Tag:Jeff Green
Posted on: May 1, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 7:38 pm
 

History says not to panic about the Celtics yet

Posted by Royce Young



Saturday, May 1, 2010. The Boston Celtics drop Game 1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-96 after a dominant second half in which the Cavs outscored Boston 58-39.

I remember all the reaction after it. LeBron has done it. The Cavs are different. These Celtics are vulnerable. The guard is changing. I remember all the chatter, all the reaction, after Game 1. And what happened next? The Celtics went on to finish LeBron, and the Cavs as we know them, off in six games.

Now. I'm not at all inclined to say the same fate is awaiting LeBron and his new team after their 99-90 win over the Celtics in Game 1 Sunday. And yes, I'm the same dude that just got through writing about how Game 1 could decide this series in the end. (Tone, statement, momentum and all that Jazz was my thinking there.) And I'm not saying it won't.

But let's pump the brakes on thinking at all that the Celtics are overmatched here. Maybe before we all say, "Looks like the Heat are the superior team after all," we let Game 2 happen. This was played on Miami's home floor, remember. And they still have to replicate this three more times to get past Boston.

LeBron's Cavs weren't able to do that. The Celtics are masters of adjustment, and will have a little something different Tuesday. The goal for any road team in the first two games is to win one and claim homecourt advantage. And that opportunity is still there for the Celtics.

A big reason LeBron made the switch to join Dwyane Wade is precisely what happened Sunday against the Celtics. He had a great deal of help, and the Heat were able to put it to the Celtics on both ends. Rajon Rondo didn't control the game and save for some spectacular-but-normal-for-him shooting from Ray Allen, Boston stayed close. Other than that, the Boston offense stalled. The Celtics didn't get to the free throw line (just 18 attempts), shot just 42.7 percent and only had three players in double-figures. Rondo's line -- eight points and seven assists -- really says it all.

It also says to me that the Celtics didn't play their best game. It does feel like there has been a shift in this matchup from the control Boston had in the first three meetings. It does feel like the Heat have found some confidence and swagger against the Celtics. But it also doesn't feel like this series is even close to over. You know that, and I'm insulting your intelligence by telling you, but I feel like I need to say it.

I picked the Heat to win in seven games, and my mind hasn't really changed much from that. The Heat held serve on their end because of 38 from Wade, 22 from LeBron and 25 from... James Jones? See, just that part alone should make Celtics fans feel a bit better. That's not happening again.

Again, I said myself how important this game was. Much more so for the Heat. Lose Game 1 and whoa boy, are they hearing about it. Lose Game 1 and now the Celtics are playing with house money. Lose Game 1, and it's very likely the Heat are in a hole that, mentally, they can't get out of.

They didn't though. They took care of business. But I think the Heat would admit, the Celtics can, and will, play better. It's a four-point game and the Heat scored the first point. I can promise you, Doc Rivers isn't panicking. Neither is Paul Pierce, Allen or Kevin Garnett.

But Game 2 is where the Heat are going to have to make their money. LeBron's Cavs conceded in that situation last year, and it ended up costing them. Boston took its talents to South Beach with a hope to win two, but with a goal to take just one. That opportunity is still there. And it comes down to Tuesday night. After that, maybe we'll be able to draw a real conclusion or two.
Posted on: April 30, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Playoff Fix: No room to breathe with Heat-Celtics

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: Does anyone else get the sense that Game 1 is really, really important in this series? Either way, a tone is getting set. Either the Heat make a statement that things have changed and they're ready for the Celtics or Boston makes one saying it's more of the status quo.

Heck, package it in even tighter than that. The first six minutes of this game could say a whole lot about it. There's going to be a real mental aspect to this series and every little play is going to feel extremely large. I still haven't wrapped my head around this just being the Eastern Conference Semifinals yet.

The X-Factor: It's Rajon Rondo. There's absolutely no doubt about it. Miami has no one to guard him and with him getting his feel and command back against the Knicks, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra likely haven't slept the last 72 hours. The good Rondo changes every little thing about this series. If he's keyed in, breaking down the Miami defense and distributing, it's hard to see how the Heat can guard Boston for 48 minutes.

The Adjustment: Would Spoelstra dare get creative with his matchups? Mario Chalmers was good in Game 5 for the Heat, but could we see a lot of Dwyane Wade on Rondo? Of course now you've got to account for Ray Allen, but I get the feeling Mike Bibby and Chalmers have a better chance chasing Allen off screens than they do slowing Rondo off the dribble.

The Sticking Point: The season series tilted 3-1 in Boston's favor with the one Miami win coming when Rondo was in his post-Perk funk and the Celtics slipping a bit as a team. Hard to really take too much from that. Except maybe that the Heat built some confidence. I mean, remember at All-Star Weekend when James Jones beat Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the 3-point contest and said, "We finally beat you guys in something. " To that point, the Celtics were in their heads. Maybe just that simple regular season win has removed some of that doubt.

