Green Thoughts

Chronicling the Boston Celtics quest for banner number 17... and beyond.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The 2005-2006 season: Stepping back?

It's midsummer now and I'm trying to get a sense of just where the hell this team is going. I have to say, I have decidedly mixed feelings as we get closer and closer to the 2005-2006 season.

On the one hand, I don't share the jaundiced view of the youth movement that I read from some scribes in the print media. I'm excited about the kids and this last draft looks like another steal of Auerbachian proportions. Folks were talking about the Celtics taking Ryan Gomes in the FIRST round. It's as though someone handed the Celtics the number three pick in the draftfor nothing.

I also think that it's awfully early to begin post mortems on the 2005-2006 season because of the lack of veteran talent. This team would be looking a lot better if it had held on to some young players named Chauncy Billups and Joe Johnson. And who's to say that the Celtics won't develop some of the kids and trade them for veterans who can balance out the roster?

On the other hand, what we see is apparently what we're going to get from the Celtics when they tip off in November. It WILL be a step back and as a fan and a member of the paying public, that makes me both furious and frustrated. After burning through two seasons, how can the Celtics turn to the fan base now and say "We're rebuilding. We need you to be patient?" The time for that was TWO years ago. A couple of great drafts can't hide what the team is really saying to fans: "Our strategy for the last two years has been a failure. Keep buying tickets while we give it another try."

I was first in line to drive Antoine to the airport when I heard he'd been traded two years ago. He symbolized an unwatchable style of play. GM Danny Ainge decided that he wanted to try and build around Pierce and moved Walker for LaFrentz and Welsch.Now flash forward a couple of years. The team is essentially rebuilding again. They actually had to bring Walker back to salvage last season. Although healthy and serviceable last season, LaFrentz has been a "trick or treat" kind of player and the Celtics can't do anything in the free agent market because they're choking on his contract (along with Blount's and... GUH! Vin Baker's!). On top of that, they now want to move Pierce, the guy they wanted to build around, but he has ZERO trade value.

Consider this: of the two "stars," Walker and Pierce, who had more value two years ago? Pierce, to be sure. And whose skills as a passer and rebounder were more suited to a running game? Walker. What if the team had held on to Walker and moved Pierce? Chances are they'd have gotten more "value" for Pierce, while not having to swallow a poison pill like LaFrentz's contract. Now Maybe Antoine would have worked out. Maybe not. One thing's for sure, though. His contract would be UP and the team would be under the salary cap.

After this season, it will be 20 years since the last championship. I'm sick of the excuses. The big three, Len Bias, and Reggie Lewis have all been gone for a long time now. And you can blame the f'ed up NBA lottery system for awarding Duncan to the Spurs, but not for letting go of talented players like Billups and not for Acie Earl, Kedrick Brown, Joe Forte, Jerome Moiso and a bevy of other forgettable draftees. And is it just me, or have the Celtics NEVER brought in a real impact free agent? It's the same salary cap for everyone boys. Stop whining and taking on monster contracts like LaFrentz and Blount and deal with it!I wrote a friend earlier this week and told him in a fury that the Celtics were going to have to show me something this year if they wanted to keep me buying tickets and watching the games. I don't mean they have to win 55 games this season. Just give me a reason to believe they will contend sometime this DECADE.


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