The Wizard’s season is nearly over and I am disappointed that I have not been able to write about it. Work, school, life and more life have prevented me from commenting this season. But, enough about my troubles. 😉
I was in Las Vegas this week on business, but I was able to catch the end of the Wizards – Celtics game. It was a pleasure to watch the Wiz beat the NBA’s “best” team for the third time. Some could argue that the Celtics, who wrapped up first place in the East, did not have anything to play for. I would suggest that argument is hollow. Kevin Garnett and the Celtics have pride, they had lost the previous two games to the Wizards – back-to-back I might add – and they did not want to lose three straight. In fact, Doc Rivers suggested that his starters would not play as much in this game, but yet late in the fourth quarter there they were. This was definitely not a game the Celtics were content to lose, the Wizards won this game.
Games like this for the Wizards are encouraging, they show that they can, when focused and healthy, play with any team in the NBA. However, they have games like this every season, at least over the last four seasons. But, they don’t seem to capitalize off of these experiences. They often follow them up by playing distractedly, or at least with what appears to be less effort. It would be nice, if they could finally take an experience like this and use it to finally push their game to that next level. As players, they don’t seem to want to do the things that they need to do on a nightly basis. This team, in the Eastern conference, has the ability to be as good as any. Injuries aside, they have not stepped up to become one of those teams.
And while they have been troubled with injuries throughout this season, it appears that they will now have the opportunity to exercise their Cleveland Cavalier demons. If the Wizards are going to take that next step, what better team to do that to then Cleveland – a team that has had their number in the past two playoffs.
FireDannyAinge got me thinking about the Celtics’ cap situation. Now let me point out that unlike some others – Kiki Vandeweghe – I am not willing to hand the Celtics a trophy in late July / early August. Hell as those of us who either live in the DMV and/or are Redskins fans know, you can make great moves on paper in the off-season, but they don’t mean squat in the regular season. As the cliché goes, you have to play the games.
“According to the NBA.com website the 07-08 salary cap is currently set at $55.63M and the luxury cap threshold is set at $67.865M…”
FireDannyAinge was talking about all of the money that the Celts had tied up in three players, so I did some quick Google searches (ding) and came across the Boston Celtics Salaries on HoopsHype.com (ding). Amazingly the page lists the Celts salary number for the 07/08 season as $69.446M, but that is only for 10 players. So based on my quick subtraction skills, they are approximately $2M over the luxury tax threshold. Now, they probably don’t mind paying the NBA an extra $2M, but I would think that they want to sign a full compliment of players which would mean that they will probably be $4 – $5M over the threshold.
If for some reason they don’t make it to the playoffs (which is probably unlikely) or they don’t make it deep into the playoffs, will that finally be enough to get Danny Ainge fired?
I was watching one of my favorite sports shows, Washington Post Live on Comcast SportsNet, when the host Russ Thaler said, about the reported KG trade, “this changes the whole balance of power… do we have a new favorite in the East?” I understand why Russ was asking the question. On paper the Celts have three All-Star caliber performers in KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. An issue that I have with creating their reservations for the Eastern Conference finals is…
- They play a team sport and each of the Celts version of the “Big three” is used to being the man on his previous team, as such we do not know how well they will jell playing with each other and taking fewer shots
- Just because a team has three prolific scorers, does not mean that it will translate into a playoff success. The last that I checked the Wizards have had the highest scoring trio over the last couple years
- While it appears that the Celts have improved themselves greatly, there are still other teams in the East that they will have to contend with – Pistons, Cavs, Bulls, Heat, Wizards, Bucks, etc
- At times, some franchises are just cancerous and even though you bring “talent” to them the cancerous franchises ruins the talent – see Oakland Raiders as one such example
- Their version of the big three is getting old, which means that their window is not open very wide. KG is a a 12 year vet, Jesus Shuttleworth, I mean Ray Allen is a 11 year vet (but one year older than KG) and Paul Pierce is a 9 year vet. There big three is or will all be 30 years or older at the start of the season. And while 30 might be the new 20, it is getting a bit long in the tooth for NBA stars – especially for those who have had to be their team’s focal point for much of their careers
Now, with all of that said I believe that assuming the three stay healthy, the trades make the Celts viable again. If nothing else, they will be a fun team to watch in the regular season. Given the state of the Atlantic, they should easily be a playoff team. But, I do not believe that they will get anywhere near the Eastern Conference finals this season.