The Celtics conceded home court in this series with a poor finish. Not that Miami has a great advantage there (Fan Up, amirite?) but still, it's called "advantage" for a reason. Starting at home fresh off that win could be a big thing for the Heat. And with this first game, the first six minutes, heck the first possession being big, that could be the edge the Heat need to get started right.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 3:30 pm
 

Celtics-Heat: The X's and O's

How do the Heat and Celtics match up on both sides of the ball?
Posted by Matt Moore




It was inevitable, really. From the moment the Triad formed last summer, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have been eyeing one another. The dominant team in the East doesn't like any team acting like they're in the same league with the defending champs, much less a team that hadn't played a single game together saying they're going to win multiple NBA championships. A 3-1 advantage in the regular series gives Boston the mental edge, but the Heat took the lone meeting after the Celtics traded Perkins and destabilized their chemistry. 

Playoffs are hugely influenced by matchups. Here's a look at how various matchups land in favor of the Heat or the Celtics. 

PG: The Celtics of course have a natural, traditional point guard in Rajon Rondo, a pure point, while the Heat largely use Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers the same way the Lakers use Derek Fisher. James and Wade spend a majority of the time at point. 
When the Celtics have the ball: We don't have to talk much about this, right? I mean, Rajon Rondo is Rondo and Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers are not. Defensively, the Heat won't match up either of their point guards on Rondo. Either Wade or James will try to check him. It's a testament to Rondo's ability that neither is able to effectively handle him. Even against two of the faster players in the league, and two of the better defenders, Rondo simply outmaneuvers either one. James isn't fast enough and Wade struggles with Rondo's agility. Off the pick and roll, a hard trap isn't effective, thanks to how quickly Rondo can move the ball Garnett for the pick and pop or to the roll man. There's not a great solution outside of bringing help and hoping the perimeter shooters miss. You know, Ray Allen not being considerably reliable in terms of outside shooting, all-time 3-point shooting record holder that he is. 

When the Heat have the ball: On offense, when the Heat go to Wade or James running point, Rondo will attack whoever crosses the timeline with the ball in most instances. Rondo can get backed down by James in the post, but that's something LeBron seldom does. Likewise, Wade can cross him over, but then you're looking at a pull-up jumper which you live with. It's not that Rondo's a better player than James or Wade, those guys will get theirs (unless Wade's nightmares against Boston continue) but Rondo's physical versatility allows him to guard the other well enough to guide them into the teeth of the Celtics' help defense. 

Wings: Going traditional "SG and SF" designations are largely useless here. It's true that Wade is listed at guard and James at forward, but in reality, both operate on the perimeter and handle the ball, while not operating in traditional roles. James is too on-ball to be considered a true small forward, and Wade's versatility causes the same problems. So instead we'll look at it from the perspective of wings.

When the Celtics have the ball: The hardest part about guarding the Celtics is their consistency in running their offense. They'e not going to blow you away with new sets. But they run what they run to such precision that it's near impossible to stop them. The biggest problem is chasing Ray Allen through screens. Allen will usally cut baseline to baseline through closing screens. The result is Allen getting open for 3-pointers while the defender is still trying to recover from brutal off-ball screens by Glen Davis and KG, and the announcers saying "How can you leave Ray Allen wide open?!" as if the thought of defending the greatest pure shooter (limited to non-ball-handlers who just shoot 3-pointers, please leave your MJ/Kobe debates at home, kids) never crossed their mind. Wade will be assigned to try and get through, but his body isn't built for the wear and tear. Mario Chalmers might be a better cover here, as Bibby isn't tall enough to defend in the first place and would get murdered on the screens. Chalmers needs to study tape of what J.J. Redick has done to get through those screens and he can't afford to lose Allen, even on broken plays or rebounds. If you take your eyes off Allen for a second, that's three points. 

Pierce is considerably easier to guard from a strategic standpoing; he's coming right at you. The problem with Pierce is he just knows his moves so well. James has historically done a pretty good job on Pierce. But when James goes out, there's absolutely no one to guard Pierce. James Jones can't hang with him on the drive or the step back. Mike Miller may do a decent job, but again, that elbow jumper's tough and when he throws in the pump-fake, that's going to be trouble. Pierce is also very adept at finding the trailer 3-pointer, and when the defense collapses off Rondo, Pierce is open.  It's the basic Celtics problem. Pierce is a great offensive player on his own. When he's used off-ball, it becomes even harder to stop him. James and he nearly cancel each other out at both ends. 

When the Heat have the ball: When the ball rotates to whichever one is working off-ball, Allen will take Wade, with the requisite help coming weak-side.  Pierce will take James. Help will be quick on the drive in both instances, and since neither has figured out how to move off-ball outside of transition, the defense will focus on the ball-handler. The roll man's defender on the pick and roll will show hard, with the other low-post defender rolling to cut off the lane. If the ball-handler cuts back, a third defender will be there. Essentially, the Celtics are well prepared for whatever attack the Heat have shown. There will be times when the Heat get open looks off of their athletic ability to get past the defense for the drive and kick, usually a jump-pass. When those occur, the Heat have to knock them down. You can't waste open shots against the Celtics. 

