Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2021

Danny Ainge's "new-faces-if-it-comes-to-that" scenario has emerged

Celtics fans can remain angry about the departure of Al Horford and Gordon Hayward , but they really should admit The Green sorely miss what that pair supplied. Conversely, it was quickly apparent that the Kyrie Irving -in-Boston experiment was a failure - partly due to him not being the best of teammates - but also the fact that Celtics team was simply a bad mix. We may be looking at that once again. Hordford was brought on board in 2016, followed by Irving and Hayward in 2017. All three left Boston of their own volition, but Irving's acquisition was a mistake. Not so with Gordon and Al. Boston misses them. The current Celtics crew is mired in 9th place in the East with a 15-17 record - the same as the lowly Knicks. That last stat alone merits roster (or higher-level) changes. Youth, injuries and Covid aside, we are looking at a bad mix of players . There is no synergy - no coordination - no cooperation . There will be no spontaneous fix here. Some type of change is needed. What

Expect a different Celtics team post-All-Star break

The Celtics remain mired in sixth place in the East with a losing (15-16) record. Expect things to change after the All-Star break, and certainly post-Trade-Deadline (March 25). That change could be in the form of different lineups, tweaks to the style or pace - or finally, some new faces. Boston's rotation is suddenly solidifying. Jeff Teague's appearances are dwindling, but Tristan Thompson seems to be finding his niche.  Rookie Aaron Nesmith has emerged from the mist, averaging 22.7 minutes per game over the last five contests. Over that span, he has hit 7-of-14 from the field - 4-of-10 on 3-pointers - and collected an encouraging 4.2 rebounds per game. Expect to see more of the ever-moving sharp-shooter after the break. Grant Williams seems to fading into the mist from whence Nesmith emerged, playing only seven minutes in Boston's loss to the Mavericks last night. Rob Williams? He saw 14 minutes in the loss, and despite some very-obvious improvement in his game, it

Are we seeing a replay of the Isaiah Thomas saga with Kemba Walker?

CelticsSentinel's Erich Ryan broached the Kemba Walker conundrum back on February 10, and the issue remains in question.  Danny Ainge shipped Isaiah Thomas out of town in damaged condition after the diminutive guard had literally saved Boston's 2016-17 season with his heroic play.  The latest questions surround another undersized point guard, Kemba Walker. On a recent Colin Cowherd Podcast , NBA analyst Ric Bucher stated that Celtics boss, Danny Ainge "tried like Hell to move Kemba at the beginning of the season" . Bucher added that Walker's knee injury and lack of size are one of the reasons "they (Celtics) are not a Championship contending team" .  I share these concerns for the Boston Celtics. Like IT, Kemba's lack of size is magnified when significant injuries hamper the quick, evasive movements shared by both players.  Walker was given stem cell therapy for his knee issue in the off-season, and it just may be that the treatment was really a &qu

Celtics anointment of a captain is needed - and soon.

One of our writers, Steven Mayer, has repeatedly suggested that Brad Stevens put an NBA-seasoned ex-player on the bench next to him as an assistant to energize the Celtics. I have endlessly proposed the need for a captain to finally be anointed. The former issue will be addressed in a later article, but the Captaincy is urgent. But who should it be? An on-floor leader needs to be skilled enough to play starter-type minutes - tough enough to yell at his comrades (and himself) - fair enough to distribute the admonishments and accolades equitably - and brave enough to tell Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge that he doesn't agree with them on certain issues. Sometimes, in years gone by, the choice of Captain was obvious, and I present Bill Russell and Larry Bird as Exhibits A and B. This is not one of those times. I have broached Marcus Smart in the past as the floor leader, and I am sticking with that. Jaylen Brown would be my second choice, and I have none after that. The well is dry. Jays

Danny Ainge is punting - sort of

Danny Ainge is not known for taking a step or two back, or punting, when there is a chance to make a major score. But that is exactly what he is doing in this first-half of a tumultuous 2020-21 season. Agree on all of those points. I will add "not to take weak teams lightly". But Brad keeping the youngsters in at critical points (as in, end of close games) is fine with me in the first half of the season. No killer instinct yet in this crew. https://t.co/rMZQZHWTZE — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) February 21, 2021 We know all the negatives of the season, and particularly last night's 120-115 OT loss to the Pelicans. Taking weaker teams likely. Not holding on to big leads - as in "24-point-lead" vs. New Orleans. Not having what Ainge terms "urgency" to win every game.  But putting the young guys into tight situations this early in the season is exactly what Danny and Brad Stevens need to do. We saw it last night when both rookie Aaron Nesmith and Rob Will

Who takes center spot for Top-5 All-Time NBA?

