“Another cash grab for Danny Ainge”

            Over the past weekend, the Celtics and Danny Ainge traded the top overall pick in the upcoming draft to the 76ers for the 3rd overall pick and at least one future first round pick that the 76ers received from the Suns through the Lakers if that pick falls between pick number two and pick number five. If the pick is either the top pick or sixth or later than the Celtics will instead receive a pick that the 76ers received from Sacramento. With the pick that the 76ers will receive, they are predicted to pick fultzthe scoring threat out of the University of Washington in Markelle Fultz, a freshman point guard. The freshman scored 23.2 points this year to go along with 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists for the huskies. Per an article on New England Sports Net, it talks about how reports coming out saying that one of the reasons that the Celtics traded the pick was that they had serious concerns that Fultz is not a true winner since his team only won 9 games this past year.

                I believe that the Celtics made a good move with trading the pick away. This team is trying to acquire the services of a star in the league rather than drafting an unproven player. With them completing this trade with Philly, the Celtics have a bundle of first round picks that they can use to trade for a big-name star in the bosphillyleague. Following this trade, the Celtics now have seven first round picks for the next three years. Only time will tell if this trade works out for both teams, or will be another trade like the one the Celtics had with Brooklyn, when they sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Nets.

                In the history of the modern era of the NBA Draft, the top pick has only been traded seven times, before the pick has ever played for that team, including this trade between Boston and Philly, with the last time coming in 2014 when the Cleveland Cavaliers sent Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love. The other times it happened were in 1950 when the Celtics traded Chuck Share to the Pistons for Bill Sharman, the next time was in 1957 when the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) sent Hot Rod Hundley to the Lakers for Clyde Lovelette, in 1980 Boston sent Joe Carrol to the Warriors for Robert Parish and a draft pick that would land them Kevin Mchale, Brad Daugherty was sent from Philly to Cleveland in 1986 and Chris Webber was sent to the Warriors from the Magic in exchange for Penny Hardaway in 1993.  I guess you could say that the Celtics are not new to trading the top pick.

       The only trade that backfired would be the 1986 trade that had the 76ers sending the top pick to the Cavaliers in exchange for Roy Hinson. This trade backed fired since with the Cavaliers, Daugherty would be a 5 time all star in his 8 year career and daughertywould never average lower than the 15.7 points he averaged his rookie year. For his career, Daugherty averaged 19 points 9 rebounds and 3 assists. On the other end of the trade, the 76ers received Roy Hinson, this trade is one sided due to the fact that Hinson was out of Philly after 1.5 years with the team.

              This trade is a win-win for both teams, because for the 76ers, they get another young player to help with “The Process”, and for the Celtics, they get more assets to try to acquire talent to overthrow the Cavaliers and Warriors as the top teams in the league.

 

A Bright Future for this Celtics Team

                As we all figured, the final two teams standing are the Cavaliers and Warriors for the third straight year. On Thursday night, Cleveland beat Boston to advance winning the series 4-1. Boston was the only team that the Lebron James led team did not sweep in the playoffs this year, while Golden State eased through each of their series to be the first team to go 12-0 in the playoffs. Even though this match up could be seen coming since after Cleveland won the title last year and especially after Kevin Durant signed with Golden State, I believe that some of the teams in both conferencesecf2 will step up to the challenge and get closer to the level that the Warriors and Cavs are playing on and be closer to ending this streak of Finals appearances for both teams. For the Boston Celtics, the future is so very bright in terms of what they can accomplish.

                This is just the beginning for the young Celtics team; they will be towards the top of the East again next year. This team seems primed to make another run at the Eastern Conference Finals next year with all the talent that they currently have and the opportunity to acquire more whether it is from the draft and using the top pick or by trading that pick for someone like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. They also have the advantage of having one of the best young coaches in the NBA in Brad Stevens.

                This franchise has come far from where it was just 4 years ago at the start of the Stevens era. This team had just come off a 41-40 year, the franchise sent their greatschampionship winning head coach to the Clippers, they had traded two of the greatest players of this generation to the Nets for a bunch of bench players and a few draft picks and were beginning the process to rebuild. No one expected Coach Stevens to succeed in the NBA since most college coaches struggle in the pros unless you have a team built to win now. In his first year, he led the team to a 25-57 record, the worse since 06’-07’, and would draft a scrappy guard from OK State in Marcus Smart with their first-round pick.

