It’s Time to Give LeBron James the Respect He Deserves

It’s official once again, LeBron James is back on the free agent market and possibly looking for the next team he turns around, giving them a great shot at winning next year’s title. Of course there is the chance he returns to Miami with a restructured contract, which has been speculated since the Carmelo Anthony to Miami rumors began circulating on the internet. Whatever LeBron’s decision, it’s time to stop calling him a “mercenary”, “backstabber”, or even a “money-chaser”.

The man is a two-time champion, who throughout the 2013-2014 season carried the Miami Heat. He was required to give a lot more than in years previous, and basically played the same role he had with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, where was D-Wade and Chris Bosh, or the entire Heat team? LeBron gave a lot more than we all gave him credit for, and after this NBA season, it really is time to move on and let the man make his own decisions.

It’s time to end the LeBron James/Michael Jordan debate; there will never be another MJ. Kobe Bryant is the closest we’ll ever get to seeing the second coming of Jordan, and even some might say he’s not even close to the six-time champion.

At the end of the day the NBA is a business and LeBron is a contractor or employee of this league. We don’t stay at our first jobs because it’s nice to be loyal, we move on to bigger and better opportunities that allow us to pursue our dreams. LeBron is pursuing another championship, and quite frankly it won’t happen in Miami. The Spurs completely figured out how to beat the NBA’s first super team, and there is no doubt LeBron was envious of what San Antonio has. A team, where one player isn’t more important than the other. LeBron has reached the point in his career where he doesn’t want to be the main go-to-guy, he wants to play for a team that can compete at a high level that plays for each other, not just one player.

This isn’t your father’s or grandfather’s NBA, and it hasn’t for a very long time. Loyalty doesn’t exist anymore, and it has nothing to do with the culture of the NBA these days, but how our economy, and the economy of the league has grown and evolved. Let’s remember, Bob Cousy’s first contract was for $9,000, and most players at that time had a second job in the summer. Loyalty existed because they weren’t going to find more money on the other side and teams built through the draft, just as businesses add on employees who can help grow the business into something more.

I have no problem with what LeBron James is doing. This league is a business and should be treated as such, and players shouldn’t make decisions based on public opinions. The man deserves the respect he has so rightfully earned, and if you can’t give him that, you’re not seeing how great of a player he really is. To hold him to a low standard because of lack of loyalty would be a mistake, and if you were in his shoes, you’d chase another ring too, even if that meant jumping from team-to-team.

Could Paul Pierce Return to the Celtics This Offseason?

This has been speculated since the day he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Kevin Garnett, but is it possible that we see Paul Pierce in a Celtics uniform on opening night? With trade rumors surrounding Boston once again, and another Kevin from Minnesota being involved, the pieces could be falling into place that brings number 34 back home. But before this happens, a few phone calls, some trades, and the beginning of free agency must be dealt with first.

This is all based on the hypothetical, but if the Kevin Love deal is completed on draft night, the “fireworks” don’t end there. Love is a piece to the puzzle, but not the Kevin Garnett of 2008 who completely changed the entire organization, and was the man that propelled the Celtics to Banner 17.

According to Chad Ford, and further speculated by CelticsBlog, the Celtics are reportedly willing to give up Jared Sullinger and or Kelly Olynyk, and multiple first round draft picks for Kevin Love. While this is getting all the attention by Boston fans, note who’s not involved in the trade. Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Avery Bradley would still be available for another trade that could bring more talent and fill in the gaps on the roster. Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace are also not being mentioned in any rumors, but their contracts and their availability in a trade might be understood better by those who are in the league.

Carmelo Anthony might be an option if he’s open to a reasonable deal. Now I’m not saying he is the guy Boston will go after, but unless LeBron James opts out and wants to join the Celtics, signing Anthony would be the best case scenario. To continue on being hypothetical, with Love, Anthony, and Rondo, the new Big Three would be in place. Paul Pierce who is a free agent may return to Boston as a sixth man or a role player who wouldn’t be playing 30-40 minutes a night, and instead be that James Posey-like player who brings experience and defense when Brad Stevens calls upon him during games.

Right now I think the trading potential Boston has this offseason is being overlooked. ESPN doesn’t mention them in the same sentence as Miami, Los Angeles, or even Houston. Danny Ainge has a bigger deck to play with than most think, and don’t be surprised if he uses every single card to assemble a championship caliber team. The Kevin Love rumors might be getting everyone’s attention, but what isn’t being reported or given any coverage could be the game changer moving forward for this Celtics team.