My previous article on the Top 5 NBA players of all-time drew a lot of controversy, and I expect this one will do the same. I am solid and unmovable on my choices at the guard and forward slots - Larry Bird and Lebron James take the two front court positions, while Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan occupy the guards slots. 2001 MVP Shaq was the best center I have ever seen in th league. He was literally unstoppable I remember thinking there was no way his team could lose because he COULD NOT BE STOPPED except by fouling him. Such a tough decision to take Shaq over Kareem but he gets the edge... — Matty Vegas (@MattyVegas22) February 21, 2021 Younger responders will often tend to go with more-recent stars, and that showed in the Twitter posts. The major question seems to "center" around the five spot. The names of Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O"Neal all showed up in the discussion. I find it hard to argue with those that pick Wilt, Sha

Don't think Larry Bird is Top-5 All-Time? His overall skill set gets him there.

For those skeptics who feel Larry Bird should not be rated Top-5 All-Time, I present the following from September 20, 2020 ( per The Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson ): OUR ALL-TIME NBA STARTING 5, PLUS A FEW MORE If I’m picking an all-time NBA starting lineup, here’s who I hit the floor with: Point guard: Magic Johnson  — The ultimate floor leader, ball handler, passer, leader, personality and champion. Magic led the Lakers to nine NBA Finals, winning five. He could play any position. Shooting guard: Michael Jordan  — Relentless in scoring, in defending, in leadership and winning. Jordan and the Chicago Bulls went 6-0 in the NBA Finals while owning the 1990s. Small forward: LeBron James  — Ageless, timeless, relentless. James at 35 can score inside and out, handle the ball, finish with the ball, and has his third team in the Finals. Power forward: Larry Bird  — Yes, he could also play small forward, and James would be seamless at power forward, but in this game, just unleash your fiv

Bringing Al Horford back to Boston checks all of the boxes

My readers know I don't put out a lot of dream-like potential trades for the Boston Celtics, but this one makes sense on most fronts. Al Horford returning to the Celtics via the TPE is not a home run for Danny Ainge, but it may be the best realistic move I can envision. With COVID, injuries and youth causing turmoil (and a mediocre record) in The Green's ranks, introducing an unknown quantity into the mix may not be a wise idea. I love Al, as a player and as an individual. He fits well in Boston. Yes, I know - he chose to wander off to Philadelphia and was later traded to the Thunder. Well, things have changed. Oklahoma City is not considered a viable Championship contender, and the Celtics are looking for (as Ainge stated) "shooting with size".  That sounds like Al Horford. He knows many of the Celtics players and Brad Stevens schemes and strategies. I have written previously that Al fits anywhere, and that includes Boston right now. Horford has been a fine citizen a

Pulling back on the reins may be one of Danny Ainge's best moves

Danny Ainge is practicing what he is preaching. He is telling fans to be patient , while at the same time he is doing the same. COVID and injuries are rampant throughout the League, but the Boston Celtics just can't seem to adapt to the negative impacts. Danny has blamed himself and his team's youthful roster for their mediocre record and inconsistency: In the past, Brad Stevens would experiment early in the season to see how some players fit, but this year, there have been situations where inexperienced rookies and sophomores were thrown into critical situations that they weren’t ready for and they’ve been unsurprisingly inconsistent. I simply can't dispute that.  Many of Danny's young crew are still trying to adapt to the NBA itself, let alone constantly-changing lineups and isolation. Ainge has called for "urgency" from his troops every single game, but he has wisely backed off from making a critical decision or move too quickly. Constantly-changing lineup

Ojeleye-as-starter, Walker-to-bench? Don't dismiss it.

