Why don't free agents like the Celitcs?


Why don't free agents like the Celitcs?

Were a few days into NBA free agency, and all things considered, the Celtics are sitting pretty.

They signed Kevin Garnett. Theyre on the verge of signing Jeff Green. Throw in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley, and short of Danny Ainge acquiring Mad Cow Disease, trading Bradley for Jimmer Fredette and using the entire mid-level on Robert Swift the Celtics are on track to kick off next season with a team thats better than the one that came within a game of the NBA Finals.

Yes, it's good to be a Celtics fan. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, theres one major issue to be addressed: Back-up shooting guard.

A guy who can lead the second unit, mesh with the starters and most importantly: SCORE THE BALL. A guy who can ideally assume the role of a Vinnie Johnson, Manu Ginobili or James Harden (Note: Be on the look-out for any bearded Argentinians nicknamed after an appliance). Who can take Boston to that next level in terms of depth and offensive firepower.

The good news there are plenty of options: Ray Allen. OJ Mayo (whom I refer to as Jerod Mayo at least three times a day. Just a warning in preparation for the time it actually makes it to print). Jamal Crawford. Jason Terry. The Celtics have reportedly reached out to all four.

The bad news none of them are particularly jazzed about Boston.

You know the story with Ray: The Celtics offered him twice the money, but he'll still spend Thursday night toasting with Bron, Wade, Spoelstra and Riles down in South Beach. Crawford would rather take the mid-level from the Clippers (where he can start). Terry looks poised to let the Mavericks match any offer and Mayo straight up doesn't want to play for the C's at least according to reports.

Sure, the chips will eventually fall into place and (hopefully) one of these four guys will find a home in Boston, but the fact remains that no one's tripping over themselves to get here. That each player has an opportunity to become one of the final pieces on a potential contender; to play in front of one of the most passionate fan bases in the country; to play under all the banners and for one of the most respected, player-friendly coaches in the league. Yet it's still a tough sell.

And once again, we're left to wonder: Why don't free agents want to play for the Celtics?

We can throw Ray Allen out of the conversation, because that's a special situation, but honestly: Why wouldn't Jamal Crawford or OJ Mayo jump at the chance to join this crew? Why did Chris Paul reportedly refuse to sign an extension in Boston? Why, despite all the Dwight Howard rumors of the past two years, were the Celtics never considered a legit destination for the game's biggest center? (Related story: I ran into Jameer Nelson at a bar in Boston last summer while he was in town shooting stuff for Reebok. At one point, I asked him: "Hey, so what are the chances Dwight ends up here?" He literally laughed in my face, before saying: "Nah, no way he's coming here.")

You can talk about the weather, but Boston's not much colder than Brooklyn or Manhattan. You can say it's a race thing, but the way Kevin Garnett has embraced and loves this city should be enough to help curb that reputation. You can't use the "Celtics are old and past their prime" excuse anymore because, like I said, they're over that, they've adjusted. For the next two seasons, short of devastating injury, the Celtics will be right up there with any team outside of Miami and OKC. They're contenders.

So, then what's the problem with Boston?

Here's one theory:

It's not that these free agents hate the city. Or the weather. Or the team's championship potential. Nope.

They hate the Celtics.

Players in today's NBA hate the Boston Celtics.

Of course, this isn't exactly breaking news. Over the last five years, the Celtics have antagonized just about every team in the league. There's barely a young superstar who Boston hasn't somehow offended. In many ways, it's been one of the Celtics best weapons their ability to get under an opponent's skin. But after a half decade of chaos, the result is a league that isn't too found of green. An entire generation of NBA players who have grown to hate the C's.

And don't you think it's possible that this has trickled into free agency?

Is it really a coincidence that since 2007, the Celtics four biggest free agent signings James Posey, Rasheed Wallace, Jermaine O'Neal and Shaq were all older players from another generation, who befriended the Big 3 before they were the Big 3? I don't think so.

What's funny is that it seems to be a perception problem more than anything. After all, the guys who are traded here love it: Jeff Green was traded here and he wants to stay. Brandon Bass was traded here and he wants to stay. Keyon Dooling was traded here, and from the sound of things, it changed his life. When the guys are forced to join the dark side, they always realize that it's not so dark.

But when given the choice, free agents continue to shy away from the Boston Celtics.

Hopefully we won't have to wait another generation before that starts to change.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.