The big story this week was the fact that the Celtics released Clifford Ray as their big man coach. This doesn't seem to make much sense to those of us on the outside reading the stories. Clifford Ray is one of the most respected big men coaches in the league. His work with Kendrick Perkins, Al Jefferson, Glen Davis (and the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard) has brought about tremendous growth in each of them. Some have said his work is done here, but I don't buy it. Perk is just 25 and still learning and growing year by year. Big Baby still has a lot to learn. We just brought in Semih Erden and if they intend to develop him for the future, there would be no one better than Clifford Ray to aid in that development. I'm thinking he may be missed almost as much as Tom Thibodeau.
Eventually, I'm sure it will come out as to why Cliff was let go. Maybe they have someone else in mind for the position. Maybe the owners wanted to cut some salary but given the success of the team and the bargain deals Danny signed this season, it would seem that money shouldn't be a problem. But, regardless of why they let him go, the way they did it concerns me. This is just the most recent occurrence of questionable dealings with people by the club.
First there was the way they dealt with Bob Cousy. Granted, it was Comcast who actually fired Cousy, but if the Celtics organization stuck up for one of their own, then it wouldn't have happened. For 34 years, Bob Cousy was involved in broadcasting the Celtics. Most recently, he did color on 10 or so games a year for a minimal salary and he loved doing it. But, after 34 years of doing it, they just unceremoniously dumped the 80 year old legend. He got a call from some office flunky telling him he was no longer needed. That's not the way to deal with a legend. Cousy was hurt and the fans were robbed of his keen insights and younger fans, especially, won't get the benefit of hearing a living legend's thoughts on the team.
And then there was the way they treated Leon Powe. Leon is a great guy. He gave his all to the Celtics in his 3 years with the team. In the 2009 playoffs, the team was shorthanded due to injuries. Leon had tweaked his knee and played in pain anyway because his team needed him. Then he tore his ACL while doing so. You would think that a team would reward that kind of loyalty. All he was looking for was a vet minimum contract. He would miss the first half of the season but the Celtics had room to keep him while he rehabbed. But the Celtics declined to offer him a contract. When he got hurt, the Celtics inferred that they would take care of him and then just turned their backs on him. Leon was hurt and I don't blame him. Yes, it's a business, but it wouldn't have hurt the team in the least to keep Leon on the team.
Now, there is the decision not to bring Clifford Ray back. And there are more questions about how they handled it. If they weren't bringing him back, the right thing to do would be to let him know at the beginning of the off season so he would have a chance to catch on with another team. But they informed them of their decision now, after most teams have their staffs set already, when there is little chance of his finding an open coaching spot. If there is such a thing as karma, the Celtics are definitely heading in the negative karma direction.
I was just reading that the Heat are planning to move their training camp away from Miami for the first time. They are planning a camp in my stomping grounds here in the Florida Panhandle. It is obvious that they are reaching for the Celtics model in 2007-08 where they bonded quickly in their European training camp. I wonder how Paul Pierce is feeling right about now. Pierce made his desire for the Celtics to move camp out of the area to recreate that camp closeness they experienced in 2007. He wanted to go further than Rhode Island where they had held camp for the past 2 seasons. Instead of moving further away, as Pierce requested, Danny decided to get even closer, planning camp at the Celtics practice facility in Waltham. Seems to me that while the Heat are building chemistry and camaraderie, the Celtics are building grudges and discontent.
I am getting so anxious for training camp to start. It seems like forever since we had any real Celtics basketball to talk about. Talking about injustices and lawsuits just doesn't cut it. It will be interesting to see who wins the 14th and 15th spots on the roster. There's going to be a good battle going on between the players who are on the bubble to prove they belong. Personally, I'm pulling for Tony Gaffney. I think he is just what the Celtics need behind Paul Pierce. The question is, even if he makes the team, will Doc play him?