I broached the idea one year ago - Semi Ojeleye-as-starter in place of Gordon Hayward . Well, it took a while, but Brad Stevens has been doing just that over the past several games. The original idea was to transfer some of the scoring from the top-heavy starting-5 to the bench. Even with Hayward gonzo, that still applies. Semi has always been a solid defender right out of the gate, and over the past five games his minutes and offensive production have risen significantly. Over the five-game stretch , his minutes are up to 27.6 MPG - his points show 10.6 PPG - and his rebounding has improved to 4.4 boards per contest. In that same span, he has hit 14-of-36 from 3-point land (46.7%) and his field goals are at 46.2%.  Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are combining for almost 52 points per game this season, and the only other players averaging double-digit points are Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart . Well, Ojeleye, with increased minutes over the last five games, has moved into that doub

Playoff seeding unimportant for Celtics this season

Has anyone else noticed that this is a totally-different NBA season? That fact may call for a different approach for GMs and coaches - and that includes Celtics boss, Danny Ainge. Let's start with the one-time alteration in the playoff format. The top-10 teams in each conference now have a shot at eventually getting to the Finals. No fans in attendance, or limited seating, means less impact for for the so-called home-court advantage. And injuries which have plagued Boston in the past several seasons may just infect rival teams this time around. The Champion Lakers have to be concerned about Anthony Davis' Achilles/calf issue. So generally, seeding no longer has the importance it once held, at least for this season. Ainge has called for "urgency" from his crew, but he really needs to take a step back. He may already be on that pull-back road by not making any seemingly-urgent moves.  Ace Gambler Danny has three face cards in his hand in the form of Traded Player Except

So The Celtics Can Do It

  The Celtics had a great game against the Raptors. (Note: it really hurts me that I have to call a game in which the Celtics played to their level of talent - Great). The team dished out 30 dimes. Jaylen Brown led the C’s with 10 while Tatum contributed with 9. What does it mean when those two guys have that kind of assist total? It means that they were moving the ball the way Brad Stevens intended. But like so often with this team one “great game” means multiple games where they go back to selfish basketball. Against the 2 worst teams in the Eastern Conference the Celtics had 15 assists vs Detroit followed up by 14 vs the Wizards (one of the worst defensive teams I have ever seen). That’s a total of 29 assists vs the drudges of the NBA or 1 less than they dished out against Toronto. That brings us to last night against Denver, Yes, Denver came in to Boston banged up and we absolutely should have won, but that can’t take away from what we saw...beautiful ball movement and 26 assists o

Celtics Jeckyll and Hyde show continues with 112-99 win over Nuggets

The Celtics recent 2-game skid came against the two bottom-dwellers of the Eastern Conference - the Detroit Piston and Washington Wizards. Last night's victory came against the Denver Nuggets, currently ranked 7th in the West. When I talked to Danny Ainge yesterday, he spoke about the need for the #Celtics players to compete with a greater sense of urgency. Their play thus far tonight vs the #Nuggets ... pic.twitter.com/HIayOHgia5 — A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) February 17, 2021 The "sense of urgency" uttered by the Celtics boss clearly indicates a lack of total effort at times by his crew. Losing in succession to two of the worst teams in the League and following that with a convincing win over a much-stronger opponent  doesn't bode well for the Celtics' 2021 post-season. "Urgency" suggests running, cutting, movement on offense and defense - going for every rebound - never taking a single play off. This is no secret. Taking it easy against we

Danny Ainge needs to be less impulsive in filling holes in his roster

I have admired Danny Ainge for never tanking - never punting - and rebuilding his team on the fly. But things may have gotten out of hand in the past several years. If Danny is truly saddled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) , it just may be that his impulsiveness has had some negative effects on the Celtics performance this season. Ainge has been Celtics boss since 2003, and for the past four years, he has been constantly plugging holes in his roster as players come and go. First, it was Al Horford in 2016 coming to Boston in free agency. Then Kyrie Irving showed up in 2017 in a trade that sent beloved Isaiah Thomas off to Cleveland. Gordon Hayward also joined the Celtics in 2017. In 2019, things started to go downhill when both Horford and Irving left town as free agents. Aron Baynes , who had been acquired in 2017, was traded - as was point guard Terry Rozier in a move to pick up Kemba Walker as a replacement for Kyrie Irving. Hayward left the Celtics fold

Hey, Russ! Can we inject some of that fire into the current Celtics crew?

