Word leaked out yesterday evening that the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves had consummated a deal which would send Kevin Garnett to Boston in exchange for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and two future first round picks.
While Celtics fans are enamored with this deal I’m struggling to find reasons why there’s so much optimism coming from Boston.
The main problem I have with this deal is that the Celtics didn’t get that big of an improvement in Garnett when they dealt Jefferson away. Garnett averaged 22.4 points and 12.8 boards last season while Jefferson averaged 16 points and 11 boards. While glancing at the stats it looks like Boston will have a large upgrade at the power forward position but if you look at Jefferson’s output since the All-Star break you’ll notice that Jefferson overcame injuries that slowed him early in the season and posted All-Star numbers himself. Over his final 31 games Jefferson averaged an impressive 18.7 points and 11.4 boards despite facing double teams in the paint. With Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak out of action Jefferson was the Celtics primary option on offense and despite teams trying to collapse on him in the paint he was the Celtics leading scorer most nights. It became clear while watching the Celtics last season that Jefferson would be the cornerstone of the franchise for the next decade and I don’t see the value in dealing him away for a player approaching the downside of his career.
Second, why would Boston give up on Gerald Green so quickly? Granted, he had a rough showing in Vegas and his sophomore season didn’t show a lot of improvement, but this time last year Green was being heralded as one of the pieces that Boston would build around. Why should a decent sophomore season and a weak summer league showing change that? I’m someone who thinks that Green’s showing in Vegas was an anomaly and that he’ll bounce back with increased playing time next season and eventually become an All-Star in the NBA. His game reminds me a lot of Tracy McGrady’s and his progression backs up those sentiments. During his rookie season Green averaged 5.2 points in 11.8 minutes of burn while last season he double those averages with 10.4 points in 22.0 minutes of playing time. Now, contrast that with McGrady who averaged 7.0 points per game his rookie season while playing 18.4 minutes and his sophomore season which saw him bump his scoring to 9.3 in 22.6 minutes.
Another aspect of this deal that sticks out are the injury issues that could result in Boston missing the playoffs next season. What happens if one or two of the Celtics trio goes down for an extended amount of time due to injuries? Ray Allen is coming off of surgery on both of his ankles while Pierce was limited to 47 games last year due to a variety of injuries so it’s clear that injuries are an issue with both of these players at this stage of their respective careers.
Something else that should make Celtics fans shudder is that the team is going to have to rely heavily on unproven youngsters like Glen Davis, Leon Powe, Gabe Pruitt and Brandon Wallace while giving big minutes and possibly starting young players such as Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo. How can a team expect to be a legit title contender with so many young and inexperienced players playing such a large role with the team?
Speaking of giving young players extended roles, another problem this team has is a second-year player in Rajon Rondo running the show. How will Rondo have the maturity to run the offense with Pierce, Allen and Garnett all demanding the ball? Rondo is a great young player and is poised for a solid career but expecting a sophomore to guide this offense is a daunting task. Some Celtics fans are pointing to Tony Parker as a young point guard who led the Spurs to a Championship but something their selective amnesia is allowing them to forget that Parker had Avery Johnson to learn from and to play big minutes. If you’re a Celtics fan you better hope that Danny Ainge goes out and inks Brevin Knight or another veteran presence to help run the show next season.
Throw in the fact that this franchise is being coached by Doc Rivers and it’s downright laughable that people are already talking about Boston as being the top team in the Eastern Conference next season. Rivers fans will point out the fact that he was named NBA Coach of the Year following the 1999-2000 season but his team was bounced in the first round of the playoffs and his team only managed 41 wins that season and his team had Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill. How many NBA coaches couldn’t secure 41 wins with those two players on their squad. I’m not a huge fan of Rivers and I feel that his career winning percentage of .467% backs me up.
While Boston’s team looks great on paper – and would a title contender if this were fantasy hoops – Celtics Nation should be mortified with what Danny Ainge has done with the team this summer by mortgaging their once bright future.