It has been nearly three weeks since my last post and instead of trying to catch up with the hundred stories that I missed, I figured I’d skip those and jump right to the NBA Draft. The overall outcome of the draft was fairly predictable with a few surprise trades in between. As mentioned by John Hollinger in this article, the Celtics and Knicks both have desperate general managers who made one last leap of faith and hoped that they got lucky. Danny Ainge came to Boston and restructured the entire team, ridding the organizationg of old, washed up players and bringing in young talent. Unfortunately, Ainge and his scouts cannot judge talent, so the trades they made and the players they drafted dumbfounded even the casual fan. With the exception of Al Jefferson, Ainge has done very little right. Though many of the players have time to mature, the chances seem unlikely. The Celtics had a shot at last year’s Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, but instead traded Randy Foye (who the Portland Trail Blazers eventually dealt for Roy) for Sebastian Telfair. Telfair has been involved in multiple incidents off the court and his play has been consistently bad in his first year with the Celtics.
Back to Ainge this year, where he made a desperate trade, but not necessarily a bad one. In trading Jeff Green (#5 Overall Pick in the Draft), Delonte West, and Wally Szczerbiak, Ainge acquired seven-time All Star Ray Allen and Glen Davis (#35 Overall Pick in the Draft). Unloading Szczerbiak’s contract freed up some money, but taking on Allen’s contract quickly ate up that money. Green would have been a great presence for Jefferson, and West does a sufficient job at point guard. Ray Allen is an aging superstar, and Davis a rookie with a good upside. The money is nearly equal, and the talent may even give the Celtics an edge, but Ainge may have overlooked one critical fact: Age.
Allen will be thirty-two and is recovering from surgery on both of his ankles. With Pierce, Allen, and Jefferson, the Celtics have a decent team, but not a team that is going to win championships or even make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Allen and Pierce are only going to grow older, while Jefferson will reach his prime with no other around him. Ainge needed to stock up on draft picks and young talented players. He has drafted many young players, but most have been in the second round and with little promise. To be fair, the selections of Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis in the second round were good picks and one of the few things Ainge has done right while the GM. The two first-rounders the Celtics had that had a chance to make a big difference, Brandon Roy and Jeff Green (or whoever they wanted) are on other teams, while the C’s are left with the struggling Sebastian Telfair and the aging Ray Allen. Think about a team of Pierce, Jefferson, Brandon Roy, and Jeff Green. That team has three excellent young players and a great veteran to help them grow. With a couple of good role players and a year or two to grow, the team would be a perrenial contender. Not having a shot at Greg Oden or Kevin Durant was a huge blow to a franchise that had been relying on getting one of those players, but the team still had a chance to improve and wasted it.
I liked the secound rounders the Celtics chose with Davis and Pruitt, but that will not be enough. As a Celtics fan, I wave the white flag. The C’s will make the playoffs next year, maybe even win a series, but they will recieve a bad draft pick and lose talent. Ray will fall apart the year after and Pierce soon after that. Jefferson will be in his prime and demand a trade. Sure, players will come in and out over the years, but will they really have an impact? Ainge put all of his money on this year, sacrificing the future and trying to save his job. If Ainge really wants to make the ’07-’08 season a good one, there is only one thing he can do: sign Chauncey Billups.
The Celtics are in desperate need for a point guard and Billups is one of the top in the league. Now a team of Allen, Pierce, Jefferson, and Billups sounds very good, but only if Ainge gets it done. The team will be great next year and have a chance to win a championship. Of course, five years from now all of those players with the exception of Jefferson will be old and injured, but it would be a couple of fun years. More to come on the Draft so stay tuned during the next couple of days.