Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stop The Speculation, I Want To Get Off! Rumors Distract From Dramatic Celtics Turnaround-In-The-Making

Farewell Kris Joseph...we hardly knew ye and goodbye Jarvis Varnado...we really didn't know you at all.

As many outlets and blogs reported a few days ago, the Boston Celtics cut Joseph and Varnado from the roster.

Though Varnado's departure was something less than a shocker, the release of Joseph was more surprising, what with his rampage all over the D-League averaging 17.7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assists and 1 steal. He had more than one fan here in Boston and it appeared that management was interested in developing him for the future (at least it seemed that way with all the call-backs from Maine). Oddly enough, it's (Cookie) Jarvis (See? I even had a nickname for the guy if he stuck around!) who is drawing interest from his old team, the Miami Heat.
Now, depending on which site you read, the waivers were either a series of somewhat pedestrian moves designed to cut salary before January 7th when all contracts became guaranteed, and also open up roster spots for a possible free agent or two just loosed from their respectively-frugal team; or, the cuts came as an ominous harbinger to some mega-blockbuster trade that's in the works that would send Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and/or Jared Sullinger with some picks to Sacramento for ultra-talented basket case DeMarcus Cousins. Or maybe Anderson Varejao. Or was that Marcin Gortat? Maybe it was Pau Gasol? No, I'm pretty sure it was for Ralph Sampson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Oulijawon, George Mikan (RIP) or some other amazing deal that would mark us as instant contenders.

As they had, even during the height of all the hysterical Tweetage, Facebookery, Instagrambling and G-Chatter, one report after another continued to surface in which Sacramento officials flatly rejected the notion that they are looking to part with the troubled and troublesome but extremely talented forward/center. This might have something to do with the fact that, upon the second night of his return from a multi-game team-imposed suspension, he dropped a triple double on the Celtics and followed that with games in which he scored 21 points with 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists; 18 points with 16 boards,  6 assists, 2 steals and 1 block; 31 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals; and 28 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block.  Not coincidentally, the Kings reeled off a string of 3 wins/2 losses over that span, which is exciting for a team in a season in which success had been in short supply thus far. The kid is averaging 17 points 10 rebounds 2 assists and a block for the season. I believe the Kings when they say "he ain't goin' nowhere."

And, even if Danny Ainge were somehow able to miraculously pry him from the Kings' cold, sweaty hands (after all, the man IS a headcase. Having argued with just about every coach he's had since kindergarten and after his groin-punching incident with O.J. Mayo, next time, he's libel to bite someone's ear off or dunk a baby, or bite a baby and dunk an ear...) would he be worth the risk to our newfound chemistry, even if he IS a rare talent?

Seriously, though...you do have to believe that Danny Ainge is always looking for ways to improve and gain more young talent to build for a future that will include only one-third of the Big Three, especially after the start to the season that the Celtics had before seemingly righting the ship with convincing wins against Indiana, Atlanta and New York.

The problem with the Cousins scenario (and most of the others) is that part of the reason for the Celtics rediscovery of their defensive mojo is the return of defensive wunderkind Bradley, who has seemingly reignited the spark within his teammates.

The question that has to be pondered is this: "Are we trying to win it all (the alleged premise of re-signing Kevin Garnett and not trading Paul Pierce when teams like the Clippers came calling), or are we rebuilding for the future?"

You can make a convincing enough case that it's possible to retool and be somewhat competitive while acknowledging that there will probably not be another Finals run anytime soon, but A) that's not what Co-Owner Wyc Grousbeck, Danny and Doc Rivers sold the public (though it wouldn't be the first time we've been had) and B) if you take them at their word, it's not what Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce signed on for, either.

With all of that said, it is more than likely that the moves and signings that were made this Summer were done so with the belief that this team had what it would take to make a serious title run now. Does the addition of Cousins, and all of his growing baggage guarantee or even greatly increase the chances of making and possibly winning the Finals? Not so much. And, just as important, does the subtraction of Bradley, Bass and/or even  Sullinger in any way diminish those same hopes? Possibly...but, especially if the team's currently improved play during the recent streak of wins against quality teams is as connected to R.O.B. (the Return Of Bradley, of course!) as it appears.

My suspicions about all of the wild and rampant speculation is that it is just that: wild and rampant speculation. I believe that the GMs of both teams are actually telling the truth this time (shocking, I know.) and Danny is really trying to squeeze at least one more championship out of the core, and Kings President Geoff Petrie is not looking to part with Cousins because you just don't give up on all that upside.

To date, the best written piece about what the cuts probably most-likely possibly mean in reality comes from ESPN's Chris Forsberg who essentially describes the moves as clearing roster spots and saving cash for potential free agents.
Unless, of course, the Celtics can land Rudy Gay (rumored to be on the block) or some other stud for the cost of Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, three draft picks, 2 free pivot lessons with Bill Russell, a crate of 1986 Celtics Mystique and whatever other ludicrous combination of giveaways you can imagine.

Some of the names that might circle back into free-agent signing discussions are not necessarily of the game-changing variety, but some of them might be at least as serviceable as Darko Milicic was in his short stint with The Green.

We have, in no particular order:

Kenyon Martin (though rumors have him possibly joining the New York Knicks. Yay.).

Ben Wallace, that is if he hasn't already checked himself into a nice retirement community in Florida by now.

Chris "Birdman" Anderson. I know what you're thinking. For me, it's all about whether the charges of his involvement with child porn had any basis in reality, more than anything remotely related to our need for a big. Who cares about talent after that. He, too, has been worked out by the Miami Heat to see if he's worth adding to the likes of LeBrontasourus Wrecks, Chris Botch and D-Report. Figures.

Eric Dampier. If it comes to this, they should just save the money and bring Fab Melo back and take their chances. 

In fact, before they bring any of these guys in, they should think seriously about using Melo in very short stints to give him NBA experience. I don't think they're going to damage his fragile psyche for future development as per the excuse that the team has used to keep him under wraps. Besides...they might want to keep a closer eye on their future big to make sure he doesn't get into any more fights with hotel doorways, ice machines or elevators. THOSE could pose a threat to future development!
Boston Celtics vs. Phoenix Suns
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
7:30 p.m.
@ The Garden
Can the C's keep it going against what looms as a classic letdown game (the Suns are 12-24 and just lost to Milwaukee -- the Celtics have just beaten three of the upper echelon teams in the League...) and maintain their forward motion since the R.O.B.? Tune in to find out!

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