The NBA offseason is a consumer and lifestyle decision for many fans. You’ve got ticket prices, ticket packages, season tickets, cable bills, League Pass, and League Pass Broadband. You’ve got to budget your time, plan vacations, adjust your evening workload, raise or lower your wife’s expectations of human companionship. Whether you do it consciously or not, you spend all summer side-eyeing your favorite team’s roster and monetizing your anticipation.
This year I decided to rate each pertinent Celtics player on a scale of one to ten, based on how much I anticipating watching them play this year. As they’re all role players, I’ve created a handy scale based on Celtics role players since 2000. It looks like this:
10- James Posey
9- Leon Powe
8- Eddie House
7- Erick Strickland
6- Eric Williams
5- Ryan Gomes
4- Raef LaFrentz
3- Wally Szczerbiak
2- Vin Baker
1- Mark Blount
A few quick notes:
1) There are no 9s or 10s on the 2014-15 Celtics. Give me a break—we’re talking James Fucking Posey and Leon Fucking Powe here. These guys should have statues in Faneuil Hall, right next to Troy Brown and Dave Roberts.
2) I’m not counting the 10-day contract holdovers (Babb, Johnson) and the salary slots (Anthony and, I believe, Thornton). Not much point.
3) I am almost dead certain this is not the opening-day roster, but here we are.
4) The below numbers might actually seem low, but in some cases they were a little higher than I expected. For year two of a complete makeover without a top pick, that’s not too bad.
5) I didn’t even come close to spelling LaFrentz or Szczerbiak correctly on the first try. That’s how far they’ve slipped from my memory. It’s the small mercies in life.
Here we go:
If there existed a team for guys that I don’t even realize have checked in the game for like three minutes, then Bass would undoubtedly be captain. Outside of the fact that he always seems to spend his summers at Pizza Hut, I don’t have anything against him. Quiet, doesn’t take nights off, stays within his role. Defends a little better than people think, if worse than Danny Ainge says. A game so well-rounded it encompasses everything from 10-foot jump shots to 12-foot jump shots. A fine 7th man on a decent team.
At this point, however, Bass resembles nothing less than the ancient ruins of the KG/PP era. He makes me ask, “what is he still doing here” more than anyone else on the team, and so he’s got to go—for page-turning purposes, if nothing else. They should just list him Seven Million Dollar Expiring Contract in the official program. And if you’ve ever spent any time on the ESPN trade machine, you know that $7 million is a nice number for making moves happen. It’s time to move.
Final verdict: Wally Szczerbiak (3)
I don’t like to be compared to a white guy who’s name I can’t even spell
I’m still not sure what to make of Bradley’s Celtics career. He went from being arguably the worst NBA player I’ve ever seen as a rookie to becoming the guy who stole Ray Allen’s job and inadvertently helped run him out of town (along with Doc, Ainge, and Rondo), to being a nice piece of a good team, to being overrated on a good team (where he was, to be fair, asked to do too much). Even the contract he just signed went from being an “oh no!” contract to a great value contract in 2 weeks, as the likes of Gordon Hayward started pulling in twice as much. I’m spotting dimes, I’m eating onions. I don’t know what’s up with this kid.
I do like him with Smart, in a vacuum (I’d like it better if we had, say, Atlanta’s frontcourt). So there’s that. But you know what? I’ve never really warmed to this guy, and certainly not as a fairly major piece of a rebuilding team’s foundation.
I’m reserving the right to change my mind but right now the final verdict is Raef Lafrentz (4)
I’m the thinking man’s Raef LaFrentz
This guy plays offense — loooooves to play offense — and works the boards, but could be the worst defender I’ve ever seen on the NBA level, and that includes Yi Jianlian’s chair. Frankly I think he’s still on the roster to make Kelly feel good about himself. And to make Tommy think that Rasheed Wallace is still on the team.
He ended up in Brad Stevens’ doghouse last year, but I suspect we’ll see a little more of him this year than we may want.
