Spare Neurons: Monday, July 16, 2012

by Hal Bent,

Here is where you find the random thoughts, caffeine-fueled rants, "smacking the dashboard and screaming at radio hosts" diatribes, and bizarre observations that pop into my head and, while interesting, need an outlet: 

    • As the free-agents sign, and the team that takes the court this fall comes into focus, the Celtics look like they have their starters and top bench players lined-up, and it is just the end of the bench that needs to come into focus. Here's a very early peek:
    • CENTER: 
      • Kevin Garnett, who does NOT want to play center; 
      • Greg Steimsma, who technically could still bolt to another team if he gets an offer; 
      • Chis Wilcox, who, when healthy last year showed that he can run the floor, rebound, and provide energy off the bench; and 
      • Fab Melo, who will have a great red shirt season getting the crap beat out of him at practice by KG.
    • FORWARD:
      • Paul Pierce, who may actually show up in some semblance of shape this fall and not tank it until January;
      • Brandon Bass, who finally looked like a player who knew the offense in the playoffs' 
      • Jeff Green, who is healthy at last and may be the most pivotal player on the team, as having someone who can score early and often other than Paul Pierce is going to be a huge boon to the team. I love what he can bring to the offense, and I STILL BELIEVE it was the right move to trade Kendrick Perkins for him;
      • JaJuan Johnson, who is size and projection, nothing more at this point; and
      • Jared Sullinger, the first round pick who can score down low.  Sully can be a key cog coming off the bench, and hopefully can make an impact a few times this year.
    • GUARD:
      • Rajon Rondo, who is the offense.  As Rondo goes, so goes the Celtics.  Who knows, maybe without the Ray Allen scowl hanging over him, he can step-up and distribute without worrying about who has how many touches;
      • Avery Bradley, who is hurt.  Bradley showed his potential last season, and, like Rondo, may thrive without the Ray Allen playing time issue hanging over him (or, I could just be rationalizing with Allen being gone);
      • Jason Terry, who should step into Ray Allen's shoes with nary a loss (can I just stop talking about Ray Allen already? Wow.).  Terry is a perfect fit for the Celtics and should cover for Bradley being out of the lineup early in the season and provide baskets for the second-unit.

      • Keyon Dooling, Mickael Pietrus, and  E'Twaun Moore are all options to return and fill in behind the guards and provide a little depth.  Who the Celtics can afford to bring back and wants to play for the minimum is the big question.

    • The deadline for signing Wes Welker to a long-term deal has passed and the New England Patriots face the prospect of hitting the repeat button on this franchise tag deal.  The issue comes down to the one word that defines the New England Patriots front office: VALUE.
    • The Patriots see Welker as a slot wide receiver on the wrong side of 30 with one major knee injury not too long ago who fills a specific role on a specific offense with a quarterback like no other in football who trusts Welker absolutely.  His value to the Patriots is in the short-term: the minute he loses a step of that knee-buckling stop-and-start quickness, he becomes just another  undersized slot receiver who can't get himself open.  Welker see his statistics compared to the rest of the wide receivers and thinks he should be paid like the elite.  
    • Sadly for Welker, the Patriots are going to hardball him, and they are 100% right to do so.  Wes  Welker did not, and could not, put up numbers like he does in New England in Miami. Short of Peyton Manning (Welker to Denver, that would be an interesting trade), Drew Brees (who has plenty of help in the slot) or Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay just drafts more of 'em, and they don't overpay 'em at wide receiver) would have the smarts and skills to utilize and take advantage of someone like Welker lining up inside for their offense.
    • Welker will play this year and produce, and maybe be back next year on another one year deal (or sign a two year deal at the most), but most likely the Patriots see how the Nate Ebner era goes in New England. Welker is a great player who played out a contract that went from ridiculous in the eyes of the NFL "experts" to a huge bargain, but who unfortunately will be another veteran who has to get his deserved money elsewhere (see: McGinest, Willie and Seymour, Richard). In New England, the long-term, big money only goes to the young, and those named Tom Brady.