Boston Celtics

KG still center of attention

795484.jpg

KG still center of attention

This morning on CSNNE's Facebook page, we posed the following question:

If Jeff Green and Avery Bradley were healthy all season, would the Heat still be on the doorstep of winning a championship?

My answer: Beats me.

I mean, you can certainly make an argument that the Celtics were a better team with a healthy Avery Bradley, but that doesn't guarantee victory. Dwyane Wade wasn't that much of an issue anyway it was LeBron. And Bradley wasn't making a difference there.

And as for Green? Really, who knows. The guy didn't play a minute all season. If he had, there's probably no Mickael Pietrus. If he had, maybe Doc starts Rondo, Pierce, Green, Bass and KG after Ray Allen's injury and Bradley never even gets a chance.

What about a healthy Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and the Celtics against healthy Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and the Bulls? In that case, does Boston even make it to Miami?

Probably not, but that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to mention one of the comments we got in response to the original GreenBradley Facebook question:

What about if Ainge hadn't traded Perk for Green and we had Bradley and Perk all season...two top tier defenders. Even better.
At this point, I think most of us have made peace with the Kendrick Perkins trade. After all, while there's no doubt that the deal demolished last year's chemistry and made it impossible for Boston to win a title, Rondo's elbow injury rendered the whole argument moot.

They could have had a healthy Shaq, a healthy Perk and 2005 Jermaine O'Neal on that team, and one-armed Rondo was still too much to overcome. But every once in a while, I'll still hear arguments like the one above which contend that the Celtics would currently stand in a better position if they'd not only kept Perk, but somehow found a way to sign him to an extension.

Debunking that argument is easy.

Question 1: What was the No. 1 factor in the Celtics second half turnaround this year?

Answer 1: Moving Kevin Garnett to center.

Question 2: Does Kevin Garnett make the move to center if Perk is still with the Celtics.

Answer 2: NO.

Translation: While the Perk trade might have been a disaster in 2011, it worked out for the best in 2012. It may very well be the reason that KG's in a position to extend his career.

Of course, the million dollar (or maybe 15-million-dollar) question is: Will he?

Will Kevin Garnett comeback?

Yesterday on WEEI, Danny Ainge said that he doesn't know. That basically, KG is still deciding whether he wants to play at all. And while it hasn't been discussed too much within the whole "WillWon't He" dynamic, I wouldn't be surprised if the issue of playing center still lies at the heart of KG's indecision.

Make no mistake, KG does not like playing the 5. He's said at numerous times during his career; he said numerous times this year, after he was already there.

Preference-wise, I dont like it, to be honest with you," Garnett said in March. "Im a 4. I dont like, you knowit's what it is. Ill be whatever this team needs me to be. Other than a cheerleader with pom-poms and some short-shorts. Other than that, whatever this team needs me to be, man, Ill be it."

At the same time, you know that the Celtics want him back as a center. You get the sense that Doc Rivers thinks that's the only way that KG can be as effective as they need him to be.

Finding a middle ground for instance, signing Omar Asik to lighten the load at center? might make the difference in KG lacing up those Anta's for one more year.

And if he does, let's hope there's a healthy Avery Bradley and Jeff Green out there along side him.

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

30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

30-teams-in-30-days-memphis-grizzlies-92017.jpg

30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Memphis Grizzlies. 

Memphis is no different than any other NBA team when it comes to making changes.
 
It’s an inevitable part of the NBA.

 
There are changes, and then there’s losing Zach Randolph and Tony Allen to free agency.
 
They didn’t lose the face of their franchise.
 
They lost its backbone.
 
And when you throw in the departure of Vince Carter, the Grizzlies are getting younger and more athletic and maybe just as significant, further removed from the physical, rough-and-tough brand of basketball they played for years.

You’ll have to go to YouTube to see Grit-and-Grind anymore.
 
Still, this isn’t all that surprising when you consider they brought in a new coach last year, David Fizdale, who came from Miami but also spent time on the bench as an assistant in Atlanta and Golden State.

Those teams played a more position-less, free-flowing brand of basketball compared to the Grizzlies.
 
So what we’re starting to see now is a Memphis team that will eventually look and hopefully play, more akin to what their coach envisions.
 
While the DNA of this team has changed dramatically, the Grizzlies will still be among the teams battling for one of the last playoff spots in the West this season.
 
They return Marc Gasol who still ranks among the best centers in the NBA. They also have point guard Mike Conley Jr., who unfortunately still holds the title for the best veteran player to not be named to an NBA All-Star team.
 
He’s coming off his best season as a pro when he averaged career highs in scoring (20.5 points per game) and shooting (45.9 percent from the field, 40.7 percent on 3’s) along with 3.5 rebounds, also a career benchmark.
 
In addition, Conley’s 6.3 assists per game were just 0.2 assists away from tying his career best in that category.
 
But for Memphis to surprise many and extend its playoff run to eight years in a row, the Grizzlies’ inside-outside tandem of Gasol and Conley, will need help.
 
A healthy Chandler Parsons would be a huge boost.
 
One of the more versatile wing players in the league, injuries have left Parsons a shell of the player that he once was.
 
He has had each of his past three seasons end prematurely due to injuries, so it’s hard to imagine Memphis will be banking on him to be healthy enough to make a major impact on the team this season.
 
They added Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans, both from Sacramento, to the roster this season.
 
Both come into training camp competing for a starting job.
 
The Grizzlies also have high hopes for 6-9 forward Rade Zagorac, a second-round pick in 2016 acquired from Boston who spent an additional year overseas before coming over to the NBA.
 
The new faces will be critical to the success of Memphis in those post Grit-and-Grind era.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Ben McLemore (Sacramento); Tyreke Evans (Sacramento).
 
Key losses: Zach Randolph (Sacramento); Tony Allen (New Orleans); Vince Carter (Sacramento).
 
Rookies of note: Rade Zagorac; Ivan Rabb; Dillon Brooks.
 
Expectations: 33-49 (fourth in the Southwest Division, 11th in the West).
 

CSNNE SCHEDULE