I guess its time to be looking to the future for the Celtics, and the future is Danny Ainge. Frank Haner chimes in with a mini guest column:
In the past, I have been a fairly frequent writer on the Celtics. And I follow the Celtics every move. I think concerns for Ainge in control of the Celtics are off base. I hope I can convince you he is the right man.
I think Ainge is a free thinker with confidence in his opinions. I think he is strong minded, and will not be swayed by other people. And he knows basketball. He is the not the type to think everything is very good because the Celtics made it to the second round. He knows some of our players, while being very good, have to play smarter. And he knows the roster needs to be shaken up. I liked Jackie’s article today on Ainge, which highlighted some of this stuff.
The are several things about the current Celtics that bug me. And it is basic basketball.
(1) How come when they throw the ball in after an opponent’s made basket, it seems disorganized more often than not? Pierce and Walker, despite having the ball in their hand, never seem to want to throw it in quickly to the guard. (Are they too good for this?) A player always seems to have to run back to throw the ball in. They lose 2-4 seconds all the time, which, obviously, gives their opponent time to get back into their set defense. I was watching the Spurs the other night. Duncan grabs the ball after a made basket, and throws it in quickly.
(2) Getting into their offense always seems to take too long, probably, in no small part, by how they throw the ball into play. They always seems to waste 6-8 seconds before they have things set up. Players are jogging up the court, as if trying to catch a breather. Again, you never see Duncan of the Spurs do this. He throws the ball in, then runs up the court.
(3) Walker and Pierce far too often wear sulky, cry-baby looks on their face. The refs are treating me unfairly, they seem to think. They always give the calls to the other team, they wine. And a lot of times, they complain when they should be running back on defense. Now, of course, in the modern NBA, All-Star players do this more. But Walker and Pierce do this way too often, and it sets the tone for the team.
All three of these things are the responsibility of the coach to address. And they are indicative of laziness and lack of focus, two characteristics the Celtics do not really seem to be about in every other aspect of their game. But O’Brien tolerates it. Now, I like him as a coach, but he has coddled them for too long. Rickie baby has been gone for awhile. O’Brien worked to gain the respect of the players; now he should assert himself some more and not tolerate this.
These are the type of things Ainge will not tolerate. And we will make the coach address them.
I can see Ainge being able to confine Walker to be the type of player he was in the Pacers’ series every game. I can see Walker being a player next year with stats like 18 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.5 steals, 45% FG. I can see Ainge convincing Walker he needs to give up more of his offense in order for another player on the team to be a 15-16 point scorer. And I think it will be easier for Walker to learn this from Ainge than O’Brien.
Ainge will also be respectful of the Celtic’s history and pride in a way that is not a marketing ploy. It will be real.
Ainge, while be out-spoken and strong-willed, is also a humble, moral, deeply religious man. I think those are great characteristics of a head of a NBA team.
I also like Ainge being a younger man. I think he would like to stay with the Celtics for years and years. (I don’t think Bird would have been the right choice, despite how cool that would have been. I could never see him staying in that spot for more than 3-6 years.) That is a good thing. How many coaches and management changes have occurred over the past ten years? Too many. I want someone with long-term vision, someone who will stay around to see the changes through. I think he is that man, and I highly support him. I think you should too.
Another article of note comes from Salt Lake City Dick Harmon looks at the ‘mounting web of local ties, some through BYU, which are now tying up the scene in Boston.’ Thanks to Jan for sending that article along.