Down Low:

When the Celtics have the ball: Kevin Garnett normally isn't a threat in the post. He doesn't have the muscle left to deal with the contact against most power forwards. Except Chris Bosh. He can pretty much do whatever he wants there. Bosh has to hold on his own, because the Heat can't afford to double in the post with the other weapons on the floor for Boston. The best option might be to give Joel Anthony a run on Garnett and risk the inevitable fouls. Anthony will struggle with Garnett at the elbow, but you've got to live with it somewhere. 

When the Heat have the ball: Bosh has played pretty aggressively in the playoffs and through the last month of the season. But against Garnett, it's just not a good matchup for him. Glen Davis is a better matchup for him, where Bosh's length will allow him to go to the mid-range. Off the pick and pop, Bosh has to have a quick trigger and good aim. Bosh has to completely change this dynamic for the Heat to win. 

Centers: The Heat have aging centers with diminished skills and a poorly coordinated young player with questionable decision making on offense. The Celtics have aging centers with diminished skills and a poorly coordinated young player with questionable decision making on offense. It's a wash. 

These matchups look like they favor Boston for a reason. But that's dependent on the Triad not being able to counter Boston's defense. If LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are able to put in performances worthy of their reputations, the Heat can overwhelm Boston, especially without Perkins. From a strategic standpoint, the Heat are clearly the underdogs, but their whole approach has been to overcome with talent. They'll need to do the same to get to the Conference Finals. 
Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 4:20 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Boston Celtics

Posted by Royce Young



If I were writing this piece a month and half ago, things might be a bit more optimistic. If I were writing this piece a month and a half ago, I think I'd likely be skipping all talk about the first and second rounds and going straight to possible Eastern and even NBA Finals opponents.

But a lot happened over the past 45 days or so. A lot happened that drastically changed the outlook of the 2010-11 season for the Boston Celtics.

You know the story. Danny Ainge decided to trade ubuntu cornerstone and family member Kendrick Perkins away for Jeff Green and a balding 27-year-old. The team was now relying on Shaquille O'Neal's 39-year-old body to heal up and be ready for the grind of the playoffs. The team was banking on Green -- a notoriously inconsistent player -- to consistently provide a scoring punch off the bench and stabilize things on the wing. The team was trying to keep an eye toward the future while still focusing on the now.

Except the now might've been badly damaged.

Since the Perkins trade, the Celtics are 13-9. They're giving up more points per possession, scoring less and losing to teams they almost always handle. Now my personality is anti-panic, so I'm definitely not doing anything of the sort for Boston. But let's face the music here: The team is much different without Perkins. Differently in personality, different in personnel, different in ability. Boston is really missing not just that one-on-one post defender they had in Perk, but what his attitude and intensity brought as well. 

Road To The Finals
I really agree with Bill Simmons, who knows that team better than anyone. They really believed in their group. They believed in the fact nobody had ever beat them when they were at full strength. They walked with a serious swagger, they believed in each other. I'm not exactly sure what message was sent to the team when Ainge traded Perkins, but I don't think it was a positive one. You can spin that deal any way you want -- it was for the future, the Celtics needed a wing, it helps the bench -- the players didn't respond well to it. And the actual team is the most important factor in all of this.

As it stands going into tonight's matchup with the Bulls, Boston sits second in the East, tied with the Heat and three back of the Bulls. Gone is the possibility of the top seed and it'll be a tussle to place second too. The Celtics are headed for an opening round series with either Philadelphia or New York. Fifty days ago, Boston looks superior in every way against both those teams. Now, things look a bit more iffy.

But here's where we pump the brakes.

The Celtics are, in fact, still 54-23. (Know what they were last year when they stormed to The Finals? 50-32 and fourth in the East.) They Celtics are, in fact, still good. They still have Ray Allen. They still have Kevin Garnett, They still have Paul Pierce. They still have Rajon Rondo. Maybe they're missing a big, mean-looking piece in the middle, but it can be overcome.

They defend. They score in crunch time. They're playoff tested. These guys know how to win. They know what it takes. Nobody has quite the same motivation as the Celtics, because nobody else suffered a painful Game 7 defeat in The Finals last June. Doc Rivers talked about how the team has that same excitement for the game and each other that it had in training camp in 2007 when they went on to win it all. This team is still very, very good.

Keep in mind, Perkins had only played in 11 games with Boston this season. The Celtics have experienced most of their success this season without him. But again, that's just without him on the floor. People tend to underestimate things like chemistry. Though Perk might not have been playing, the rest of the team knew he was coming soon, and really just in time for when they really needed him.