How a Jim Calhoun Coached Boston College Could Affect The Celtics

This week, ESPN Boston and Boston College Eagles fans were abuzz after reports that Jim Calhoun, former coach of the Connecticut Huskies, has significant interest in the open coaching job at BC. It’s not called March Madness for nothing, as this was a complete shock for everyone as Calhoun has been retired for the past two seasons. While the news was unexpected, the coach does have ties to the Boston area, having coached Braintree High School and Northeastern before leading the Huskies to three National Titles. But how can this Hall of Fame coach not only turn around a desperate Division 1 college basketball program, but also help the Boston Celtics in the process?

As we all know and have heard since we were young, “Boston isn’t an attractive destination for free agents and superstars”. There are some reasonable explanations, as Boston is considered a smaller market than New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, the weather and taxes also play a factor. While winning and being contenders alone can change this perception, there will still be free agents that will sign elsewhere for reasons unknown. However, if Jim Calhoun is accepted as the next Boston College head coach, high ranking recruits, players who will likely go on to play in the NBA, will come to BC to play under Calhoun. Creating an environment that attracts these high school athletes at a young age could pay dividends in a few years, as these same players may return to Boston to play for the Celtics.

It’s extremely far fetched, but having a local college basketball team that can get notoriety and be mentioned with other ACC teams such as Duke, North Carolina, and Syracuse, can have an affect on both the college and professional levels.

Celtics, Rockets Trade Discussions Over For Now

Last night everything seemed to be coming together to get a deal done by Thursday afternoon, the date which the Houston Rockets wanted to trade center Omer Asik. Heading into the late hours of Thursday night discussions have ceased and both sides of have walked away from the table, making another rumor blown out of proportion. The Boston Celtics certainly need help at the center position, and acquiring Asik would have helped this team tremendously moving forward. There is always the chance that this trade could be explored at a later date, but for the time being it doesn’t look like anything is imminent. So where do the Celtics go from here?

Boston needs height to have any chance of contending in the inferior Eastern Conference, but miraculously they’ve survived 27 games into the season without a real center. With Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee staying for the time being, the team can now move forward and prepare for Saturday’s game against the Washington Wizards. However, the problem that Danny Ainge tried to address with this potential trade hasn’t been alleviated, keeping Boston’s front court issues exposed until something gets done.

What this potential trade could have brought to Boston was much needed height, and with Rajon Rondo’s return in sight, the Celtics would have had a center and a true point guard back in the starting lineup. Brandon Bass’ contributions would definitely be missed, but for the first time since 2008 the team has depth, with players who can replace and fill the void at the power forward position. Kelly Olynyk needs playing time to develop, and it also allows Kris Humphries, who has been playing well for Brad Stevens, to see more action on the court and not watching on the bench.

Taking a look at what Danny Ainge is trying to accomplish, he’s attempting to create a contender once again, but not in the same way as 2007. The Celtics already have the pieces in place. It’s apparent that when Rondo returns he has the adequate talent around him and a good coach who can lead this team back to the playoffs without a multiple season rebuilding period. Losing Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee would be a temporary blow, but they’re chips that can be used to acquire pieces that fit into a championship caliber team.

Right now all bets are off and most of the players on this Celtics squad are probably fair game. Danny Ainge wants to build a championship team, not a fringe, make the playoffs and lose in the first round team that Celtics fans saw in 2005. Either way, Boston is heading into a good direction whether they make trades or not. But to elevate themselves to the top tier of the NBA, they need size, a healthy Rajon Rondo, and possibly a potent scoring threat other than Jordan Crawford.

Trade season is upon us, and if Ainge has his way, the team will look slightly or vastly different before the trade deadline in February. The next few weeks are crucial and just like the team, the fans will have to hold tight because this ride won’t be a typical Sunday drive.

 

Debunking The Omer Asik, Boston Celtics Trade Rumor

Yesterday, in Marc Stein’s article on all trade rumors involving Omer Asik, there was a section discussing the Boston Celtics and how they might get in on the action to land the Houston Rockets center.

The Boston Celtics.

The advice offered to us on Sunday was stern: Keep an eye on Boston. The Celtics possess two players in different salary ranges that would presumably fit in useful ways next to Dwight HowardJeff Green and Brandon Bass. The Celts also have a spare first-round draft pick or two to plug into any trade equation to sweeten the deal for Houston, amid rising suspicions around the league that Morey’s Rockets are going to find a way to come out of the Asik saga with at least one future first.

The same Rockets who happen to have a GM (Morey) and coach (Kevin McHale) who have long-standing relationships with Celts president Danny Ainge.

So, yes, I’d say you should keep an eye on Boston.

