COMMENTARY | The Boston Celtics' front office has turned a blind eye toward glaring roster issues for years and is directly to blame for the Celtics' inability to capture another championship.
Ignoring problems doesn't allow for them to just go away. Failing to act once issues are identified is just as egregious as failing to identify them in the first place. What Danny Ainge, president of basketball operations, has done is hope that Boston's deficiencies could be overcome by the Celtics' pride and their willingness to fight.
The Celtics are an atrocious rebounding team with very little post scoring (or scoring of any kind for that matter). Their lack of rebounding (ranked 30th) limits second-chance points, and they finished 27th in points in the paint at just 38.1 during the regular season. Ainge continues to let those and other wounds fester as players age and the NBA's war of attrition ravages Boston's roster each season.
The Celtics have been one of the more injured teams in the league during the past three seasons, with ailments hindering significant components of their roster at various points during the season. This past season left Boston without All-star point guard Rajon Rondo, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in January. They also lost promising rookie Jared Sullinger to a season-ending back injury a short time later.
What did Ainge do to fill those voids? Well, nothing of note. The Celtics added three NBA flameouts from the Chinese Basketball Association (Shavlik Randolph, D.J. White, and Terrence Williams) along with Jordan Crawford after a short-lived run of success without Rondo and Sullinger.
I will not pretend that such a group could fill the void of Rondo and Sullinger, but the fact that the trio was so little used in the regular season and in the playoffs shows that Doc Rivers is a non-believer in the group's ability to contribute. Only Crawford averaged more than 15 minutes per game, with the rest receiving sparse playing time while stacking DNP-CDs like Pringles.
In essence, Ainge just filled out the roster but the team needed contributors, even if they were specialists in just scoring or passing or rebounding.
The rebounding issue has been prevalent for quite some time, but the loss of Rondo also left the team without a legit playmaker to initiate the offense that is predicated on ball movement and penetration. Once Rondo went down, Paul Pierce was asked to take on heavier ball-handling duties. Unfortunately, at age 35, Pierce can no longer break down his man at will and has become sloppier with the ball when pressured.Remember, Rondo went down in January. Surely Ainge could have acquired a true point guard via trade of free agency before the playoffs. Instead, he went with the above-mentioned group that included Williams. After the acquisition of Williams, Ainge and Rivers tried to sell how they envisioned Williams as a point guard, kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. This is not an attack on Williams, who has some passing skill, or any of the acquired players, but it's just a shame they couldn't give the Celtics what the team really needed. That fault lies with Ainge.
The Celtics are a proud group without the talent to compete with the NBA's second-tier elite, much less compete for a championship. They can't score consistently, they are irresponsible with the ball, and they can't rebound. Rondo should be back next season to help with the offense, but the other problems will not be solved by his return alone. Ainge must swallow his own pride and address the glaring holes of the roster. Ever since trading Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011, Ainge has been gun shy when it comes to making a franchise-alternating move. While that particular move was not well-received and ill-timed, it did yield the Celtics Jeff Green, who is finally flourishing.
It would seem like Ainge is afraid to try to atone for the sin of trading Perkins, as he has conducted much smaller and safer moves since that error.
Radical change in his own thinking is necessary to keep the Celtics competitive, or he could fold and resign himself to the fate that many think is already present.
Warren Shaw is a NBA contributor to Dime Magazine and Co-host of the weekly basketball podcast "The Baseline". He has covered various NBA events live while also conducting one on one player interviews. His work can also be found at Celticslife.com and Prosportsblogging.com.
Follow him on Twitter @shawsports.
- Sports & Recreation
- Danny Ainge
- Terrence Williams