Is this Boston group a true Finals contender? Of course. Absolutely they are. The Celtics could trade Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and they'd still have Miami's number just because they're in the Heat's head completely. But no longer can this group take things for granted. They aren't going to cruise past the 76ers or Knicks. And despite having the Heat by the tail, they aren't going to just skip past them either.

Then it's about the Bulls. Doc Rivers and Ainge can tell themselves that getting Shaq back will be an answer in matching up inside with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. That might be true. But things are different now for the Celtics. They've lost a little something. An edge, a mentality, a swagger -- whatever. And they may have lost their chance at it all this year too.
Posted on: April 5, 2011 6:52 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 7:25 pm
 

Celtics' system can't cure everything for Green

Jeff Green says all the right things about where his game needs to go in Boston, but the early returns are not great. 

Posted by Matt Moore




Is a team truly more the product of its players or its system? Surely both are essential on both sides of the ball. Lack the personnel, and you physically won't be able to execute the principles the system demands. Lack a cohesive system, and too often individual player tendencies will disrupt the balance on either side of the ball, creating opportunities for the opponent. Often, strong systems seem to mask what at the surface level are underwhelming players. The idea then percolates that inserting an inferior player to the system will create similar results, because it's the syste, not the player, that's essential. Boston certainly would seem to fit that model, but Jeff Green's first month and a half with the Celtics is drawing some concerns on that front. 


The internet was ablaze with discussion of Green and how he's fitting in with the Celtics. The offense is a talking point, but can you really expect Green to be a significant contributor with the kind of offensive firepower he's sharing the floor with? The occassional three or dunk off the drive, sure. But he's stacked on each side by Hall of Famers. No, where Green really needs to make an impact, and dispell a notorious reputation for softness, is in rebounding. And everyone's got an opinion on that subject. 
Rivers also highlighted one other area where he'd like to see Green be more assertive.

"One of the things he has to improve on is rebounding," said Rivers. "He had zero [on Friday], he had four [Sunday]. He can be a better rebounder for us."

Green agreed that he can still make strides both on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor, suggesting production in both of those areas is even more important than his contributions on offense.

"I want to do more on defense," said Green. "I need to rebound more. I need to just focus on that instead of what I need to do on the offensive end."

Since joining the Celtics, Green has averaged only 2.5 rebounds per game, after averaging 5.6 during his time with the Thunder this season. Green's defensive rebounding rate since coming to Boston registers at just 9.9 percent, which is lower than the 13.6 percent he hauled in as a member of the Thunder this season, and is well below the league average for forwards at 16.2 percent, according to HoopData.

"I'm comfortable with everything [on offense]," said Green. "Defense is where I need to get better at, as far as rotations, [with] rebounding being the key thing. Put that in all caps, italicize it, whatever you want to do. That's the main thing which I need to get better at."
via No more Mr. Nice Guy for Green - Boston Celtics Blog - ESPN Boston.

So it's good that Green recognizes what he needs to work on, and that Rivers is trying some of that patented motivational work on him. But the signs that the defense is a red flag area are even more alarming. Like, big, blaring siren that is so loud you can't think of anything else. Like fire alarm in a small metal room loud. From Sports Illustrated
Parse the numbers a bit more, and a second trend is repeating itself, one that might temper the bad news a bit: Most of this deluge of opponent scoring is coming when Boston plays Green at power forward. Considering only these 10 lineups, opponents have scored about 123 points per 100 possessions when Green is at the “4.” That number would embarrass the Raptors. The bad news: The  lineup in which Green has logged by far the most minutes features him at power forward alongside Boston’s core four of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. This group has played 46 minutes together, triple the number of minutes Green has played with any other foursome.
via The Point Forward » Posts Green not living up to Celtics’ hopes … yet «.

Yikes. Green's been considered a "tweener" forever and this provides even more evidence that he's not growing out of that label any time soon. He's too big to guard speedy perimeter threes, and two light to guard muscular fours. The rebounding is a mental edge, one that he simultaneously acknowledges and refuses to integrate. The numbers stand out more on the Celtics because of their excellence in that area (8th in defensive rebound rate), but in reality, as ProBasketballTalk.com points out, this is nothing new for Green:
Pretty much what happened at the Thunder. You can rationalize it and say if you play him at different positions (more three than four) or put him in with different lineups you’ll get better results. Maybe. The Celtics are a team that figures things out, and Green provides nice depth off the bench on offense. Players do improve. Sometimes. But basically, this is Jeff Green. What you are seeing is what you will get.
via Celtic fans, what you see with Jeff Green is what you get | ProBasketballTalk.

Part of this is a function of having a top heavy team loaded with stars. You've seen similar instances with the Celtics in the past, as role players have been inconsistent in key areas (Nate Robinson, Leon Powe, Eddie House), and the same elements exist on teams like the Heat, where players are quality veterans, but lack abilities in key areas at their position (Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers, Eddie House, again). But Green what also considered to be part of the return for Kendrick Perkins, a valuable role player going forward that could contribute in multiple areas. The system was supposed to aleviate various weaknesses in his game. Instead, at least so far, he's been the same player. Can you really change the makeup of a player by inserting him into a different system, especially in a close-knit, brusque, veteran-laden environment like the Celtics' locker room? 