Final verdict: Wally Szczerbiak (3)
Fear the beard
One of my least favorite Red Sox players of all time was Derek Lowe during his Shaky Years. There is nothing worse in baseball, aside from actually watching the games, than a closer who is sometimes awesome and sometimes terrible, and you never know what you’re going to get. It gets to the point where the good games make you more frustrated than the bad games.
Jeff Green is the Shaky Derek Lowe of the Celtics, only if Dan Duquette broke a championship core to get him. Good guy, happy to root for him; I just wish I was rooting for him on the Hawks or Hornets. That is his destiny. I dread having to watch him. I don’t even like talking about him anymore.
Final verdict: a less drunk but equally depressing Vin Baker (2)
Thinking of all the money I could make in free agency makes my mouth water (and tongue hang out)
Olynyk is the rare player who seems to understand the game at a very high level but has a very hard time playing it. Some of it comes down to his obvious physical limitations—he’s too slow to sacrifice wasted energy, yet all he seems to do is waste energy. Some of it is his lost-looking demeanor. I’m going to hope the latter comes down to year-long rookie yips in, let’s face it, a sucky year to be a Celtics rookie. If that’s gone and he’s put on some muscle, he’ll be decent. I enjoy pulling for him.
People have complained that Ainge used assets to move up to get in the draft to get him. In retrospect, it seems clear that Ainge knew Minnesota wanted him and was playing a long game, thinking about a Love trade a year or two in advance. I don’t think a Love trade will happen, but I’m also not getting too attached to young Oly. Be honest with yourself: do you really see Kelly Olynyk as a Part Of The Celtics Future? I don’t.
Do I remind you of a character from the movie Dazed and Confused?
Final Verdict: Eric Williams (6)
I like Pressey. People compare him derisively to J.R. Bremer, but I liked Bremer too. Pressey can run an offense, play some D, unleash the occasional “holy shit” pass, and plays with just a tiny bit of edge. Add the local angle and that’s real easy to root for. I won’t be rooting for him in 3 years, because my Mandarin isn’t that good, but I’ll have no problem this year, even though he helps make our backcourt look like an open audition for Time Bandits.
Final Verdict: Eric Williams (6)
“Congratulations you’re still in the NBA”
Man, I used to love me some Rajon Rondo.
What happened? For starters, the internet happened. The internet never lets you enjoy anything in peace, and it ruined him, like it ruined Antoine Walker before him. At some point, rather than letting myself feel rightfully dazzled by every pass and nodding in approval at his overall “fuck all y’all” attitude, I began bracing for the online complaints with every passed-upon layup, every indignant gesture, every slack attempt to “fight” through a screen. No matter if the good outweighs the bad; the joy is gone. So thanks, internet.
Also, to be fair, Rondo himself happened. After Ray left, I fully expected Rondo to tear through the league. That didn’t happen. Instead, the atrocious assist streak did — which, by the way, I blame just as much on Doc Rivers’ shameless mail-in job in his final Celtics years as I blame on Rondo. But no matter. It happened, and it wasn’t much fun. And then the injury happened, and that wasn’t much fun. Every year I expect him to weasel into the MVP discussion. Maybe “only” top 7 or 8 on the ladder (which is where he belongs on his very best days), but in there somewhere. Every year: nope. What a shame.
So I’ve given up on expecting anything on Rondo, good or bad. It’s clearly time for the dude to move on, but assuming he is still a Celtic, maybe he comes into the year looking to take Smart under his wing and tear the scrotum off of the superfriends league (not just in ESPN games), and earn the max deal he’s asking for. Then again, maybe he comes in and dogs it 90% of the time, pounds the ball for 20 seconds every time up the court before throwing a scoop pass to Sully for a 12-foot jump shot. Who knows.
BUT: I’m an idiot. I’m still optimistic. Rondo is part of the 2008 team and those are my guys. I will always root for all of them and never hate any of them. Even Ray Allen, who I’m guessing is currently trying to frantically sign with the German soccer team.
