NBA Splinters | July 12, 2009

by Patrick ‘Rey’ Reynell

>Boston signs Rasheed Wallace; Celtics showing their desperation?

The 2008 NBA Champions signed Rasheed Wallace to a two-year deal. The thirty-four year old forward leaves the Detroit Pistons behind after winning an NBA Championship and apparently cleaning up his act since his Portland “Jail” Blazer days.

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

This signing makes sense on paper. For one, Wallace can play inside or out. He’s someone that can be a valuable substitute for both Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins or play alongside either as the four or five. He defends well with a 6’11” lanky frame – arms that seem to stretch forever.

But isn’t he, and many other of the Celtic players, on the decline? So basically this is a signing to win another ring in the next two years, right? Certainly this group won’t win one after that.

I can’t help but think of Wallace’s lack of performance against an East contender, The Cleveland Cavaliers. With Iverson out, Wallace scored double digits once in the first round against the Cavs. In the final game, he shot 0-7 and scored a big goose egg. Not only was he outmatched athletically (the younger Anderson Varejo just simply beat him up and down the court every time), but he was outmatched in terms of determination.

I thought he “packed it in” after game one of that series. He showed little to no emotion and almost appeared to be pouting most of the series. This signing seems eerily similar to the risk the Celtics took with Marbury. The payoff can be very nice, but if things don’t work out like he wants, then the whole plan can backfire.

I expect to see the Celtics jump out of the gate early in 2009-10. The question will be can they sustain that through the playoffs. If Kevin Garnett is healthy, perhaps. If not, I don’t see an aged Rasheed Wallace making too much of a difference against the Cavs and Orlando Magic.

>Nike only has itself to blame for the LeBron James getting dunked on fiasco

I can’t believe the controversy surrounding Jordan Crawford’s now infamous dunk on LeBron James during a pickup basketball game. If you’re immune to such pointless drivel, let me catch you up to speed. I, too, wondered why this was a story at first.

At the Nike sponsored LeBron James Skills Academy held in Akron, Xavier sophomore Jordan Crawford dunked on the reigning NBA MVP in a pickup game. The game was being filmed, according to a press release from Nike, when it wasn’t supposed to be. The film was confiscated by Nike officials because the cameraman broke the video footage rules of the camp.

Ironically, Nike has created quite the hubbub by confiscating the video in what some are allegedly saying is a way to protect the “King” James image. Certainly getting dunked on by some college kid at a camp bearing your name is bad, right? But did Nike really think this would be that big of a story? Crawford has said in a few interviews that the dunk wasn’t even that big of a deal when it happened. Why? Because it happens more times than we realize. Nike created the very media blitz they THOUGHT they were avoiding by confiscating the tape.

Ryan Miller, the young videographer, wrote on what really happened in the exchange after the dunk. Seems as if Nike doesn’t tell the story behind the tape confiscation too accurately. According to him, he was being allowed to tape the whole time. Only after the game and a friendly exchange with James did Nike officials approach Miller. They asked for the tape and said they’d give it back the next day, which we now know never happened.

Thank goodness Ryan Miller shed some light on the ridiculousness of this public image obsession and the lengths companies like Nike will go for good business.

In case my paraphrasing is off, you can read Ryan Miller’s accounts here:

Witness Protection Program: Notes from My LeBron James Camp Confiscation

Ryan Miller’s Response to Nike’s LeBron James Skills Academy Video Statement

If you have an extra five minutes, here’s an interview with Jordan Crawford concerning the “incident.”

Since we’ll never see Crawford dunking on LeBron James, here’s evidence that “King James” is not immortal in the game of basketball. Courtney Lee, from little ol’ Western Kentucky, throwing a couple down on James in the playoffs.

Got some NBA news or comments? Take a seat on the bench and let your ‘pickins’ be heard.

20 Responses to "NBA Splinters | July 12, 2009"

  1. Casey   July 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Now that I am done with my triple…maybe I should make that a quadruple take – Rasheed Wallace is 34?!? Is it just me or does it seem like that guy has been in the league for 20 years? 34? ‘Sheed has got to go down as one of the least savvy players in the history of the league. Rey – your recounting of him in the playoffs is a perfect example. Does a veteran pout like he did this year? Or at least does a classy veteran?

