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Summer Quandaries #50
September 20--7 days to camp

Virus? Cure?

I had plenty of time to think about a column today as I waited for the programs to run to clean a virus from my computer. Oddly the unpleasant experience provided the subject for today’s mental exercise. I can remember no time since the John Y. Brown ownership disaster that the team has had so many members that might prove problematic—in the clubhouse, on the court or in court, in the press, out on the town, in the coach’s office, or in the social media. The success of this final hurrah with the Big Three is fraught with danger and none is more insidious than the threat to upset the positive chemistry that has been a mainstay for the past three years.

In the past Danny Ainge has not shied from taking a chance on risky personality types with some red flags in their history. Ricky Davis, Stephon Marbury, and Michael Olowokandi all come to mind. While none proved to be enormous successes at least they were not allowed to run amok and were held accountable for their actions while with the Celtics.

Last summer Danny recruited Rasheed Wallace who came with considerable baggage and during the season took on Nate Robinson
who had become persona non grata despite being something of a crowd favorite in New York. There has been a lot of goodie-goodie talk concerning Rasheed’s finally showing up during the playoffs. I felt however that allowing him to coast through the regular season and his differential (or maybe deferential) treatment bespoke a division that set the wrong tone for the younger players and detracted from team unity. The midseason addition of Robinson looked like a failed experiment as Nate’s undisciplined shot selection and spotty defense had taken him out of the rotation and into Doc’s doghouse until his resurgence and rededication to defense that allowed him to reemerge late in the playoffs. In April few expected him to return this year but his improved performance in the Conference and NBA Finals led to his resigning.

This summer has seen the signing of Von Wafer, Shaquille O’Neal, and most recently Delonte West. Each of these players has made the headlines, and not the good kind, for incidents both on and off the court. Bringing in all three and expecting there to be no problems or issues is probably na├»ve. With so many new additions (nearly half the team) there are legitimate concerns about chemistry issues even if no one is making waves. It is a situation that I’m sure will draw close attention from both Rivers and Ainge.

The factor that best mitigates the threat is that all the likely suspects are on minimum vet contracts and potential replacements are already on board. The guards (West and Wafer) are part of a virtual glut at the PG and SG positions where seven players are under some kind of contract and eight will be in camp. The Shaquille role is less well covered with only the Turkish rookie Semih Erden as Center depth until/unless Perkins returns, although both Garnett and Davis have served spot duty there in the past. You have to believe that Ainge will be quick to excise the cancer should one of these wheels start squeaking or, worse yet, fly off the axel. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Lee Lauderdale 9/20/2010 11:44:00 PM Edit
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3 Responses so far.

  1. Jenda says:

    I can't imagine Shaq being a threat psychically. He seems OK with the role on the team and he should be experienced enough to know only 100% effort brings brings the results. Hopefully the veterans learned from last season and will maintain the professional spirit and focus Sheed lacked through the course of the regular season.

  2. JR says:

    It's kind of funny that when we sign "professionals" like Scalabrine, PJ Brown or Finley everyone says how important having these guys and team chemistry is, but when we continue to add questionable character guys like Nate, Shaq, Jermaine, Wafer, West, etc its said that they'll do fine with the Celtics b/c of the locker room.

    Is it me or is it one or the other? Either guys with good character are important or they don't matter? Can't have it both ways. i guess the glass is always half full thinking says you can have it both ways too. I'm hoping Shaq proves me wrong. Whereas 'Sheed was just lazy I didn't think he was a locker room trouble. Shaq based on his experience worries me. He's going to bitch about minutes and shots I fear. I would have preferred Earl Barron or Shelden as the place holder until Perk returns (or of course doing something bolder and having traded for Big Al).

  3. Jenda says:

    Let's put it this way. The main thing Shaq was talking about in the press conference was his legacy. The only result of him bitching about minutes or shots is harm to his legacy as an Iverson-like character who couldn't come to terms with the nature and his own aging. Now I think he's mature enough to know that is something he doesn't want to happen. It's OK to lose athletics and skills with age and I don't think it's fair to ask the players to retire from the game just because they are not as good as they used to be. If there's some team willing to pay them, let them play the game they love so much - after all the love for the game is what got them where they are and it's awesome if they can keep it.
    I wouldn't be so optimistic on guys like Delonte and Von Wafer. West is psycho enough to be selected in the All NBA crazy 1st team along with Artest, Barnes, Jason Williams and J.R. Smith.
    Von Wafer is not psycho but his love to the game may ba questioned by the dedication issues illustrated by failing the physical.
    I'm affraid of J. O'Neal- I just have this feeling he's either going to suffer some nasty major injury, messing up with the rest of the team or just play like in the 2010 play offs.
    And as for Robinson, I'm a fan. Fan of his game not his twitter feed (man, is he annoying).
    Plus I think that Doc Rivers is an nature given authority which should help all the guys. After all even 'Sheed played some serious ball in the play offs.
    (sorry for the really long post)

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