If there's one area of the trade that seems to show some signs of life towards the systemic approach, it's the center swapped. Nenad Krstic's rebound percentage has risen to 14.2 percent from 11.9 in Oklahoma City (5.6 from 4.4 per game, while Kendrick Perkins' has dropped from 19.0 to 18.2. Granted, there's an extremely small sample size on both sets, especially considering the small number of games Perkins has been available for due to injury. Interestingly, Krstic is actually out-performing Perkins at the Celtics' biggest weakness, offensive rebounding. The Celtics are dead last in that category, but Krstic has made a slight improvement in his numbers there. 

Jeff Green's offensive rebounding numbers? They've gone from bad to worse
Posted on: March 7, 2011 11:58 am
 

Danny Ainge defends Kendrick Perkins trade

Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge explains his team's trade of center Kendrick Perkins. Posted by Ben Golliver. kendrick-perkins-trade

Aside from the Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams blockbusters, no move during this year's hectic NBA trade deadline season made bigger headlines than the Boston Celtics' trade of center Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green.

While neither player is an All-Star, Perkins was a starter for a title-winning team in the past and widely viewed as an emotional leader and valued team-first player, a reliable force in the middle that effectively neutralized more talented big men like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum

Perkins will become a free agent this summer, but the timing of the move -- with just months to go before the playoffs -- drew a lot of questions and criticism because it was seen as a locker room altering trade that might impact Boston's title chances.

In an interview with SI.com, Celtics president Danny Ainge explains his logic in making the move, pointing to Perkins' statistical impact, his injury problems, the collection of talent the Celtics were able to add in return via trade and the waiver wire, and other lineup analysis.  
"I think we're stronger. I think our offense and our defense will be every bit as good, if not better as long as we get some bodies healthy.
"We were leading the conference because of Shaq. We had a better record with Shaq than we did with Perk. Our offense was better and our defense was at least the same. I don't think Perk is Perk yet. I hope that he becomes that for Oklahoma City's sake. We thought it was going to take some time for Perk. He wasn't the shot-blocker or the rebounder that he's been in the past. We think that by adding Jeff Green (Green had 21 against the Warriors last Friday), Nenad Krstic, and Troy Murphy we think we're a better team than we were. Shaq was starting for us when we had the great run this year. Baby (Glen Davis) was finishing for us. So we basically lost middle minutes.
"Nobody put more time and effort into helping Perk become a better player and a better man than me. I spent so much time with Perk. I feel like I raised him in the NBA. I'm a big fan of Kendrick Perkins. I just think we have every bit as good a team now, and it helps us for the future. And the numbers back that up. Now if Shaq and Jermaine [O'Neal] can't play we could be in trouble. But Perk's out for three weeks right now. He's coming off an ACL tear and he's got a sprained MCL on the other knee so the health of all of those players is in question. I'm a Perk fan. Love him as a player. But I think he's a player that is not irreplaceable. Time will tell."
There is absolutely merit to Ainge's logic. Like Ainge, I would consider myself an advocate and fan of Perkins' game, demeanor and intangibles, particularly during the playoffs. But this boils down to a a fairly simple profit/loss comparison. 

Downgrading from Perkins to a platoon of Nenad Krstic, Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, Troy Murphy plus smallball lineups featuring either Kevin Garnett or Glen Davis in the middle with Green at the four is a loss, but it's not catastrophic. The profit, of course, comes from adding the talent and versatility of Green plus additional, serviceable depth in Krstic and Murphy. 

In truth, the two teams that represent the biggest obstacles for Boston -- the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic -- were just as likely to hurt the Celtics on the wings if they hadn't traded Perkins as they are likely to hurt Boston in the middle sans Perkins. The Celtics defend Howard by committee and know going into that match-up that winning the other positions is where the series will turn. After a midseason blow-up trade of its own, Orlando re-acquired Hedo Turkoglu, a perimeter-oriented forward whom Green matches up very well with given his combination of size, quickneses and strength. Ditto for Magic forward Ryan Anderson, a long stretch forward that Green should be able to handle without too much difficulty. On the other end, Green gives Boston room for offensive creativity, ensuring that all five Magic defenders will need to work throughout possessions, as he can stretch the defense to a certain degree and also keep the ball moving around the perimeter. 

In a potential Celtics vs. Lakers NBA Finals, Bynum is more likely to be a game-changer than a series-changer, and should he endure any injury problems, L.A.'s pivot depth evaporates, making a top line center far less important. Boston already has Kevin Garnett to match up against Pau Gasol, and Green again figures to be quite handy, as he can take turns matching up against Lamar Odom and Ron Artest, and could even check Kobe Bryant for a few possessions in a pinch. 

