Saturday Notebook: Shaq versus Kwame, Rudy Fernandez, and Avery Bradley
Posted by Brendan Jackson on Jul 31, 2010
Here’s some of the latest news regarding the Boston Celtics I could dig up:
The latest buzz from ESPN’s Marc Stein essentially discusses some things we all already know. The Celtics want to grab another big man to sure up their front-line, and they have kicked the tires on Shaquille O’Neal and Kwame Brown. As Stein notes, the problem with either of these options resides in the dollar signs. The Celtics can only offer the veteran minimum and both Brown and O’Neal feel they are worth more:
“The problem? The Celtics only have minimum money left. Sources say they’re having trouble getting Brown to accept those wages, so you can imagine where Shaq stands on the idea.
Word persists that Shaq still hopes to be sign-and-traded somewhere by Cleveland that will allow him to secure a salary next season above the $5.8 million mid-level exception. Our old friend Howard Beck of the New York Times did a comprehensive piece last weekend spelling out just how unlikely landing that sort of contract would appear to be.”
I would have said making the case for Kwame Brown getting anything more than the vet. min. would be extremely difficult, but that was before the Raptors gave Amir Johnson 35 million dollars-eeessshh. O’Neal, on the other hand, has a case to make more than the vet. min. He was a solid contributor on a playoff team last season and he made close to 20 million dollars last season. Taking the vet. min. would be a HUGE pay cut. Still, the market is dwindling and it doesn’t look likely that Shaq will get anything more from a contending team. Obviously, the best situation for Celtics fans would be for Cleveland to agree to a sign-and-trade using Rasheed Wallace’s contract that would net the C’s O’Neal and one of the Cavaliers’ prized free-agent acquisitions from last year (Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon). The Cavs have little incentive to trade Parker or Moon given the manageable size of their contracts (Parker has 1 year for 2.8 million and Moon has 1 year for 2.9 million). With both of those contracts coming off the Cavalier payroll next season, a trade like this would probably only net Cleveland a savings of 1 million bucks when it was all said and done.
The latest news on the Rudy Fernandez front is…..that there is no news. Here’s the latest from the Arlington Heights Daily Herald (h/t HoopsHype.com):
“The Oregonian mentioned the Bulls as a potential destination for Portland shooting guard Rudy Fernandez. League insiders wonder if the Blazers are really serious about moving Fernandez. The Bulls’ inquiries earlier this summer were rebuffed.
At this point, if Fernandez is unhappy with his limited role in Portland, the Bulls may not be his best option, considering they’ve already added Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer at two guard. According to reports, the Blazers are willing to accommodate Fernandez’ trade request and are looking for a first-round draft pick in return.
The 6-6 Fernandez, 25, played well as a rookie, averaging 10.4 points and shooting 42.5 percent from the field. He slumped in his second season, dropping to 8.1 points and 38-percent shooting in slightly fewer minutes.
I’ve seen rumors of the Bulls offering Taj Gibson for Fernandez, but cannot imagine that happening. You don’t trade a competent big man for an unproven guard.”
So Fernandez won’t be happy in Chicago given their recent acquisitions of Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer and it appears that the Knicks really don’t have anything the Blazers want in return. So is Boston the front-runner to snag Fernandez? At this point, I’d say there is no front-runner.
It’s weird that the Blazers are claiming they are willing to trade Fernandez considering he’s still on his rookie deal. Portland is just over the luxury tax line (luxury tax is at $69.92 million) with close to 71 million dollars in salaries for this coming season. I’m not sure if Sheed’s deal and a first round pick is enough to pry such a cost-effective player away from the Blazers.
Somehow I missed this last Tuesday, but ESPN’s John Hollinger (Insider only) has dubbed the Boston Celtics one of the NBA’s offseason survivors. Hollinger talks about what Celtics fans already know (Doc, Pierce, Allen, Robinson, and Daniels are all back, Jermaine O’Neal is now on board), but probably the most interesting part of the blurb discusses Avery Bradley’s role:
“Draft pick Avery Bradley can take over Tony Allen’s role as a defensive stopper off the bench. And perhaps best of all, Rivers agreed to return and coach the team for one more year.”
I was going to make the very same assertion in a post but then I consulted my source for everything Longhorn related, TrueHoop’s Rob Mahoney (TheTwoManGame.com, HardwoodParoxysm.com). Mahoney graciously provided me with a first-hand scouting report of the Celtics first round draft pick:
“Celtics fans are going to dig Bradley’s game. He’s already an excellent individual defender — he can stay in front of almost anyone, doesn’t gamble too much, and is great at providing on-ball pressure — but when put in an established defensive system (like Boston’s), he should be even better. Avery won’t fit the exact billing as a TA replacement, but only because he’s slightly less versatile (Bradley has no business guarding NBA 3s…ever). Otherwise, I see Bradley as a defensive difference-maker in his rookie year, even if he lacks Allen’s seasoning.”
Given his defensive pedigree, it would be a conclusion to make that Bradley would step in a fill the void left by TA’s departure, but as Mahoney points out, Bradley will not be able to guard NBA small forwards. In other words, he won’t be a TA replacement at all but he will be a great on-ball defender should the Celtics decide to ever put on a full court press next season.
Here is the rest of Mahoney’s report:
“The offensive end is where Bradley’s a bit more limited. He’s very athletic, yet he was never a particularly good finisher at Texas. In a lot of cases he’d make a great move to get to the rim but blow a point-blank opportunity, and that’s not the type of play that will endear him to NBA coaches. That problem is underscored by the fact that Bradley isn’t a natural playmaker. His own scoring limitations wouldn’t be such a big deal if he could create for others, but his court vision seems pretty limited at the moment. His most polished offensive skill is likely the spot-up jumper, which is reliable but not infallible.
If Boston is patient with him, Bradley could turn out to be a damn intriguing player. He’ll never be a pure point, but there’s no reason he can’t eventually develop into a drive-and-kick type in the Tony Parker mold. I could see Rondo and Bradley headlining one of the league’s most effective point guard rotations for years to come, and coming off the bench as a combo guard may be an ideal situation for Bradley. He has the raw talent of a potential starter, but if he’s able to focus on what he can do while slowly improving on the things that he can’t, Avery should be both comfortable and successful in his role.”
That’s it for now Celtics’ fans. Enjoy your Saturday!