    Stranger things have happened I suppose – but I don’t see this working. On the surface ‘Sheed’s numbers look decent this past season. He only averaged 12 ppg but he shot almost 42%. The latter number looks great, but what it doesn’t tell you is that ‘Sheed took 720 shots in 66 games (or more than 10 per game) this season. Does anyone think ‘Sheed will get that many shots per game with the Celtics? We should open the betting lines. How long will it take before ‘Sheed throws a hissy fit? And then? How many F-bombs will he drop in that hissy fit? I can only imagine him on the floor with Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. They are going to make a 6 trips up the floor and he won’t get a shot, and that will be it. They will take a time out, and ‘Sheed will either give everyone the silent treatment, or he will start demanding the ball.

    What do you mean we will never see Jordan Crawford dunking on LeBron? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Chas   July 13, 2009 at 9:33 am

    This is a good idea, Rey and Casey. The shorter posts that keep things fresh on the site, that is. I like the NBA Splinters title as well.

    As for Jordan Crawford dunking on Lebron, I think at this point it would be in Lebron’s best interests to tell Nike to let the public see the video. This incident not only makes Nike look bad, but it reflects on the recently growing sentiment that Lebron is a sore loser, especially after the NBA finals fiasco.

  6. Rey   July 13, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Great point, Chas. If they release the tape, LeBron can laugh it off and even make it as if he told Nike to do it. Put the blame on them. This, along with his walking off the court after the Magic took the Eastern Finals, is hurting his image. I’m finding more and more that there are basketball fans who are starting to like Kobe again and the vast majority is turning against LeBron. Strange to me, but the public hates sore losers and winners. I guess at least Kobe ACTS like he is genuine, right?

    Casey – Sheed’s age is surprising. To me, the way he played last season reflected the age we thought he was. He played like a 39 year old veteran who regretted not retiring halfway through the season. I don’t see where Sheed will get touches for the Celtics either. With healthy Garnett, Pierce still a legitimate threat, and the development of Rondo, where does Sheed fit in. Heck – even with Ray Allen still curling around screens. I just don’t get it although maybe Pierce and Garnett will have some pull in convincing him to play like THEY want him to.

    And you caught me, Casey. Didn’t mean to sell Crawford short, a guy who will play very well at Xavier. I meant we’ll never see him dunk on James at the “Kings'” own camp. Oh well…

  7. Casey   July 13, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I look at ‘Sheed as a player who needs to be given time to get into the flow of the game. As opposed to a guy who is ready when the ball is thrown up. His shooting percentage is deceiving. He can go for long stretches without scoring. In the past, his teams needed him, so they would leave him on the floor and wait for him to get hot. With the Celtics, if Sheed isn’t hot someone else will be.

    I’m trying to wrap my brain around him being comfortable with playing in the shadow of others.

  8. Rey   July 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    What I can’t understand is why the Celtics are going after these older veterans (lack of a better term, I guess). They were supposedly going to offer Grant Hill. Really? Has he ever had a season long, including playoffs, impact on a team. No. I know much of it is to no fault of his own. Some are calling for them to now sign Jerry Stackhouse, former UNC teammate to Wallace. Then you have them shopping Rondo earlier.

    So here’s a better question – was Danny Ainge too easily let off the hot seat because he made one blockbuster deal that brought in a championship? Obviously he did well in making it work (which I still don’t like the fact that Al Jefferson had to go in that deal). But – what is he doing now that makes the team contenders in the coming years? Unless he plans on making a big move on one of the many free agents in 2010, which has to be unlikely with the contracts he has.

    Anyway – I’m speculating all of this based on last season which isn’t fair because Garnett was not healthy.

  9. Casey   July 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Tongue in cheek comment – maybe Ainge wants to bring in Wallace to divert negative attention from Garnett. I mean at least with ‘Sheed on the bench Garnett won’t be the only one mfing the opposing team’s bench.

  10. Smitty   July 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Reynell – The Big 3 contracts are up within the next 2 years. I believe Allen’s is up at the end of next year and both Garnett and Pierce are up in 2 years. I think Ainge is looking at this as a 2 year window for one, maybe 2 more championships. Then it will be time to turn the roster over.

