Paul Pierce wanted to go away for training camp, far, far away. He felt a training camp vacation would benefit his Celtics, who could use a bonding experience to gain some chemistry.
“When you got new guys and these types of personalities, I think it’s good for all of us to get out, be at a dinner table — me, Shaq, Kevin [Garnett], Ray [Allen], Jermaine,” he told the Boston Globe. “I think it would be good for that relationship, building that chemistry. We get away and go somewhere, that’s something we’ll definitely do.”
Pierce continued, “I’m really getting tired of Newport. I want to go somewhere else.”
Somewhere else… as in Waltham, where the Celtics normally hold practices? I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what Pierce had in mind when he said he wanted to get away. I’m also pretty sure that Waltham, where most of the players have houses and some have families, isn’t the best place to forge chemistry. And the Celtics, who signed an astonishing 11 players this offseason, need to build a bond.
“Chemistry is a delicate thing. I understand that, and I’m as cautious as anyone with it. I guarantee you, I’ll be keeping my eye on it,” Doc Rivers told NBA Fanhouse. “I don’t know yet if we can make it work. It is going to be interesting, that’s for sure.”
Interesting, indeed. With Shaq, Delonte West and Von Wafer among the C’s offseason additions, the locker room should have its own reality show. Seriously. I’d watch that 24/7.
But I’m not sure chemistry should be so trying. Shaq’s ego could be problematic, but West knows his role and he plays it well. Personal issues aside, West has already proven himself to do whatever his coach asks of him. He’s also, all unfounded rumors aside, a player who gets along with his teammates. The last few years, you could find Delonte cheesing for the fake photographs Lebron James snapped before games or joking around with teammates on the bench. Before that, he was a fan favorite in Boston, beloved for his endless energy and spunk. His depression is worrisome, to say the least, but when mentally healthy, Delonte has always been a player coaches and teammates enjoy. He was never a problem in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers had unrivaled chemistry as they joked and danced their way to 60+ wins each of the last two seasons.
Wafer has been a problem in the past, but he isn’t in any position to be one this year. He’s down to his last chance, and he must know it. If Wafer can’t get along with Doc Rivers, a player’s coach if there ever was one, then he’s probably won’t ever find his way back to the NBA. With that in mind, I’m sure Wafer will be on his best behavior. Either that or he’s an even bigger headcase than anyone could imagine.
Besides Wafer, the one big spot where I see a potential chemistry meltdown is when Kendrick Perkins returns in February. Then, three guys who have always been starters need to split the minutes of two men. Seriously, what happens when Perk gets back? Does Shaq get the first DNP-CD of his career? Does Jermaine O’Neal? Does Perk? There won’t be many minutes to split between the three centers, and somebody’s bound to be the odd man out. How will everyone handle it? I have no idea, but I could see it becoming a problem.
Other than that, chemistry may not be as volatile as some might think. As Rivers noted, “If your goal is anything other than winning a championship, you’re going to have a problem with chemistry.” But with a team that prides itself on possessing the ultimate winner’s mentality and additions that, for the most part, want to do nothing but win, maybe chemistry shouldn’t be such a worry.
Rivers said, “I think we’re getting [the new additions] at the right time. They’re not coming to be stars. They are coming to be role players trying to help us win a championship.”
As long as that sentiment remains true, the Celtics will be a force to be reckoned with. Even if they went against Pierce’s wishes and will hold training camp in their own backyard.