The logic is definitely there on paper, but the best argument against Ainge's trade centers around morale, chemistry and timing. Over the last few seasons, the Celtics' core seems to have brought the best out of each other and their role players, but expecting that to continue in every situation, especially at the last minute before a Finals run, is certainly a risk.

However, it sounds like it was a risk that was thoroughly considered and deeemed manageable by Ainge.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 9:29 pm
 

What is Jeff Green's future in Boston?

Posted by Royce Young

When Jeff Green was dealt to the Boston Celtics last week, the consensus on the Celtic side of things was that this was a move for the future. Green at just 24 years old, was a younger player that could potentially be part of the long-term for the team.

The problem with that line of thinking is that everyone seemed to forget that Green is a restricted free agent this summer. And if Boston couldn't afford Kendrick Perkins, Green might be equally as difficult to re-sign.

Green told the Sporting News that a new contract hasn't been discussed yet,
but he'd still like to stay a Celtic in the future, if possible.

"I mean, sure, this is a great team and the future is bright for this team with the pieces that we have," Green said. "If it comes to (signing a long-term contract), yeah. It hasn'tcome up, though, not at all. We're focused on getting to the Finals and winning a championship. The contract extension is something that, yeah, I would like that, but it is something that I am going to hold off on."

Discussions between Green and his former team (the Thunder), were always positive, but never resulted in an agreement. While Green's former teammate Kevin Durant received a maximum extension over the summer, Green negotiated with Oklahoma City, eventually deciding the number wasn't right and that he'd become a restricted free agent.

The Thunder of course just extended Perkins, the player Green was dealt for, for four years and $35 million.

“Yeah,” Green said, smiling. “I saw that.”

Green turned down one offer from the Thunder with one source telling me that it wasn't near as good as the one Perkins signed.

The Celtics though are likely focused on keeping Green though, otherwise their trade sending fan favorite and championship center Perkins out of town would be for nothing. Meaning they could've just kept Perkins the rest of the way. So obviously re-signing Green is something Boston wants to do. But it comes down to where Green fits and how much money he wants.

So far, he's struggled a bit fitting in to a new role off the bench for the Celtics. He's gone from starter averaging almost 40 minutes a night to playing just 18 minutes a night. With Boston, he's averaging just 6.0 points per game, down from 15.0 with the Thunder.

But again, it's a new role and a new team for Green. It's something he's getting used to and with Paul Pierce being 33, Green might find more time on the floor in the future. However, Pierce is locked up with Boston through 2014 though, meaning the player in front of Green is going to be around for at least three more seasons.

Green though is a versatile guy and really finds most his value in that. He can slide between small forward and power forward, defending both positions while also stretching out to the 3-point line offensively.

He's an interesting case though because with the Thunder, he was a main part of their core rotation, meaning he was going to warrant a good contract. With Boston, he's just a role player meaning he might have to take less to stay. I really don't know what to think about it honestly. On one hand you have to think Boston re-signs Green so that they don't come up empty handed in the Perkins deal but on the other, can they even afford to?

To somebody, Green is a starting small forward capable of averging 16-20 points a night and probably worth $8-10 million a year. Will his value take a hit though because of the role change in Boston? I don't really think so. But still, if the Celtics want to keep him, they've got to be willing to pay too. But it might not make sense for them to do it.

It's just so confusing, really.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 8:46 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 9:14 pm
 

Trade Deadline: Black Thursday Winners and Losers

With close to a dozen trades before the 2011 NBA Trade Deadline, we break down the winners and losers in each division.
Posted by EOB Staff




Well, that escalated quickly. After an insane week that started with the Carmelo Anthony trade finally coming to fruition, the NBA trade deadline finished with nearly a dozen deals having been completed. Here are the winners and losers from this insane week that was. 

Atlantic Division

Winner: New Jersey Nets

Plenty of good arguments to be had for the New York Knicks snagging Carmelo Anthony and the Boston Celtics nabbing Jeff Green, but no other team in the entire league changed its fortunes like the New Jersey Nets, who acquired the single best player who moved during this year's trading season: point guard Deron Williams. The price New Jersey paid was meaningful but not crippling, and Williams sets them up to win and build far better than rookie big man Derrick Favors would have. We already saw how far point guard Devin Harris could carry them the last two seasons. Williams will hopefully breathe some new life into big man Brook Lopez, help maximize the production from New Jersey's many role players and serve as an attraction to  other marquee names in free agency. Nobody else made a bigger leap into relevancy that the Nets did, and that's worthy of the winner title. -- Ben Golliver


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Loser: Toronto Raptors

Speaking of struggling with relevance, allow me to introduce the Toronto Raptors, who moved a first round pick for James Johnson, a seldom used forward who has failed to deliver on his draft promise during his two years in the NBA. It's not a terrible move but it's one that comes with limited upside, leaving the Raptors to continue to churn below mediocrity. Blowing things up was probably the way to go -- unloading Jose Calderon's contract would have been a great start -- but asset collection would have also inspired some hope among the Raptors diehards. Instead, the cynical wait for Jay Triano's firing marches on. -- BG


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Northwest Division

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

I don't think there could possibly be a bigger winner than the Oklahoma City Thunder. They won a Pulitzer, a Grammy, a Nobel Prize and an Oscar all in one swoop.

