Posts tagged: Ray Allen
Now that a missed season is a real possibility, the lockout could end the Boston Celtics’ Big Three era. It could potentially threaten Kevin Garnett’s career. It could mean that Ray Allen is 37 years old when the NBA returns, and Paul Pierce might be 35. And if all that’s not enough, a missed season could result in Danny Ainge scrambling to fill 12 roster spots for 2012-13. I don’t mean to exude pessimism, but these are now realistic possibilities.
“There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said after hearing of the NBPA’s decision. “But the 2011-2012 season is now in jeopardy.”
And for veteran teams that have few bodies under contract right now, like the Celtics, they could very well fall under the category of collateral damage associated with this lockout if it wipes out the entire season.
Beyond 2011-12, the Celtics only have three players under contract – Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.
So if the season were to be wiped out entirely, the C’s would have as many as 12 roster spots to fill.
The Miami Heat certainly didn’t complain after needing to fill 12 roster spots last summer. But there were extenuating circumstances. Two of the game’s biggest stars (and Chris Bosh) were all free agents at the same time. The trio decided to combine their powers. It was a combination of luck, circumstance and the persuasive powers of Pat Riley (not to mention the persuasive powers of South Beach).
The Celtics wouldn’t be so lucky. Even if the free agency classes of 2011 and 2012 were combined, which is what would happen after a missed season, there’s STILL not the type of star power to rebuild on the fly. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are the only superstars on the market. Two of them play Rondo’s position. The other, Howard, will have many other realistic suitors besides the Celtics. If Howard did sign with the Celtics, the Celtics could presumably re-sign Allen and Garnett to smaller contracts and join them with Pierce, Rondo and Howard to form an awesome starting five. But that’s assuming Howard signs. And the Boston Celtics historically don’t land high-profile free agents.
More likely, the Celtics are looking at a lengthy rebuilding process after the (rumored) 2011-12 season. The thought is sobering, but it’s reality. The final year of the Big Three era is in jeopardy, and the future is unknown.
For every NBA team, the lockout sucks. For the Boston Celtics, it sucks even more.*
*For more on “The Art of the Highly Sophisticated Lead,” I suggest calling me to set up a lesson.
Age means a lost season will affect Boston more than other teams. Age means we could be losing the end of Kevin Garnett’s career. Age means we could be losing the final season Ray Allen played at an All-Star level. Age means Paul Pierce could be a step slower when we see him next.
But according to Glen Davis, the Big Three don’t age like everyone else.
“In a way the window may be closing, but nobody knows their bodies better than those guys,” Rondo said recently. “I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.”
Davis, too, has faith.
“That’s a whole year they could miss,” he said. “That’s time gone, whether you’re running or standing still.
“But when you think about who we have on this team, you know they won’t get out of shape. Look at Ray Allen. I think he has three more years in this league, anyway. Kevin, too. I think his body can hold up. We’re really blessed on this team with our Big Three. They’re really different than a lot of other guys.”
Yes, the Big Three stay in great shape. They’re all professionals. But Ray Allen is 36 years old. Kevin Garnett is 35. Paul Pierce is 34. The lockout may not be robbing us of their last days, but it’s robbing us.
Forgive me if I don’t know exactly what’s going on here. Based on my best estimations, David Stern and Derek Fisher catch fire, the Celtics begin arguing on the side of a basketball court, Paul Pierce answers a phone call on the court, Ray Allen writes a few things on a coach’s notepad, the Celtics begin literally taking an ax to some big Chinese symbol, the symbol shatters, Michael Jordan stares through a glass window, Charles Oakley shows up wearing gold chains and hugging some woman, the Celtics shatter another giant Chinese symbol, Michael Jordan gets shot in the head, some baby starts crying, Jordan attempts to save par from a sand bunker, Nick Young drives to the hoop, where he will inevitably shoot a contested shot, Young says he will never wear Jordan shoes again and makes an Elvis Presley reference, Paul George randomly appears out of nowhere, David Stern shakes somebody’s hand, and the Celtics start fighting again.
