Offseason Dreaming: Gortat In Green

Although the Celtics season of mediocrity isn’t quite over yet, the remaining 7 games can’t come quickly enough in what has been a long 82-game stand. With this in mind, it’s never too early to look towards the period in June and July this year where Danny Ainge is expected to be very active.

Polish center Marcin Gortat displayed his affections for the C’s in yesterday’s game against the Wizards in DC, which grabbed my attention as a fan excitedly looking towards the offseason.

Early in the contest, Rondo displayed his signature behind-the-back fake pass that left Gortat with his feet nailed to the floor. Down the other end, Trevor Booker attempted a pair of free throws while Rondo and Gortat shared a laugh over the previous play. This may not seem like much, but there is definitely a mutual respect between the pair, as the Polish Hammer took to Twitter after the game to illustrate this point:

As the 3rd quarter wound down with Jeff Green getting ready to sink some free throws, the Celtics players huddled round for a quick discussion, only to be joined by a certain #4 in a Wizards uniform. It was another mischievous act in yesterday’s game, which was literally embraced by Rondo by having his arm around Gortat as well.

Admittedly, these are only two small things that really don’t point to much on their own. Last year in the offseason, Brandon Bass and Gortat worked out together. The former Orlando Magic teammates clearly share a good relationship to still be catching up and playing ball together, which could work well in any recruitment pitches the Celtics may put to the center.

Becoming an unrestricted free agent after this season, Gortat is earning $7.27 million this year and could demand a similar figure on the open market. While the Wizards are obviously eager to re-sign him, with Marc Stein reporting his signature ‘as a top priority’ for Washington, he has the choice of signing with any team around the league.

The Celtics desperately need a quality center on their roster moving forward, if the Omer Asik trade rumours were anything to go by in December last year. At 30 years of age, Gortat has plenty of good years left in the NBA.

Putting together mutual respect between Gortat and the Captain of the Celtics, his relationship with former teammate Bass, his status as an unrestricted free agent and the Celtics with a plethora of picks and money to make it happen, here’s hoping that fun he had with the Celtics yesterday is the start of something much bigger.

Share your thoughts with us!

- Michael (@mickyt34)

 

Green Kick of the Week ft. Rajon Rondo’s Anta’s

Rajon Rondo ditched Nike before the start of this season and joined Anta, where he got his own signature shoe; the Anta RR1.

He has been switching back and forth between green, black and white colourways of the shoe. Last week he changed things up and rocked a brand new colourway against the Raptors at The Garden.

This week’s winner of Green Kick Of The Week is Rajon Rondo and his Anta RR1′s. This colourway is bright and reminds of the striking Nike’s he wore last season.

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These kicks feature my favourite colourway I’ve seen on the Anta RR1. The bright green pattern almost looks like a salute to ‘The Hulk’.

Unfortunately this colourway isn’t available to the public yet. I really hope they are released, although I highly doubt they will be. If they are, I know I’ll be grabbing a pair as fast as possible.

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I’ve been a huge fan of Rondo switching to Anta since the first rumours of the move surfaced, and its colourways like these that prove you don’t need to be with Nike or Jordan Brand to have fantastic kicks.

What do think of these kicks? Do you think Rondo should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Green Kick Of The Week ft. Avery Bradley’s No Mercy’s

The 2013-14 season for the Celtics is winding down. Whilst their record isn’t pretty, there have been plenty of positives. The return of Rajon Rondo and the emergence of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk have been some of my personal highlights.

Another highlight has been watching Avery Bradley find his shooting stroke. He has been especially terrific in the last week. His game against the Heat was tremendous; draining 6 three pointers, and totaling 23 points. He followed that up with another huge performance against Brooklyn. He scored 28 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.

credit: solecollector.com

credit: solecollector.com

Bradley wore an awesome par of kicks against Brooklyn. This weeks winner of Green Kick Of The Week is Avery Bradley and his very bright pair of Adidas ‘No Mercy’ kicks. He also laced them up on St Patrick’s Day against Dallas.

Bradley has now won back-to-back KOTW‘s after taking out last weeks competition with his Crazy 1′s. In my opinion, the Adidas No Mercy’s were a  great choice by Avery. The bright green and black colourway are a great match with the C’s uniform.

credit: @keezcam

credit: @keezcam

More importantly, Avery has been playing great in these kicks.

Do you think Avery should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Green Kick of the Week ft. Avery Bradley’s Adidas Crazy 1′s

Avery Bradley made his long-awaited return against the Suns last week. Whilst it took him some time to find his groove, he did have a solid hit out for his first game in over a month.

He made his return in a GOLD pair of Adidas Crazy 1 “Awards Season” kicks. These kicks were more than enough for Bradley to claim his first Green Kick Of The Week title for season 2013-14.

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Bradley wore these sneakers earlier in 2014, but there was some tougher competition that week. As you can tell from the photos, these kicks stand out from the crowd with their gold and white outer.

The Adidas Crazy 1 was a perfect choice for Avery; they are a great match with the Celtics new sleeved St. Patrick’s Days uniform.

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What are your thoughts on these kicks? Do you think ‘The Game Changer’ should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Navigating The Rest Of Season 2013/14

As the February trade deadline passed and no moves were made by Danny Ainge since mid-January, the 2013/14 version of the Boston Celtics won’t be one of the most memorable teams in the franchise’s decorated history. Since the beginning of the season and the appointment of rookie Coach Brad Stevens, this season was always about development and working towards something great in the near future. With 23 games remaining and injuries mounting, surely it is time to throw caution to the wind and see what the more inexperienced players have in their arsenal.

With the news Gerald Wallace may miss the final seven weeks of the season, an opportunity for substantial playing time is now up for grabs. As Avery Bradley will return soon, most minutes will be distributed to Jerryd Bayless, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries (in addition to the starting five of Rondo, Bradley, Green, Bass and Sullinger). This is assuming all players will be available to play at the same time, something that has been a rare occurrence with the amount of injuries this team has been dealt with.

This leaves a great opportunity for the likes of Chris Johnson, Phil Pressey and 10-day contract recipient Chris Babb to compete for extended minutes at the guard/forward positions.

Phil Pressey has shown flashes of the player he can become, starting in place of Rajon Rondo on second nights of back-to-backs and playing with the composure required of an NBA-calibre point guard. In January, an impressive night against Toronto in his first career start saw him dish out 10 assists with 0 turnovers, followed later in the week by a 20 point and 4 assist outing against Washington, highlights what Pressey is capable of.

His future with the Celtics appears bright after Danny Ainge traded away Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to give the 5’11” rookie some meaningful playing time. It might be time to give Pressey a more established role behind Rajon Rondo to showcase what he can do on a consistent basis, instead of barely playing to starting from one game to the next.

Chris Johnson really forced his way onto this team, and since being signed to a multi-year deal at the beginning of February, he has continued to play hard on both ends of the floor. Playing to his strengths and knowing his limitations, Johnson would seem the most likely candidate to take the majority of Gerald Wallace’s minutes. It will be interesting to see how Johnson responds to the added responsibility.

Finally, Danny Ainge signed Chris Babb to a 10-day contract to cover the plethora of injuries the Celtics roster currently holds. Babb appeared in five preseason games for the C’s, most notably a 12-point outing in only 8 minutes of action against the Knicks, knocking down 4-5 shots from 3-point land. Babb was unlucky with the amount of guards that jammed the roster at the beginning of the season, but now finds an opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level.

Coach Stevens has been thrown many curveballs in his first season in the NBA, and has been able to navigate his way through all the surprises along the ride very well to this point. Injuries, player frustration, an imbalanced roster, and many losses have all reared their ugly heads at different times. Stevens has always preached never getting too high or too low, and has always instilled confidence into his players whilst keeping a level head at all times. He has been the perfect man for the job.

With Boston headed for the lottery in this draft, now is the time to embrace the injuries the Celtics have been handed and to identify which players will stick as the team moves forward. With a decent selection in the draft, two trade exceptions, and a huge amount of picks at his disposal, Danny Ainge is looking at who will remain in green this offseason, as the Celtics look to climb back into contention at a rapid rate.

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Green Kick Of The Week ft. Jared Sullinger’s Jordan XX8′s

Jared Sullinger is currently playing the best ball of his short NBA career. He has been crashing the boards and also scoring in the post; it has been an absolute pleasure to watch.

He has been doing all this great work in Jordan’s. This week’s winner of KOTW is Jared Sullinger and his Air Jordan XX8 ‘BHM’

credit: getty images

credit: getty images

Jordan released four different 2014 ‘BHM’ PEs, most Jordan Brand sponsored players have rocked at least one of the colourways on the court. This includes Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace. Both have laced up the same colourway as Sullinger, but I decided to give the win to Sullinger because he has been beasting lately.

‘BHM’ colourways are dedicated to Black History Month and the players love to pay homage to the celebration by wearing the ‘BHM’ kicks.

credit: solecollector.com

credit: jordan.com

All ‘BHM’ colourways have been awesome this season, and the Jordan XX8 version is certainly in the upper echelon. Black and purple were the main colours this season and they certainly don’t disappoint.

What are your thoughts on Sully’s kicks? Do you want him to keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Johnson Earns His Place

The Celtics made the right decision today by signing Chris Johnson for the rest of the season. After proving he belongs in the NBA on two 10-day contracts, financial flexibility threatened to terminate the relationship between Johnson and the Celtics.

CJ has played hard, every night. When he enters the game, his presence is felt straight away from running the floor and being the first man up the court. With respectable defence to boot, you can tell Johnson wasn’t letting go of this chance easily. Having played 8 games for Memphis last season and undertaking training camp with Brooklyn this preseason, Johnson had been waiting for his next opportunity and not let go of it.

Over 8 games in green, Johnson has posted averages of 7.6 points, 1.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 21 minutes of action. In addition, he has shot a very respectable 40% from 3-point range.  While these are impressive numbers for someone just joining a team, they only tell some of the story.

Johnson has impressed his teammates with his hard work, and knack for making the right plays and keeping a level head when on the floor. His confidence to shoot the ball when open has also been a notable facet of his game. The coach is also impressed with the small forward, having this to say

I think it’s a great story, but it’s not like it’s some miracle. It’s the result of hard work, doing the right things, not being scared of the moment, taking advantage of opportunities, those type of things.

Keeping Johnson was a small financial investment, and any concerns the C’s had over money and trade flexibility by signing CJ is definitely outweighed by the play we have seen from him over the past 20 days. The Celtics still hold one open roster spot heading into the trade deadline period, and are roughly $1 million away from the dreaded luxury tax line.

With the coach and captain backing your game, it’s no surprise Johnson is already grateful to Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, and his teammates for instilling him with confidence. The challenge now for Johnson is to stay hungry, and to keep producing for the first organisation to give him a real shot in this league.

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Positives in the Celtics’ Rebuilding Season So far

After an abysmal first half of the season, it’s important to stay positive during the Boston Celtics’ rebuilding season. Of late, the Celtics have lost 19 of their past 22 games (Currently 15-33 overall in win-losses). Statistically, that doesn’t look very good. For the morale in the locker room and the players’ mentality it probably doesn’t sit well either. From blow out losses against title contenders to buzzer beaters against struggling teams (for example the recent loss against the 76ers), we’ve seen it all. There have been a few positives to take out of this season.

Boston Celtics v EA7 Emporio Armani Milano

  1. On the bright side, we’ve watched Jared Sullinger grow into the player Danny Ainge envisioned when he was drafted 21st overall in 2012. In a season that has had more lows than highs, Sullinger has been one of the bright spots. The Celtics are currently without a pure center on their roster after assigning Faverani to the Maine Red Claws.  This has resulted in Sullinger playing out of position for a majority of the season.  However, despite this, he is still averaging 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 26.6 minutes of play.  To top it all off, Sully’s efforts have been rewarded with an invitation to play in the rookie/sophomore (Rising Stars Challenge) game during the All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.
  2. Another positive to take out would be Avery Bradley. Bradley has stepped up his game since the departure of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. He struggled last season offensively after Rondo went down but boy has he stepped up thus far. With a career average of 8.5 points per game, he’s now currently averaging 14.5 points per game this season. He is also currently shooting 43.9% from the field this season.  The ability of Bradley defensively has never been questioned.  If he improves his offensive consistency and with a fit and healthy Rondo and other role players on the Celtics team, who knows what the future brings for the C’s.
  3. I would also give a shout out to Kris Humphries – a man many Celtics fans (myself included) did not want to see in green. When traded to the Celtics, he was viewed as nothing more than an expiring contract, waiting to be disposed when the right deal came along. Over the course of this losing streak, Hump has shown himself to be a reliable, consistent and valuable contributor to this Celtics team. Humphries gives it his all every time he’s on the court night in, night out and becoming a valuable contributor in the Celtics frontcourt. As a result of his contributions, fans that once booed him in the past, now cheer for him. His play has also made it quite likely he’ll remain in Boston beyond this season.
  4. The return of Rajon Rondo. Although the Celtics haven’t won since Rondo has returned, it is great to see him back playing. Not yet back to his explosive best, the Celtics are sure to turn things around once Rondo is 100%.  Time will tell when this will happen. For now it’s important that Celtics nation stays patient.
  5. Finally, I also want to give a shout out to rookie Kelly Olynyk who was selected to the rookie/sophomore game with Sullinger. Bright future ahead of him! Good pick in last year’s draft. I try not to look at the Celtics record too much and if I happen to become depressed at our current situation, I just think to myself “At least we don’t have the worst record in the league” or the best one: “At least we didn’t draft Anthony Bennett.”

What do you think has been the best silver lining for the C’s this season?

- May @mshirtad

Brad Stevens – Baptism by Fire

With half of the season in the history books, we look at how Brad Stevens has performed in his first NBA season so far.

Celtics Hire Brad Stevens as Head Coach – Press release from the Boston Celtics, July 3rd, 2013

Living in Australia and following the NBA almost religiously meant that the college game has never really been high on my priority list (except in a season like the current where Boston look to be a lottery player).  So when the Celtics announced that they had signed Brad Stevens, my reaction was – who?  I thought that the next Celtics coach was Brett Brown, one of Pop’s main guys in San Antonio, and an ex-Australian Boomer national coach.  It wasn’t until further information and stories regarding his decorated college career started coming out, coupled with one of the first things he did as head coach that got me giddy about the signing.  I was impressed with coach Stevens at his introductory press conference – showing maturity beyond his years, poise, and an abundance of knowledge.

How would that equate in his transition from the college game to the pros though?  This is what everyone asked, and rightfully so after the failed Rick Pitino experiment that left so many Celtics fans (including myself) extremely bitter.  After a long line of college-to-pro coaching failures, there were certainly doubts about Stevens’ ability to be able to coach at the NBA level, with major differences both in-game rules/timing and player personnel.

Like Rick Pitino, Brad Stevens was one of the best college coaches going around prior to signing with Boston. The difference between the two situations was that Pitino was given the keys to run the franchise to the ground and coach, whilst Stevens can just focus on coaching and let Danny Ainge take care of personnel.  The relationship between the GM and coach is extremely important for any basketball franchise – why get players that would not fit into the coaches style and vice versa?  Championship #17 came with Danny and Doc collaborating perfectly together through a rebuild, now Danny is hoping for the same magic with Stevens as they share the same philosophy on scouting talent: using advanced stats and analytical data to best determine a players worth and how they can be used.

Brad+Danny

Coach Stevens’ inaugural NBA season has been anything but smooth as he has had to deal with a multitude of issues, which include:

The Piling Losses
The Celtics are on track to lose more games this season than what Stevens would have lost in 6 years at Butler – ouch.  This is all part of the ‘plan’ given the way that the roster is constructed.  Still, at only the halfway point of the season, the team has already endured 3 losing streaks with 4 or more games and that has to take its toll with both the coaching panel, and the players.  Stevens however, has been extremely patient with his young ball club, and preaches growth from each player game by game rather than living and dying in the W-L column – an approach that the players have embraced.  Despite the lack of top end talent on the roster, the players have played extremely hard for him – just look at a game recap from any of their losses where the common theme is the resiliency and fight that this team has.

Imbalanced Roster
The roster that Coach Stevens inherited was quite simply put, a mess.  He had 4 power forwards that deserved minutes, with the only true centre being a rookie and an unknown import. He also had 5 shooting guards that deserved minutes, with the only one true point guard being an undrafted rookie.  The logjam at the shooting guard position caused some friction with Courtney Lee, Keith Bogans and even MarShon Brooks, who all at different times in the season, voiced their displeasure to the media regarding their lack of playing time.  On top of all this, Rondo – the best player and final link to the Celtics’ last championship – sat out the first half of the season.

By empowering his young players and showing confidence in them, we have seen some of our youngsters take a giant leap forward, showing both improved play and leadership qualities.  His calm demeanour is something that his players certainly value highly.

Stubborn Veterans
One of the main questions asked after the hiring of Stevens was announced was how would he get along with Rondo?  Known for being extremely stubborn, being linked in altercations with both coaches and even former team mates, media pundits wondered out loud whether Rondo would will be moved.  Almost immediately after Stevens joined the Celtics, he reached out to Rondo by visiting his summer camp – by Stevens’ willingness to reach out to Rondo, they have forged a great relationship with Rondo going as far as saying that they are ‘best friends’.

To date, Stevens has proven himself more than capable of the task at hand, surprising the league with a surge early in the season that saw the Celtics atop the Atlantic division.  Even after a large win or loss, the players know that they cannot get stuck on the one game for very long, which is something he has drilled in to each and every person.

“You’re never as good as you think you are, you’re never as bad as you think you are, and you’re never far from both sides” – Brad Stevens, December the 9th, 2013 after beating the Knicks by 41 @ Madison Square Garden.

In a season that has seen so much change, Brad Stevens has proved to be the correct man to rebuild the Celtics – with both Stevens and Ainge at the helm, I have no doubt that the team is in great hands and will return to glory sooner rather than later.  What do you think of Brad Stevens?  Has he lived up to expectations so far, or has he been a disappointment, do you think he is the next great coach?

Here’s a bonus video on my personal favourite Brad Stevens moment of the season.  This is his reaction after Jeff Green hit a miracle 3 pointer with 0.6 of a second left against the defending champs in their own building.

- Dave

Green Kick Of The Week ft Pressey’s Nike ‘Gloves’

There hasn’t been much action on the kicks front this season for the Celtics. Most players are sticking with the same sneakers every game and aren’t showing much heat.

Having said that, Phil Pressey has been wearing all sorts of Nike’s. This weeks winner of KOTW is Phil Pressey and his pair of awesome Nike Air Zoom ‘The Glove’.

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The Nike Glove was made famous for its extremely unique design, just like the player they were made for; Gary Payton. They can be worn either zipped up or down, Pressey has chosen to go with the zipped up look.

Pressey wore these kicks in the loss to Portland earlier this week. He has also laced these up a few other times since the beginning of 2014,  including in games against Oklahoma City and Denver.

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The Nike Air Zoom ‘Glove’ has been released in many different colourways, in my opinion the colourway Pressey has chosen – The Sonic Wave - is by far the best.

Do you think Phil Pressey should keep ‘em or dump ‘em? Let us know your thoughts on these kicks!

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