The sports world is abuzz with dreams of Boston rings and pennants and parades, oh my. If you missed it, in the past 24 hours Boston sports teams have traded for a roid-head Canuck and a legit NBA Superstar with 35,443 minutes of high-octane basketball on his odometer.
Sour grapes, you say? Could be, maybe I’m not seeing clearly, but there are a couple of things about both of these trades that you Boston fans may want to take a look at.
Celtic Fans: On June 27th, you had zero superstars on your team, a blossoming low-post threat, the number 5 pick in the draft, and a bevy of young, talented role players. 33 days later, you have 1.5 superstars, all over 30 (this season), all with serious minutes behind them, and a steep decline ahead of them, and about 9 holes on your 12–man roster.
If you’re wondering about my math, Paul Pierce is no longer a superstar. He’s older than his 29 years, he is no longer explosive, and he’s a liability on defense. Yes, he still averaged 25 points per game last year, expect 5–10 points to come off that average this year.
Ray Allen is a shell of his former self, making him a shell of the player Michael Redd is now. Defensive liability doesn’t begin to describe him these days, and he’s got gimpy ankles and knees. I’m counting Allen and Pierce as 0.5 superstars. They can both take over a game on any given night, but neither is capable of carrying a team over an extended period of time at this point of his career. Both players’ offensive output is offset by their severely deteriorated defensive skills, diminishing mobility and recent injury problems (Allen and Pierce combined to miss 62 games last year.)
Kevin Garnett is still legit. He’s a top five player in the league. A top five player in the league who’s never advanced beyond the conference finals, in 12 years in the league, but still a top five player. This year, he’s going to be rejuvenated. He’s going to be a beast. This year, Garnett might just carry this team deep into the playoffs. This year, they may even have a shot at the Finals. All of this is possible.
Of course, Garnett has had this type of cast around him before, in 03–04. Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell put up the type of numbers I expect from Allen and Pierce this year. The only difference is that Cassell was the point, and Latrell could actually defend the other team’s best perimeter player. This year, the Celts have Rajon Rondo (40% from the floor, 20% from three, 64% from the line), no perimeter defender to speak of and Kendrick Perkins in the middle. The bench is even worse. Brian Scalabrine is the only returning player who averaged more than 15 minutes/game last year.
Jeff Green, Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Delonte West, Sebastian Telfare, the Celts #1 in 2009 and also the T-Wolves #1 pick next year (which is a lock to be a lottery pick). That’s a nucleus. Garnett, Allen, Pierce, Rondo and Perkins, that’s a meltdown waiting to happen. The “big 3” will be motivated this year, they may make a run at/to the Finals, but they won’t be winning a championship. This franchise has no future, so live it up this year, Celtics’ fans. In a couple years, you’re going to be wishing for another year like the pitiful 06–07 tank job.
Sox Fans: On the field, you guys got better today. No doubt about that. Barring an injury, drug suspension or meltdown, the ass end of your bullpen is probably the most formidable in the league. You didn’t over pay for Gagne, what you gave up was pretty fair value for a rental. The only thing I have to say to you is that you better break out these signs again:
Because the guy you just traded for is just as guilty as Barry Bonds. Gagne is the face of the under-belly of the steroid scandal. Here’s a newsflash, just as many pitchers were juicing as hitters. That extra 5 MPH on the fastball didn’t materialize out of thin air. If you’re calling for an asterisk next to any Bonds record, then there better be one next to Gagne’s consecutive saves record as well.
Here’s one final piece of good news for you Red Sox fans, after 106 games your beloved team’s record is 64–42. After 106 games last year, their record was also 64–42. Their record at the end of ‘06? 86–76. Feel comfortable?