Celtics Acquire Perry Jones For Chump Change

On Tuesday, the Celtics completed a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, whereby Perry Jones was sent to Boston with a 2019 Second Round draft pick and cash in exchange for a future Second Round pick.

No, I didn’t mistype anything. This move was purely a salary dump for Oklahoma City, who after matching Enes Kanter’s offer sheet with the Trail Blazers needed to make a move to alleviate the salary cap tax they would otherwise have to pay.

At first glance, Jones is nothing to write home about. He’s averaged about 3.5 Points and 2 Rebounds for his career. So it goes, when you’re stuck behind Kevin Durant, Anthony Morrow, Nick Collison and Kyle Singler on the depth chart.

Of course, there’s more than what meets the eye. Jones was projected to be a Top 5 pick in 2011, but opted to stay in school an extra year. That decision proved costly, as he seemed to regress on a revamped Baylor team that may have been preparing for him to bolt after just one season.

In the Summer of 2012, I hardly slept thinking about the possibility of Jones falling into Boston’s lap with either the 21st or 22nd picks. Instead, they opted for Jared Sullinger and (deep breath) Fab Melo. Jones slipped to OKC at 28, which instantly became the steal of the draft.

As is usually the case with non-lottery OKC rookies, Jones barely saw the court in his first two years. He watched film and soaked up the wisdom of guys like KD, Russ Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. He was patient and never voiced frustration. So when the 2014-15 season finally rolled around, Jones was ready when his name was called. He started the season playing major minutes; over 30 to be exact through the first four. Here’s the highlight reel of his 32 Point performance on the second game of the season:

He does a little bit of everything: scoring, shooting, passing, rebounding and defense. And here, he does it against a loaded Clippers team.

Unfortunately, he hurt his knee, and by the time he was ready to play again, Durant had returned from injury, eating any available minutes.

Jones will get a chance to play more consistent minutes in Boston. More importantly though, he’ll be on a roster that lacks a single All-Star. His agent, Bill Duffy, said, “The Celtics are an up-and-coming team that doesn’t [sic] really have a superstar per se. They’re looking at who should they go forward with. For Perry, that’s a great situation to walk into.”

Obviously, the Cs didn’t just acquire Kevin Durant, but they did acquire a 23 year-old 6’11 forward who Durant called, “the best athlete in the league.” Jones will have to compete for minutes against the likes of Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger and David Lee, but Brad knows how to spread minutes and talent around accordingly.

With this trade, the Celtics now have 16 bodies on a 15-man roster before any trimming. They aren’t done making moves either. Phil Pressey’s contract becomes fully guaranteed by the end of the day today if he isn’t traded or waived. Nevertheless, Danny has added considerable depth since the draft in lieu of a superstar. Perry Jones is a great addition that could turn out to be a steal in the best case scenario.

Stay tuned for what lies ahead.

Boston Celtics Offseason Report #1

Between the draft and the beginning of free agency, many Cs fans are scratching their heads. Prior to draft day, Danny went on the record stating the Cs’ desire to trade up. They were armed with picks 16, 28, 33, 45, and a confident understanding that a package of three or all four would satisfy a lottery team looking to move back.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. With the No. 9 pick, the Charlotte Hornets let their time on the clock tick all the way down before selecting Frank Kaminsky. Only after the draft did word get out that the Cs were offering six picks (16, 28, two future firsts and future seconds) for the chance to grab Justise Winslow at the No. 9 spot. The offer was rebuffed because Michael Jordan reportedly felt that strongly about Kaminsky.

Rather than force a trade elsewhere, the Cs shocked everyone (myself included), by using all four picks. They grabbed Louisville point guard Terry Rozier (#16), Georgia State shooting guard and NCAA Tournament hero R.J. Hunter (#28), LSU big man Jordan Mickey (#33) and William & Mary sharpshooter Marcus Thornton (#45).

Herein lies the problem: Rozier, the team’s highest pick, is a point guard, who will be competing with Marcus and Isaiah for minutes that probably won’t be available. Further, he was projected to be a late first-round pick by nearly every reliable pundit out there.

Hunter should compete for minutes at the 2-guard spot, but he’ll still be behind Bradley, Crowder, and the ever-improving James Young (who by the way is STILL the youngest player on the roster). Mickey can earn himself playing time in the post, but he needs to significantly bulk up before he can have any real impact. Thornton is likely to be stashed oversesas or in the D-League until further notice.

So Boston didn’t hit a homerun. Fine. There was still $24 Million to spend in free agency. Fans had been drooling over the prospects of Kevin Love, Lamarcus Aldridge and/or Tobias Harris in green.

But what did Boston do? The resigned Jerebko and Crowder to $5 Million (2 years / $10 Million) and $7 Million (5 years / $35 Million) deals respectively. The remaining $12 Million went to Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson, who inked a 2 year / $24 Million deal to replace the departing Brandon Bass. Side-by-side, the two are nearly statistical dopplegangers, though Johnson has the advantage of being younger and a better post-defender.

