Boston Celtics - 1999
|Rick Pitino is right on
schedule. He promised the Cs would make the playoffs in the 3rd year of his tenure. This
being year two, the Cs were off the hook and out of the running, though they came on
strong towards the end (some of that, interestingly, with Walker and Anderson sidelined).
Pitino says it was the lack of training camp and poor conditioning. Some fans agree,
others blame Pitino, Walker, and/or Anderson. The team needs to show more of its passing
side, not the one-on-one that Walker is so fond of, nor the walk it up and stand around
dribbling that Anderson brought to the court this year.
After the debacle of ML Carrs last season as coach and missing out
on Tim Duncan, things have gone better for the Cs. Recent
drafts have produced Walker, Mercer, and Paul Pierce -- not a
bad core of young players. Trader Rick Pitino, ever quick with the trigger, has shipped in
and out: Chris Mills, John Thomas, Dee Brown, Chauncey
Billups, Andrew DeClerq, and Travis Knight.
Paul Pierce. When the Kansas
forward was still on the board at #10, we gave thanks to the long lost leprechaun. Pierce
turned out to be better than anyone expected, and emerged as both the go-to guy and the
untouchable roster member. He brought basketball intuition second to none. He can rebound,
steal, shoot outside, drive, and is cool on the court. He needs to toughen up some. Other big plus was the Potapenko trade, giving the Cs a legit center. The collective bargaining agreement delivered us Antoine Walker for 71
mil., instead of arguing with him about a 100 mil. contract. And, the Cs built a new
state-of-the art training facility (decorated by Tom Heinsohn's wife).
Rick Pitino: The bloom is
off the rose. Pitino did not coach well. Did not get the best out of his crew. Did not properly meld Walker,
Mercer, and Pierce. Did not motivate Kenny Anderson. Too vocal and autocratic for the NBA.
Was also booed by local fans and media. Hes promised that the Cs will make the
playoffs next season. Kenny Anderson left too many players open and waving in vain for the
ball. That's got to change - either with Anderson, or if he can't change his style,
without him. We need someone who can look and pass downcourt as the first option. Anderson
is lobbying to stick with the team and has hired a personal trainer for the summer.
Biggest Minus that is Probably a Plus in Disguise
Antoine Walker's season.
Walker stunk up the joint badly and often. The home crowd booed him for his poor shot
selection and ball-hogging. He rivaled Chris Dudley from the free-throw line. This after a
summer where Walker declared himself a seasoned all-star and above volunteer training
camps. He did, however, play well with Pierce (when Mercer wasn't on the floor). He toned
down his 'tude on the court and learned how to keep his mouth shut. He still played out of
position, overmatched at the 4. This was all perhaps a blessing in disguise as it brought
Antoine a much-needed reality check about his place in the NBA. Still a force of nature on
the court. Still remains to be seen if he can mature his game, or if he will always be too
self-centered to win. He needs help in the form of a big PF, which Popeye Jones (IR) was
supposed to provide.
No shortage of players here. Pervis
Ellison (ankle surgery) and Popeye
Jones (left knee surgery) spent the whole year on the IR. Greg Minor (right hip fracture) ended the
season on the injured list.Toine,
Mercer, and Pierce were also out for awhile. The one that
hurt the most was Popeye Jones, who was supposed to provide rebounds, a PF presence, and
maturity. It's a tossup whether his knee will heal enough to get him back to his great old
|A PF and rebounder. A point guard who will pass it
quickly up the floor.
- Kenny Anderson (12.1 ppg, 5.7 apg)
- Ron Mercer (17.0 ppg)
- Paul Pierce (16.5 ppg, 1.71 spg, 6.4 rpg)
- Antoine Walker (18.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg)
- Vitaly Potapenko (10.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg
- Dana Barros (9.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 23.1 mpg)
- Damon Jones (5.8 ppg - FA , should be resigned)
- Greg Minor (4.9 ppg)
- Walter McCarty (5.7 ppg
- Tony Battie (6.7 ppg, 1.42 bpg
- Eric Riley (2.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 9.6 mpg -- FA, should be
- Bruce Bowen (FA - goodbye!)
- Dwayne Schintzius/Pervis Ellison/Popeye Jones
Vitaly Potapenko. V is a
real center. He's got the beef to hold his own (I saw him take out Bison Dele and Jerome
Williams with one fell swoop), and is an above-average shooter and passer. He needs to
work on his hands and rebounding, but is a better lane-clogger than they've had in a long
time. Plus he's young and likes to work out. His teammates appreciate his presence on the
court. Other centers hanging around were Pervis Ellison (hah), Dwayne Schintzius (helpful very occasionally.), and Eric Riley, who I like a lot and wanted to see get more time. Riley has on-court
smarts and size and we should sign him as a backup C. Then there's C/F Tony Battie. Money may keep the Cs from
signing him up, but I wish they would. It's very cool to have a pogo-stick shot blocker on
the roster. Give him a few more years to fill out, and we'll wish we had kept him.
Hell be as good as Theo Ratliffe, and maybe more than a poor mans Camby. The
question is can we pay both Battie and Mercer. My money is on Battie.
