The Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics spent a lot of time talking to each other this off-season, working out the deal that brought Doc Rivers to L.A., not working out a deal for Kevin Garnett. Similarly, Jeff Clark the editor at SB Nation's CelticsBlog and I spent a good 15 minutes or so exchanging emails about the teams we love.
Jeff's answers to my questions are below. Head on over to CelticsBlog before the game to check out my answers to his questions.
Steve Perrin: I thought the Celtics were wise to move on from the Pierce-Garnett era, and wise as well to get an asset from the Clippers in exchange for Rivers, who had a big contract they probably didn't want to pay in a re-building process anyway. And then they went and gave Brad Stevens a monster contract anyway. Danny Ainge must REALLY believe in this guy to give him such a huge deal in year one of a massive rebuild. What's your take? Smart long term decision or too much money?
Jeff Clark: I think it was a brilliant move. It is hard enough for a coach to transition from college to pros but when you follow a Championship coach, it is even harder. Ainge knew that we'd be taking a step back in the standings and he wanted everyone to know right up front that this guy isn't going anywhere for a while. So even if the team struggled, the standings would be meaningless to his job security. His job is to build this team for the long term and so far he's doing exactly that. Besides, the money the deep pocket owners are saving by not paying the Luxury Tax can go right to his salary.
SP: Jordan Crawford just won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. When Jordan got a vote for Sixth Man of the Year last year, I assumed a voter had just gotten him confused with the Clippers Jamal Crawford. But this is a Conference award, not to mention that Jamal had a bad week, so I can only assume that this was not a mistake. Which makes me wonder, how is this not a mistake?
JC: We're all as shocked as you are. Pleasantly so though. He's always had talent, but for whatever reason, he was never heading in the right direction. Either he figured some things out or Stevens helped him figure them out or likely a little bit of both. Plus he's got the ball in his hands a lot, which I think makes him more comfortable on the floor. It will be interesting to see how he handles the transition when Rondo returns to the lineup and Steez becomes the backup.
SP: Jared Sullinger has taken 51 three pointers through 20 games, which is one fewer than he took from the shorter college distance in 74 games at THE Ohio State University. Where do you stand on Sully, stretch four? Is he the next Kevin Love?
JC: I think my position is summed up thusly: Why not? Stevens is a stats guy and he knows that long 2 point shots are much less efficient than 3 pointers. Sully doesn't have great numbers yet, but he's getting better and more comfortable with the shot. Adding that to his game just makes him more versatile. There's room in his game to bang down low as well as step beyond the arc. It just makes him that much harder to match up against. One of the worries about him is how he'd match up with long, athletic bigs that could snuff out his post moves. If he can't sneak around them then he'll just step back and pop shots over them.
SP: Trading Pierce and Garnett was a necessary step towards a rebuild, but there's still $44M tied up in Rondo, Wallace, Green, Bass and Lee next season, which is hardly ideal. Do you think there's another big deal coming? Obviously Rondo rumors persist.
JC: Yes I think another deal is coming. No I don't think Rondo is the one to go. We can't get fair value for him (another star player) because he's such a unique guy and he happens to be coming off an injury (not to mention he'll be a free agent after next year). I just think you hang onto a guy like that and build around him. The most likely to go are the vets who could be useful to a team but don't necessarily make as much sense for the long term in Boston. Brandon Bass seems like he'd fetch the most in return and since Sully is ready to take over the spot anyway it makes the most sense. That said, Danny Ainge will always listen and entertain offers for anyone.
SP: The Kobe Bryant contract in L.A. is pretty clearly a terrible competitive decision, but I've argued that it's a good financial decision for the Lakers as they'll conduct a wildly hyped "Kobe Farewell Tour" over the next two seasons. And there's loyalty to consider. Do you think Ainge should have kept Pierce, to let him retire as a Celtic?
JC: My heart really wanted Paul Pierce to stay in Boston. In fact, I still think he'll sign a one year deal next year to finish out in green. But my head knows what a windfall of a deal we got for him so I can't really complain. The Celtics are just taking a different route than the Lakers are and right now I'd rather be in our position than theirs. I don't think I could have pulled the trigger on a deal sending Pierce out of town, but a big part of me is glad that Danny did.