Whew. Aren’t you glad you have me to translate that video for you? I knew I was good for something.
(h/t Ben Rohrbach, WEEI)
The NBA lockout is in a dangerous place, approaching the edge of a cliff on a dark road with no headlights. Hardline owners are huffing and puffing and saying they’re going to blow the entire house down. The players union is looking into whether decertification is a legitimate option. Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher may or may not have trust issues. David Stern may or may not control his camp. The negotiations seemingly teeter on a precipice, just a few percentage points from reaching a deal, but also a few more failed negotiating sessions from potentially losing a major chunk of the 2011-12 season.
Michael Jordan was outed Friday as the leader of the hardline owners. While that likely surprised some people — after all, Jordan was the one who famously told former Washington Wizards owner Abe Polin, “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team” — this is Michael Jordan, people. If pushing his grandmother down a set of stairs would help Jordan win (and assuredly he views this — like he views everything else — as a competition), goddamnit, Michael Jordan’s going to shove his grandmother down a set of stairs.
Jordan’s stance is hypocritical, indeed. Without a favorable collective bargaining agreement for the players, Jordan never would have accrued his wealth. Without the endorsement of today’s players, Jordan’s clothing line would not continue to net him a fortune. He should feel indebted to today’s players and to the collective bargaining agreement of yesteryear. Instead, he aims to level the playing field for the Charlotte Bobcats. (Insert any version of “maybe he just shouldn’t draft the likes of Adam Morrison” jokes here.) But really, this is Michael Jordan. If you thought he would ever bow down meekly, no matter who the opponent or what the game (and again, he absolutely views this as a competition), you probably haven’t been paying attention the last thirty years.
In the other corner are the players, some of whom — organized by Paul Pierce — engaged in a conference call with an attorney to see what negotiating options are available. Ray Allen said the players discussed a number of topics to see what direction they can turn if the negotiations continue to stall, but a large portion of the conversation reportedly hinged on decertification, an option which could lead to semi-anarchy, scaring the living bejesus out of every party involved. Decertification could lead to a long legal battle which could threaten this year if not next, or it could be just the threat necessary to hasten the owners into making a deal.
On a more Celtics-centric level is the continued maturation of Paul Pierce. Just seven or eight years ago, Pierce was known as an immature, whiny brat, a supremely talented scorer, questionable teammate and occasionally dim-witted decision maker who could sometimes be difficult to coach. Now, he’s organizing conference calls so players can become more educated regarding the options the players association can use going forward. I’ve mentioned this before, but we have been extremely lucky to watch Pierce’s growth, from that young, immature kid who wore a towel on his head to certain press conferences into the elder statesmen taking matters into his own hands to inform his peers. According to Ray Allen, Pierce wasn’t going behind the backs of union leaders. He just wanted to ensure that players had the opportunity to educate themselves about potentially forthcoming decisions that could influence their futures.
With the threat of decertification stronger than ever and a group of hardline owners digging their toes in the sand (likely outside their beautiful beach houses), Chris Sheridan is one of few reporters who does not seem worried that an NBA Armageddon could be approaching. Rather, Sheridan is “calling bullshit” on the hardline owners.
Jordan is on the other side of the table now, and it is beyond a little bit suspicious that he is now suddenly being portrayed as the leader of a ruthless ownership faction that is dictating the negotiating strategy of commissioner David Stern. These owners, we are being asked to believe, would rather shut down their sport at the height of its global growth spurt than meet somewhere in the middle on the split of revenues.
I am calling bullshit on them. This is a con, and all it is meant to do is put pressure on union negotiators to take the league’s “best and final offer” (actually, those words have yet to come out of Stern’s mouth) when that type of offer is put on the table today (or tomorrow, or Monday) with federal mediator George Cohen overseeing the proceedings.
