Sunday, June 26, 2022

Banking issues dominate the worn-out Celtics’ offseason plans

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The NBA Finals post-mortems have been substantial, and there’s no chance they’ll stop flowing once the league progresses through the draft and summer free agent and trade seasons.

While the Warriors seem comfortable with a strong core of veterans and young players who can already develop on board, the Celtics are in a rather odd position. They must first find the right questions before they can start looking for answers. The Boston squad looks strong between the lines, but things are shakier between their collective ears.

It’s still hard for many to come to terms with how the Celts could get so nervous at key moments and step away from what seemed like a talent advantage.

As an NBA exec told Heavy.com this week, “Golden State mentally wore down the Celtics before the Celtics could physically wear down Golden State.”

The Boston offense fell apart too easily, the crisp passing and cutting giving way to one-on-one moves that quickly became one-on-twos and threes. It seems the Celtics need a more consistent goal from their bench, but they need to find out if that goal already exists and is just not being used or encouraged enough.

It’s hard to imagine that Payton Pritchard and even Aaron Nesmith wouldn’t get more touches and opportunities if they were in Heat uniforms. And if what we saw at the end of the Finals is what Derrick White will be, then there are people who believe the Celts would have been better off with Josh Richardson (and the first-round pick and the possible pick exchange would have retained). in the trade that brought White to Boston).

Before attempting to make his corrections, basketball boss Brad Stevens must decide if the people on the bench aren’t good enough or if coach Ime Udoka isn’t using them enough. Regarding the latter, Udoka improved throughout the season as he became more comfortable in the big chair. It’s fair to expect he’ll be better next season.

With the news of Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn playing leverage games with his player option/contract extension, league guys are wondering how this is affecting Kevin Durant.

A source believes Durant was already fed up with the drama (Kyrie not getting vaccinated, the situation with Ben Simmons) last season and the playoffs.

“It’s such a shit show there,” he said. “I feel for KD. He’s such a great player. But I’ve never seen anyone in the NBA get thrashed the way Boston thrashed KD and have absolutely no reaction to it. For example, he can’t elbow someone? Just out of frustration?

“It’s easy to blame it on (coach Steve) Nash and Nash’s inexperience that he doesn’t put them in the right place. But KD has played in enough big games and he has enough autonomy to do what he wants – what he needs. It just looked like he was pretty frustrated out there.”

Johnny Juzang was a hot potato after last year’s NCAA Final Four when he decided to return to UCLA to pursue a national championship and a higher draft spot for himself. And while he might still be in the right position to build an NBA career, he seems to have gone 0-2 on the goals above.

“He didn’t really make the leap this year that people were looking for,” said an NBA staffer. “But he’s also a victim of the way teams see things these days. A lot of them would rather risk it with someone from overseas or someone they haven’t really seen much against top competition than go with a guy who’s been ahead of them for a while.”

Juzang keeps his head straight about it.

“I wanted to come back and develop and work, get better and get another chance,” he told Heavy.com. “You know, college is only once. you only do it once

“But I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better. You know, I never really worry about projections or anything. As long as I know I’m growing as a person and as a player – as long as I know I’m growing as a player, getting better, my game getting better – then I’m fine. Once you’re in, it’s all about what you do when you get on the pitch. So as long as I know I’m getting better, that’s all I’m worried about. All you want – and I’m happy to be in this position – all you want is this opportunity.”

“But I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better. You know, I never really worry about projections or anything. As long as I know I’m growing as a person and as a player – as long as I know I’m growing as a player, getting better, my game getting better – then I’m fine. Once you’re in, it’s all about what you do when you get on the pitch. So as long as I know I’m getting better, that’s all I’m worried about. All you want – and I’m happy to be in this position – all you want is this opportunity.”

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