How do you like the brand new name of the series of Q&A's I've been doing with the bloggers from rival teams? As of about 10 seconds ago, the series is now known as "Questionable Bloggers" -- I'm quite pleased with the name, but then again, I've met most of these guys at one point in time or another, so it may resonate more with me.
At any rate, today's edition features three questions with Jeff Clark of the ground-breaking SBNation blog CelticsBlog. I have to go into a little NBA blogging history here for a moment. Way back in the 2006 off-season, when Clips Nation had just joined SBNation and had a readership consisting of Citizen Zhiv and Citizen Mikey P and that's about it, Jeff organized a series of season previews for all 30 NBA teams written by bloggers. I contributed a Clippers preview (warning, it's pretty painful to read, as there was a tremendous amount of hope surrounding that team coming off an appearance in the second round of the playoffs) to that effort, and I firmly believe that participating in that series is one of the things that put Clips Nation on the map. So my sincere thanks to Jeff for that.
And thanks to Jeff also for taking the time to answer these questions about tonight's game. Sorry that it's getting posted so close to game time, but the pace of the season, with the Clippers starting a 9 games in 12 days stretch and the trade deadline Thursday right in the middle of March Madness, is getting mad to say the least. Better late than never though. You can also read my answers to Jeff's questions here.
Steve Perrin: I think I know where you stand, but for my readers, what's your take on the 'blow it up now and start rebuilding' versus the 'let's make one more run' debate?
Jeff Clark: The short version is this. The Celtics are currently lined up to blow it up this summer, clearing oodles of cash off the books. We'll have enough to offer Dwight Howard a max deal but everyone knows he's not coming here, so we'll have to be more creative than that. Still, I like that plan better than selling off our stars for pennies on the dollar. That said, if we can get a first and a young player for Ray, then by all means. If you can get Howard for KG's expiring deal, sure. Just like in the offseason we were ready to send out Rondo for Chris Paul but we aren't offering him up for 3 nickles. He's a classic case of "worth more to us than he'd return on the open market." So wait it out, do your rebuilding this offseason and let Paul Pierce retire with dignity (whenever he wants to).
SP: What are the specific reasons for the Celtics drop off this season? Paul Pierce and Ray Allen seem to be about the same players they always were, and Rajon Rondo has been terrific. Is the decline all on Garnett? Is it the trade of Kendrick Perkins and subsequent loss of Jeff Green for the season? Or was the supporting cast for other teams that much better? Or is it something else entirely?
JC: All 3 of the Big 3 can be the same players they have been, or mostly at least, but they can't do it consistently. Pierce started off slowly and has come back to form. Ray has always had shooting slumps that he made up for with mind boggling hot streaks. KG can't jump like he once could and he keeps moving further from the basket, but he's still the smartest defender on the planet.
Depth and injuries have absolutely been brutal. If you look back at the 2008 season, we got really lucky with injuries. Everyone of use (sorry Scot Pollard) was available for most of the year. We haven't had that since, but those are the breaks... literally. Losing Perkins for nothing but your pick hurts us a lot right now, but frankly I don't want to talk about that anymore.
The undercurrent of all of this is that Danny is stuck between wanting to get the horses for one more rodeo but doesn't want to hamstring the rebuilding effort that starts this summer. So he couldn't make moves for support guys unless they were willing to take 1 year deals. So call it a bridge year, call it a victory lap, call it one last roll of the dice. The team is doing the best they can knowing that the window is slamming shut in a few months time.
SP: A little Clipper-specific perhaps, but Chris Wilcox was a long ago Clipper lottery pick that seemed to have a world of talent, but was never able to really put it together. He's actually had a bit of a resurgence in Boston's rotation this season. What has been Wilcox done well for the Celtics this season, and how surprised are you with his play?
JC: He is a big man that can run with Rondo, so that was a beautiful thing to witness for as long as it lasted. It didn't take them long to get on the same wavelength for alley oops. I was hoping to be able to use the nickname Lob-ster City at some point. Unfortunately Wilcox now is out indefinitely with some issue with his heart. Basically we're assuming that this is Jeff Green all over again. We wish him well, but now with Jermaine O'Neal out as well, we're down to KG and Greg Stiemsma (D-League defensive player of the year) manning the center spot.
So that's where we're at.
I would wish you guys the best of luck, especially against the Lakers, but frankly I'm hoping you guys tank so our draft pick is higher. But I say that with all my love.
Oh, that's right. You've got the Clippers draft pick this year. That's OK, you're allowed to root against us where a draft pick is concerned. That's totally understandable.