The Celtics broke their nine-game losing streak Wednesday night at TD Garden with an 88-83 win over a legitimate Raptors team. Jared Sullinger did his best Kevin Love impression (foreshadowing, perhaps?) with 25 points and 20 rebounds. For now, our long regional nightmare is over.
Sullinger's continued development aside, breaking the losing streak was the third-most important thing to happen to the Celtics Wednesday. The first was the trade that sent guard Jordan Crawford to Golden State and forward Joel Anthony and two draft picks to Boston. Celtics beat writer Baxter Holmes has a breakdown of the picks in today's Globe.
One of the picks is a lottery-protected first-rounder that originally belonged to Philadelphia. The Celtics will receive that pick this season if it’s not in the lottery (picks 1-14).
If that pick is in the lottery, though, the Celtics still have a shot at it a year from now, but only if it’s not in the lottery next season.
And if the 76ers do, in fact, miss the playoffs this year and next, then that pick would turn into two second-rounders, one each in 2015 and 2016.
Factoring in previous trades, the Celtics could have as many as 17 draft picks over the next five years, with as many as 10 of those in the first round.
The second-most important thing that happened Wednesday is Rajon Rondo clearing his last hurdle before a return to the court Friday night vs. the Lakers. Rondo practiced with the Maine Red Claws of the Development League and didn't suffer any setbacks. The Celtics didn't need Rondo to break their losing streak, but with Crawford gone, they'll be happy to have him back.
All that and more are topics in this week's mailbag:
What is your opinion of the Jordon Crawford trade? I have mixed feelings on it. Jordan was very effective leading the team during Rondo's absence and I am hoping our leader Rondo has fully recovered and is ready to play at full speed. Also, with all of the draft picks Danny has managed to obtain, can you please go over all of them and do you foresee us trading any of these picks in order to move up in this year's so-called awesome class?
Sonny, Fort Myers, Fla.
Here's a detailed list of the picks the Celtics own on RealGM.com.
I liked the trade a lot. Danny Ainge turned an injured Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins into Crawford, then flipped him for two draft picks, one of which could end up being a first-rounder. Crawford has been good for the Celtics this season, but they're not trying to be good this season.
The picks allow the Celtics even more flexibility when it comes to trades. They can package them for players and use them to trade up or down in the draft. If several future first-round picks are enough to land the player they want in the upcoming draft, the Celtics will part with them. If it takes three or four picks to get a guy like Kevin Love (ooooooh), Ainge will probably do that, too. The 17 picks the Celtics have over the next five seasons are more than the Knicks and Nets have combined. Even Bill Belichick is blushing.
The Rondo aspect is certainly interesting in that trading Crawford shows tremendous confidence in Rondo's ability to come back and contribute right away. As for Joel Anthony, the player the Celtics acquired in the deal, I think Celtics fans will like how hard he plays, but he's the perfect player for a team not focused on winning here and now. He's played just 37 total minutes this season for Miami, and he's not hurt. His $3.5 million player option for next season will almost certainly be exercised,
If Kris Humphries continues to play well, do you think Danny will re-sign him or trade him?
Richard, Scottsdale, Ariz.
I don't think many Celtics fans expected to like having Humphries on their team this season, but he's been a solid contributor and citizen. He's a great trade chip for a contending team because he can help now, and his expiring contract is desirable for other teams as well. Given that they're not in contention now and likely won't be next year, it's hard to see Humphries coming back to the Celtics next season.
With Rondo's return and the trade deadline nearing, which Celtics do you see remaining on the roster on Feb. 21?
Give Al credit for predicting the Jordan Crawford trade in the longer version of his question, sent to me before the deal went down yesterday. In my opinion, the guys that aren't going anywhere are Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Gerald Wallace, and Kelly Olynyk, with Sullinger being the most untouchable. As far as most likely to be traded, I think the order is Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Kris Humphries. Each of those three players can help a team now and also bring some value in return.
-- Here are two related topics from Twitter:
@GaryDzen Gerald Wallace needs to focus on his own problems....free throws would be a good start.— Matthew Jensen (@matthewfjensen) January 15, 2014
@GaryDzen With Bogans on indefinite personal *cough* leave, is Wallace now trying to get his "leave" ticket punched too with his comments?— TalkinAllSports (@TalkinAllSports) January 15, 2014
In case you missed it, Wallace told the Herald this week that this season has been "a slap in the face" for him. From the first day of training camp, Wallace has been very vocal about the fact that he did not want to play for a rebuilding team. What's been bothering fans, and what's likely bothering his teammates, is that he continues to beef. The situation isn't changing anytime soon, given the size of Wallace's contract. He's being paid handsomely to play limited minutes on a team that seems to be trying hard, and yet he continues to decry a lack of effort. What's the point in calling out your teammates like that?
I got the "paid handsomely" line from Ainge, who on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" show this morning explained that Keith Bogans has left the Celtics and returned home essentially because he's not happy sitting on the bench. In an odd turn, Ainge said he was fine with the whole thing, explaining that Bogans and his nonguaranteed deal were a valuable chip in the offseason, and for that reason the Celtics would not release him. For now, Bogans sits at home on his pile of money. Interesting, indeed.
What do you think Rajon Rondo's impact will be on wins and losses? Can he play the Celtics out of the lottery?
The moves the Celtics have made dealing Courtney Lee and Crawford in the last few weeks seem designed to assure playoff non-contention. Rondo is a great player, one of the best guards in the league, but even he is going to find it difficult to win games with the team around him. Remember, the Celtics lost 18 straight games once with Paul Pierce on their team, and I'd argue that the 2006-07 collection of talent was better than what they have now, even with Rondo.
Heard there was a Celtics media game yesterday. You get smoked?
Of course. My team, featuring colleagues Chad Finn and Baxter Holmes, CSNNE's Jimmy Toscano, and others lost by about 10 to a squad captained by CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely. Chris Forsberg hit a couple big jumpers for the winners, and Celtics PR guru Heather Walker hit double digits in scoring. My contributions were a couple of putbacks and trying not to look silly guarding MassLive's Jay King, who can actually shoot and dribble and stuff. There's a rumor that NESN ran a clip of the game, which is a good reason to avoid watching television for a while.