Ray Allen for Monta Ellis?

Any person that claims to be a Celtic fan has surely heard the trade rumor making its rounds around the NBA that was first reported by Comcast New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely.  In case you missed it, he reported yesterday afternoon that the Golden State Warriors were offering Monta Ellis for Ray Allen.  The Celtics would also have to take on Vladimir Radmonovic to satisfy the NBA salary cap.  A poll as of this afternoon on Celticsblog.com reported that 51% of those who took the survey would trade Ray Allen for Monta Ellis.  I further researched what the Golden State fan base had to say about it. Their response? 80% said they would not want to make the trade.  Since this rumor came about I have put some serious thought into if I would want to make this trade.

For the Warriors, they understand that the back court of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis will never put them over the hump in the NBA’s competitive Western Conference.  As I perused the Golden State publications, I learned that the brass out there are out there are very high on Curry and want to build their team around him and not Ellis citing Ellis’ immaturity. Do you remember the mo-ped incident?  Ellis also has a rather difficult contract to absorb limiting them when it comes to making any free agent moves to improve the team.  Ellis is due $11 mill a year through 2013 with a player option of $11 mill for 2014.  Ray Allen is in the last year of his max contract. Bringing Allen in as a rental will ashore the Warriors plenty of money to spend with an eye-opening free agent class this summer.

The Celtics, however, have the opportunity to plan for the future with this move.  Ray is not getting any younger at the age of 34. His best years are unfortunately behind him.  Ellis is 24 years old and may have his best years in front of him.  The trade will enable Danny Ainge to remodel the Big Three in the ways of Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, and Kendrick Perkins.  For those that don’t know much about Ellis, the kid can play.  He is averaging 26.2 points and 5.5 assists per game.  He is second in the league to Rondo in steals.

With Ray Allen, his shooting slumps seem to be going on for longer periods of time and are coming up more often.  Being a lifelong fan of Ray from his days at UCONN, to the Bucks, and on to the Seattle Sonics it has been tough to watch the purest shooter in basketball struggle with his shot.  He is shooting a measly 34% from downtown and is averaging just under 16 points a game. 

But while his stats are down, I believe Ray is still the perfect fit for THIS team.  Basketball has a lot to do with chemistry and synergy. Ok fine, I’ll use the word, ubuntu.  Upon coming here, much was made if the Big Three would be able to gel as one and play together.  All three changed their games because they knew that’s what it would take to win a title. And they did.  While Ray may struggle, he is still a presence on the court and is in the back of his opponents minds.  At any point he can get white-hot and scorch the nets at will. (See the 2009 Chicago series)

While Monta Ellis is bordering on the brink of being one of the NBA’s élite, he would not fit in the Celtics puzzle.  Ellis is reminiscent of a younger Allen Iverson. Someone that always needs the ball in their hands to be effective.  On the Celtics, that just would not work.  Rondo realizes that and that is what makes him so good.  Ellis would slow down this team’s offense, not help it.  His defensive stats speak for themselves but I still feel he would do more harm than good in Celtic green.

Ellis is a great chip for the future. I may one day look back on this writing and say,"what was I thinkin’?"  Ray Allen’s deal is up at the end of this season. The money that has opened up from that could be (but probably won’t be) used for LeBron, D-Wade, or Bosh.  Yes, those moves are unrealistic to think about but the potential is there.  With many people in Boston being upset about Big Baby’s (excuse me)"Uno-Uno’s" lack of maturity, how will they handle any kind of slip from Monta?  Especially when Ray Allen exudes all that is professional and has the sweetest jump shot in the game to boot.

The Celtics can and will win with the team they have now. After spending much of the last two days sitting on the fence, I can say with all the certainty in the world, do not make this trade.

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Death, Taxes, and a Favre Chokejob

Wasn’t it obvious?  Less than 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter, the Minnesota Vikings only needed about 5-8 yards to set up a game winning field goal by Ryan Longwell to make sure their appearance at the Super Bowl.  The premature celebrations were going up in Minnesota as Ryan Longwell is one of the best at his profession.  The problem was number 4 was under center.  Yes, the game was in the hands of the most overrated athlete in the history of sports.  Instead of running up the field for about 8 yards and out-of-bounds, instead of dumping the ball of to a wide open running back, Brett Favre chose door number three.  He decided to throw across his body back into the middle of the field.  The ball was picked off and with it the Vikings lost the coin toss in over time, Drew Brees marched down the field, and Garret Hartley nailed a field goal to win the NFC Championship.

Did Brett Favre have a great season? Yes. Would Minnesota have made it this far with Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfells? Absolutely not.  However it is time to shed the label off of Favre as being one of the all time great quarterbacks in NFL history.  Joe Montana, Dan Marino, and Peyton Manning he is not.  He couldn’t even carry their jock straps.  The difference between Favre and the aforementioned quarterbacks are that Favre loves to choke.  And before you start asking me where Dan Marino’s ring is, I’ll ask you when did he ever have something that remotely resembled a supporting cast.  His best receiver was Irving Fryar.

What does Brett Favre do? He chokes. Plain and simple.  We all know about the great stats he has and I’ll concede that it is amazing that in 20 years in the NFL he had 1 losing season.  Sure, he is forty and takes a beating but keeps getting up which is admirable.  But he has screwed over his last 3 teams when the spotlight has burned the brightest on him.  His last throw as a Green Bay Packer? An interception in the playoffs that cost them the game. His last throw for the New York Jets? An interception that cost them a playoff berth.  After starting 8-3 with the Jets, he imploded to the tune of a 9-7 record. And now he cost the Vikings a Super Bowl berth.  Just for kicks, his stat line with the Atlanta Falcons when he was a young pup? 0-4 with 2 picks. 

There is definitely something Shakespearian when it comes to Brett Favre. Everything starts out all well and good. He is the 40-year-old man who is playing a kids game and having so much fun doing it. But the reality is Brett Favre is a tragedy.  For Brett Favre, a chokejob is as definite as are death and taxes.

Championship Weekend

Last weekend was considered by many expert analysts as the most exciting weekend in the football season. Shown by the outcome of each game (barring Jets-Chargers) last weekend this notion of the most exciting weekend really fell flat. The Vikings brought down the hammer of Thor on the Cowgirls, the Saints almost killed Kurt Warner and then the Cardinals by crucifixion, and the Colts Poe’d the Ravens (all pun intended).
So my pick will be the Pats to make the Super Bowl and win by 7…at least that would have been preseason…
So the age old match up of dominating defense versus superior offense will once again come into play in both games in what should be the most exciting weekend of the season – at least we hope. The Colts and Saints bring those high-powered offenses into their own stadiums to defend their home turfs. In the case of the Colts, the Jets present a formidable foe. The Jets bring the number 1 defense to the table against what has perennially been a top ranked offense in the form of the Colts. The Colts, even after such a successful year, are still in a position where they have to prove something to everyone whether they like it or not. Not going for 16-0, or rather, not truly playing every game to win this season when it was in their possession to do so will be one of the greatest mistakes made in the NFL if they are not able to win the Super Bowl…there is no argument against that. The Jets have the advantage they had in the 1st round having already played the Colts as they did the Bengals. Why would the Colts want to play the Jets again? The most confident team left in the playoffs with a defense full of playmakers is the Jets. The Colts have to be satisfied that they downed the Ravens but they fell far short of presenting a dominating performance and now the Jets already have an idea of what the Colts could throw at them even if they did not “Play to win the game.”
On the other side, the Saints-Vikings gives us the NFC match up that we have been waiting for all season. After the Vikings convincing performance in the divisional round and the Cardinals laying of an egg to the Saints we really are left with the 2 best teams that the NFC has to offer. The Saints reaffirmed last weekend that scoring with them will be a challenge, and the tro uble for them is that they ran into the one team that can and will stop and out score them. Somehow the Saints became a running team in order to set up the pass. The Vikings have shown consistently throughout the season that they are not to be messed with on both sides of the ball. Trust that it viciously pains me to say that Brett Favre (should be pronounced Fahv-rah for those that speak English) has brought his CAREER A-game to the table for what will hopefully be his final season, although we all know that is not true, and the Vikings have made the playoffs because of that old man. Admittedly it is rather amazing that Brett was able to perform at such a high level this season having his best statistical year at age 40. So here it goes just over 12 hours before kickoff…
The Jets will beat the Colts 20-17 and the Vikings will triumph over the Saints 31-27…and then the Patriots will won the Super Bowl 21-17…shit…this is not 2007…

Ok I messed up and this should have been posted last night from my phone. . .wrong about the Jets. . .

Uniformed Uniformity

There is a uniformity in the growth of sports over the past, for the sake of putting a number on it, 50 years. As bats and sticks and helmets and shoes all got stronger and better, so did the players. The methods used to create muscle, and even the money, the lifestyle, and the celebrity status pampering of my generation’s athletes have counteracting this growth in equipment availability. Steroids and muscle enhancers only add an exclamation point to the advances in science and the growth in profits. Players remain owned, but like spoiled children, remain protected, and unlike the $10,000 a year, ice pack for a pulled hamstring, back straining bus ride road trips of the sports ages back in the day, no hangnail nor stubbed toe goes untreated. Babe Ruth luxury aside, times are different, and not just in baseball, but to use it as an epic example, no records, no all time stats leaders remain untouched, protected, and quite possibly the only two records which will last in baseball are those marked by something greater than steroids can provide. Joltin’ Joe’s 56 game hit streak and Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played streak. The sacredness of these records, and my intentions of pulling them to the center stage of this post, inversely reflect a loss in motivation, and a hinderance on the level of tenacity displayed by today’s athletes.

Fidelity in the NBA ended, and we are left with scraps to make meals out of. The Celtics make up an abundance of those scraps by showing us what a chemically sound team filled with “teammates” can yield, and what a championship from such a team can do in saving face for the NBA. Why is it that Derek Jeter brings in so many supporters from all fan bases across baseball? Because he does his job and gives, (cliché) 100 percent every single game. That is not a feat of athleticism, but a commitment to excellence and respect. I write mainly about hockey because of this respect. I love hockey because it brings sports back to a time where players were treated like pieces of meat. A puck to the face, stitch it up on the bench. A slit throat, no problem. Richard Zednik, in 2008, took a skate to the neck, lost so much blood the Zamboni had to come and clean it up, and he still was able to return to play the next year. (See also: Bryan Berard) Whatever the case may be, a poked eye injury in the NBA holds no candle to the fearlessness of a hockey player. Unless of course one finds facing down a 95 mile and hour fast ball, or a 300 lb linesman a mark of fearlessness. I for one do. I do not want to intentionally single out the NBA with this post however, because there are prima donna’s in every sport; but we’ll save the Sean Avery post for another day.

These words and this rant have to go somewhere, so lets bring it to one simple argument, which I will not argue, nor pose any thoughts of my own towards. I am not ashamed of sports, because I have had the privilege of seeing Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice and Ken Griffey Jr. play, and I can die saying that I was fans of these individuals while they played. I am however concerned with the future of sporting integrity.  How much longer will the composite sticks counter the enlarged pads and masks? How much longer will a stronger arm counter act stronger, faster legs or a faster bat? How much longer will sports uniformity be upheld, and how much longer do we have as fans to legitimately enjoy sports, past, present and future?? Records are not made to be broken, only reinvented. I can only hope that we will all be able to witness a reinvention of sports, of athletes, of the game, within our time, rather than witness it all collapse.

Really Oakland?????

It’s hard to believe that Oakland was once a viable sports city.  The years of multiple 20 game winners in the same season, and the pursuit of excellence has been replaced by; overweight, overpaid quarterbacks, and a melting pot of young promising pitchers that leave the flock too soon.  The latest blow to the city known for its pollution comes from above….

Grant Desme, a 23-year-old OF who posted a 30/30 season last year was considered Oakland’s 8th best prospect, and, was the only minor leaguer to post a 30/30 stat line. 

When it all comes down to it Desme decided that being a priest was more appealing than playing for the A’s. I can’t say I blame him.

 

Step Away From the Edge

“I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend.”  The lyrics that open a famous Third Eye Blind song illustrate my current mindset when it comes to the Boston Celtics situation.  With the Celtics losing five of their last seven games Celtic fans are ready to jump off the Prudential Building.  To them I say, step away from the edge and come back down to earth.

They have lost to an undermanned Pistons squad, the red hot Dirk Nowitizki and his Mavericks, trounced by the Chicago Bulls,  and dominated by the Hawks twice all within the last two weeks.  Sure, these games have been very painful and immensely tough to watch down the stretch.  They have played without heart and even more frustrating they look absolutely disorganized.  Teams look tougher than the Celtics night in and night out.  That is what happens when you have a target on your back for 82 games.

Time for a reality check.  The Celtics still hold the number two seed in Eastern Conference and are two games back of the LeBron’s in the loss column.  Read that again, and this time remember that the Celtics are yet to play without their full roster this season.  Glen Davis was out for the first 20 or so games of the season, Marquis Daniels has been hurt for the last 2 months, and Kevin Garnett returns to the Celtics lineup tonight after a bit of a hiatus.  Also missing time recently have been Rasheed Wallace and Rajon Rondo.  There is no doubt that when this team is healthy, they are far and away the best team on the planet and pose some serious matchup problems for their opponents.

The Nate Robinson rumor has been swirling over the past month.  At first the Knicks would have asked for any two player combination of Tony Allen, JR Giddens, Bill Walker, or Brian Scalabrine’s expiring contract.  But recently, KryptoNate has exploded since the calendar year has changed.  On New Year’s Day Nate dropped 41 on the Celtics’ nemesis Hawks.  He has since had games of 10,20,19,11 and 27.  This has elevated the asking price considerably.  Mike D’antoni is infatuated with Eddie House.  The price might Eddie and Scal for Nate. What else makes this trade interesting is the Cavs’ loss of Mo Williams for 4-6 weeks.  The Cavs would be able to send Zydrunas Illgauskas’ expiring contract to the Big Apple. 

All this being said I think the main thing the Celtics need is not a big trade but to get healthy.  There is no need to make a PJ Brown move this year. And we sure as hell don’t need another Mikki Moore, Sam Cassell, or Stephon Marbury.  The Celtics will make their move this season.  It will be in the form of getting Marquis Daniels and Kevin Garnett back healthy.  We all know Kevin Garnett is the heart of this team. But Daniels will ultimately decide how far the Celtics will go this season.  He is the perfect backup to Rondo, Pierce, and Allen bringing length off of the bench and the ability to handle the ball.

So step down Celtics fan and relax.  I can say with total confidence that everything will be okay.

“Russia Makes Me Smile” – The 2010 Olympic Hockey Breakdown

Vancouver and NBC should be kissing the NHL’s ass for their representation, and for the anticipated compete level of men’s hockey in this years Winter Olympics. As sure as Michael Phelps is swimming through our Earth’s crust to get to Vancouver and quite possibly be the first winner of the 100M downhill mountain freestyle, according to Subway and that fat bastard Jarrod, the NHL is stacking countries with All Star teams. The standings last year left Sweden with the Gold, Finland with the Silver and the Czech Republic with the Bronze, while the Canadians and Americans finished 7th and 8th respectively; or for some embarrassingly. The first point to make, and the most important is, I whole heartedly agree with the abundance of Bruins representation, especially Tim Thomas as the number two to Team USA’s Ryan Miller. The tandem will do well, however I anticipate a “Jonathan Quick” exit for the young Americans. (Third string goalie joke) I am a big fan of the youth and I anticipate a lot from Patrick Kane and Ryan Malone. I do not anticipate a competitive defense to play in front of our goalies and I do not anticipate chemistry, unless of course they surprise in the early rounds, and some sort of chemistry grows from familiarity. You can’t build another “miracle”. I anticipate the other team to disappoint this year will be the Czech Republic. Personally I am more excited to see figure skater Sasha Cohen return to this years Olympics than I am to see Jagr’s comeback, and I am personally fed up watching Elias and Havlat coast under the radar of talent for over 6 years. If the Czech’s don’t ride goaltender Thomas Vokoun over Pavelec the entire time, and don’t allow Kreijci to dominate, don’t expect much.

The remaining teams not worth talking about here include Latvia, Belarus, Norway and Marco Sturm’s homeland Germany. They’ll make the trip over there, but will act as fillers and spoilers.

On to the teams that matter. In order of how they will finish, anticipating a USA 8th place, and a Czech 7th place, the 6th place finishers will be Slovakia. In the fast paced, competitive tempo of international hockey, Chara and Jurcina are going to be made to look like giant columns leading the way up the stairs to the open door way that will be Peter Budaj. Expect no defense from the Slavs, yet an explosive offense which may just impress us with the return of some familiar Solvakian names; Zednik, Palffy, Stumpel, Satan. I also predict Marian Gaborik to continue to be a beast, and pave the way for some un-welcomed, inevitable, high scoring games. Next in line, the Swiss, with nearly no NHL representation at all, most of the team coming from the highly competitive Swiss league (SUI),  will be slightly better than Slovakia because quite simply, in international play, “Gerber is Good”. Goalie Martin Gerber, if they utilize him enough, will launch them into the very impressive, and very neutral, 5th seed. The next team, the predicted 4th seed this year, will be Finland. They will not be 4th because of Olli Jokinen, Teemu Selanne, the Koivu’s or the Ruutu’s, but because of their tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Mikka Kipprusoff. The Fin’s are home to the second best goaltending tandem of the olympics. To round out the second tier teams of the olympics, and to introduce our first medal winning team, taking home the Bronze will be Sweden. Sweden will ride Zetterberg, arguably a top five offensive threat in the league and the return, and yes, leadership of Peter Forseberg. Lundquvist will have to stay sharp, but grabbing this medal should not be a problem.

Silver and Gold will be a war between Canada and Russia. If Canada can utilize Brodeur and Luongo in net as equally as the Russians can ride Nabakov, they might have a chance. They however will not be able to match Crosby over Ovechkin, nor will they be able to match Nash or Iginla or Heatley or Marleau over Malkin or Kovalchuck or Datsyuk or Afineginov. Patrice Bergeron, Joe Thornton, and one of my favorite captains in the league Jonathan Toews round out the superstar cast that is Canada this olympics, however the chemistry of a nation, the chemistry of olympic history and power, and with the epic return of Sergei Federov and with the limp wrists of Alexander Semin, Russia will prevail. This Russia team makes me smile, and makes me giddy with anticipation for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Russia wins the Gold, and Canada will take the Silver.