All of this amounted to a tremendously frustrated fanbase. No splashes, no flashy new additions. Just the same old core, with four new rookies and not-so-sexy free agent signing.

Shortly thereafter, Danny traded Gerald Wallace to Golden State for David Lee. This is a good deal. Wallace rode the pine in Boston and Lee wound up with fewer minutes after the emergence of Draymond Green. Lee doesn’t play great defense, but he can score, and most importantly he can rebound. So the Cs’ frontcourt is now: Johnson, Zeller, Sullinger, Olynyk, Mickey and Lee. Mickey looks like the odd man out, though Lee surely won’t be playing upwards of 20 minutes per game.

I’m not displeased with the way things turned out. Yes, the Cs are still lacking in the talent department, but they retained the same core that went .500 last year, while adding three promising rookies and two solid power forwards. Let’s not forget that Boston ended the 2015 season on a six-game winning streak, and were 24-12 in their last 36. They’re playing very good basketball, and they’re only trending up. This time next year, they’ll have money to spend, and even more draft picks. Planning for the future hasn’t been compromised even slightly.

My one gripe, though, is that Isaiah needs help. Sullinger, Olynyk, Bradley, Smart and Turner all need to continue showing offensive growth. They also need a rim protector. Mickey can be that guy, but not from day one. He’s got a ways to go.

Summer League starts now. Look for James Young to make noticeable strides, Marcus to assert himself as the leader, and anything and everything from the rooks.

4/26/2015: Game 4

Cleveland 101 Boston 93

That’s it, folks. It’s been a fun ride, but now it’s over.

Cleveland was firmly in control for the whole first half. In the second, Boston did their best comeback act, but it wasn’t enough. The Cavs led by as many as 21 Points and the Cs managed to cut it to six, but that’s as close as it got.

First, this was not a fun game to watch. I’m all for chippy playoff basketball, but things got out of line.

In the first quarter, Kelly and Kevin Love were fighting for a loose ball. Love had better position, but that didn’t stop Kelly from fouling Love; maybe out of frustration, in order to prevent transition offense, or some combination of the two. Their arms were tangled and Kelly may not have been aware of his own strength. Love dislocated his shoulder, and later said the play was malicious. Kelly had no comment:

What ensued was Cleveland retaliation and plain old dirty basketball. Kendrick Perkins, a former fan favorite in Boston, pushed Jae to the floor by his face and even gave him another slap after he got back up. Amazingly, there was no ejection:

I think I speak for Cs fans everywhere when I say Perk is dead to me.

The second, and more despicable play came in the 3rd Quarter when J.R. Smith punched Jae in the face on a box-out attempt, with Jae spraining his ACL upon falling to the floor:

After all of this nonsense, the Cs went on a run and nearly climbed back into the game, but their shooting woes cost them any last chance. When the final buzzer sounded, Boston was 3/23 from long distance and 24/37 at the Free Throw line. Their defense was insufficient, with a combined 5 Steals and Blocks. Cleveland had 18. The Cs turned the ball over 14 times, and the Cavs only 8.

Plain and simple, Boston was overmatched in this series. LeBron and Kyrie did the bulk of Cleveland’s heavy-lifting, especially in the 4th Quarter, staving off any Celtic runs. Boston doesn’t have anyone to fill this void for them. Isaiah and Sully each had 21 Points, but Isaiah’s came on 4/17 Shooting (he was 12/12 from the line), and Sully doesn’t score 20 Points consistently enough.

I’m still extremely proud of this season. The Cs shattered everyone’s expectations, including my own, and never let Cleveland blow them out. The supporting cast is in place. Now, all they need is an All-Star to get them over the hump.

Expect Danny and Brad to start off-season preparations immediately. Heading into Brad’s third year on the job, they’ll both have strong ideas about how to take the next step towards winning 50 games. The Cs still have a boatload of draft picks, including two Firsts and a very early 2nd this year. They also have a slew of young talent. All that happens now is Trader Danny sits back and waits for the right opportunity.

It was painful to get swept by LeBron and friends, but it was necessary in that it highlights the Cs’ most glaring weaknesses. Fans can rest assured knowing the team is in a great position. Even though the season is over, there is tons to look forward to.

Homer Johnsen is a freelance writer and Salary Cap Intern for the Boston Celtics. With the 2014-15 season officially over, his focus is on cutting discretionary costs (food, socks, etc.) to better position the Celtics for free agency. His Celtics reactions and number-crunching methods are available right here on HeresTheDealLikeShaquille. 

4/23/2015: Game 3

Cleveland 103 Boston 95

Boston absolutely played their hearts out and left everything on the court. Alas, it wasn’t enough.

There was a moment in the 2nd Quarter where Jerebko and Crowder batted around a loose ball while going for a rebound. When it looked like Kevin Love was about to secure it, Crowder wrapped him up for a jump-ball. The crowd rose to their feet and cheered deafeningly. That was the hustle Brad has continuously implored them to play with.

Yet for all of the moments like this one, Cleveland still managed to hit every timely shot, whether it was a twisting J.R. Smith fadeaway, or one of Kevin Love’s 6 three-pointers.

