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.
As we just discussed on @SportsCenter, Rockets didn’t match on C-Parsons because they wanted flexibility to keep chasing starry targets
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 14, 2014
So look for Rockets to re-enter trade game for longtime Houston target Rajon Rondo as well as try to work their way into mix for Kevin Love
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 14, 2014
The Houston Rockets are having a pretty terrible offseason. It was going to be a great offseason when they thought Cleveland snagging LeBron James away from the Miami Heat was going to land them Chris Bosh, but Bosh decided to stay in Miami (for the full max deal, which was a ton more than Houston’s max could be). Bosh staying in Miami caused them to pass on matching Dallas’ offer for Chandler Parsons.
The process of preparing for all that to happen included trading Omar Asik, Omri Casspi, and Jeremy Lin away while only Trevor Ariza in return.
Houston’s affinity for Rondo has been well-known for a while, but there’s a major difference in their pitch now…
…they don’t have any assets left to trade. All of the pieces that made a deal for Rondo even remotely attractive (Asik & Parsons, especially) are gone.
Now, Daryl Morey and Danny Ainge are creative guys, so I’m not going to dismiss this report out of hand. If any two guys could muster up the brain power to turn nothing into something, it’s these two. But it would take AT LEAST one other team to muster up the kind of player necessary to satisfy Ainge’s requirements for parting with Rondo. Frankly, I’m not even sure how they’d make it work in a 3-teamer. But I’m not a genius GM.
Let me reiterate… I’m willing to trade Rondo in the right deal. If the net effect is the Celtics get better after the trade, then I’m willing to trade anyone. I’m struggling to find a way for Morey to satisfy his increasing urge for another star in Houston, and knowing the high price Ainge has set for Rondo, I really don’t see how they can pull this deal off at all.
Page 2: Tyler Zeller could really blossom in Boston
“First and foremost, I think he’s a great transition rim-runner,” he said. “I think he can really get out and fly up and down the court. And I think that showed itself a lot at North Carolina. A guy with his skill can score on the block but also stretch the defense and has enough handle and savvy to play facing the basket. And you can kind of play around him — not too dissimilar from some of other big guys that we have now. He’s 7-foot, 250 pounds, and takes really good care of himself and is an invested pro.”
[...] ”I know their family really well,” Stevens said. “Great family. Just terrific people. All three boys are great students and very good basketball players. Tyler is a guy that has accomplished quite a bit in his basketball career — obviously in high school, winning state championships, and then in college, winning a national championship and being an ACC player of the year. Then in his first two years in the league, he has had some good moments, and I think [he] will really continue to blossom here.”
My first reaction when I look at Tyler Zeller is “holy crap this kid still looks like he’s 18.” It’s not a bad thing, though, for these Celtics. Youth is well served in Boston nowadays. He will grow in Boston, we hope, with added minutes and a more stable environment.
When looking at players statistically, we should take into account the “Cleveland factor”… which is the amount of influence Cleveland’s bungling management has on stunting a player’s growth. Matt Moore summed this up brilliantly this weekend in this piece:
[Cavs owner Dan Gilbert] took shortcut after shortcut trying to get back to the playoffs. There was no patience, no rebuilding plan. Drafting Dion Waiters, trying to nab a transcendent surprise talent. Signing Jarrett Jack. Keeping Anderson Varejao. The Cavs spurned a methodical, well-planned rebuild in favor of a win-now-at-all-costs approach. And it was catastrophic. In a system like the NFL, where the worst team gets the No. 1 overall pick and so on, the Cavaliers would have been stuck in neutral, trying to find their way out of mud Gilbert put them in.
[...] So Gilbert took vindictive measures against a system that cost him a superstar because he failed to secure enough talent to keep the superstar at home. He ran the team into the ground trying to make the playoffs to no avail. He fired his coach three times in four seasons (including the same guy twice!) and fired his GM. And he made efforts to ensure James and superstars like him would be paid less while also ensuring it would not be viable for those stars to team up with other superstar talent for a long period of time.
Caught in the middle of all this are kids like Zeller, who have to deal with different directives and the air of uncertainty around the franchise. This doesn’t excuse away shortcomings, though. It’s just a way to say that an unstable workplace makes productivity tough. You all know this, too. We’ve all worked in places where the people “upstairs” are morons. We all know how much it hinders things when those morons continually influence the process.
I’m digressing a bit here.
Back to Zeller, who in two years saw his playing time wane, but his production actually increase a bit. Per baskeball-reference.com, here are Zeller’s “Per 36″ stats over the past two seasons.
And here are his “Per 100 possession” numbers.
I’m not going to sit here and read TOO much into these numbers. But they are encouraging, especially in that he didn’t let less playing time affect his game too much. He shot the ball better, got a higher percentage of rebounds, and put in more points in relation to his time on the floor. His PER also jumped from 11 to 15.4, so his sophomore season really wasn’t bad at all.
In Boston, Zeller will find the stability and playing time necessary to build on these numbers. His head coach isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And as a legitimate 7-foot center, he fills a dire need on this team. Add to all this his Indiana roots and family connections to Brad Stevens (who recruited his older and younger brothers), and you’ve got a good situation for Zeller in Boston.
From there, it’s up to him. His rookie contract gives him two full, affordable seasons in which he can be evaluated before he becomes a restricted free agent. We don’t know if he WILL become the center the Celtics have long sought, but he’ll have a chance to fill that role.
The rest of the links
Herald: Celtics points to consider | Globe: Wyc Grousbeck invests in electric auto racing | Delonte West looking for one more chance | CSNNE: Wake up call: Melo & Bosh are just a couple of softies | Report: Celtics not in serious pursuit of Stephenson | Blakely: C’s likely “rebuilding” for next couple of years | Impressions of Smart from Summer League