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.