Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The NBA’s 30 franchises decided Jared Sullinger doesn’t deserve a roster spot. The Nets reportedly expressed interest in signing the former Celtic big-man. Brooklyn sent its Assistant GM to Sullinger’s game with Ohio State’s alumni team in “The Basketball Tournament.”
Isaiah Thomas supports his former teammate and believes Sullinger should make an NBA roster. This is one of the many reasons everyone in the league loves him, Isaiah always sticks up for his guys.
Here’s a pleasant surprise, Evan Turner is the coach of the Ohio St. Alumni Squad, and of course provided some signature quotes:
Weight issues have plagued Sullinger since college, and he could never escape the “overweight” stigma during his five NBA seasons. Boston fans and media still give him shit, and if there’s one characteristic Bostonians can’t stand with their pro-athletes, it’s guys who are out-of-shape. Just ask Pablo Sandoval.
It’s easy to forget Sully was our best big-man on the 48 win team from 2015-2016. He played 81 games, averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds, while posting an above-average PER of 16.7. He grabbed 27 percent of available defensive rebounds, an elite mark for a big man.
That season, the Celtics finished 6th in total rebounding, and grabbed the 3rd most offensive boards. Last year, without Sullinger, they finished 27th in total rebounding. For all his faults, he did clean the glass, and team rebounding was never an issue until last season.
The Celtics reportedly offered him the Tyler Zeller contract of $8 million in year one with an $8 million non-guaranteed second year. He instead signed a one-year deal with the Raptors, hoping to get paid this offseason.
He only played 11 games with Toronto and posted terrible numbers. Foot and back injuries limited Sullinger, and team executives aren’t convinced he can help an NBA team like he recently did with the C’s.
He was a favorite of Tommy Heinsohn, and I do hope he makes it back to the NBA. The Celtics roster spots are mostly set, but if the team has rebounding issues, and he’s in-shape and unsigned in February, maybe the team gives him a second chance.
Page 2: Where Three Celtics make the Anonymous All-Underrated Team
Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype occasionally puts out these anonymous interviews. In this article, players gave their takes on the NBA’s most underrated guys. The list includes newly acquired Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris, along with Marcus Smart.
Eastern Conference guard: “I’d say Gordon Hayward. He’s a quiet guy, he’s white and he played in a smaller market, so he doesn’t get the attention he deserves.”
Western Conference forward: “Marcus Smart comes to mind immediately. That dude always competes at a high level and he makes a ton of winning plays.”
Western Conference forward: “I think Marcus Morris is really underrated. He can play multiple positions and he went from being a role player to someone who scores the ball really well. When other players have made that leap, they got more attention. Take Chandler Parsons, for example. When Chandler made big strides, he got a ton of attention and a huge contract. Marcus hasn’t gotten the recognition or the payday that he deserves.”
Let’s start with Gordon Hayward. As a small forward, he competes with the NBA’s best. LeBron is clearly the alpha-dog at that position. Durant and Kawhi are the second and third best. Paul George and Jimmy Butler exist in a tier below.
Gordon Hayward is likely the next guy on that list, but if you ask a causal NBA fan, they’d tell you George and Butler are clearly superior to Hayward. In reality, there’s not much of a gap.
I love how “eastern conference guard” immediately mentioned how Hayward’s skin color affects his perception. The “anonymous” label usually leads to more honesty. The 27-year-old Hayward still has another gear to his game, and maybe he surpasses George and Butler in the “perception power rankings” next season.
Nobody needs to convince Celtics fans that Marucs Smart is underrated. The organization staunchly supports Smart despite his horrendous shooting numbers. And whaddya know, the “winning plays” label is sticking across the league, it’s not just a green-teamer method of puffing up Marcus Smart (looking at you, Mike Felger).
The Marucs Morris quote is the most eye-popping. And because of the “western conference forward” specification, we know its not Markieff sticking up for his twin brother.
Everything they said is true. Morris is a multi-positional player who can always create his own shot. Detroit predominantly used him in isolations, but with the Celtics, he’ll be in awe of the open shots the offense creates for him.
Morris will earn a combined $10 million for the next two seasons. He could become one of the better value deals in the NBA, and we know Brad Stevens will get the most out of him.
Warning: I’m about to defend Ray Allen. I can’t stand the slander he’s getting from Celtic fans. If you missed it, he said this on instagram:
“Y’all need to get over it!!! where were you all when the team tried to trade me. It’s a business, we go where it’s necessary just like you all do in your jobs!!!! I will always be a Celtic no matter what any of you say. Get over it!!!!”
Celtics fans killed Allen for his “traitor” tactics. Personally, I will always remember Ray Allen fondly, and I can’t blame him for wanting to leave.
Let’s start with the basics. He played five seasons in Boston and epitomized professionalism. When Pierce, Garnett, and Allen joined forces, they each had to make sacrifices, but Allen gave up the most. He had so many incredible moments with the Celtics, and without him, they don’t win the 2008 championship.
