Summer Quandaries #55
September 25--2 days to camp
How Bad Could It Get?
Warning: Skip this post if you don’t have a strong stomach and/or do have a problem with depression.
Let me preface this by saying that I don’t at all believe that the following will come to pass, at least not all of it. This last season it was hard on me watching Sheed trot from 3-point line to 3-point line jacking three’s and olé-ing opponents. Just as I rolled ideas around in my head last February about starting the demolition and rebuilding, it occurs to me that in spite of the “reload for another run” course that Ainge has plotted, there is a discernable chance that the wheels will fly off and next February he will be implementing Plan X. This Plan X will be dismantling a far more accomplished team than the one he blew up his first year at the helm, but it will have many of the same elements and be at least as hard to swallow. At least this time he will be dealing away aging stars rather than aging journeymen, and there are probably more “keepers” than the one, count ‘em one, (Pierce) in 2005.
Note that not all of the following have to occur for Danny to press the red button, but you have to ask yourself just how many straws it would take to break the camel’s back? But considering the following from Nightmare on Fleet Street:
Ray Allen’s career low shooting percentage continues to decline and rather than the one good game in three or four during last year’s playoffs, his output drops to one good game out of ten.
Kevin Garnett’s apparent increase in mobility during the playoffs was the high water mark and his pace slows to an even more pedestrian level than last year’s regular season. Does fierce become toothless when the body just won’t execute the mind’s demands?
Pierce, by most accounts, has lost a half step. Not a big deal, yet, mostly due to the fact that he has ramped up his distance shooting, still can create space (usually) with his step back, and hasn’t lost much of the strength that makes his drives effective. Make that a full step and defenders won’t have to lay off and open up his long range offense. That full step might be enough to allow them to wait for his move (step back or drive) and still have time and vertical enough to challenge.
What if Perk doesn’t make it back? Damaging all three ligaments in the knee might be enough to end a career.
Many felt Cleveland played better with Shaq out of the lineup. Suppose there is no “right” way to use the diminished skills of the Big Diesel? He has talked, frequently, about accepting that he is a role player. Think that extends to accepting that he is a largely ineffective role player?
The other O’Neal is relatively young, at least on this aggregation of greybeards. There is a lot of mileage on those legs though and he’s missed a bundle of games in the last five years. We’re counting on the pathetic showing in the playoffs being a byproduct of the ankle injury but what if it wasn’t? What if his lift, shot, and mobility went out the door with his 31st birthday?
Big Baby talks of turning new leaves but his actions keep reinforcing his old appellate. He can be a high-energy but altitude-challanged sparkplug but he continues to be about two buffet lines or one friend’s girlfriend-slur away from having nothing to contribute.
Marquis Daniels has teased with spells of competence separated by long periods of injury-induced inactivity for most of a decade. Is he star-crossed or just fragile? More specifically is he too accident prone to count on?
Delonte West is everybody’s (including me) favorite cartoon character, and a pretty good basketball talent. He’s battling a debilitating and complex disease and appears to be doing well on his medications. The problem is that sufferers of his disease are known for going off meds either because they don’t feel like they need them anymore or they just miss the highs of the manic times. He may be the poster child for “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
Von is saying the right things but as Doc has pointed out, everybody says the right things in the summer. Wafer has sure said plenty of the wrong things, and at the wrong time, for team after team and coach after coach. What if his feelings that the Celtics have given him a golden chance morphs into a feeling that he is God’s gift to the Celtics and basketball?
Nate Robinson is a one-man-band exemplifying up-tempo instant offense, who managed to alienate a coach who preaches up-tempo instant offense. You know D&D talked to him (and got a positive response) about his role before acquiring him and yet he managed to so PO Doc that he was benched for weeks only emerging from the dog house late in the playoffs. What are the chances that the Shoot First, Defend Never Hyde doesn’t re-emerge?
Rondo has thus far made a very good career out of being a can’t-shoot point guard throwing the ball to people who can shoot. He’s clashed with players and coaches at every level. If this team starts to disintegrate, is he really a good candidate to keep things together?
Yeah, while I’m actually quite optimistic; if things go South then Danny may not have to blow up this team. It may implode, and explode, all by itself. If so it will probably make February a lot more interesting, May really boring, and late June and summer (barring a lockout) quite frenzied. I now return you to your regular green-tinted programming.