Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
A source said the Celtics are “going to make a lot of moves in the next year.” While the source said Courtney Lee, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries are on the market, the team’s biggest personnel question this season revolves around Avery Bradley, who they feel is their starting shooting guard for the future.
In fact, that’s why, according to a source, the Celtics offered him a four-year, $24 million deal (with a team option on the fourth year) this past offseason, but he turned it down. That’s because he wants at least $8 million per year, which another source confirmed. Bradley will be a restricted free agent next summer, so things could get “tricky,” as one source said, for the Celtics to keep him.
While Bradley had been considered limited offensively coming into this season, he has improved in that category from November to December. So far this month, he’s averaging 15.2 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range.
Bradley is reading pick-and-rolls better and showing a craftier and smoother touch with his pull-ups off the dribble. He’s become a knock-down outside shooter playing off temporary point guard Jordan Crawford. Defensively, Bradley is arguably the best perimeter defender in the game with his timing, long arms, quick lateral movement and consistent full-court ball pressure.
I love Avery Bradley’s game but $8 million per season makes me cringe. That’s Jeff Green money and my head nearly exploded upon hearing news of that contract.
Let’s look at the market. Here are some other shooting guards making approximately $8 million per season [NBA Salaries]:
DeMar Derozan: $9.5 million
Rodney Stuckey: $8.5 million
Marcus Thornton: $8 million
OJ Mayo: $8 million
Aron Afflalo: $7.5 million
Wes Matthews: $6.8 million
Bradley will likely never be the volume scoring threat those guys are, but he’s the best defensive player in the bunch and it’s not close.
On the bright side, the Celtics and Bradley are only $2 million apart per year.
Restricted free-agents rarely move, so I expect AB to be wearing green next season. If his play continues to improve, he’ll get his money.
On Page 2, Danny Ainge says the playoffs are not the goal.
“It’s not only a matter of expecting how you see your team forming. But in terms of the record and what place we are in the division, those all have factors to do with everybody else in the league,” he said. “I’m not really worried about records or things I can’t control, there are things I am seeing in our wins and I’m very pleased with our coaching staff and with our players.”
If the Celtics reach the playoffs, their own first-round pick will be no higher than 15th, meaning they would fall out of the lottery and likely would miss out on a chance to draft franchise player. Ainge said he hasn’t thought about the Celtics making a playoff push.
“I don’t know, because there’s too many variables, it’s just not that simple,” he said about the postseason. “Making the playoffs is not a goal. I need to explain that a little bit. If there’s a bunch of teams that are just injured and playing and you finish five, six, or seven games under .500 and you made the playoffs just because of that, that might not be such a great thing. I’m only concerned about how our players are playing, and if it so happens we make the playoffs and we earn our way and our guys are getting better, then I’m thrilled.
“We’re not excited about being 10-14. That doesn’t bring excitement to anybody, but progress does.”
Those comments are enough to fuel the tankeratti and make David Stern choke on his water (it actually happened last night in Brooklyn).
Ainge was smart enough to clarify his statement. He’s also not thinking about the playoffs because it’s likely the Nets, with a healthy Deron Williams, claim the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
We need to hook up Danny to a lie detector machine to get his unvarnished reaction to the team’s start.
Q. Did you think this roster was capable of starting the season 10-14?
A. Hell no.
We might hear more talk of “progress” and “long term” come the trade deadline if Ainge makes deals (Crawford, Bass or Green) that hinder the team’s chances of winning games this year in return for salary cap and roster flexibility.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Mailbag: Divining Crawford’s future | All-Star 1st returns | CSNNE – Green starting to show consistency | Crawford keeping this team going | Rondo still getting AS votes | Stevens continues to impress others around NBA