Monday, February 28, 2005

I’M NOT SOLD YET:

‘toine? Yeah, he’s looked pretty good these first two games. He’s been a low-post presence, not too many wild three-point attempts, great job on the boards. But I’m still not sold on him having changed. I need to see more of this new, improved, humble, number 88 before I believe Al Jefferson has buried the old number 8 and his horrible shot selection, passive defense, and the horrible wiggle.

Also on the plus side, Delonte West and Marcus Banks have looked super as the two-headed point guard. Rumor has it that the Celtics are still considering bringing back a veteran point guard, be it Gary Payton or Kenny Anderson. If they think it’s needed for a playoff run, well, at least it wouldn’t cost them much. But my opinion is that the more minutes they can give Delonte West, the better off they will be.

One last positive sign, Walter McCarty was still with the Phoenix Suns, not the Celtics. Phew!

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IN THE FIFTH ROUND, THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS SELECT, FROM OHIO STATE, RUNNING BACK MAURICE CLARETT:

Yeah, you only think I’m joking. Clarett would be the ultimate thumb-your-nose at the rest of the NFL by Bill Belichick. The running back that went from sure-fire number one pick to comparisons to Lawrence Phillips. I say “why not?” Look at Corey Dillon. Who better to mentor Clarett than the much maligned, misunderstood, and misfiring running back that was run out of Cincinnati?

Why Clarett? He’ll likely available in the middle rounds of the draft after his horrible 40 yard dash during the NFL Combine. Belichick loves a challenge and loves to be unpredictable. There’s no immediate need at running back with Dillon entrenched in the position, so it makes some sense to take a chance in the middle rounds. Most importantly, he’s represented by Steve Feldman, who represents Corey Dillon and Rodney Harrison. I imagine Feldman, who worked out two very cap-friendly, below market value deals with the Patriots for Harrison and Dillon, could get a chance to sell his client to Belichick and Pioli.

Of course, Clarett is still a huge gamble. Heck, maybe Buffalo will take him in the first round. Seriously, he had a great freshman season at Ohio State, tried to get into the draft, failed, and hasn’t played football since 2002. The Patriots can certainly allow him to sit a year or two to get back into football shape physically and mentally. But that one year he played, he rushed for over 1200 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 games. He’s got great size, decent speed, and if he’s got some desire and smarts, could be a great pick that further cements Belichick’s “genius” and extends the dynasty a couple more years.

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WHY BILL BELICHICK IS SMARTER THAN I AM:

Well, at least this one reason, probably of plenty more that I have no desire to hear. Anyway, way back in 2001 I couldn’t believe that the idiot coach/GM of the Patriots chose a defensive lineman from Georgia with the number six overall pick, rather than the flashy wide receiver from Michigan, David Terrell. Obviously, the lineman from Georgia is perennial pro bowler and heart of the defensive line, Richard Seymour. Terrell, after four lackluster seasons with the Bears (never caught 50 passes in a season, never had more than 700 yards receiving in a season), was released. Terrell seemed to have it all at the time: size, speed, and a good head on his shoulders. Alas, Belichick made the right decision. After that first super bowl with the defense anchored by young star Richard Seymour, I have always given Belichick the benefit of doubt. (OK, maybe not after Donald Hayes proved to be his worst free agent signing ever. What a chump he turned out to be. Of course, he was from Wisconsin. Just like another chump receiver of the Patriots from the late 90’s: Tony Simmons. Thanks for that second round pick, Bobby Grier.)

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