with dumping Mark Blount’s contract and acquiring a marketable (ie: “white”) player in Wally Szczerbiak.

3) Our “Young Talent” is not all that talented: Even putting aside the ghastly backward steps taken by Tony Allen and Al Jefferson, this season brought with it the recognition that our “young core” consists primarily of a bunch of guys who will at best someday be good NBA role players. Outside of the unformed Gerald Green, none of these players look to be an all-star type talent, and with the exception of Kendrick Perkins, none seem to have any kind of great untapped potential. Delonte West proved most definitively that he is a very nice player and a cool/funny guy and NOT a starting NBA point guard. Ryan Gomes turned out to be a great story about a 4-year college player who sneaks into the NBA and remains too undersized at his natural position to provide anything resembling consistent production. Orien Greene was an early tease who fizzled into oblivion once he stopped worrying about losing minutes to Marcus Banks. And then we have the dregs – Tony Allen is still a spastic, out-of-control dimwit who can’t shoot and hogs the ball. Al Jefferson seems to be at best a 15/6 semi-star, at worst a mentally feeble man-child who will spend his career battling ankle injuries and his own lethargy.

In short, we have big fucking problems.

Next Week - More slicing and dicing of Wyc Grousbeck! Discussing The Few Things That Went Right! And………….. Hamcock of the YEAR!

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