Was I happy when he turned down Boston’s 2 year/$12 million offer to join Miami for $6 million less? Absolutely not. But I can’t fault him for leaving.
He averaged 21 shots per game in his last season with Seattle, and took 13.5 shots his first year in Boston — the biggest drop amongst the big 3. He averaged 12.5 shots per game over the next three seasons, and only 10.7 his last year. That number shrank to 9.0 per game in the 2012 playoffs.
In Milwaukee and Seattle, Ray was never a “designated three-point shooter,” his game had great offensive diversity, but Doc Rivers gave him fewer opportunities throughout his five seasons in Boston. His usage rate decreased each season, and assumed the role of “floor-spacing decoy” and “one-dimensional spot-up shooter.” The rise of Rajon Rondo led to the marginalization of Allen, and we know the Rondo-Allen beef may have triggered the move to Miami.
Every year, Allen found himself in trade rumors. In 2008, Danny Ainge considered flipping him for Tracy McGrady. In 2009, he and Rondo almost went to Detroit for Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton, and Rodney Stuckey. In 2010, they discussed trading him to Golden State for Monta Ellis.
Despite the rumors, he re-signed with Boston in 2010 on a 2-year/$20 million contract. He easily could have earned more if he signed elsewhere.
In 2012, on the last year of that contact, Ainge nearly traded him to Indiana for Tyler Hansbrough and a 1st round pick. He almost completed a trade that would’ve sent him to Memphis for OJ Mayo. Doc Rivers actually told Allen he’d been traded to Memphis, and Allen informed his family to pack their bags, but the trade was called off last minute.
It doesn’t end there. The Celtics knew Allen was a free agent, but pissed him off even more after 2nd year guard Avery Bradley replaced him starting lineup. Ray was relegated to the bench — losing his job because he was injured — only to re-emerge with the starters during the playoffs. In free agency, before Allen made a decision, the Celtics signed Jason Terry, a guy who plays his position.
If he was gonna come off the bench, have a reduced role, and not be one of the four highest paid players on the team, he was going to do it in Miami, a legitimate contender.
The next season, the Celtics finished only one game over .500 and lost to the Knicks in the first round. Pierce and Garnett got traded a month later. Allen saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and wanted to leave on his own terms. Boston was a middle-of-the-road team, and if he stayed, he wouldn’t have won a second ring, and he would get traded a year into the contract.
Paul Pierce made comments about Allen not getting along with the rest of the team. Allen’s his own guy and was never popular with his teammates. In George Karl’s recent book, he said the following:
“It was a relief after [Milwaukee] traded him… it was a relief to see Ray gone… although Ray and I had a good relationship for years, he was too good and too well-paid to be under my control. He knew it and the other players saw it… the coolness of his personality reminded me of Joe Barry Caroll… I didn’t think his teammates liked him, I know I didn’t… I told the press, ‘Ray Allen has been nothing but trouble, we had no choice but to get rid of him'”
Clearly, Ray has a knack for rubbing guys the wrong way. Between his OCD, rigid routines, independent personality, and constant formality, Ray Allen was called the most interesting guy in the NBA by The Undefeated. Interesting to the media doesn’t always translate to “beloved by team.”
His uniqueness didn’t sit well with teammates. He used to be buddy-buddy with the Bucks owner, an easy way to piss off teammates. When the 2008 Celtics joined ‘Area 21’ on TNT, they had no problem throwing Ray under the bus.
Ultimately, Ray was as loyal to the Celtics as the Celtics were loyal to him. He sacrificed the most, got appreciated the least, beefed with Rondo and Doc, almost was traded, and saw his role steadily decrease. I hated how he joined the Miami “Heatles,” and don’t think his number should get retired, but I can’t criticize the guy for wanting to dictate the twilight of his NBA career (side note: he won a championship and made the right decision… for himself).
I have so many fond memories of Ray: this clutch shot versus the Bulls in the 2009 playoffs, his 51 points in game 6 of that same series, setting a single-game record for three-pointers in a finals game, breaking the all-time three-point record at the TD Garden in front of Reggie Miller, the buzzer-beater in his second game with the Celtics, and holding Kobe Bryant to 6 of 24 shooting in game 7 of the 2010 finals.
He had the right to leave, but at the same time, fans have the right to criticize him. I just think y’all are stupid for doing that. I’ll staunchly defend Jesus Shuttlesworth until the end… Celtics Twitter: come at me!!! (@benedictsharm17)
The Rest of the Links:
Hardwood Houdini: The Celtics Time is Now
CelticsBlog: The Celtics Secret Weapon
The Big Lead: Celtics/Kyrie Irving Trade Speculation
Boston Herald: Ainge Pulling for Son’s Congressional Candidacy