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.
Marcin Gortat, C, Washington
What seemed a desperate grab to get a sniff at the playoffs, turned into one of the better trades this season when the Wizards acquired the 7-footer from Phoenix.
Gortat was an instrumental force in Washington’s upset of the favored Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, and was one of the reasons why the Indiana Pacers were pushed to the brink of elimination by Washington before prevailing in seven games.
He is not your prototypical shot-blocking/altering type around the basket. He’s physical, pushes guys around and adds a certain amount of toughness that every teams needs more of these days.
In Washington, he averaged a near double-double of 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds to go along with 1.5 blocked shots per game.
Gortat is going to have a lot of teams in pursuit this summer, so his final decision will likely come down to which teams provide the greatest amount of financial security. He’s 30 years old, so he understands this will probably be his last, big salary contract. Boston will certainly look into what it would take to land him, but more likely than not he’ll be looking for a salary that exceeds what they believe he’s worth.
For a while now, we’ve known that Danny Ainge desires to add a “rim protector” to the C’s roster. That could be via the draft (unlikely), by a trade (very likely) or as Sherrod points out, by free agency. Out of the four guys he listed, I highlighted Marcin Gortat because I think he’d be the best fit here, if they couldn’t acquire Omer Asik from Houston. In the video from the link above, Sherrod also mentions them possibly trading for Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders. Not a bad idea either, but could get pricey especially if you have grand hopes of landing Kevin Love and/or Carmelo Anthony. I don’t want them to go after Greg Monroe because his agent, David Falk, wants a max contract for him. Monroe is a nice player, but no way is he the first or even second option on a team. Ok maybe a second option at best, but let another team make that mistake. Gortat is a solid two way player and would fit in well if the other bigger pieces fall. I still think their primary target is Asik by using the trade exception they received in the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deal. The other two big men discussed are Spencer Hawes and old pal Greg Stiemsma. Brad Stevens would certainly like a guy like Hawes who can shoot the long ball, but his weaknesses likely outweigh that strength, especially at a premium cost that he possibly could fetch. Stiemsma would be a nice minimum level backup to bring back here if they were short on resources after filling out the major roster spots, but nothing more than that. Either way, Ainge is on the lookout for that elusive big man.
Page 2: The Bird vs LeBron debate rages on
Sadly, the torch will eventually be passed. LeBron James is the second-best forward in NBA history, but even here in Boston we can admit that he’ll someday be the best.
Maybe he will ascend to the throne next year or the year after. Maybe he will claim the top spot next week when he wins his third NBA title, tying him with one Larry Joe Bird.
Right now, today, Bird remains the best, but even the most devoted Larry acolytes know they must enjoy it while it lasts. Because it won’t last. Did you see James will his team to victory in Game 2 in San Antonio on Sunday night? Does he look like he’s slowing down? As long as the air conditioning is running, so is LeBron.
For now, it is Larry and LeBron — 1 and 1a. They are the two greatest forwards in NBA history, and there is no close third. If you’re picking your all-time starting five, you have to put Bird at one forward and LeBron at the other, or you have to get back on your meds. Charles Barkley, Kevin McHale, Karl Malone and Tim Duncan can come of
Boston Herald - Callahan: LeBron hears a Bird call
I’d have to disagree with Callahan on one thing here: Tim Duncan is absolutely in the conversation if we’re just discussing the greatest “forwards” of all time. If we’re breaking it down further into PF and SF, then yes he’s correct. In the case of Bird vs LeBron though, that’s a difficult call to make. LeBron is already on pace to blow away Bird on longevity and the defensive side of the ball. LeBron can defend literally every position on the floor. Bird was a fantastic team defender but not even close to LeBron on one-on-one defense. Offensively, they’re close, but it different areas. I will say this: I think if you take both at their absolute peak, then Bird is better. LeBron will have a much longer career of greatness though, likely amassing several more MVPs as well as titles. A huge reason why Bird’s career was relatively short was due to the overall competition being better during his time, especially in his conference where he consistently had to battle other great teams like Philadelphia, Detroit and even teams like Atlanta, Milwaukee and New York to a lesser extent. Not to mention battling another all-time great team in the LA Lakers in the finals. The east hasn’t exactly been a firewall of opponents for LeBron’s teams. But again, at each player’s absolute best, I’m taking Bird.
The rest of the links:
Boston Globe - Chris Bosh comfortable playing third fiddle for Heat
ESPN Boston - The perfect score: C’s could eye offense
CBS Sports NBA - Draft Options: What can the Celtics do with the sixth pick?