There isn’t much to dwell on. Cleveland simply has more talent. Kyrie did not play well (13 Points on 3/11), but J.R. did (15 Points on 6/12). When one option is lacking, there are plenty of other options for the Cavs. J.R. hadn’t shown up in the previous two games, but he did in this one, no doubt messing up the gameplan.

Isaiah is seemingly the only offensive threat the Cs can bank on to show up. Unfortunately, he mustered only 5 Points on 2/9. Avery had 18 Points, albeit on 7/18. E.T. was the lone bright spot, dropping 19 (8/15), 8 Rebounds and 8 Assists.

Each game, the Cs take another step forward against this powerhouse Cavs team, yet the Cavs ALWAYS respond. It’s maddening to watch, and it must eat at the players. To see such effort translate into nothing is incredibly disappointing.

The Cs get a little extra rest before Game 4 on Sunday. I have no doubt Brad is going to motivate the guys and they will show up. Now, it’s simply a matter of continuing the aforementioned trend of building upon each game. and taking yet another step.

Whatever happens, Boston will not roll over. They will scratch and claw until this series ends, no matter the outcome.

Sunday.

Homer Johnsen is a freelance writer and Social Media Extraordinaire for the Boston Celtics. He has two cell phones, two computers and numerous Twitter handles for himself and players alike. His Celtics reactions and Twitter info are available right here on HeresTheDealLikeShaquille. 

4/21/2015: Game 2

Cleveland 99 Boston 91

Boston did a nice job of staying in this one longer in than they did in Game 1. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough. LeBron and Kyrie dominated again, while Mozgov continues to overpower Boston’s bigs.

Boston shot only 38.8%, but there is a silver lining: they were 33/85 from the field, while Cleveland was 34/76. Had a few of those extra shots fallen, maybe we’re looking at a different outcome. The Cavs played far better defense (7 Steals and 10 Blocks to Boston’s six and three), but Boston had better ball security, with 11 Turnovers to Cleveland’s 18. Both teams committed 22 Fouls, and Cleveland made/attempted only two more Free Throws than the Cs.

All of that jargon should point to the fact that Boston sufficiently revised the gameplan from Game 1 to Game 2. Cleveland is just too damn good.

Once again, Isaiah led the way with 22 Points and 7 Assists. Unfortunately, he isn’t getting much help. Four other guys scored in double-figures, and Sully had the second-most points with 14. Avery is now 6/19 through these first two games. Sure, the shots will fall eventually, but defense alone is not counterbalancing LeBron and Kyrie. Someone, anyone, needs to step up in Game 3 to alleviate some of the scoring pressure on Isaiah.

Boston was up by as many as nine before Cleveland came charging back, so they’re headed in the right direction. Now, they’ll have the luxury of playing in Boston for these next two. My hope is that the rest of the guys who are capable of scoring do so without sacrificing the defense. The improvements over Game 1 were apparent.

Celtics beat writer Ben Rohrbach wisely used Sisyphus as a metaphor for the work Brad has done this season. Let’s hope the Cs once again build upon the progress they continue to make.

Game 3 on Thursday.

Homer Johnsen is a freelance writer and adjunct literature professor for the Boston Celtics. Every day, the players are given excerpts from famous speeches to be used as motivation. His Celtics reactions and list of speeches used are available right here on HeresTheDealLikeShaquille.

4/19/2015: Game 1

Cleveland 113 Boston 100

And so it begins. Boston actually led after the 1st Quarter, but it didn’t take long for Kyrie and LeBron to take matters into their own hands. Kyrie made his first five three-pointers and finished with 30 Points.

All things considered, it could have been worse for Boston. The Cavs were just slightly better for the whole 48 Minutes. Both teams made 37 Field Goals, and the defensive stats were similar. Cleveland dominated on the boards though (46-34), and drew more shooting fouls than Boston, resulting in more free throws.

It’s no secret, Boston has their hands full. Cleveland’s roster is absolutely stocked with talent, but the Cs are unwavering. Kelly and Evan finished with 12 Points, while Bass, Marcus and Jae each had 10. Isaiah was the leader with a very glossy statline: 22 Points, 10 Assists, 5 Rebounds and a Steal on 6/14 Shooting, including a perfect 8/8 from the line.

The Cs are going to have to make some adjustments for the next game. Namely, they need to figure out how to combat Cleveland’s size. Their victory on the boards is a telling statistic; Boston has no answer. They’re going to have to keep driving to the hoop, and they’ll need to keep taking shots from distance. Save for a few timely shots, Boston was very much in this game for the bulk of the time.

If Game 1 was any indication, a Boston victory is going to be tough, but certainly within the realm. I have faith in Brad to adjust the gameplan accordingly. For now, tighten up on D and get more aggressive on offense.

Game 2 on Tuesday.

Homer Johnsen is a freelance writer and motivational speaker for the Boston Celtics. Every halftime, he speaks to the team on behalf of the fans. His Celtics reactions and halftime speeches archive are available right here on HeresTheDealLikeShaquille.