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(Photo: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
It was sink or swim for Greg Monroe last night. In pregame, Brad Stevens said he wasn’t sure if the new guy would play or not. But late in the first quarter, the coach threw Monroe into the deep end of the pool, and the 6’11” lefty stayed afloat well enough to help the Cs escape with a win.
If Stevens was telling the truth about his indecision, his mind changed quickly. Not only did Monroe play 20 minutes on the same day he officially signed with the Celtics, but he did so in a monster lineup Stevens unveiled late in the first quarter. After Boston’s 110-104 victory, Stevens admitted he will need to spend a period of time experimenting how to maximize Monroe’s playing time, but already sounded confident the veteran center will help buoy the Celtics during stretches without stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.
High expectations for a buyout pickup? Sure. That seemed to be the theme Thursday, when Al Horford declared Monroe will be “huge” for the Celtics during the playoffs, Kyrie Irving called it “incredible” that Stevens has another weapon to utilize, and Stevens suggested Monroe will help the Celtics’ bench units survive.
“I think one of the things you think about in adding Greg is that’s time you don’t have to stagger necessarily Kyrie and Al,” Stevens said. “And so I think that’s a positive moving forward.”
“I mean, it’s hard. It’s tough for anyone to make a debut anywhere,” Kyrie Irving explained. “I mean, you could play extremely well, you could play extremely bad. For Greg to come in, not necessarily playing over the last week or so, just kind of trying his best to integrate himself within our offense and defensive schemes, I give him credit for that.
“He’s a professional, he’s been in the league for a while. And I know he definitely feels like he can add something here. And that’s why he’s here. For us, we just feel like we have a low-post presence, an incredible rebounder, and someone we can definitely utilize for the rest of the season which I’m appreciative of.”
Boston Sports Journal: Greg Monroe will be a game changer for Brad Stevens
Discussing Boston’s system, Monroe made it clear he considers himself a natural fit.
“It’s all about ball movement and moving without the ball,” he said. “That’s something that I think can do really well. A lot of cutting, just making plays from the elbow and things like that, something I’ve been comfortable with basically all my life. So like I said it’s just about coming in and being comfortable, learning where guys like the ball, the spots they like them in. Make sure I’m not getting in anyone’s way, just making the right play.”
The man they call Moose finished with five points (2-5 shooting), six rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals. His 20 minutes on the court were more than the 14 minutes played by starter Aron Baynes.
It will be fun to watch as Stevens determines how best to use Monroe. If the first outing was an indication, Moose will be a very helpful acquisition. Here are some highlights of Monroe’s night.
Related – Herald: Celtics notebook: Greg Monroe finally dons his new jersey
On Page 2: Trade deadline wasn’t boring
The trade deadline was quiet in Boston. Marcus Smart is still here and Tyreke Evans is not. Guerschon Yabusele also remains a Celtic.
Ainge declined to discuss specifics of players he attempted to acquire, but one league source said that the Celtics and Grizzlies did discuss a potential trade that would have brought high-scoring guard Tyreke Evans to Boston. In the end, the Celtics were reluctant to part with a first-round pick and had faith in their current roster.
“Things sort of fell where we thought they would fall,” Ainge said. “We tried to do a couple deals, but there was nothing there we thought was good. We like our guys. We like our team. We didn’t feel like we had to do something, so move on forward.”
This week the Celtics were rumored to be shopping Marcus Smart, who will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, but Ainge said the team had never planned to trade the guard.
As we said here a week ago, a trade for Evans was low probability, because Ainge does not jeopardize the future for short-term deals. Memphis wanted a first-rounder for Evans, but Danny wisely did not overpay.
On the possibility of the buyout market, the first names being mentioned are Joe Johnson (just traded to Sacramento) and Boris Diaw (playing in France but with an option to return to the NBA). But while many are assuming Boston will sign someone, Ainge might pass.
“I don’t feel like we need to [sign a player after a buyout],” Ainge said. “We have a full roster. We like our guys. The continuity is a good thing also. So if there’s a good deal out there for us, then we’ll explore it. But I don’t feel like we have any major holes.”
Elsewhere, the Cavs rebooted their roster and sent Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. So the Cavs essentially gave away Kyrie Irving for two second-stringers from a lottery-bound team.
Yes, Cleveland also got Jae Crowder in the Boston trade, but they dumped him yesterday too, in a three-team swap. The only prime asset they have left from the original deal is the Brooklyn pick, which doesn’t appear headed for top-three status. Once again, Danny Ainge is proven to be the Trade Master.
Isaiah is probably happy to escape Cleveland, but what will happen to him in L.A.? His agent has already said IT won’t be a sixth man, so will he start ahead of Lonzo Ball? What will Lavar say about that? It’s a recipe for potential turmoil. Jeez, let’s hope nothing happens to hurt the Lakers franchise.
P.S. It was hilarious that LeBron’s good friend Dwyane Wade was told by the Cavs to go away. All Cleveland got back was Miami’s protected 2024 second-round pick – the NBA equivalent of a ham sandwich – and a bunch of solid memes.
Related – NBC Sports Boston: Celtics announce signing of Greg Monroe, keep an eye on Joe Johnson
ESPN Boston: Celtics enjoy quiet deadline as Kyrie Irving offers no thoughts on busy Cavs
MassLive: With Gordon Hayward as the ace in their back pocket, Boston Celtics stay quiet through NBA trade deadline | Boston Celtics analysis: Cleveland Cavaliers improved with Isaiah Thomas trade, but how much? | Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving shuts down question about Cleveland Cavaliers’ wild trade deadline: ‘I’m in Boston’
Herald: Bulpett: Ainge, Celtics remain quiet on busy NBA trade deadline day
SB Nation: Isaiah Thomas deserved better
And, finally… The retired numbers project
As we all know, No. 34 will rise to the rafters this Sunday. For the past month, Red’s Army has celebrated that by running a series of profiles about all the retired numbers. There’s one more installment to go, covering Cedric Maxwell, and then Paul Pierce will be featured on Sunday.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out these profiles, here are all the links.
The Rest of the Links:
MassLive: Kyrie Irving’s clutch free throws force OT, Boston Celtics rally to beat Washington Wizards, 110-104 | Markieff Morris: ‘Nowhere near a foul’ on play that gave Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving a chance to force overtime