“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.

 

The Trilogy is Completed

                 As we all know, Golden State and Cleveland in the NBA Finals for the third straight year. So, it’s now three straight years of Steph vs Kyrie, three years of Lebron vs Klay and three years of Love vs Green. The big difference is Kevin Durant who left Oklahoma City for Golden State in hopes of winning his first title. Golden State showed the sports world they were not playing around with the addition of Durant. So, this budding rivalry could become a mainstay in the Championship series the same way that the Celtics and Lakers were throughout the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

        cavsvswar2        This rivalry has already managed to do something that no other rivalry or match up in NBA Finals has done, and that is appear in three straight Finals against each other. Teams have met in back-to-back finals 13 times including the first two match ups of Cleveland and Golden State. In every back to back Finals match up, the team that lost the previous match-up is 7-6 in the next match up. If you take that serious then, history is more on Golden State’s side than it is Cleveland.

                After the 113-91 thrashing that the Warriors gave the Cavs in game 1 on Thursday night, it looks as if history is truly on the Warriors side and they may be cavsvswar4able to pull out a championship by the end of this. I know that its only one game, it’s too early to tell and anything could happen, but if you look at how the Cavs played, that was their worst game this postseason and their worst game since they lost to the Clippers 108-78 back on March 18th.

             canvsdet   From an article by USA Today, this is the fourth time in all major US sports leagues that a trilogy has happened and the first in more than sixty years. The last trilogy was in the NHL where the Canadiens and Red wings matched up in the Stanley Cup Finals in ’54, ’55, and ’56. Looking through the eras in basketball, it is really surprising that there nflhas never been a trilogy before today with how many dynasties and rivalries there were, from all of the legendary Celtics and Lakers match ups, to the Lakers and Pistons in the ‘80s, to every other star-studded match up.

                In the trilogy for the Canadiens and Red wings, the Red wings wound up winning two out of three against the Canadiens. In the MLB, it hasn’t happened since the babethe 1920’s when Babe Ruth was playing on the Yankees when they faced The New York Giants and Frankie Frisch from 1921-1923 with the Giants winning two out of three against the Yankees. In the NFL, it has not happened since the 50’s, before there was the Super Bowl, when the Cleveland Browns, led by Hall of Fame QB Otto Graham and Head Coach Paul Brown, faced off against the Detroit Lions, led by Hall of Famers Bobby Layne and Doak Walker, from 1952-54 with the Lions winning the first two match ups and becoming only the third team in league history at that point to repeat as champions.

 

 

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.

Has this rivalry reached level of one of the greats or is it getting old?

                As of right now, it looks as if it would be the Golden State Warriors vs the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-peat in the NBA Finals. Some would love to see this happen since there has never been three straight NBA Finals with the same two teams.  The majority of people though, do not want to see this happen; they want to see new teams fighting for the lebronstephchampionship. Sure, it would be entertaining to see Lebron repeat with the Cavs, but the level that both the Warriors and the Cavalier are playing on is a level where it doesn’t have drama in it to the point where you know that they will win their games most nights. Both teams could have gone through the playoffs undefeated until the Celtics beat the Cavs in Game 3. Most people do not want to see Lebron in the Finals again, since he has been in it six straight years going back to his time with Miami. People want to see someone new get into the Finals, especially from the East.

               According to the CBS station in Cleveland, Tyronn Lue, Cavaliers Head Coach, stated that a third straight year of Cavs vs Warriortyronns in the finals would be a good thing for the league, by comparing this “rivalry” with the likes of the Celtics and Lakers, considering those teams met in the Finals twelve times. The difference between these two rivalries is that the Celtics and Lakers never met in three consecutive Finals. During the span of 51 years, between their first match and their last match up, the Celtics and Lakers have never met in three straight NBA Finals.  In NBA history, there has never been three straight NBA Finals with the same two teams. I can understand where he is coming from though, since he was on both sides of the Celtics Lakers rivalry, as a player with the Lakers and winning two titles with them and as a coach with the Celtics, but it will be a while before this rivalry that is forming with the Cavs and Warriors gets to that level.

             Having the same two teams in the championship for three straight years for any sport is not good for their league. Seeing the same teams can get boring for all but the fans of those teams.  They might not watch the game or series which would ultimately hurt the ratings for a league. I know that to make sure that the same teams do not face each other three straight times for the championship then the other teams must get better, the problem is that the two teams aiming for the title 3peathave a much higher level of talent and are more powerful than other teams in that league. There is an obvious disadvantage to the other teams when those two teams can get any top player they want in free agency and breeze through the season for the most part and the playoffs like Golden State did, going undefeated through the West playoffs. In the NFL, for example, their cap is set up where no one can spend big bucks every time and load up on big name talent like how it happens in the NBA, like how Golden State was able to sign Kevin Durant in free agency even though that team is already a powerhouse. The NBA should somehow make it so powerhouse teams cannot get even powerful and let the other teams get close to their level of playing.

