Your Morning Dump... Where Ainge allegedly 'tried like hell' to trade Walker

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Your Morning Dump... Where Ainge allegedly 'tried like hell' to trade Walker


Your Morning Dump... Where Ainge allegedly 'tried like hell' to trade Walker


Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

Making an appearance on The Colin Cowherd Podcast, NBA analyst Ric Bucher said Ainge tried to move Celtics guard Kemba Walker earlier this year, who’s been recovering his knee from an offseason injection.

“A lot of GMs are ticked off at Danny because Danny tried like hell to move Kemba at the beginning of the year, knowing that his knee wasn’t right,” Bucher said. “He was trying to get rid of damaged goods. That’s the issue that Kemba is dealing with, and at his size, it’s a little bit like Isaiah Thomas.”


Let’s take a moment and break down just how stupid this “report” is.

And I’m not posting a link to the original source. I’m not going to give these two morons the satisfaction of achieving the results they were seeking by launching this ludicrous take.

So anyway, let’s talk about how stupid this report is, and how little Ric Bucher knows about the league that he is paid to follow.

For starters, we all knew that Kemba’s knee wasn’t right LAST JULY. As soon as the 2020 season ended, we knew that Kemba was going to miss a significant chunk of the start of the 2021 season–with the amount to be determined by the exact start date. We all knew he was going to be out until sometime in January.

However, Ric Bucher seems to be misremembering the past. He seems to think that Kemba’s knee issues were a closely guarded secret that only a few people in the Celtics’ organization knew about at the start of the season.

I bet when he said that, he thought that Kemba had been playing with knee problems since December.

And then you’ve got this line: “A lot of GMs”

Look, I use ‘a lot’ as much as the next guy. I think that people who get their knickers all bunched up by that expression should find more useful things to get irritated about–like the number of people who use ‘cache’ when they mean ‘cachet’.

But if you’re going to make an allegation like this, shouldn’t you at least do a better job qualifying your sources?

And especially if you’re going to circulate a rumor about something that happened month and a half ago or longer, and which was never reported by any other credible source, shouldn’t you do something to establish the bona fides of your sources?

But you see, here’s the thing:

These guys may have gotten started as reporters, but the dirty little secret is that they hate the work involved in ‘reporting.’ And they hate having to sit on a juicy bit of gossip because they haven’t an iota of supporting evidence.

The careers of these guys are basically a slap in the face of every professional reporter out there toiling for peanuts and doing their best to ensure that what they publish is accurate in both its sourcing and its content.

Guys like Colin Cowherd have made a fortune by flouting every journalistic convention out there while still somehow retaining something of a reputation for journalistic integrity.

I mean, why am I writing about what Ric Bucher said? Because there are people out there who take him seriously–even though there isn’t a single logical reason why they should.

Listening to these guys is like eating at a restaurant that puts dog crap in their food. For every bit of honest defensible insight they deliver, they’re going to shovel out a pile of auditory fertilizer.

Page 2: Where, once again, Jayson Tatum ain’t right

So how do they get out of it? One answer is obvious: They need Marcus Smart to return to health. That is not an excuse. It’s a reason. Ask yourself: What are they missing right now (besides a lot of shots)? Consistent defensive intensity is high on the list, right? There is no more consistently intense defensive guard in the league than Smart. I guarantee you he would have made a play – a charge taken, a pass swiped, a jump ball won against a taller foe  – that would have made the difference between a we-can-exhale-now win and an agonizing loss against the Pelicans.

And let’s admit it: This is not a great passing team. Jayson Tatum is an elite isolation player, but he’s not especially adept or willing to pass out of double-teams. The Celtics fell apart Sunday in part because the Pelicans trapped him, and he either tried to maneuver through it, or gave up the ball to someone who inevitably missed the shot.

Jaylen Brown has improved his passing, but he gets myopic in trying to create his own shot when his touches have been limited. Kemba Walker is a good passer, but he’s never going to be confused with Steve Nash, and he’s too busy trying to shoot his way out of his own struggles to settle into the third-option/initiator role that would best serve this team. Smart makes better players than him even better.

On Friday, I published an analysis of Tatum’s play before and after getting COVID, and I’m not trying to toot my own horn, because let’s be honest, anyone could crunch those numbers and come to the same conclusion, but let’s put the change Tatum’s play in context of the lack of ball movement that Jaylen Brown has gotten peeved about.

Tatum’s scoring has shifted from heavy reliance on 3-point shots to heavy reliance on 3-point plays. That change ipso facto requires working in isolation. Tatum has to have the ball for a longer period of time to score roughly the same number of points that he scored before getting sick.

Before he caught COVID, 47.8% of Tatum’s shots came after 3+ dribbles. Since then it’s, 54.8%, and almost all of that increase has come from shots taken after dribbling the ball 7 or more times. Before getting injured, Tatum was a heavy iso player, with 75.6% of his shots coming after 2+ seconds of possession. Since he’s gotten back, that number has ballooned to 86.2%. And the number of shots taken after six seconds or more of touch time has gone from 27.7% to 35.9%.

In short, Tatum is slowing down the Celtics offense and reducing its efficiency.

Now, here’s how I evaluate Tatum’s remarks about struggling with his stamina since coming back to the team:

  • These guys tell the press less than what they tell their coaches and trainers.
  • These guys tell their coaches and their trainers less than what they’re actually feeling.

In other words, I think Tatum has to be struggling pretty badly for him to actually go on record about it.

What to do about it?

Well, there’s not much you can do about it. I mean, Stevens can push Tatum to pass the ball more, to rely less on iso plays, but it’s not a given that this would result in more points. The ugly truth of the matter is that the C’s best player is not healthy, and there’s no amount of coaching that can change that fact.

It was going to take a fully healthy Celtics team some time to adjust and adapt to the loss of Gordon Hayward. And this Celtics team has not been the least bit healthy.

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