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.
What’s a realistic offer from the Celtics?
Both from a talent and a salary standpoint, any realistic offer for Lillard would have to start with Jaylen Brown for Boston. Whether or not the Celtics would even be willing to put the 24-year-old Brown on the table for a 30-year-old Lillard who is owed nearly $200 million over the next for years is not an easy question for Brad Stevens to answer. Lillard has been a top-15 player in the NBA for the past two seasons but his huge salary and age would probably give at least some of the organization some pause, particularly with the team’s history of having high-scoring veteran point guards break down with injuries on the team’s watch in the past five years.
For the sake of this exercise though, let’s say the Celtics are willing to consider a Brown deal. Lillard may be deemed as the better fit next to Tatum from an offensive standpoint and has a long enough window of his prime remaining to help the Celtics make some noise in the Eastern Conference with an improved supporting cast around that duo.
If Lakers fans are notorious for photoshopping jerseys onto any player to whom they take a fancy, Celtic fans are—or should be—notorious for constructing trade scenarios in which they acquire any player to whom they take a fancy.
Dame Lillard is a classic example. The guy is 30 years old–there is almost enough of a gap between him and Tatum for him to qualify as a member of a previous generation of basketball talent. It is difficult to imagine a scenario wherein the C’s would view Lillard as being a ‘better fit’ with Tatum than a guy who is almost the same age, with whom he has played for years, and who has a demonstrated willingness to ‘give the game what it needs’, in short, to subordinate his own stats to those of Tatum because at the offensive end of the court, Tatum is a better player.
But the penalty for an early playoff exit is an extra month or so of idle speculation about ways—occasionally realistic, but more often unrealistic—for the C’s to ‘upgrade’ their roster. And we’re not just talking Lillard. Another popular name is Kristaps Porzingis.
A deal revolving around Kemba Walker could match salaries, along with potential other fillers in the deal. Walker has two years and about $73.7 million left on his contract; the final season is a player option. Porzingis has three years and $101.5 million left on his contract, where the final season is also a player option.
Does the trade make sense for both teams?
From Dallas’ perspective, it gets to move Porzingis while adding a guy like Walker, who fits much better alongside Doncic. While Doncic has been on another level through his first few seasons in the league, his ball-dominant ways hasn’t mesh well with Porzingis.
From Boston’s perspective, it gets to move on from Walker, who’s getting up there in age, while adding a former All-Star in Porzingis who should be theoretically entering his prime.
First of all, I don’t want Kristaps on the Celtics because he’s not a particularly good person—nor is he a particularly good basketball player. Certainly, if Kemba Walker is viewed as being overpaid, then Kristaps is even more so. He is grumbling about his role in Dallas, which does not bode well for Boston, because if he does not care to be marginalized by Luca, he’s not going to enjoy being a third option behind Tatum and Brown.
And that brings me around to my biggest issue with people that are eager to ditch Walker.
Walker is willing to let the young kids be the stars on this team, and I don’t see that point being made often enough. It is amazing to me that guys have already forgotten that Walker was in the All-Star game last season, and have come to view his contract as such a burden that they would happily see the Celtics pay another team to be rid of him.
Trading Walker for Kristaps would be trading a positive influence in the locker room and a guy with a defined role on the C’s for a malcontent with a questionable attitude toward women and who would force the C’s to use awkward lineups.
Page 2: Updating the coaching search
According to a league source, Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison was the latest candidate to interview for Boston’s head coach position on Monday morning, joining a pair of coaches on Stevens staff that are receiving consideration. Jerome Allen has also been interviewed and long-time assistant Jay Larranaga will be in the mix as well before the team starts the interview process with candidates from outside the organization.
Morrison, 43, was the G-League Coach of the Year in 2015 with the Maine Red Claws and has been an assistant on Stevens’ bench since 2017. He’s also worked as an assistant coach with several Canadian national teams in the past decade. Allen, 48, played in the NBA and overseas for a combined 14 years and has been a Celtics assistant since 2015. He also has head coaching experience at Penn. Larranaga, 46, has been with the Celtics organization since 2012 and has been a candidate for numerous head coaching positions around the league during the past three years.
This should surprise no one. We should fully expect that Stevens will interview any of his assistants that are interested in the head coaching job. However, I would also say that the odds are in favor of the C’s next coach coming from outside the organization.
I, for one, am amused that the whole ‘Kidd expected to interview with the Celtics’ storyline has died down. Whatever may be said about Kidd as a person or as a coach, he has a knack for getting himself publicity. I don’t think that the Celtics ever had an interest in even interviewing Kidd, much less hiring him. Even if the C’s were only interested in hiring coaches with prior NBA experience in the hot seat, there are a bewildering array of options who have done better than Kidd. And I’m equally sure that Kidd believed that expressing interest in the C’s job was enough to get Stevens to call him up and set up an interview.
That he’s withdrawn his name from consideration in Portland is, in my mind, attributable to one of two things: Either Portland also has no interest in hiring a subpar coach and human, or he’s trying to oust Frank Vogel.
But Kidd’s not the only name that’s been mentioned:
A little more than a month ago — which, if you trust the Celtics’ transition timeline, would be around the point that Brad Stevens knew he’d soon be hiring his own replacement — Boston’s new president of basketball operations was asked about the possibility that we could soon see the NBA’s first female head coach.
“I think there’s several very qualified candidates and Becky [Hammon], obviously, is a terrific candidate,” Stevens said before a late-April game against the San Antonio Spurs, where Hammon has served as an assistant since 2014. “I don’t know her well but I know what people think about her and I know how well she’s respected all across the league, by players and the coaches. So I would hope that that time is coming very soon.
I rarely disagree with John—but I tend to think that he’s overstating the case against the C’s hiring Stevens as president of basketball operations.
The C’s front office has guys in it that have been there for years, and while that is not, in itself, sufficient to justify continued employment, the way the team has performed during their tenure supplies the argument for continuity.
Now if you announce that Ainge is retiring and interview everyone under the sun, in search of the best possible GM, you run the risk that the new guy is going to bring in a bunch of other new guys and that, collectively, the ability of the front office is going to go downhill. You’re going to lose a ton of institutional knowledge if the new guy doesn’t want Zarren on the staff.
And if you interview outside candidates but refuse to give them the ability to bring in their own guys, you’re not going to have a good pool of outside talent to draw from.
It’s a different matter entirely on the coaching side. Aside from Jay Larranaga and Jaime Young who predate Stevens, the average tenure is just three years. A new hire who brings in his—or her—own staff is not necessarily disrupting the continuity of a team that is looking to make incremental improvements, not overhauling its culture.
Stevens’ comments about Hammon show the value of having interviews and doing research before hiring the next head coach.
I’m curious to see what happens with Hammon. It is entirely possible that she should’ve gotten a head coaching gig years ago, but didn’t because teams are, ultimately, afraid of making that move.