                   Going into the trade deadline in his second season, Coach Stevens had the team at 20-31 and in need of a boost somehow. Towards the final moments of the coach stevensdeadline, Danny Ainge would pull off one of the most one sided trades this decade, two years after he pulled of another one that did not seem like it at first; he would swap Marcus Thornton and a first rounder for the undersized guard in Isaiah Thomas. That season they would end with a record of 40-42 and get into the playoffs with the 7th seed.

     IT4     Since the acquisition of Thomas, the Celtics are 121-74. This team has been able to improve every year under Stevens. They have increased their win total each year from his first year and going 25-57 to this past year and winning 53 games and appearing in the Eastern Conference Finals. It also helped that they could lure one of the best big men in the league in Al Horford from Atlanta. With the amount of young talent and the stash of draft picks, I would certainly say that the future of the Celtics is very bright and that they are ahead of schedule in terms of finishing their rebuilding phase of the franchise last year and are able to win now.

History Denied! Cavs brought back to earth.

                As many people saw in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs showed no mercy to the Celtics and handed them their worst loss in the postseason in franchise history, 130-86, and lead by 41 points at the half, 71-30, which is an NBA playoff record. This postseason seemed like it would be a breeze for the Cavs after sweeping the firsbost 2 rounds and winning the first two games of the series against the Celtics. Coming into game 3, the Cavs were on a 13-game playoff winning streak going back to the Finals last year against the Warriors. That winning streak tied the 88-89 Lakers as the longest in playoff history. What made it worse, was that the leader for the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, was ruled out of the rest of the playoffs with a hip injury.

                After the 1st quarter in game 3 between the Cavs and Celtics, the Cavs took an 11-point lead and seemed like it was about to be another blowout and would give the Lebron led Cavs the playoff record for 14 games won in a row in the postseason. At half, it seemed like it was going to get bad as the lead ballooned to 16 points. Even as the lead grew to 21 in the 3rd quarter, something clicked inlebron the Celtics and they would go on an improbable run to get within 5 points at the end of the 3rd, they were lead by Marcus Smart who would make 7 3’s and score 27 points overall. Their passion/drive would continue into the 4th quarter and would win the game on an Avery Bradley last second 3 point shot to win the game 111-108! According to ESPN, before game 3, Lebron was 49-0 in the postseason when his team was leading by 20+ points. Now its 49-1! That goes to show that the Celtics were not going to lie down and take it like in game 2. ESPN also stated that Boston is the first team to win a playoff game following a 40+ point loss in the last 35 years.

                With this win, the Celtics pulled off the biggest upset in the playoffs in the last 20 years. They were 16.5 point underdogs coming into this game. In everyone’s mind, including mine, did not think that Boston could pull off this win, especially after the way game 2 played out and losing the heart and soul of their team in Isaiah Thomas. After how game 3 played out, you could say that even though their leader wasn’t playing anymore, everyone on that team would not give up and played with heart. The same way Isaiah did after his sister passed away right before the playoffs started. The biggest mystery of the game would be, where did Lebron James go. In this game he shot 4-13 for 11 points 6 rebounds 6 assists and the biggest shocker is he had 6 turnovers in this game. Coming into this game, he was averaging over 30 points in the playoffs. That could be a bad thing for the Celtics for the next game. He could go off on them, but we have to wait and see.

                Throughout the playoffs, the Celtics have been out there to prove that they deserved the #1 seed in the East, even though people thought they were the most overrated top seed ever. At points during the postseason, there were times that they did, but at others they looked like a team deserving of the top seed. This team will keep fighting until there is nothing else to fight for, whether they win the championshipecf2 or they lose against whomever. This team won’t stop believing that they deserve to be there. Even though this series will end with Cavs moving on, I truly believe that the Celtics are moving in the right direction to challenge Lebron’s team for the throne of the East. This franchise has come a long way in a short period of time since trading away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and thanks to the Nets in return, Boston gets the top pick in this years draft, which can help them get closer to Cleveland.

