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 Celtics need more offense, and there are two players available who could give it to them. The Grizzlies announced that they were benching Tyreke Evans in anticipation of trading him. Greg Monroe was bought out of his contract by the Suns and is now a free agent.
The question with Evans is, how to trade for him without giving up a rotation player and/or valuable draft pick, while at the same time, outbidding other interested teams.
[Rozier] has made some major strides during his third NBA season, but that did not stop multiple prominent names on the web from suggesting the Celtics should deal Rozier to the Memphis Grizzlies for Tyreke Evans. Rozier responded to those rumors by posting a triple-double (17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists) in his first career start on Wednesday night, leading the charge for the hosts in a dominant 103-73 win over the Knicks.
Even without the performance, I was ready to write this: The Celtics should not trade Rozier for Evans (or any other trade deadline rental). Rozier made a pretty strong case for himself on that front Wednesday as he posted career-high with 11 rebounds and 10 assists over 32 minutes. He set the tone for the Celtics from the very start of the game with 11 first-quarter points and then proceeded to set the table for his teammates for the rest of the evening.
More importantly for the Celtics and their team building, Rozier is cheap. He’s making $1.9 million this season and just $3 million next year before becoming a restricted free agent. He’s a great bang for the buck with his all-around production at that price and his familiarity with Stevens’ system is a crucial weapon now with the heavy turnover from last season.
The allure of a player like Evans is enticing, but it’s important to recognize he’s not going to come close to putting up the numbers he does in Memphis right now in a place like Boston. He gets free reign down in Memphis within the offense, but he’s going to be learning a new system and trying to perform as a secondary option in a potential new home like Boston.
Boston Sports Journal: Celtics should not trade Terry Rozier for Tyreke Evans (or any other rental)
This is like last year, when Toronto traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. Many Celtics fans were livid when Ainge stood pat, but in the end – when the deals failed to move the playoff needle for the Raptors – Non-Trader Danny was proven correct. He kept his assets and roster flexibility, and here the Cs are today, in first place with a team built to last.
Ainge won’t jeopardize the future for a short-term deal. Rozier is proving he can play at a high level. He’s not going anywhere right now.
Marcus Smart is also in the trade conversation. The Cs have control over whether or not to re-sign him when he becomes a restricted free agent. Hey, remember when there was a debate about Smart receiving a max contract? That’s over. I love the guy, but every time he misses a shot or breaks a picture frame, he probably costs himself money.
Smart lost a lot of leverage with his latest unforced error. Still, it would be stunning if he was traded for Tyreke.
FYI, the trade deadline is February 8, a couple of weeks earlier than recent years.
Q: Do the Celtics have a realistic shot at Monroe?
A: Yes, mostly because of their disabled player exception. They can offer him up to $8.4 million over the remainder of the season, which is a huge chunk of change. That’s far more than any other playoff suitor can throw at him at this juncture.
Q: What are the drawbacks of picking Boston for Monroe then?
A: Big minutes could be tough to come by in Boston’s frontcourt. Brad Stevens likes to play small and that could keep Monroe as a bench role player (10-20 minutes per game) each night. While it’s probably enticing for Monroe to play for a team with a realistic chance at making the NBA Finals, he’s also playing for his next contract. It’s harder to convince teams around the league you are worth big money when you’re only getting limited minutes. The Celtics could clear out frontcourt help (Aron Baynes?) to give him a bigger role, but that’s a risky play for the C’s given their lack of frontcourt depth and Monroe’s iffy defense. The Georgetown product can rebound and score with the best of them down low, but he’s always been a lackluster defender in the NBA.
Boston Sports Journal: How much of a shot do the Celtics have at landing Greg Monroe?
The main competition for Monroe is the Pelicans, who have cleared roster space to sign the New Orleans native. The choice is strictly up to him.
I’d like to see either one in green, but if it could be only one, then Monroe is the pick. He’s always killed the Celtics; let’s get him on our side. He would not cost any assets and he’d provide scoring that Baynes cannot. I believe his poor defensive reputation is not a big issue in context of the Celtics’ system. After all, we didn’t think Kyrie could play defense either, but he has since he came here.
On Page 2: Change the rule
After a Michael Beasley turnover near midcourt, Morris streaked in alone for a two-handed slam. Beasley, chasing from behind, appeared to inadvertently clip Morris near his head, contributing to him falling hard on his backside beneath the basket.
Both teams looked surprised when play continued, but Boston was unable to call timeout without possession. Celtics rookie Semi Ojeleye committed an intentional foul before the ball was inbounded to stop play, but that gave the Knicks two free throws and the ball.
The Celtics led by 16 points after Morris’ dunk, but fans inside TD Garden showered the refs with boos in the aftermath of the sequence while the play was reviewed. Boston players were diplomatic when asked if the game should have been stopped in that moment.
“It’s tough. It’s one of those things that if you’re on the other side, let’s say the guy’s not injured but the guy is down, you want to get ahead and try to score the ball and things like that,” Celtics All-Star big man Al Horford said. “I don’t know. That’s something that we’ll have to discuss and see. But as of right now, that’s the way it is.”
Morris said he wasn’t mad at Beasley but wished a foul had been called after the contact forced him to fall awkwardly to the court.
In soccer, there’s a traditional understanding: When a player goes down, the opponent will kick the ball out of bounds intentionally, to stop play. When play resumes, the injured player’s team gives the ball back.
Not so in the NBA. The Knicks were within their rights to inbound the ball. Although the hit to the head was obvious (and possibly flagrant), when no call was made, play had to go on. And that’s something the league should consider changing.
Clearly, Morris was hurt. If player safety means anything, the refs should be given the power to stop the game in that situation – before the ball is inbounded. During that second or two between the made basket and the inbounds pass, the game is briefly paused anyway. The league should allow refs the discretion to blow the whistle for injury when it would not interfere with a play in progress.
That entire sequence was weird, and strangely made me recall the early January game in Brooklyn, when the refs did stop the game – but they should not have. Baynes set a hard pick on a Nets player. No foul was called, but when the Net yelled at Baynes, the refs called time. Because no call had been made originally, protocol prohibited a video review, yet they did one anyway and charged Baynes with a common foul. I happened to be at that game, and no one knew what was happening. Never saw any report to explain it, either.
Herald: Celtics notebook: Marcus Morris sore over big fall
Terry enjoyed his big game. Obviously.
The Rest of the Links:
Providence Journal: Coaching without his star energizes Celts’ Stevens
NBC Sports Boston: Elite defense, ‘next man up’ mentality help Celtics dominate Knicks