The Celtics have a winning record (barely) sitting in fourth place in the East at 13-12. The loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons last night revealed the major issue facing the 202021 Celtics crew, namely that they lack FIRE. Why is that?  Is it the team's youth? Could be. Do they lack a well-defined leader on the court? Definitely! Their two stars are still young and not ready to take on that role. Is it the lack of a live home crowd cheering them on? My guess is that cardboard fans (or whatever they are made of) just don't cut it. Many fans are blaming Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens . I am a fan of both, but success and failure start at the top. Do they miss Marcus Smart , their most-incendiary soldier? Yes, they do, but his absence is only part of the issue. These are only excuses.  On the subject of fire, let me introduce 87-year-old Bill Russel l. As Celtics star, captain and coach, he wouldn't allow what we are seeing from The Green. In his prime, he would have set the

"Passing" grades for Jay Team in the assist category

The 120-106 Celtics win over the Raptors was welcome, and the scoring explosion by Semi Ojeleye and Payton Pritchard was not anticipated, but damn exciting. But it was what led to both outcomes that sticks out. The only rookies in Celtics history to make 6+ threes in a game: ☘️ Marcus Smart ☘️ J.R. Bremer ☘️ And now, Payton Pritchard 🎥 @NBA pic.twitter.com/1yLVznEGq2 — The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) February 12, 2021 Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had bad shooting nights, combining for 29 points on 8-of-27 from the field and 1-of-7 on treys . Conversely, their passing skills were on display. Brown passed off for a team-high 10 assists, closely followed by Tatum with nine dimes. No other Celtic had more than three assists. Attribute the victory over Toronto and the eruption by Ojeleye and Pritchard as a direct result of both members of the Jay Team digging deep into their bag of skills to get the ball to their open teammates. If either, or both, Tatum and Brown aspire to Al

Ojeleye and Pritchard make history, but it's their future that counts

The Celtics 120-106 win over the Raptors was only one game, but it certainly got our attention. One game is a mighty-small sample, but it can reveal much. Semi Ojeleye (6-8 3-PT) and Payton Pritchard (6-8 3-PT) are the first pair of teammates in Celtics franchise history to both make at least six 3-pointers in the same game (Confirmed by @EliasSports ) — Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) February 12, 2021 Semi Ojeleye got a rare start versus Toronto and cashed in with a career-high 24 points. Like Payton Pritchard, he was 6-of-8 from 3-point land, but it was his six rebounds that got my attention. I have repeatedly written that he needed to improve his work off the boards. Pritchard came off the bench but stayed on the floor for a total of 29 minutes. His 20-point production and 3-point accuracy  were noteworthy so soon after coming back from a knee injury. But like Semi, his five boards let us know once again that the 6'1" guard can rebound the ball. So history aside, where does

The Kemba Conundrum

  Boston, we have a problem. As many know, the sequel to the greatest basketball movie ever made - Space Jam  - is set to release this coming summer. As any film aficionado knows, the premise of the first movie involves a group of aliens who steal the talents of NBA stars such as Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing in order to beat the Looney Tunes in a game of basketball. With the second film imminent, it seems likely that the Monstars are on the hunt for talent again, and they may have already gotten to Kemba Walker. All joking aside, Kemba's performance of late has been concerning at best, and catastrophic at worst. And, even if Lebron is able to save the day and return his powers, I'm not convinced how much help he'd offer the Cs anyways. To be effective, Kemba needs to have the ball in his hands. While he competes defensively, his size will always make him a liability on that end. Likewise, he is not a maestro floor general like Chris Paul or Steve Nash, so looking for b

Trading For Kyle Lowry...a Treatise in Fortune Telling

Kyle Lowry is 34 years old on the last year of his contract in Toronto. He’s a bulldog. He’s a leader. He’s a different version of Marcus Smart. Lowry also may be exactly what the Boston Celtics are missing: a point guard who doesn’t always need the ball in his hands to be effective.  Compare usage rates: Lowry 21% vs Kemba 29% Yes Kemba is having a serious off year. Do I believe that he will figure it out? Absolutely. But it still doesn’t change the equation: Kemba Walker isn’t the missing piece to a title. Given his size it’s obvious that he never was.  At 34 years old I believe that Lowry still at least has 3 solid years left. He’s never been a high percentage shooter. He’s never been the quickest player on the floor. Lowry is savvy and tough. Those qualities tend age very well. And as far  as resigning him in the offseason...why would he leave Tatum, Brown & Smart.  Is Lowry enough to get us a title? Nope. Danny would still need to use the TPE to get us a viable 4 off the bench

