If you’re a Celtics fan, and you look at this roster and see two current All Stars and a former All Star alongside an All NBA defender, and someone comes along and says you’re still 2 pieces away from CONTENDING?
Because that’s what Celtics legend Paul Pierce said in a recent article, and boy were his statements concerning.
"They may be two pieces away because you know when you say Harrison Barnes, (they also lost) Gordon Hayward (from last year). I mean I don’t see like a big difference in talent disparity right there. That’s what they had the last year. And so it would have to be the addition of Harrison Barnes and another player because losing Hayward really hurt this squad. He gave them the versatility on both ends of the court to where they can play a switching style defense, and stretch the court on offense with those four offensive weapons including Kemba. Not having him really hurt them as far as that and it cut into their depth as well.”
If you follow our own @Stool_Greenie (give him a follow, his main account got hacked and he’s working from his backup) you already know that the Celtics are in trouble with a Capital T. And it’s not just the hullabaloo around Brad Stevens and the rumor he would bolt midseason from the Celtics for Indiana University (he’s not). It’s worse than that if you can believe it.
Think about that. A wild rumor about an NBA coach abandoning a historic franchise in the middle of a season isn’t even close to the most concerning thing facing this franchise this week.
So what the hell is going on in Boston?
There are two things at play. The first is the trade deadline, which is rapidly approaching. The second is a deeper, more systemic problem: can the Celtics actually get over the hump with Tatum and Brown?
The Athletic had a great article on the problems facing Boston and any potential big trade.
To recap, not a lot of valuable assets on the market right now that can help this team get past the Nets, Sixers, Bucks OR Heat. Those that are available -- Harrison Barnes, Vucevich, Bogdanovich, etc. -- carry a HEAVY price tag. And we know Danny Ainge loves either staying pat, bargain hunting, or shoplifting from other teams.
This year has proven more difficult to fleece bad teams because of the hope that the play-in games are providing perennial losers like the Bulls and Wizards. The Hawks aren’t in a rush to sell it appears because they find themselves squarely in the middle of the playoff picture as a 4 seed in the East which would be good for 10th in the west. All of that to say, the East is trash, but making the playoffs is making the playoffs no matter how you slice it. And if you’re Travis Schlenk the GM of the Hawks, and you can save your job by holding on to Collins and going to the playoffs, that’s what you’re going to do.
That makes things difficult for a GM like Danny Ainge, who has a roster that is not meshing and poorly constructed. He very clearly needs to make a move for this team to have a chance of doing anything in May but his options now are limited.
So adding to this roster is not going to be easy, especially without giving up someone like Marcus Smart, which is pretty much the only valuable trade asset the Celtics have.
And not switching up this roster right now means two things. One, another year of Tatum and Brown’s prime years wasted. And two, the potential for a disaster scenario.
Paul Pierce further expanded on what he thinks is wrong with the Celtics in addition to lack of depth, and damn if it shouldn't send a chill down every Boston fan’s spine. He said:
“You know what this team reminds me of? It reminds me of my younger days with me and Antoine. You have two All-Stars, capable of going off at any night and hope that you get help from the other guys but we hit our peak with the conference finals (in 2002), and that’s what I see from this team.”
Everyone remembers what happens to THAT Celtics team that also could not get over the hump. They blew it up. Only then did they win a chip. Pierce continued:
“You know, I wish we could have built on that squad with me and Antoine. And that’s what the Celtics have to learn from. You have two guys that don’t come around often. When you look around the league, how many teams have two All-Stars. They have to do a good job, moving forward, of just surrounding these guys with better pieces, or adding pieces that can bring consistency.”
Guess what? There’s no Ray Allen or KG just waiting out there for Danny Ainge to swoop in. The expanded playoffs have now made teams like the Cavaliers and Wizards, who would normally be in FULL ON sell mode, holding on to guys like Davis Bertans and Jarrett Allen because they’re only a couple games out of the 10 spot, which gets them a on game play in to make a full playoff series.
In addition to the wonky roster, it appears there is something rumbling beneath the surface whether this means chemistry issues or drama, or something else. Kemba and Marcus Smart just the other day talked about things like “putting pride aside” and “personal issues getting in the way of winning”.
Marcus Smart said:
“You know a lot of things have happened in our lives, personally, individually, where it’s hard to come in here and give that energy to somebody else when in your own individual personal life, energy has been drained or you don’t really have it. We got to find a way to pick each other when that energy is down from that standpoint, because it shows.”
Personal distractions. Low energy. Not really having it. NOT great phrases to hear from the heart and soul of your team.
And then Kemba said:
"We do have stretches where we do play really well. It’s just not consistent right now. At the end of the day, we got to come together, man. If we want to win and we want to be successful, it’s only one possible way that can happen and that's for us to do it together. Some people gotta sacrifice certain things. We got to put our pride to the side and figure it out."
Is that a shot at Tatum and Brown? Cuz I kind of think it is.
Who knows what this means for the C’s moving forward but it does seem like more is wrong then just needing a big man that can shoot.
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