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.

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 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.

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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.

Is it time to move away from the lottery system.

           As many people saw this past week, the NBA held the annual lottery to determine where the bottom 14 teams would draft, with the Philadelphia 76ers taking the #1 overall pick in the draft. The lottery system gives every team a certain percent chance to get the top pick. The downside of the lottery is that the worst team in the league more often than not does not get the top pick. This year was one of the few times that the worst team did end up with the first pick in the draft. I do not agree with the lottery system and I think the league should get rid of it and just line the draft up with the top pick going to the worst team, like how the NFL and MLB order their drafts. The drafts are used to help improve the teams. The lottery system does not give the worst team a sure thing at getting the top pick and their choice of talent. Since the lottery system went to a weighted lottery system in 1990, the worst team in the league has only received the top pick 5 times including the 76ers receiving the top pick for this year’s draft. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to give the worst team the first pick in the draft?

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                Giving the worst team the first pick would be beneficial because they would be able to pick their possible franchise player. The first team to win the lottery after it went to a weighted system was the New Jersey Nets in 1990 after they went 17-65. The Nets also were the bottom team in the league that year. The year after they received the top pick they improved to 26-56 and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Since 1990 the teams who received the top pick, only 4 teams did not improve their record the following year. The 22 teams who did improve their records the following year, saw an improvement of 11.1 wins. The biggest improvement came when the Spurs took Tim Duncan #1. They went from 20-62 to 56-26. The teams who had the worst record in the league but did not win the #1 pick, only two teams did not improve their records the next year. The teams that did improve their records, did it by an average of 11.9 wins. I know that is a bigger improvement than the teams who got the top pick, but the teams with the top pick had decent records for the most part. When the Magic had the top pick for the second straight year, they were 41-41. Since the weighted lottery began there have been 6 teams that received the top pick who won at least 30 games that season including the Magic when they received the top overall pick for the second consecutive year.

  ball1            In my opinion, the lottery needs to be taken out and the draft lined up the same way that the NFL and MLB drafts are set up, where the draft order is determined by the teams place in the overall league standings. It only seems fair to let the worst team in the league try to improve their teams first, instead of having them wait to pick their player after some of the top players are being selected ahead of them. I know that teams are not guaranteed to improve with the draft, and I know that there will be busts at any selection, but it is only fair to let the worst team in the league that year figure that out on their own

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When is the time right to fire a coach?

   

    How does an organization or college know when to fire a coach? Is it after one losing season, or is it after multiple straight losing seasons. In some cases coaches do not even last multiple full seasons. In 2014 the NBA team New York Knicks hired Derek Fisher right after he retired from playing basketball. In his first season, the Knicks went 17-65. That season the Knicks averaged the fewest points per game in the league at 91.9 ppg and gave up 101.2 ppg which ranked in the bottom half of the league at 21st. This past season Derek was fired when the team was 23-31. At the point of his firing the Knicks were averaging 99 ppg, which was an increase from the previous year,  and they were giving up 101 ppg, which was better than the year before even if it is .2 points per game better.

     After Coach Fisher was relieved of his duties as coach, the Knicks promoted his assistant coach Kurt Rambis to interim head coach. With Rambis as the head man of the team for the final 28 games of the year the team’s scoring average dipped to 97 ppg, while the amount they give up stayed at 101 ppg. In this situation, Derek Fisher should have been able to keep his job to at least the end of the season since the team was improving.

      I was caught off guard by the Derek Fisher firing because the team was improving from his first year. It also caught me off guard, because if Derek Fisher got fired for going 40-96 over 2+ years with the Knicks, why have the Philadelphia 76ers not fired their current coach. Since Brett Brown took the head coaching job with the 76ers the team has not been able to win close games. The 76ers have not improved as much as they should have since he has taken over. In his first year the team went 19-63, while scoring 99.5 ppg ranking them at 19th offensively and giving up 109.9 ppg ranking them at 30th defensively. In year 2 under Brown the offense regressed to only scoring 92 ppg, which ranked 29th in the league, while the defense improved allowing 101 ppg, which ranked 20th in the league. This past year was the worst under coach Brown. The 76ers went 10-72 and scored 97.4 ppg and gave up 107.6 ppg, both of which ranked 29th in the league. The 76ers record under Brown all together is 47-199, which is a winning percentage of .191.

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    In football it seems that there are a lot more firings, either during the season or right after it ends. Lovie Smith took over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2014-15 NFL season, following his coaching career with the Bears. He coached the team to a  2-14 record scoring 17.3 ppg which was 29th, but gave up 25.6 ppg which was 25th in the league. The following season they improved to 6-10 and scored 21.4 ppg that ranked 20th in the league, and gave up 26.1 ppg that ranked 26th in the league. Lovie would end up being relieved of his duties as head coach following the season. Coach Smith should have been allowed one more year to show that he was improving the team, but I guess teams are impatient sometimes and want to win right away.

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