As steady, intelligent thinkers have stated all along, a deal is there for the taking. The sides are too close economically to continue this steel cage match, especially considering that many of the pressing system issues have already been resolved. Rationally, the sides would meet in the middle on money issues and the NBA would resume play shortly.
But Ken Berger worries there’s nothing rational about these negotiators.
But no matter how the leverage shifts, no matter what legal maneuvers are executed, you know what happens? Eventually, the same parties will have to wind up back in a room to negotiate this agreement if they intend for the NBA to continue to exist.
The agreement is there to be negotiated now. The deal is there to be made. And the alternatives should be too frightening for anyone any longer to be so irresponsible as to wave a match in this roomful of noxious fumes.
What’s more frightening? This motley crew of bitter, disaffected agents and hardline owners have, in a bizarre way, joined forces. Every time these talks have reached a moment of truth, they’ve chosen chaos over reason, destruction over compromise, nuclear war over handshakes.
What makes this moment any different? Nothing, I’m sorry to say. Not a thing.
This weekend’s discussions could bring progress, and the NBA season could shortly stop being a distant illusion. Either that, or all the tough-guy, hard-ass rhetoric continues to rule the day, one side walks out on the other, and the league once again passes on a resolution that’s staring Billy Hunter and David Stern straight in the face.
The year was 2007, and I sat squished alongside five friends in my buddy’s single dorm room. The seating arrangements could have been (much) better: sitting six people into a Skidmore College single is like fitting 17 in a Toyota Corolla. But I was in New York, I didn’t get Fox Sports New England, and my buddy Harry was the only person I knew who shelled out enough money for the cable package that included NBA TV. I wanted to, needed to, watch the new-look Celtics open preseason against the Toronto Raptors in Italy.
The C’s had just suffered through “The Gerald Green Year,” a youth movement of sorts that — combined with Paul Pierce’s injury-riddled campaign — left the Celtics with the NBA’s worst record, Doc Rivers with a bulls-eye on his back that columnists regularly took aim at, and fans with a “please lose as many games as possible so we can select either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant” mentality. When the NBA Draft lottery came and the Celtics were granted the fifth pick, I pondered my options. I could …
1) change allegiances and become a fan of some other team — ANY other team that wasn’t destined for failed season after failed season. But that really wasn’t an option, because, really, what kind of fan switches teams?
2) continue my existence as a miserable Celtics fan, blame Sebastian Telfair for everything bad that happened in life (“my keys got lost — screw you Telfair, you overhyped, underachieving son of a bitch!”), ask God daily why he ever mustered the cruelty to place Green, Telfair, Tony Allen and Wally Szczerbiak on the same team, and fall asleep each night muttering, “Allan Ray. Seriously?”
3) talk myself into fully embracing Yi Jianlian, who Danny Ainge was reportedly enamored with at the No. 5 pick.
I chose the third choice. A seven-foot tall Chinese dude with soft touch and decent athleticism? Forget Durant and Oden! Yi’s the future of basketball! The Celtics got lucky to fall to the No. 5 pick!
The events that took place following the Draft lottery can only be described as stunning. The Celtics traded for Ray Allen on draft night, turning from laughing stock to “hmm, that team might be fun to watch” literally overnight. Rumors about the C’s acquiring Kevin Garnett shortly followed. I checked into HoopsHype 759 times per day from the computer where I worked at the local swimming pool. On the umpteenth day of The Garnett Watch, HoopsHype afforded me some ridiculously good news, which can only be judged by my reaction: in front of 75 kids, 15 mothers, three hot mothers and my boss, I loudly screamed “F*** YEAH” at the top of my lungs. I almost got fired, but who cares about a job in a time like that? The Celtics had just paired Kevin Garnett with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Thank you, Kevin McHale. Would you like chopsticks with your pu-pu platter?
The Celtics quickly became the hottest ticket around town, but it’s important not to forget: there were serious question marks about whether they could contend in year one of the Big Three era. Ray Allen was 32 years old and coming off double ankle surgery. Paul Pierce had just finished his own injury-prone season. Kevin Garnett was still one of the five or six best basketball players in the world, but could the three of them really carry Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins on their backs? Remember, at that stage, neither Rondo or Perk had accomplished anything in their NBA lives. We knew very little about them. Rondo was young, uber-athletic and showed flashes of unadulterated brilliance, but lest we forget, he spent his rookie year backing up Telfair. And I assure you, it’s never a good sign when your team’s starting point guard was known as “Sebastian Telfair’s backup” just months ago. Perk was hulking, he frowned a lot and he had worked hard during his early years to cut a load of baby fat. But his offensive game was less complete than my latest Rubik’s cube, and it was difficult to calculate his defensive capacity. For so long, his defensive acumen had been hidden alongside young, immature teammates with nary a clue about how to play defense.
I really just used the word nary. But I digress.
For the first time, packed into the tiny dorm room, surrounded by the hot stench of my friends’ body odor, I saw the new-look Celtics in action. A few truths were immediately evident: Kevin Garnett looked odd wearing anything besides Minnesota Timberwolves colors, but he treated even preseason games like the NBA Finals. Ray Allen shot like a goddess, even when he missed, and also has enormous calves. James Posey would help everything, so much, even when he didn’t score. Eddie House had a quicker release than a virgin on his first time. But mostly, I watched and marveled at one thing: in the Celtics offense, the ball moved from side to side like a crowd’s eyes at Wimbledon. Back and forth, forth and back, the Celtics moved the ball like a Pete Carril Princeton team. You could never tell that two of the Big Three had recently been ball-stopping superstars with the basketball constantly in their hands. On this team, surrounded by so much talent, everyone wanted to keep everyone else happy. Maybe even too much so. The C’s passed up a few open shots to make the extra pass. But that was a trivial matter that more practice time would take care of. After watching Gerald Green for the previous year, this was like updating from Soulja Boy to Tupac.
At that point, watching NBA TV in that crowded, hot room, I still had no idea where the Big Three era would lead me. I didn’t know the Celtics would forge so quickly and rattle off 66 regular season wins, more than any team (1985-86, 67 wins) but one in Celtics history. I didn’t know they would struggle to beat the Hawks, barely nudge past a locked-in Lebron, find their inner playoff warrior against the Pistons and embarrass the Lakers in Game 6 to take home the franchise’s 17th title. I didn’t know “Anytthhinngggg isssss posssssiiibblllleeeee.” I didn’t know the slew of what-ifs that would follow in the coming years. What if Garnett didn’t get hurt? What if Perk never tore his ACL? What if Danny Ainge never traded for Jeff Green, or Rajon Rondo never dislocated his elbow? I didn’t know how joyful it would be to root for this Celtics team, even in the playoff losses, always so valiant and selfless and inspired, even if certain regular season games — especially the second night of back-to-backs — have been frightful to observe. I didn’t know Paul Pierce’s transformation into a mature man would finish. I didn’t know Rajon Rondo would blossom into one of the league’s most exciting, creative players, and also one of its most confounding. I didn’t know just how nice it would be to watch Ray Allen spot up on the wing in transition. I didn’t know Eddie House would become one of my favorite Celtics ever, James Posey’s hugs would be etched into my memory forever, or that Perkins — with his jaw that always seems set for war — would prove his worth and then some. I didn’t know losing to the Lakers in Game 7 would hurt so bad. I didn’t know I would come to love Tony Allen, even if I still hated him half the time. I didn’t know Stephon Marbury would be so strange, Glen Davis would make me feel the entire spectrum of human emotions, and Sam Cassell would never, ever stop shooting ill-advised shots. I didn’t know P.J. Brown would play such a crucial role in the only Celtics championship of my lifetime.
I didn’t know four years later, the NBA lockout would threaten to bring the Big Three era to a close without us seeing it through to the end. This glorious era that began when the Celtics got screwed in the NBA lottery might have just one season left. For the love of Scott Pollard, let us — let me — enjoy it.