"No Dice" on any deal moving Theis out of Boston

I know what you're thinking! But no, it's not about Theis' 15 points and 5-of-8 beyond the arc in the Celtics 122-108 loss to the Utah Jazz last night. He simply fits this Celtics team like a glove. At 6'8", he may be undersized at the center spot on most teams, but not with The Green. Currently at the age of 28, he will never be a stud in the NBA, but on a team that already has two young stars, he doesn't need to be. This season, he is averaging 9.3 PPG and 5.1 RPG in only 23.5 minutes per game, down slightly from 24.1 MPG last season. He is hitting 60% of his field goals and 42% of his 3-pointers. He leads fellow-big, Tristan Thompson, in points, assists, steals, blocks, FG%, 3-point% and FT%. One of my many hopes is Celtics center, Daniel Theis keeps getting better. Despite the benefits for him & his team, his last name just fits: "Theis is Ice", "Theis Tea" "Roll the dice on Theis", "Theis Iced the game", "Th

How much does Danny Ainge have left in the tank?

Danny Ainge has been the Celtics boss since 2003, and 18 years - and two heart attacks later - one has to ask, how much does he have left to continue in that role. We are not talking about a placid individual here. What most Boston fans don't know is that Ainge was tagged with having  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) via a personality test, along with his coach-at-the-time, Doc Rivers. Danny has more Championships as a player (two) than he has earned as an NBA Executive (one). His Title drought has expanded to 13 seasons without a ring. Over the past several seasons, he has faced the Kyrie Irving saga - defections by Al Horford and Gordon Hayward - and now the COVID-19 invasion.  None of this favors a guy with ADHD and a history of heart attacks. His team sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 12-10 record, and the projections had the Celtics better than that. Beyond that, Boston fans are restless. With one of the top duos in the League in Jayson Tatu

Time to admit Celtics miss Gordon Hayward

We can be sure that Gordon Hayward will not be walking through that door, but it is time to admit he is missed in Boston. More than anything, Gordon added a stability to the Celtics that is sorely missing this season. A tweet prior to this season expresses a part of the missing piece. I know this will create some controversy but: if Gordon Hayward leaves, Celtics are going to take a step back. Unless he's replaced with an ELITE playmaker out there. Who I'm not sure exists. — Frosty Bias (@frostybias) November 9, 2020 The Green simply can not maintain any sort of winning streak, and a solid win is often followed by a disappointing loss, exhibited by Friday's win over the Clippers and the loss to the Suns two days later.  Some fans viwed Hayward as excess baggage on a team next to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Why would the Celtics need a third volume scorer when the team has the Jay Team? Let me throw out the term "stability" once more, while adding the incredibl

I still see Carsen Edwards as the modern version of Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson

Carsen Edwards' rookie season is behind him. and I am guessing that suits him just fine. Prior to this season, I wrote that Celtics fans should not give up on this energy-filled youngster , and I stand by that. With injuries and COVID protocols rampant among The Green, the minutes are there for the 5'11" guard, and he is taking advantage of the shot. In nine games so far this season, he is only averaging 11.3 minutes per game, but projecting his numbers to per-36-minutes status shows close to 20 points/game on 51% from the field - 40% on treys - and 86% from the foul line.  In Boston's recent win over the Clippers, he was on the floor for 30 minutes and came away with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists. His quickness and ability to pull up off the dribble allows him to always get his shot off, despite his lack of size. Taken with the 33rd-overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Carsen had a rugged first year in the League, but he is showing valid promise as a role pl

Tatum stars, 4-man Pine Platoon vital, in Celtics 119-115 nail-biter over Clippers