Not only did two of the division's very best players in Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony get moved, opening the door for OKC to stay at the top of the Northwest for years to come, the Thunder did a little of their own maneuvering, picking up Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed to fill the biggest gap in the team's depth chart.

Giving up Jeff Green stings as he was one of the original long term pieces that the Thunder was building with. But he was a restricted free agent and indications were that he wasn't going to be re-signed for the price OKC was comfortable with. So the Thunder flips him and Nenad Krstic (an expiring contract) for the Celtics starting center (and Nate Robinson). Perkins is an unrestricted free agent himself this summer, but not only does OKC get him for two months, it also has the cap space and desire to re-sign him over the summer.

So let's recap that real quick: Some of the main competition got worse and the Thunder got better. That's a good haul. -- Royce Young


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Loser: Utah Jazz

Any time you give up a superstar, you aren't going to get equal value. It's just reality. And while the Jazz received a nice return for Deron Williams (Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks) it's really not even close to enough.

The Jazz still had the rest of this season and a whole other year with Williams. They wanted to strike preemptively to avoid any welling Derondrama of taking place next season. But is that really worth just shipping out one of the league's best point guards, just like that?

In the past 30 days, Utah has lost its coach and its face. Those are big blows. The Jazz are moving on and will try and rebuild a winner around younger players while creating cap space and stockpiling picks, but there's no denying that this isn't the same team without Williams.

The Jazz will be lucky to stumble into the postseason this season and will likely be a lottery team next year. And to think, they could've had at least another full season with Williams, but instead they chose to jump at the best offer they might get. I understand the thinking of trading a player that won't re-sign, but still, is what you get back worth the time you're giving up? -- RY


Southeast Division

Winner: Charlotte Bobcats

It took some time for Michael Jordan to realize it, but the best maneuver for the Bobcats was simply to set fire to the roster. The team was never going anywhere with its existing pieces so it just made all the sense in the world to start over.

What the Bobcats received on deadline day was a couple expiring contracts (Joel Przybilla, Morris Peterson) while also finding two first-round drafts picks and not a bad young big man in D.J. White. They lost Gerald Wallace, which hurts, but that's the price for rebuilding .

Going into the summer, the normally financially strapped Bobcats will have some room to look around, while also being able to build around the cheapest talent available -- rookies. The forthcoming draft classes aren't that excellent, but there are good players to be had if you look hard enough.

It's odd to see a team that threw away a chance at the postseason as a winner, but the Bobcats did the right thing. This has been in the cards for months and while they didn't get Stephen Jackson moved, they sent a good chunk of the roster off. -- RY


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Loser: Orlando Magic

Orlando did all of its dealing more than a month ago and didn't really have much left to pursue. The Magic wanted a big man to help inside, but they never did find a suitable deal.

But on top of that, they are now kind of that idle ship in the East. They have the talent to win, but Otis Smith's blockbuster hasn't worked out well at all. Gilbert Arenas isn't scoring, Hedo Turkoglu isn't creating and Jason Richardson is mainly just a shooter. Dwight Howard wanted more help inside and the Magic didn't get it.

(Where they did win was Kendrick Perkins getting moved. Perkins was always one of the best defenders for Dwight Howard and with him out of the picture, the Celtics aren't nearly as formidable inside and will likely struggle guarding Howard. So that's one plus for them.)

Again, not that they really had to pieces to make a big splash, but maybe Smith jumped the gun on a trade. Maybe if he waits for the deadline, he's a player for some of the bigger fish like Gerald Wallace or even Deron Williams. That's speculation, but if Orlando's not going anywhere, it would've been worth it, right? -- RY


Southwest Division

Winner: Houston Rockets

The Rockets needed to do something, and it's hard to criticize what they came up with. Turning Shane Battier's expiring contract into a decent high-risk, maybe-reward project in bust-to-date center Hasheem Thabeet was solid. Moving point guard Aaron Brooks, who the Rockets clearly weren't willing to commit big dollars to long-term, for productive and cheap point guard Goran Dragic of the Suns, bought the Rockets a year to sort out their long-term point guard situation. Together, the trades serve as value plays for a franchise that has spun its wheels since Yao Ming's abrupt decline into the injury abyss. There wasn't much competition for the "winner" tag in this division, as it was fairly quiet and devoid of major division-altering moves. While playoff contention might get tabled until next year, the Rockets plunge ahead with their smarter-than-average, flexibility-oriented approach. -- BG