Final verdict: Eddie House (8)
I am MUCH more likable than Eddie House
I don’t mind that Smart returned to college and didn’t improve — I did that three times when I was college. I don’t mind that he tussled with that fan, because I used to live a few hours from the Texas Tech campus and man, there are some severely horrible human beings in that part of the world. I don’t mind that he can’t shoot; I am a firm believer that this can be corrected to a respectable degree.
I do like defenders that frustrate guards into giving up and keep teams from getting into their sets early in the shot clock. Rondo’s ability to do this was a secret weapon of the Thibodeau schemes here, and Avery took that torch once Rondo’s other responsibilities got to be too much. Avery’s gone a little slack now that his responsibilities got to be too much, and Smart will help him get back on course. They’ll be great together. I can’t wait to watch Stevens ring the bell and unleash Smart and Bradley as a swarming, two-man full-court press. That’s going to be beautiful.
Offensively, I’m not so excited. His offensive ceiling, to me, is that of a pre-injury Rose or pre-washed-up Deron or Wade, with lower shooting numbers from outside and less creativity. That’s obviously not a bad ceiling, and I hope he comes close to it, but did I like watching those guys pinball off of every defender until they got a foul call? No, I did not. And that uggo-ball is basically Smart’s upside.
That said, I love his moxie, so final verdict: Erick Strickland (7)
Hopefully this won’t be the highlight of Marcus Smart’s career
I’m trying to ignore how he spends his summers (answering the door for police officers, super-sizing his combo meals), and focus on the seasons. I still like this guy a lot. Not “compare his stats to Kevin Love like,” but I still watch him and see the top-5 prospect there. Hard worker, great rebounder, an expanding offensive game. Seems smart enough to conjure up legit chemistry with anyone he gets big minutes with. He’s a dude who makes things happen. We need more guys like him, and I am looking forward to seeing him develop into a real, full-time player.
Final verdict: Eddie House (8)
My back hurts
I don’t hate him. His contract is a burden, but that’s the price of at least one glorious Nets pick. Spasiba! And at 2/20, it’s not the worst dead-contract out there — he doesn’t do anything particularly well, but still somehow seems to make some good things happen. On occasion. For no particular reason, I think he’ll have an OK year.
I just wish 1) he wouldn’t have those idiotic games where he never shoots, and 2) he wouldn’t call out his teammates every week. But then I also wish his teammates wouldn’t give him reason to.
Real talk: he was clearly subtweeting Jeff Green, stealer of his SF minutes, with those call-outs. So cut the shit Green. Either play harder every night or publicly tell this guy to fuck off — either one I’m fine with.
Final verdict: Raef LaFrentz (4)
“Make sure those checks clear”
I watched Kentucky more than any other college team this year and I swear I don’t remember a single thing this guy did. That ain’t a good sign.
That said, I wanted youth and shooting from the draft (I think they’ll regret passing on Gary Harris) and he’s young and has got shooting mechanics to work with. And regardless of how you feel about Calipari, his success rate with recruiting and developing NBA prospects of late has been decent enough that his kids deserve the benefit of the doubt. So, in spite of the whiffs of Kedrick Brown that I’m getting from Young’s general direction, I will give him that benefit of the doubt.
Even though I don’t expect anything from him this year, I always have irrational hopes for Celtic rookies, so final verdict: Eric Williams (6)
“Isn’t it cool how it says Celtics under the brim of my cap?”
I’m just happy to have another center on the roster. And he’s under 25? Fabulous.
(For the record, I think he’ll be good for us)
Final verdict: Eric Williams (6)
Look, I can even dunk!!
The average is a 5.25, with room to improve. Not too bad! A financial and emotional investment in this team should see mild returns, provided the investment is low and the expectations are tempered.
But you know what’s better? Nine first round picks in 5 years, and loads of cap space in just one year (assuming Green opts out). As GMs go, from a scale of Red Auerbach (10) to Chris Wallace (1), Danny Ainge ranks an 8. That’s where the big returns will come in.
—My name is Robert Ker. I twitter about esoteric bullshit, tumblr about music, and take photos of signs at the following places: