5 Celtics training camp questions


5 Celtics training camp questions

With the Boston Celtics scheduled to begin training camp Friday evening, I'm sure you all have questions -- lots of questions.

So do we and we have answers, too.

Wanna see 'em?

Here they are.

Q: How will Rajon Rondo handle the Chris Paul trade rumors?

A: If you go by his track record, the answer is obvious: not well. I may be in the minority on this -- OK, I AM in the minority on this -- but I really believe Rondo will handle this better than most might expect.

It's not the first time his name has been associated with trade talk, and it certainly won't be the last, either. In the past he has sulked and become even more distant when such talk surfaced, showing a lack of maturity that isn't all that unusual for young players.

But Rondo is 25 years old, has a growing family and isn't the same kid anymore (we hope so, at least). Trade talk comes with the territory as an NBA player.

If anything, Rondo needs to use that as motivation especially when you consider one of the reasons why the trade didn't go through was because frankly, the Hornets didn't think he was worth it.

And who can't use a little added motivation, right?

Q: What shape will vets like Jermaine O'Neal be in?

A: On the first day of training camp? Awesome. I don't expect any players to come in out of shape, honestly. But the real challenge for them will be how their bodies hold up with so many games crammed together in such a short period of time. I worry most about Kevin Garnett. He's the one veteran whose minutes will be limited, regardless of what condition his body is in. Remember these words: strategic rest. Chances are good -- very good -- you'll be seeing and hearing a lot about it this year.

Q: What's up with the bench? Will the C's even have one?

A: They'll have one, for sure. How good will it be? That remains to be seen. The addition of Brandon Bass gives the C's a player with offensive skills comparable to Glen Davis. And Keyon Dooling will provide a much-needed defensive pressure at the point coming off the bench. But the key for the Celtics will be who among the big men invitees steps up and provides some relief for Jermaine O'Neal at center.

Q: Will Jeff Green be back?

A: Great question. You have to believe that the C's decision to sign-and-trade away Glen Davis for Bass, will increase the likelihood that Green accepts the Celtics' qualifying offer. Green's youth (25), versatility and athleticism are all qualities the Celtics are short on.

Q: Can the Celtics bring home Banner 18 this year?
A: As it stands now, it's unlikely that the Celtics will be the last team standing when all is said and done. But we've seen stranger things happen in the NBA. For the C's to beat the odds and win another NBA title, two things are absolute musts: stay relatively healthy and get players to outperform their contracts. The most likely players to do that are Jajuan Johnson, Boston's first round selection who will see minutes in the frontcourt behind Kevin Garnett; and Marquis Daniels, the kind of high-impact player off the Celtics bench, when healthy.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.