    Is anyone drafted at this point, really going to help them in the next 2 years? Probably not. I am not sure how much better Big Baby Davis and Leon Powe are going to get. For the most part – both had a hard time guarding bigger players down in the paint. It was an area they were exposed big time in the playoffs. I think Rasheed helps them in that situation.

    As for shots – all 3 of those guys – Allen, Pierce and Garnett bought into a system where on any given night – all 3 of them could take a backseat to one of them. I think they will have Wallace buying into the same system.

    Remember, the situations with the Pistons last year was a mess. Michael Curry obviously lost the team, because he was fired shortly after the season. Management pretty much circled the wagons when they trade Chauncey Billups and the A.I experiment didn’t come close to working. Rasheed shouldn’t have thrown in the towel last playoffs like he did, but have you ever heard him being criticized for being a locker room cancer? No. Does he get the technicals and is he a nuisance for referees? Sure. But for the most part guys are willing to play with him.

    There has been alot said about Rondo this off-season. He was late on numerous occasions, he didn’t listen -whatever. The main thing is that he needs to continue developing a consistent jump shot. During numerous games his defender would play off him either double teaming one of the Big Three or take away one of the driving lanes. Rondo needs to make them pay for being left alone. On the fast break, Rondo is one of the best PG in the NBA. In a half-court setting, he hurt them as much as he helped them.

    From that standpoint – Rasheed gives them another weapon. He can go inside and he can go outside. Wallace can shoot the 3 and will force his man to come out and guard. Suddenly you have lanes open for slashers such as Pierce and Rondo.

    I might be in the minority on this one, but I think it is going to work for the C’s. But maybe that is me being overly optimistic.

  11. Rey   July 13, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Smitty –

    I agree it can work with Sheed and that it is in fact a short term move. You’re right on saying that his biggest contribution will be his added length and defensive play down low.

    I’m personally not a big fan of the desperate moves to win one in the next two years. Considering how much better the East is now, having to go through at least D-Wade and LeBron at some point in a seven-game series, what are their chances of winning one in the next two years? It’s either a really big payoff or something that will be deemed a flop when it doesn’t work. It’s a “right now” type of move, and when you make those you better be successful. Of course this is my pessimistic side coming out, and certainly they could be onto to returning to the Finals which I don’t think is too far fetched with a healthy KG.

    You’re spot-on about Rondo. I think it was Casey who jokingly said, “Can the Celtics draft Rajohn Rondo a jumpshot?” If you think about it, you explained the offensive mindset of the Cavs. Their bigs love to play outside and get those kick-outs for 3, even big Z. Sheed and Rondo could run that type of system to a T.

    Great points.

  12. Casey   July 13, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    After Allen, Pierce, and House are the C’s going to want Wallace taking many 3s. Yeah, he shot at a rate of 35% last season, but that wasn’t their problem on offense.

    How about this for a head-scratcher- Wallce hasn’t taken more than 200 free throws in a season since ’03-’04. What is that telling you? It tells me he is avoiding contact. Do they need a 6’11” guy who is not willing to go inside consistently?

    Am I reading it right? Is Davis a free agent?

  13. Rey   July 13, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    As far as rotations go, I don’t think House and Sheed play together on the floor that much. Pierce and Allen will get their outside attempts, but Wallace can play either way. Bigger guy guarding him? He’ll pull him out and open things up, as Smitty pointed out. Smaller bruiser? No match for a 6’11” guy on the block.

  14. Rey   July 13, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Paul Pierce is only 31 and KG is 33 (but still plays like he’s 25 when healthy). They have another 5 years out of these two wouldn’t you think?

  15. Smitty   July 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Casey – I think the C’s want Pierce to shoot less 3s and attack the basket. They were at their best when he was slashing and getting to the free throw line. It makes his jump shot that much easier to get off when you have to respect the ability to drive.

    I agree with Reynell. House will spell Allen or Rondo. Wallace will either pull his defender away from the basket or he is going to head to the post to bruise. But he won’t be on the floor with House.

