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.
They signed Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $127.8 million max contract just a couple weeks later, a string of moves that left Jae Crowder unsure of what his role (if any) with the franchise was going forward.
“There was some concern because you have a lot of wing players stacked up,” Crowder admitted. “And I made it clear to the organization that I was concerned about it and wanted some direction. They showed me what they wanted to do and I respected it.”
While most of the focus on the trade centered around the Thomas-Irving component of the deal, the addition of Crowder gives the Cavaliers a dimension at both ends of the floor that they need as they set their sights on continuing as the team to beat in the East.
“His on-court, off-court plus-minus is at a high level,” said Cavs general manager Koby Altman. “He contributes to winning at an extremely high level. That’s why we value him to that extent. He also brings a tough, gritty attitude defensively, [he’ll] pick up the best player. He’s a core piece to this Cavaliers team going forward.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers should be thrilled about the acquisition of Jae Crowder. Since the blockbuster trade, most of the discussion has centered on Isaiah Thomas and the Brooklyn pick, but Crowder should fit seamlessly into the Cleveland offense, and he’ll likely play in their closing lineups.
Crowder made immense improvements over his three seasons with Boston. His contract is outstanding — 3 years/$21 million remaining — and he’s turned into a prototypical 3-and-D player.
LeBron loves playing with confident shooters. He elevated the careers of Mo Williams and Mario Chalmers, while saving JR Smith’s. Crowder’s role in Cleveland is simple: guard the opposing team’s best wing on defense, and hit open threes on offense.
Aside from LeBron, the Cavs lacked the perimeter defender to guard Kevin Durant during the finals. When Cleveland came back from its 3-1 deficit against Golden State in 2016, the turnaround was catapulted by LeBron’s ability to guard Draymond Green and switch onto the Draymond-Curry pick-and-rolls. With the addition of Crowder, the Cavs can revert back to their natural defensive alignment.
During the introductory press conference, Crowder said what everyone was thinking: he was concerned about his role with the Celtics. Considering he’s signed to a bargain contract through his prime, it made sense he was worried about future playing time and his ability to maintain production.
He had a great run in Boston. His averages with the team — 12.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 44.4% FG, 35.3% 3FG — don’t tell the whole story. The Celtics were always better when he played than when he sat, and he was arguably the second most valuable player on the 2014-2015 team that won 48 games.
Page 2: Where Terry Rozier Thinks He’s Untradable
During the trade deadline, Terry Rozier became the punchline of several near-Boston trades. Everyone joked that Ainge thought too highly of his own players, and wasn’t even willing to send away Rozier.
This Celtics roster somehow became thin at the guard spot. Kyrie, Smart, and Rozier are the primary guards, while Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward play like wings, but must soak up minutes at guard.
I wasn’t happy when Terry Rozier was drafted 16th in 2015, especially since Myles Turner and Devin Booker were taken a few selections prior. Why draft a point guard when Isaiah’s on the roster and they just drafted Marcus Smart? Sam Decker, Bobby Portis, and Larry Nance jr. were each drafted after Rozier, all of whom would fill immediate needs.
The pick looks much better now. Rozier received inconsistent playing time throughout last season, and never became a reliable rotation player. Now in his third year, the Celtics need him to make a leap.
He shows flashes of brilliance and seems to play better in big moments. He hit a clutch three during the thrilling game two victory against the Wizards, and averaged 16 minutes per game in the playoffs, increasingly earning the trust of Brad Stevens.
Rozier’s got a lot of bounce to his game, his handle is outstanding, the three-point shot has improved, and he possesses deceptive strength. The blend of athleticism, speed, and quickness makes his upside intriguing. The main issue with his game is initiating offense and acting as a playmaking point guard. He doesn’t have great basketball IQ, as evidenced by his inability to run a proper 2-for-1 at the end of quarters.
Ainge has been enamored with Rozier since before he was drafted, and now he has a legitimate chance to earn big minutes on a top-heavy Celtics team. Just don’t speak too soon, Terry, you never know what “Trader Danny” has up his sleeve.
Jayson Tatum threw out the first pitch at yesterday’s Red Sox game:
His old-school windup reminds me of his old-school scoring ability. He’s clearly endearing himself to the city.
The Rest of the Links:
MassLive: Jayson Tatum makes Fenway Appearance
UPROXX: Kyrie Honors his Dad with Jersey