The Celtics had to come from behind in this one, and it came right down to the wire, but they prevailed over the Los Angeles Clippers, 119-115. Jayson Tatum was the star of the game with Jaylen Brown out of action, scoring a team-high 34 points and taking down seven rebounds. Kemba Walker had a solid outing with 24 points, but it was Boston's ever-evolving Pine Platoon that proved so vital in the victory. Grant Williams, normally one of the first guys off the bench, started in place of Brown - logged 32 minutes - collecting 11 points, four boards and two assists.  As Carson Edwards' hair continues to grow, so does his game. He played a key role in the win, contributing 16 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes of floor time. He was 5-of-8 from the field, 3-of-8 from 3-point land and a perfect 3-of-3 on foul shots. There was no tentativeness in his play. He was decisive, and it worked. Rob Williams was only active for 15 minutes, but he made it count - scoring 10 points on 5-of-

Danny Ainge with a clear message for potential trade partners

Any true Celtics fan knows what Brad Stevens' ideal lineup would look like. The starting (and game-closing) five would all be in the neighborhood of 6'8", with the ability to score, in addition to the tenacity to defend any opponent of any size.  Brad is not alone when one of his shorter players gets caught in a mismatch down low. We cringe right along with him. That is why the Boston faithful may never see Isaiah Thomas back in Beantown - and why Kemba Walker is often included in trade rumors. The NBA Trade Deadline hits on March 25, and Danny Ainge has made it known that he is looking for "shooting with size"   via the Trade Exception. I have written recently on 6'8" wings, Aaron Gordon and Harrison Barnes being near-perfect targets to fill that need. The Magic's Gordon is currently out of action with an injury, and Barnes may be available from a Kings team that appears to be going nowhere this season. Either wing would be a nice fit in Bosto

Stop fooling around, Danny Ainge. Harrison Barnes is your target!

Let me be honest here. I have wanted Harrison Barnes on the Celtics roster since he was drafted 7th-overall in the 2012 NBA draft. He just seemed the right fit in Boston. At 28 years of age, he may seem a year or two older than what Danny Ainge may be looking for, but everything else works. His 6'8', 225-pound frame is tailor-made for Brad Stevens preferences and schemes. He can score, rebound and defend. But beyond that, he is used to playing third-or-fourth fiddle. In his lone Championship season (2014-15) with the Golden State Warriors, he took a back seat to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He is conditioned to not being the star of the show. That would work well in Boston. Keep an eye on No. 40 in Sacramento tonight 👀 @ChrisForsberg_ on why Harrison Barnes is an ideal TPE target for the Celtics: https://t.co/Ejtc8IAexn — Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 3, 2021 His present team, the Sacramento Kings, currently sit in 11th place in the

Not long- not athletic, but Grant Williams' will have a long NBA career

Many NBA analysts projected Grant Williams to get taken late-first round ot early in the second round of the 2019 draft. His lack of athleticism and short stature for a power forward  (6'7") made some feel that his talents may not be translatable to the NBA ( per Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman ): Rookie-year projection Williams has the chance to be a surprise rookie contributor based on his physicality, skill level and intangibles. The coaching staff could feel comfortable giving him early minutes thanks to his defensive discipline and offensive efficiency. He won't give off rookie vibes. His maturity should become obvious. Williams may not be playable every night while he looks to become a more threatening spot-up shooter, but he'll get his opportunity for reserve minutes.  Well, in his second season in the League, Williams is proving he belongs. This season, he is averaging 18.0 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG and only 0.8 turnovers per game. In the Celtics 111-107 w

Danny Ainge needs continued patience - unless an irresistible deal surfaces

With two of Boston's point guards out of commission and the team on a two-game losing streak, Danny Ainge needs to maintain the patience that he has acquired since coming to Beantown. Marcus Smart is out for 2-to-3 weeks with a calf issue, while Payton Pritchard is nursing a knee injury. The traded player exception (TPE) sits unused in Ainge's hands, and he clings to it like he has with past draft picks. That should continue - barring an irresistible deal he can't let go.  The Celtics bench has proven to be a weak link this season, and the latest rumblings concern the availability of Pelicans' sharpshooting guard, J J Redick, being available. Redick is a shooting guard - pure and simple. Despite the scoring woes from Boston's bench, Redick is not the answer. Here's the deal. The NBA's All-Star break occurs March 5-10, and historically, this is a time when many inter-team discussions take place. The trade deadline is March 25, and April 9 marks the last day f