Is a “big 3” big enough these days?

durant warriorsAs many in the sports world know, Kevin Durant elected to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors to team up with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, forming possibly the greatest team ever in the history of the NBA. Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors is also significant due to the fact that with the signing, they are forming the league’s first “Big 4”. Since 2000 there have been at least 13 times when franchises create a “Big 3”. The last time would be when the Warriors drafted Draymond Green. Forming a “super team” does not always guarantee a championship right away, or at all.

mia-big-three

 As we saw when LeBron James and Chris Bosh elected to go to the Miami Heat in free agency in the summer before the 2010-11 season joining Dwayne Wade, they were prematurely crowned champs. The Heat struggled mightily in the first couple of months in the season going 10-8. After they managed to jell after the 10-8 start they would go 48-16 the rest of the season and finish 58-24. They managed to get to the NBA finals, but would lose to the Mavs in 6 games. This “Big 3” would be together the next 3 year and reach the NBA finals every year they were together, winning 2 straight then losing to the Spurs in their 4th appearance. Following the Finals lose to the Spurs, LeBron James elected to go back to the Cavaliers in hopes of finally bringing a championship home.

The Miami Heat had another “Big 3” in 05-06 when they signed Hall of famer Gary Payton to go along with Shaq and Dwayne Wade. This “Big 3”would help lead Miami to the franchise’s first championship ever. This group would only be together for 2 years due to Payton retiring and O’Neal being traded to Phoenix.  This is one of the cases where a “super team” does not always bring championships.

lakersz

In the summer before the 03-04 season the Lakers were able to recruit Karl Malone and Gary Payton to team up with Kobe and Shaq. People did call this a “Big 4” I do not really see it as one due to the fact that they didn’t play together much. I really think of it as a “Big 3” with a mentor. I consider the “Big 3” to consist of Kobe, Shaq, and Gary. I do not Include Karl Malone in the group due to him playing the fewest games out of all of them. That season they were able to win a championship, but it was the only season they would play together. Shaq would get traded to Miami, Karl would retire and Gary would be traded to the Boston Celtics.

spurs big 3

The Spurs had the greatest “Big 3” in the history of the league. The grouping of Manu Ginobilli, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker. This group has led the franchise to 5 titles, and an NBA record 129 playoff wins. This group, alongside the coaching of the one of the greatest coaches, Gregg Popovich, has achieved the status of being the ideal franchise in terms of constant winning. During this off-season, the NBA world saw this power group breakup with the retiring of Tim Duncan.

laker fail

The 2013 L.A. Lakers team was a case where forming a “super team” back fired badly.  The L.A. Lakers acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to play alongside Kobe. This “super team” failed horribly due to Nash’s chronic injuries and missed playing time. Howard and Bryant did not want to share the court with one another. Howard ultimately would be traded that following off season. Another example is the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, when they acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston. The team was never really able to form a cohesive and highly-functional group. To make things worse, the Nets gave up their first round picks for the next couple years to Boston. The 1st first round pick ended up being the 3rd overall pick, and neither Garnett nor Pierce were on the team anymore.

boston big 3

In the off season before the 07-08 season, the Boston Celtics were trying to land a super star to go along with their franchise player Paul “the Truth” Pierce, in hopes of winning banner 16. Boston had not been a real favorable place for players that wanted to join. The team had not been the monster it was back when it went on to win 8 straight championships. Danny Ainge, the GM, was somehow able to pull a trade off and bring Ray Allen from Seattle, and Kevin Garnett from Minnesota. During that following season, the Celtics were a completely different team. They went on to go 66-16 after a disappointing 24-58 season, which is the best single season turn-around for a team in NBA history. They did struggle some in the playoffs, but managed to beat their arch rival L.A. Lakers in the finals to win banner 17. This is one of the rare cases in the Modern day NBA for a “super team” to win the title in the first year.

Yes, I know that there are many “Big 3’s”, but the game is not the same as it was in the years of Hall of Famers Magic, Bird, Russell, and Kareem.