Monday, July 30, 2007

It was good that the Red Sox didn't have to play a game today. That way they had plenty of down time to wrestle with the fact that Scott Kazmir seems to be able to humiliate them at will. And they don't have to think too hard about the back-to-back home runs the invincible closer allowed to the lowly Devil Rays on Saturday.

It also enables me to talk about Danny Ainge and the no good, terrible, horrible, very bad trade rumors circulating about the Celtics. Perhaps some kind soul in contact with the brains that run Banner 17 can tell them they could save money by not even having a general manager. If Paul Pierce is running this team, why pay Ainge?

Admittedly, I don't think he should be paid a salary at all, based on his performance to date. But the Cs could cut some fat from the payroll at his expense, nevertheless. And it looks like they just might need that cash to pay Garnett, Pierce and Allen to play for the brand new contender in the Eastern Conference.

If this deal goes through, it will bother me on a number of levels. First, it will generate enough interest and ticket sales to preserve the current reign of terror for at least one more season. All the Whos here in Whoville will like Kevin Garnett a lot, at first. By the time the fans grasp the significance of this deal in the long term, he'll probably have moved on or retired. But the team will make some dough for a month, a year or two.

Another reason it will bother me is that the current management team will have changed horses in midstream once again. When they took over, the team was aging too fast, they said. Its window was closing, so they slammed it shut. So the team got younger and then younger and still younger. The losses mounted, but the region was told that this process takes time. But of course, the affront against the sport that was last season alerted the powers that be that the wheels had come of the youth movement.

So the natural move is to send all of your young players to teams in the Western Conference and import players of a certain age and experience. Because we all know that basketball players get better with age. Running up and down a wooden floor at top speed for 30-40 minutes a night strengthens joints, right? It doesn't wear on cartilage, ligaments and tendons, does it?

Sticking with Bird, McHale and Parrish for as long as the Cs did put the team in jail in the mid 90s. I know why they did it, and I stuck with the team because those three guys gave the team everything they had. Yeah, they won titles, but the Bird and McHale killed the last few productive seasons they may have had by playing hurt. Granted, Len Bias and Reggie Lewis dying tragically didn't help and the team should have drafted better players than Lohaus, Michael Smith and the rest but life is often cruel.

This time, the team went out and imported guys who may have a few good seasons left in them, but could also fall apart in an awful hurry. But this is smart basketball, right? It's not like Red Auerbach kept his teams going through blending young players in with his aging stars, right?

But this trade will really bother me because the Celtics have now reverted back to being essentially what they were when Ainge blew up the team in the first place. They have more star power, but they're older and probably (I don't have the time or desire to do the math myself, so if I'm wrong on this I'll apologize) even further over the cap than they were. Four years of this nonsense and we're back to square one.

With Allen, Garnett and Pierce, this team should contend in the East. It's not very likely that they could beat one of the better Western Conference teams in a seven game series, however. When Ainge made his moves to get rid of Walker, Delk and the rest, his rationale was that contending in the conference wasn't enough. The Celtics needed to contend for the NBA championship.

As you may have noticed, the Celtics have come no closer to contending for an NBA championship in the Ainge era than I have to travelling through time. But now that the team may have collected three stars who might be reaching the point of no return in their careers but have not managed to show any signs of pushing a team to the next level, every little thing will be just fine.

On the plus side, since this is the NBA, it's likely that this trade will help neither team in the long run. The Celitcs now have a 3 man rotation in a five man sport. Rondo doesn't look like he's the answer, unless the question is: "The Celtics gave up a pick that could have been Randy Foye or Brandon Roy to draft whom?" Kendrick Perkins could be this generation's Stanley Roberts only without the potential. But there's always Leon Powe. And I think Oliwikandi is still on the roster...

But the Timberwolves could get Al Jefferson at the absolute apex of his value. Too bad he's destined to be the best player on a bad team for the rest of his career. I suppose that there's a chance that he could progress into a 20 point a night guy since there's no one else to score in Minnesota now. But I just don't see him making that team anything but a blip on the radar in the West.

With any luck, Gerald Green will be gone as well. He can play above the rim, provided that he's in a dunk contest. Too bad that he's looking like the second coming of Kenny "Sky" Walker. If only he had more skills that translated into effective play on the court, maybe Cs fans would miss him. As for Sebastian Telfair, at least Fabulus can sleep nights knowing that Bassy's 1200 miles away now.

But Cs fans, take comfort in the fact that Tony Allen will be coming back. At least until the next time he gets fouled 25 feet from the basket.

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