Battie, Walker. Battie isn't
filled out enough at this stage to hold ground with the Oakleys and Malones, but he's
fast, tall, and a great shot blocker. Can shoot the ball, too. After that, we're very
thin. Antoine is really a SF and
gets abused on a regular basis by the league PFs. Popeye Jones is still a question mark
because of his knee injury. Pitino is looking for more talent at this position. And/or a
veteran. Lorenzen Wright, Anthony Mason, PJ Brown, Rasheed Wallace, and even Lawrence
Funderburke have been mentioned.
Pierce, McCarty, Minor. Gee,
Antoine's real position is already filled with the Cs best player, and that's Paul Pierce.
I love Pierce - this kid is beyond the real deal. He's a true go-to guy who can come
through in the clutch and doesn't do dumb things under pressure. Great body, smart
rebounder, nose for the ball and for doing the right thing. Never looks like a chicken
with his head cut off - unlike Walker, McCarty, and most other rookies do on occasion. He
and Antoine play well together -- Toine juices him up and Paul calms Antoine down.
People talk of moving Pierce to the off guard, but hes really an SF through and
through. Greg Minor made nice
strides, and is also valuable because he can play guard. His late season hip injury tuned
out to be serious, and may keep him from being traded. No one knows why McCarty got the highly-paid extension he did.
Doesn't show any skills except for running around (see above) and hitting an occasional 3.
Nice kid though, with lots of energy off the bench.
Mercer, Minor, Bruce Bowen:
What a luxury to have Mercer here. I wrote two years ago (when they drafted Ron) that the
Cs had no one here besides Minor and Barros. Now people (me included) are talking about
trading this kid! His contract is up next summer, and if we don't trade him we run the
risk of Master P pulling a Gugliotta on us and skipping Mercer out of town with nothing in
return. Ron is a solid shooter, but hasn't extended his range to the 3 - a must for a
guard in the NBA. He has height and speed and good hands. But, he may be more valuable to
the Cs in trade. On the other hand, it's not like we have anyone waiting in the wings to
take his place. Bowen is not even worth a mention, no matter how much Pitino gushes about
his defense. Folks think Pierce can move to 2 - I think it would lose something in the
Anderson, Barros, Damon Jones:
If Anderson doesn't change his game, he should catch the next train out of North Station,
if we could find a taker (and we're always looking hopefully at the Clippers). Just a
misfit with Pitino. The team played better when he was out
injured. He slowed things down too much. Missed a lot of
cutting players. Was it conditioning? I don't think so. Pitino even benched him for his
attitude. The good news is that he has stated that he really wants to stay with the team
and has hired a personal trainer, so maybe hes getting serious. Barros is a great backup. Besides being a
3-pt threat, he's a great athlete, mature, and can play both guard positions. Don't forget
how he played in Philly. Damon Jones was a late season pickup from the CBA (leading scorer there) who showed
he can move the ball up quickly, has an outlet pass, can see the floor, and maybe has a
Will be an interesting summer. We could use a big PF, and
won't get one in the draft. Mercer is being shopped, and Anderson is part of the package.
Pierce is the only untouchable (well, if the Spurs called
). Penny Hardaway, Rodney
Rogers, Lorenzen Wright, PJ Brown, Rasheed Wallace, Jamal Mashburn, Tony Delk, Derek
Anderson, and assorted draft picks have all been mentioned in trades. Of course everyone
assumes Pitino will listen to any trade for a Kentucky player.
Other rumors are Mercer
and/or Anderson in two- or 3-way trade for a high draft pick.
I dont think Penny Hardaway wants to come to Boston, and couldnt see him
holding up under Pitino anyway. I'd take Wright, Wallace, or Anderson. Rogers may be
available cheap and bring some scoring to the second unit.
Summer conditioning and fall training camp whups everyone
into shape. Kenny Anderson has renewed energy and hustle. Antoine is humbled by the
boobirds of '99 and works to elevate his game and play team ball. Mercer develops a
3-point shot. We make the playoffs next year.
We're stuck w/Anderson and his contract, and he rides the
pine while Dana and Damon run the floor. Mercer and Pierce continue to clash on court.
Antoine stinks again.
|Chris Herren, PG,
We have the 55th pick
(37th was optioned by Vancouver). Pitino has said he doesnt want to get any younger,
but if he drafts one of the many seniors available in the second round, he could actually
up the average age of the team. Who they take depends on what happens in tradesville -- in
particular if they ship Mercer and/or Anderson in exchange for a big man. Theyll
probably take either the BPA or some Euro no-name. At #55, we could take: Rickey Moore from Uconn -- super defender, smart
player, tough, and could really develop his offense if given the chance. Rico Hill -- would add good shooting and rebounding to the
backcourt. Melvin Levett -- athleticism and D in the
backcourt. Michael Ruffin one wide and tough dude
under the basket. Wayne Turner
-- a local kid schooled at Kentucky who can lead the floor and play D (and hopefully
become a star pupil of the Cs shooting coach).
If Pitino ends up trading for a higher pick, they would
look at Ron Artest, the young center Radojevic, or Chris
Herren. I believe Herren's off-court problems are history, hes one tough hombre,
and would really drive the backcourt. I we *really* traded up, I want Andre Miller, who
reminds me of Dennis Johnson.