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Loser: Memphis Grizzlies

Any time you try valiantly but can't complete a trade of a player who has started a fight on your team plane and been suspended for violating the league's performance enhancing drugs policy, you are the automatic loser. That's just a default rule of the NBA. When the Grizzlies failed to complete a deal that would have shipped O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers for Josh McRoberts, they added another dramatic chapter to an already difficult situation, sending a message to a troubled player that he isn't really wanted but, hey, he is still welcome to show up for practice tomorrow. Awkward. Mayo still has tons of promise, but this disaster area clearly isn't the right location for him to realize it. -- BG


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Central Division

Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers

It wasn't a huge win. It wasn't even a considerable win.  But the Cavaliers needed to make efforts to go young, and they have done so.  The Cavs sent off Mo Williams and Jamario Moon's expiring contract for Baron Davis and a first round pick from the Clippers. The initial reaction is revulsion, because they were forced to acquire Baron Davis' massive contract, knee problems, and laziness. But two things. One, Davis has shown with Blake Griffin that he can be a not-terrible player. The Cavs aren't looking for a guy to be a difference maker next year. Davis will have considerably more value next season at the deadline with a 2013 expiring contract (if he doesn't opt-out). It's a large chunk of change with nearly $29 million left on his deal, but if they're able to flip him at some point, buy him out, or get some level of production, it's worth it. Why? Because two, that draft pick is the gold mine, here. The Clippers are not going to make the playoffs this year, will be in the lottery, and can end up with a valuable draft pick. As a result, the Cavs get what they need most. A high draft pick. That's what they needed to do.

In a second deal, the Cavaliers picked up Semih Erden and Luke Harangody from the Celtics. Neither are going to set the world on fire, but both have shown flashes of talent for the Celtics, and can be valuable role players or added to offseason trades. For the price of a second round pick, that's a near-steal. The Cavaliers missed out on a big opportunity when a deal with Golden State fell through, but in the end, they at least moved forward with rebuilding instead of standing pat. It wasn't a great deadline, but it wasn't a disaster. That's what this season is. --Matt Moore


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Loser: Indiana Pacers

Drat! Foiled! The Pacers were this  close to landing O.J. Mayo in a trade sending Josh McRoberts and a draft pick to Memphis. It's a bigger loss for the Grizzlies who now have to deal with the fallout, but a lost opportunity for Indiana. Brandon Rush has vanished in the rotation and the Pacers need a true 2-guard to make them a better scoring team on the perimeter. Mayo would have fit that bill perfectly. But as always should be the lesson with the Grizzlies, if you give them an opportunit to screw something up, that's what they'll do. This time it backfired on the Pacers and they're stuck, despite McRoberts being a more-than-serviceable forward, without Mayo. Plus it looks embarassing to have agreed to a deal and have the deadline pass. But perhaps the biggest reason they lost was their insistance on not trading their expiring contracts. They had Mike Dunleavey Jr. and Jeff Foster both available and both expendable and failed to get on the market. They could have brought in a legitimate addition to push them into a solid middle-playoff-seed team. Instead, they're left with the same squad, playing well, but contending cores are not built on three-week win streaks. If they can't do anything with the money they'll clear, they may regret having been so quiet on this very loud day. -- MM


Pacific Division

Winner: Sacramento Kings

Marcus Thornton's career is probably going one of two ways. He is likely not going to end up as just an average NBA player. He's either going to blow up and be a household name where he plays in terms of scoring capacity, or he's going to flame out horribly and be an inefficient malcontent. Odds are much more on the former. I'm not saying he'll be a star in this league, but he can be very good and part of a core that helps the Kings contend, if they keep him. Moving Landry clears space, clears someone who was unhappy, clears money the team can't afford to spend. Thornton is a young asset, and one that can fill the bucket up. That's especially important for them this season with Tyreke Evans on the bench due to injury. But when he gets back, Evans-Thornton-Cousins? That's a phenomenal balance of talent. Just because this season has been a disaster doesn't mean next year has to be. Great move for the Kings. I'm not going to dignify the Marquis Daniels trade with a response. -- MM


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Loser: Phoenix Suns

Bear in mind, Aaron Brooks is a good player. He really is. The Rockets hardballed him because they understand his limitations and never overcommit to a player who's not truly great . That's just not what they do. And Brooks is not a great player. Furthermore, Brooks fits with the Suns only to the degree that it's nice to have nitro-boost on the fastest car in the world. You're already fast. Why are you spending more to get faster? Brooks will struggle to get time behind Steve Nash, who's kept himself in such good condition he won't be going anywhere any time soon. Brooks was acquired for a talented guard in Goran Dragic and a first round pick. That pick wasn't going to be super-valuable and the Suns bleed first-rounders like they're nothing, but still, for a team that's struggling to find an identity after the loss of Stoudemire, this move seemed at best superfluous and at worst a step backwards. Brooks kind of fits the role of the departed Leandro Barbosa, but was that really what the Suns needed? This was a strange trade, and not one that helped them. -- MM


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