The first thing that stands out is the lack of naming a specific source, such as a rival GM or someone in the NBA. Usually there is a named source and it at least adds a level of credibility to the rumor. To say that this rumor is even credible is a stretch because no one else other than Stein has reported that the Celtics might get involved in a trade with the Rockets.

Boston has been a pleasant surprise this season, winning 11 out of 25 games, which not many people had predicted before October. They’re also incredibly fun to watch, and Celtics fans have found a love for this team. Jordan Crawford, Brandon Bass, and Jeff Green, all of whom have been mentioned in trade rumors the past two weeks, are playing at the peak of their games. However, the value in return for them in these rumors has been low, not exciting, or nothing to feel good about. Why should Danny Ainge pull the plug? He’s got a team that arguably is one or two players away from becoming a legitimate playoff and possibly championship contender.

One of those players who could make a major impact is Rajon Rondo. Rondo was cleared for full contact over the weekend and is now participating in team practices. If Ainge really wanted to make a trade that would ensure them of not making the playoffs, Rondo wouldn’t have been brought back so soon. The Celtics are 11-14 without their star point guard, and if he returns to the court next month it would be wiser to hold off on the trade talk until February, instead of engaging in making roster changes right now.

If the Celtics make trades it will be over the All-Star break. Right now the team is playing well, and depending on what their record is by the halfway point of the season, more appropriate, and better trades could be made that benefit the team in the short and long term.

Personally, Omer Asik isn’t the best option out there for the Celtics. Boston has struggled against teams with strong centers, but trading Jeff Green or Brandon Bass just isn’t the answer, not right now, and not with this trade. Most rumors tend to be nothing, and this one makes no sense for Boston, which is why it’s going to be put in the cellar and forgotten in a short period of time. Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers need a player like Asik more than the Celtics do, and most likely one of those teams will bite on the Rockets offer, ending this head-scratching rumor that involves Boston.

The Celtics Need To Rebuild By Winning, Not Losing

A record of 11-14 is nothing to boast about. In fact, if the Boston Celtics were in the Western Conference they wouldn’t be in the playoff race as of today. Despite the team’s relative success (if you can call it that) fans are still fixated on the idea of tanking, something that Celtics players and coaches seem to be refusing to do. Why should they? A team can’t grow by losing, just like our bodies can’t grow by eating junk food. What this team needs to do is build their confidence, and win as many games as possible to become an attractive destination for future free agents.

It’s been seven years since the 2006-2007 season, and just by the way the team is playing,  Danny Ainge has learned from that rebuilding experience. The Celtics were lucky to have an assortment of young talent that were disposable, but to get to that point to make blockbuster trades, it was a process that took nearly four seasons by acquiring that youth. While the outcome of that rebuilding period lead to Banner 17 in 2008, there were many wasted, depressing, and lackluster seasons Celtics fans had to endure. What made those years worse was that no decent free agents wanted to sign in Boston, figuring that it would be a waste of time to play around a youthful, inexperienced roster.

After the trades were made, the Celtics were able to attract players like James Posey, PJ Brown, Eddie House, Rasheed Wallace, and Shaquille O’Neal. Why? Because they were contenders that had a legitimate shot at winning the title. It’s 2013 and the Brad Stevens coached Celtics is unlike the recent rebuilding teams of the past, playing to win and having a desire to shock the basketball world. Let’s not forget, Boston is currently 11-14 without All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo who has been cleared for full contact in practice. Danny Ainge said making the playoffs isn’t a goal, but getting better is, and that’s what this team is doing so far.

To call for Boston to tank is an insult to the players and coaches because this has to be the most passionate young team the Boston Celtics have had in quite a while. This team has scratched and clawed every night whether winning or losing, and that’s not a characteristic of a rebuilding team. Brad Stevens put it nicely by saying that they’re building a team, meaning that they’re working on improving every day, and not trying to get a top five pick in the 2014 draft.

This season is going to have it’s ups and downs, that’s a given. However, there is no need to overreact to a winning or losing streak since no one knows (other than Danny Ainge) what the big picture looks like. Boston is turning some heads and is becoming a respectable opponent, making teams fully prepare for them. This team is feisty and plays with heart, and it would be a mistake to not enjoy what they’re displaying on the basketball court. The Celtics might be overachieving so far this year, but isn’t it better to see a team competing every night instead of throwing in the towel and not trying?

 

The Boston Celtics Are Beginning To Realize How Good They Can Be

Who would have thought that twenty-two games into the regular season that the new look Boston Celtics would be leading the Atlantic Division while sitting comfortably in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference? There is a good chance that not many fans would have predicted this team, who was supposed to be tanking for a high draft pick, would be playing like a playoff contender in the past few games. What’s even more surprising is that Boston is accomplishing all this without their star point guard Rajon Rondo, and are playing like a team who has been together for years.

