Celtics Trade Away Playoff Hopes

The Boston Celtics began the 2005-2006 season with high expectations of reaching the NBA playoffs and perhaps, making a deep run. However, the goal of Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtic brass is looking bleaker game by game. With the departure of Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, and Mark Blount, and the addition of Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi, and Dwyane Jones, the Celtics could be heading into the cellar of the NBA, a spot they occupied throughout the 1990s. If the playoffs started today, the members of the Celtics would be on a driving range playing golf instead of vying for another NBA championship. Judging from Boston’s performance since the trade that sent Ricky Davis to Minnesota and brought Wally Szczerbiak to the New Garden, the Celtics will have a very good position in this year’s NBA draft. Before the trade, the Celtics were 17-25, but lost 14 games by five points or less. Failure in close contests is part of the process of grooming a young team such as the Celtics, but there is always the demand for immediate victory. Since the trade, the Celtics are 1-6, with only one closely contested game (against lowly Milwaukee). Szczerbiak has played well in a few games, but his performance has not translated into victories for Boston. The recent Celtic slump has brought much criticism upon Danny Ainge. For the first time in his tenure as Executive Director of Basketball Operations, hr decided to alter the team. Yet the arrival of Minnesota’s trio in no way helps the Celtics’ performance in the long or short term. With hopes of a 2006 NBA Championship hanging to life by dental floss, the Celtics should take this opportunity to get young players solid minutes. In the Celtics game against the Miami Heat (February 6th), rookies Ryan Gomes and Gerald Green played a combined six minutes and 16 seconds. Although Green is still light-years away from being a consistent contributor, Ryan Gomes should be playing more often. Making a trade for the sake of making a move, as Ainge did, has never worked. The Timberwolves obviously could not wait to unload Szczerbiak or the career underachiever Olowakandi, whose only claim to fame is being posterized by countless NBA dunk artists. The Celtics now have another gunner to go along with Paul Pierce and another soft big man to join Raef LaFrentz. The Celtics have clearly taken the route of rebuilding (for the third straight year), but young players haven’t received much playing time. How can young players fulfill hyped potential while sitting on the bench for over 35 minutes? Suddenly, Green is looking distant to Paul Pierce and company . . . farther than it may have appeared two weeks ago.