    Davis is a restricted free agent. Obviously anyone that makes an offer to him – the C’s can match.

  16. Smitty   July 13, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Reynell – I do agree with you on the Cs philosophy right now. Right now – as it stands, Ainge’s decision to trade for Allen and Garnett has been a success. How it will be remembered depends on the next 2 years.

    I think NBA teams are so worried about getting stuck with long-term contracts on fading stars that they take this approach. Figure out that window of where they can make a run at a championship and then start over.

    Which by the way – what do you think of Casey’s boy Hedo Turkoglu’s decision to sign with Toronto? The Casey’s boy comment is kidding. But seriously – does it really look like Turkoglu is interested in winning a championship. To me it looks like it was all about the $$. He could have returned to Orlando or he could have signed with Portland – who is an up and coming team. Instead it is Toronto – who I don’t think will be ready to challenge for awhile.

    It just makes me question what is more important to him.

  17. Rey   July 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    “Aingeโ€™s decision to trade for Allen and Garnett has been a success. How it will be remembered depends on the next 2 years.” — very true.

    I’ve heard all sorts of stuff on Turkoglu going to Toronto, from it had to do with the money, his relationship with players and staff, to his wife liking Toronto the most because it has a large Turkish community.

    In the end it appears to be money because it is no secret that Chris Bosh will probably not re-sign with the Raptors in 2010.

  18. JD   July 14, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Looking at the current Celtic roster I think they needed more help in the back court. I like Rondo but there must be some pretty big issues if management was thinking of getting rid of one of the best young point guards out there. Ray Allen is very good but getting up there in age and House is a good backup, even though I wish he was a bit more consistent and not so streaky of a player, but beyond that not much in the way of guard play. Maybe Marbury could help if he ever figures out a way to be a role player, which is where Wallace should fit in this year. I could see him as the first big man off of the bench, providing minutes for Pierce and MFG. I think he has a better chance than Marbury of fitting in and being a piece of instead of the whole puzzle himself. I don’t recall issues with teammates or in the locker room with Rasheed. In the end I think it has a good chance of working out chemistry wise and it makes the Celtics a better team; a good decision on management’s part.

  19. Casey   July 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Just the fact that Varejo can expose a weakness in Wallace’s game has to raise a few eyebrows. Varejo?!? Really? And Wallace is supposed to help on defense? I suppose he can man up on Ilguaskas.

    I don’t see Wallace keeping Dwight Howard off the boards. And we all know that is the ONLY way Dwight can score consistently. That is unless he is taking Mark Jackson’s advice and spending his summer months with Patrick Ewing.

    If the reason for getting Wallace is to win a title isn’t he probably going to have to deal with Howard? I suppose they may get lucky and avoid the Magic in the playoffs. Of course maybe they won’t have to worry about Orlando considering they traded Courtney Lee with ‘Skip To My Lou’ and then they lost Turkoglu.

    As for offense – I saw the Celts get bogged down because Orlando did not have to worry about them scoring in the post. Therefore, Magic defenders could afford to extend on the perimeter. Lanes were open, but Boston had no one who could finish inside. Yes, that was because MFG (great one JD) was in a suit and tie, but how does Wallace help with this? He’s a 6’11” guy who wants to shoot jumpers, and doesn’t like to get back on defense.

    As Rey put it – this is all speculation. But if we didn’t have speculation, we wouldn’t have ‘The Bench.’ ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Rey   July 14, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    JD – thanks for weighing in on the Celtics. The whole Rondo propsed trade was vert strange, and one would have to think that his play would be hard to replace. If you think about it, Rondo is a great balance with the other weapons they have. I think you and I would agree that if there is a team out there where a guy like “Star”bury and ‘Sheed can go and be convinced to play a lesser, yet very important role, it’s Boston. It certainly will be fun to see how things shape out.

    Casey – Good point. Orlando was able to extend and it still didn’t make much a diff. for Boston. Again – Rondo is there main guy who can get into the lane everytime. Pierce became the king of the that little fade away from the elbow. Allen will shoot mostly jumpers. House will too. Marbury never looked comfortable playing. How does Sheed help that? Is he going to grab more boards? I don’t think so, especially since he loves to live 15 feet and out.

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