In the last two games the Celtics have started the first quarter very well, scoring the first 14 points of the game against the Denver Nuggets, and then two days later throwing the first punch in New York to lead by 23 going into the second quarter. Over the past two seasons, Boston struggled in the first half, finding it difficult to start a game on a good note. So far that hasn’t been a problem for Brad Stevens’ team who has been dominating offensively as of late. Every player is making a contribution and getting involved early, which sets the tone later on in the second half. It has been a pleasant surprise, but something no one expected from a young team looking for an identity.

What makes this young, vibrant team so dangerous and unpredictable is that it isn’t one player carrying the load. On a nightly basis this season there have been three to six players scoring in double figures, making the opponent’s defense have to worry about all five starters. Jordan Crawford has evolved into an offensive threat, playing more under control this year (if that’s possible) than he has his entire career. In the front court, Jared Sullinger is proving to be the steal of the 2012 draft, while Brandon Bass has become a solid player on both ends of the floor for this team. Avery Bradley continues to get better every game, becoming a threat on offense in Brad Stevens’ system, and continuously playing stifling defense against his opponents. Lastly, Jeff Green appears to have settled in a role as the long, athletic forward who causes matchup nightmares for the defense, and is finally playing the type of offensive game that suits his body by being aggressive and taking the ball to the hoop.

All the pieces are in place for this team. They’re beginning to believe in themselves and are realizing how good they can become. The talent is there and Brad Stevens is slowly but surely building a winning team with the pieces he has. When Stevens was first hired as head coach, many questioned how he could transition from the college level to the NBA. But a quarter of the way into the season, Danny Ainge might need to promote him to being a part of the front office as well. It’s very early into the season and Stevens career, but unlike in the latter days of the Doc Rivers era, the team is listening to the coach, buying into his system, and proving everyone wrong game in and game out.

In the midst of the Big Three era, we all forgot how Celtics teams were built in the past. Concerns remain pertaining to the lack of a superstar on the roster, but the teams of the 60′s and 70′s didn’t have a superstar per say. Red Auerbach believed in the team instead of the individuals, and this is exactly what we’re seeing with the 2013 Celtics team. They play for each other, the extra passes, the hustle plays, the help defense, and the fine tuned offense is showing that this is a real team, something that has been lost since the 2009 season. What we’re witnessing is the new era of the Boston Celtics, the new way of how this organization is presenting itself. It was apparent early on that the Celtics felt that the old traditions needed to return, and with legends such as Dave Cowens and former players like Walter McCarty being a part of this team, Celtics Pride is returning.

The Big Three era was great, and it revitalized a storied franchise that needed to win sooner rather than later. The Celtics of 2013 are pulling off something no one expected, creating their own reputation instead of living off of the identity of the 2008 team. Twenty-two games into the regular season, and it could be said that Brad Stevens arrival in Boston may be the greatest thing that has happened to this team in 40 plus years.

 

The Big Three Era Is Over, It’s Time To Appreciate The Here And Now

A few days ago we celebrated Thanksgiving to reflect on what we’re thankful for and what we’ve been blessed with. Basketball certainly shouldn’t be on the top of the list of things to be thankful for, but due to the holiday and how the Celtics are playing, there should be a connection to at least appreciate what Danny Ainge has done with this team. The Celtics, who were suppose to be contending for a high lottery draft pick, find themselves a half game behind the Toronto Raptors for first in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. However, some fans have yet to accept the departure of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, undermining what the 2013 team is currently doing.

Last night was clearly the best game the Celtics have played all season, blowing out the Cleveland Cavaliers to improve to 7-11 on the season. For the first time this year, Gino made his appearance on the Jumbotron, making fans reminisce about the Big Three era and Garnett’s reaction every time Gino was shown on the screen. While it can’t be said enough, everyone misses the Big Three era, Paul Pierce and KG, but 18 games into the new season, it’s become the main focal point by fans.

This current Celtics team is working hard, from the coach all the way to the end of the bench, but still, they remain in the shadow of the Big Three era. It’s time to move forward. Beginning in the late 90′s and until the Celtics raised banner 17, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parrish were always talked about as if that era ended the day before. While fans of this generation have a championship team to cling to and never forget, it’s time to focus on the here and now.

