With the preseason over and the regular season only three days (three days!) away, news is supposed to be slower than Michael Sweetney with six broken toes and a 100-lb backpack on his back. Instead, there have been a few rumblings from Celtics camp. Here are my thoughts on each of them…
Michael Sweetney gets cut
Nothing else made sense. Why would the Celtics cut somebody else when everybody else has guaranteed contracts? Why would they pay Sweetney double his salary (luxury tax) and pay somebody else who they cut? If they were going to keep Sweetney around, it would have had to be after a 2-for-1 trade opened up a roster spot. But the Celtics are far better off keeping their expiring contracts and hoping to use them closer to the trade deadline, on a player who will help their rotation.
Sweetney is well past his playing weight, he would have been (at best) the fifth big man on the roster, and the Celtics just didn’t have the roster flexibility to keep him around. Had Sweetney been the C’s 15th man under contract, he would have been a nice project to keep around. But he was their 16th man, and he was the odd man out from day one. If he ever sheds his weight, Sweetney will be a hell of a player. And a hell of a Jenny Craig spokesman. But it just didn’t make sense to keep him around… no matter what way you look at it.
Tyronn Lue signs as assistant coach
What the hell? Tyronn Lue, whose name was kicked around a lot all summer for the backup point guard position, is now an assistant coach. Last year, Sam Cassell was the old, washed-up point guard who had an assistant coach’s role. Now, it’s Lue.
Some people will say the C’s are only keeping Lue around as insurance in case they need a 3rd-string point guard when midseason rolls around. I just can’t see it. Lue is washed up, ladies and gentlemen. He has only played 44 games over the past two seasons. He can’t get off the bench, and I couldn’t see him taking any minutes from Rondo, House, Daniels or even Hudson at PG.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe signing Lue as an assistant is the Celtics’ way of stashing him around until he signs as a player late in the season. But if the C’s are relying on Tyronn Lue to play any minutes at all, they will be in bad shape.
Big Baby whining about minutes… already
The Celts haven’t even played a single regular season game, and already Big Baby is whining about minutes. I just don’t see how he can. The Celtics haven’t even played a goddamn game yet!
In fact, I see Big Baby getting a solid amount of minutes. Of the three guys in front of him in the rotation, two (Garnett and Wallace) are getting older and Doc will likely keep their minutes down in an attempt to battle age. I envision Davis playing somewhere around 20 minutes per game, and having a far bigger role then he anticipates. And if he can’t be happy with 20 minutes per game on a championship contender, Big Baby’s in the wrong place.
Rajon Rondo has not been given an extension
If you’ve read my work for awhile, you know how I feel about Rajon Rondo’s contract situation; make a deal with him, quick, before he earns max money in free agency. Think about it; teams are all saving up money to throw at the big names like Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But what happens if those guys stay put? Now, all of a sudden teams will be throwing money at second-tier players like, uh-oh, Rondo.
In the NBA, one thing is for certain: Teams rarely keep cap room and wait for the right player to spend it on, For some reason, GMs feel compelled to use cap room the second the get it, whether the money is being spent to make the team a lot better or not. It’s why Detroit spent $90 million on Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, and it’s why the Blazers spent on Andre Miller (who, just like Gordon, will be coming off the bench). So teams will be throwing max money at guys who probably don’t deserve it. And Rondo will be one of the headliners in the second-tier of free agents.
So the C’s should wrap him up now, before a big season and a wild free agent market net Rondo a max deal the C’s likely won’t be able, or willing, to match. No matter how you want to look at it, Rondo is the Celtics’ future. He has improved leaps and bounds in each of his first three seasons, and came back this year in great shape with a new and improved shooting stroke. Just sign him, Danny Ainge, or you’ll probably regret it.
I’m worried about this Rondo situation. I think the C’s are playing their hand wrong right now. After alienating Rondo all offseason, they should have shown huge interest in making an extension work. Now, they risk further alienation of Rondo by failing to extend his contract. While he’s still a restricted free agent, will the Celtics match the deal if Rajon signs a max contract with another team? I’m not so sure.