Today, the Boston Celtics are a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, and they’re accomplishing this without Rajon Rondo. This team was not built to “tank” and it wasn’t built to get a high lottery pick either. The Celtics, whether the fans like it or not, will not be getting a high lottery pick this year unless Ainge blows the roster up; the Atlanta Hawks continue losing to negate them from swapping picks with the Brooklyn Nets for a higher pick; or many teams at the bottom of the East change their seasons around.

As fans how do we know that getting Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker is Danny Ainge’s plan? He hasn’t publicly stated whether he wants this team to continue winning or losing, and there is no reason for him to. The draft is a major risk; Greg Oden, Kwame Brown, Michael Olowokandi, and Pervis Ellison to name a few were all busts. How do we know Wiggins might be the next LeBron James, and not make it on the list of the worst draft decisions in NBA history?

The way Boston has played so far, it appears they’re a player or two away from becoming a legitimate playoff contender and being just as exciting as they were a few years ago. Let’s remember, while fans may disagree with Ainge’s decision to trade Pierce and KG, Boston only won one championship during the Big Three era despite being promised at least two. To put it bluntly, the Big Three era wasn’t as successful as advertised.

The 2013 Boston Celtics are fun, play with energy, and are beginning to come into their own. Why overlook them and what they’re pulling off without their All-Star point guard, for either the 2014 NBA Draft or even the past. Both are out of the control of the organization, the players, and the fans. So let’s begin to appreciate this team and enjoy the fact that they are exceeding the expectations and limitations that the analysts and the rest of the league put on the Celtics.

 

Boston Celtics Trade Rumor: Could Amar’e Stoudemire Come To Boston?

After a night to sleep on the first trade rumor involving the Boston Celtics this season, there have been some minor changes to the “proposed trade”, if you can even call it that, which combines a multitude of emotions. All-star point guard Rajon Rondo is once again at the center of the rumor mill, but as usual Danny Ainge has denied that he has talked to any team about trading him. Whether Ainge has or not, it’s clear that something is in the works, whether Rondo is involved or not.

Journalists have speculated, and as ESPN’s Chris Broussard tweeted yesterday, the Celtics have no interest in trading Rondo, but for the right price, they would take Amar’e Stoudemire. Of course that is a hefty price, one that will require players like Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee to complete the deal. Also according to NBA rules, Boston will have to send another player such as Jordan Crawford or Jared Sullinger, or give up one of their future draft picks. It was also reported that the Knicks would offer Raymond Felton in the deal along with Iman Shumpert.

There are many questions that haven’t been asked, not only pertaining to the deal, but the aftermath as well. Iman Shumpert is basically the same player as Avery Bradley, the only difference is height. How will that work out, especially with two players who play the exact same role? Does this answer the question fans had when the Celtics didn’t renew Bradley’s contract? Could Shumpert be Bradley’s replacement in the future? These are just a few questions, but we haven’t reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unknowns.

If a deal without Rondo were to be completed, Boston would have a former All-star who is entering the twighlight of his career in Amar’e Stoudemire, a defensive specialist in Iman Shumpert who reportedly had microscopic knee surgery over the summer , and an actual point guard who can be a backup to Rondo when he returns. The trade rumor as currently constructed isn’t exactly attractive in the short term, but Stoudemire’s contract comes off the books after the 2014-2015 season giving Boston a legitimate shot at signing a few decent free agents two years from now.

Let’s not forget, there has been no mention of a draft pick being involved which still gives the Celtics two first round draft picks in this year’s draft.

This latest rumor requires a wide open mind, but to say that this deal is going to be completed is a stretch. The Knicks are in trouble; they’ve played sub-par in this early season and are looking for a way to become playoff contenders again. Ainge wasn’t the one who called the Knicks, they called him; if the reports are true. Trade rumors involving Boston is something we’ll all have to get used to, but unless the trade package becomes more attractive, this trade rumor will be put back in the cellar where it belongs.

 

NBA Trade Rumors: Knicks Interested In Rajon Rondo

Not even a month into the NBA season and we’re already talking trade rumors. Real GM reports that the New York Knicks are interested in Rajon Rondo and believe Iman Shumpert is the player that can entice Boston to at least consider a deal. However, the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett and ESPN’s Chris Broussard have refuted and shot down the rumor.

There is also reports that the Knicks want to deal Amar’e Stoudemire as well, but they’ll have a hard time accomplishing that with his contract that won’t expire until after next season.

It was inevitable. Trade rumors surrounding the Boston Celtics was expected, but starting so soon and with Rondo involved, is a bit surprising. This is barely a “rumor” as Danny Ainge has stated that Rondo is the centerpiece of this team, but this might just be the tip of the iceberg that hasn’t and won’t come to the surface until February.

UPDATE: