Chat with Chris Forsberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPNBoston.com blogger Chris Forsberg stops by to chat about the Boston Celtics.
Forsberg has been reporting on the Boston sports scene since 1999. With his video camera in tow, Forsberg covered everything from Massachusetts high school sports to Boston's pro sports teams. Follow him at his Celtics blog.
Send your questions now and join Forsberg Friday at noon ET!
Chris Forsberg (11:59 AM)
Good afternoon everybody! Thanks for dropping by. Just finishing up our midseason report card and getting that over to our editors, so we'll get started shortly.
Chris Forsberg (12:03 PM)
Alright, let's dive into your questions.
Hey Chris,What do you think the Celtics need to do at this point? Is it a lost season?
Chris Forsberg (12:04 PM)
I've said it from the start of the year, it all comes down to health with this team. The fact that they utilized 13 different starting lineups and players missed 58 total games due to ailments sums up the 15-17 record. When (if?) the Celtics are healthy, they can compete with anyone because they don't endure lapses like we saw in the first half against OKC. That said, I'm just not sure this team wil ever be healthy.
I think I am done drinking the Kool-Ade..What options do we have? Not super excited to go back to the Pitino Years
Chris Forsberg (12:06 PM)
I keep stressing it: This regular season is going to be a roller coaster. Just too many games, too many injuries, and it's going to leave Boston inconsistent (and, honestly, things only ramp up in March and April). That said, I remain convinced the best path of action is to weather the storm and see what you can do with this group when a much more forgiving playoff schedule rolls around. Even if that means being a low seed and having to give a top squad your best crack in the first round.
Which option would you choose, complete rebuilding or restock around Rondo?
Chris Forsberg (12:09 PM)
It depends. Does the "rebuilding' involve clearing the roster, but but bringing in cornerstones like, say, Dwight Howard? Or is it dipping back into the lottery and trying to build around pure youth? I don't mind the restock option. Rondo and his team-friendly contract are easy to build around and you can add some elite players beside him. We can lament his maturity and whatnot, but Rondo can thrive with a new cast. Just not sure he can be the only foundation, you've gotta add an other superstar to that ground level.
Matt Davis (Indianapolis)
What's the likelihood of the Celtics cutting any players?
Chris Forsberg (12:10 PM)
If Jermaine O'Neal or Chris Wilcox is to miss extended time, it could be very likely. The Celtics could use another pure big. The question is whether there's anyone out there that's going to offer you more than Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson. Yet again, it might be best to just stick with what you got and endure the growing pains in order to allow those two to develop.
Andy (Washington, D.C.)
Chris, can we call this thing? Danny has made two very good moves in trading for Bass and signing Pietrus. But this team can't win it. Do they just slog through the rest of the year and HOPE to land Howard? Or do you suspect Danny will pull the trigger on another deal and shake things up?
Chris Forsberg (12:14 PM)
Unless this team bottoms out, I don't see why you explore trading the Big Three. What are you getting in return? Chances are it's either non-favorable draft picks or players that are going to clog up the cap space you worked so diligently to develop. The salaries make it very difficult to get back what Boston would desire -- young players with high potential to develop. What's more, a contending team isn't likely to give you anything you can build with moving forward. I'm not saying it's impossible, I just don't see a lot of scenarios. All of which leaves me leaning towards riding it out.
Ryan (San Diego)
Chris, any whispers about Pierce nursing a nagging injury? It's clear as he goes so go the Celtics. The winning streak coincided with Pierce really getting his game to the levels we expect and then when he hit a funk, so did the team's winning ways. My fear is with the exception of the Laker game - explainable by Artest's D - Pierce shot so poorly and looked out of sorts, I started thinking he might be injured, or the heel is bothering him.
Chris Forsberg (12:17 PM)
Whether it's an injury, or just still trying to work his way back from the heel, Pierce is definitely struggling to find his shot (41.7 percent shooting after being at 49.7 percent last season). That said, Boston played its best ball when Pierce did the same and I like how he's elevated his facilitating in order to make up for his shooting struggles. If Pierce can't find his shot in the second half, it's going to be very difficult for Boston to compensate given their already inconsistent offense.
Shawn (West Springfield MA)
I hope the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo before the trade deadline. Hes the only guy that has some value on the team. The two best trade that i came up with is for danny to trade him to Houston for Kyle Lowry and Jordan Hill. I dont know if thats enough for the Rockets to say Yes. If the Celtics are looking to try to win it all this year they should trade him and JO to Phoenix for Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat. Which one do you like?
Chris Forsberg (12:20 PM)
I know Rondo is a bit of a frustrating player to some, but I'm always surprised when people are willing to trade him away without getting a cornerstone in return. You know why Danny was willing to trade him in the preseason? Because it would have got Chris Paul back. I like the idea of Nash & Gortat this season, but beyond that leaves you with limited returns. I think the only way you move Rodno is if you get a Deron or Paul or elite player at another position to build around. Anything less is taking advantage of what you've got.
Babsonalum (Paducah, KY)
Chris, when will we know if whether or not Ainge is planning on making some big moves before the trading deadline? This weekend? 2 weeks after the break? It seems he can't keep his mouth shut about possible trade deals, so surely he'll leak something soon if he's planning to do it.
Chris Forsberg (12:21 PM)
I think we'll know right after the break. If the Celtics get Rondo and Brandon Bass back, but continue to struggle, then maybe it's time to just admit this team will never put it together and start examining what can be done with eyes towards the future. But if Boston shows more consistency and avoids the lapses we've seen lately, then it only strengthens the notion to ride it out. I can still see a minor move at the end of the bench, where the Celtics have been plagued by underproduction.
It's looking pretty bleak. Can you give some info that might give a fan some hope?
Chris Forsberg (12:23 PM)
Same advice I keep giving: Don't emotionally invest yourself before the end of April. This roller coaster season will leave you exhausted. Just wait to see how it all comes together and hope the Celtics are healthy and playing quality ball in May. Hate to go all KG on you here, but if that happens, anything is possible in this wacky season.
How long can the Celtics keep running JO out there? He looks just so slow and his defensive rotations are almost non-existant.
Chris Forsberg (12:25 PM)
I'm double-dipping on you, Mark. I think coming out of the break, the Celtics have to examine the idea of moving O'Neal to a reserve. Trouble is, you need both Wilcox and Bass healthy in order to do that, so health will dictate this all. I think O'Neal still provides a nice defensive-minded presence up front for 20 minutes per game, but I'd rather see him with the reserves. I do think it'd be better to add energy and someone who can run (Wilcox) to the first unit, all while keeping Bass coming off the bench to fetch KG after five minutes.
Is this the perfect time to trade Rajon Rondo, or have they waited too long?
Chris Forsberg (12:27 PM)
I don't think there's ever a time when teams wouldn't covet a 26-year-old three-time All-Star. I think Boston had the ideal situation before the season, but couldn't make it happen with the Hornets. In-season trades are always much more difficult to swing.
Chris Augur (KY)
Hey man. how do u think boston will do for the rest of the season?
Chris Forsberg (12:29 PM)
When healthy, they'll thrive; When not, they'll continue to be inconsistent and struggle. I can see them finishing up at like 34-32, earning a 7th or 8th seed and taking their chances with Chicago or Miami in the first round. In fact, I remain convinced that's the best plan of attack. Why get ground down in the first round against another young mid-seed like Orlando or Atlanta when you can pace yourself at the end of the season and give a top seed your best punch. If the Celtics were to pull off the upset, all of a sudden they become a top seed with a more favorable second-round matchup.
Is there any chance the Deron Williams trade for Rondo and the essential pieces to make it work going to happen or is this just speculation?
Chris Forsberg (12:30 PM)
Peter May wrote a column on it this week as mere speculation. The idea being that, if the Nets realize they can't get Dwight, and Deron has the potential to walk at season's end, then maybe it's better to try and move him for something that's a sure thing moving forward. If you're the Celtics, maybe you take a Chris Paul-like approach if he's available. Risky, but when has that scared Ainge?
Zain (Merced, CA)
You read the article where Perk says he knows some of the guys are just waiting for the playoffs? Seriously? We're doing this flip the switch again? I hate Rasheed Wallace.
Chris Forsberg (12:33 PM)
Eh, to me "waiting for the playoffs" sounds like something a team that's 15-17 says to explain its struggles. IF the Celtics could have been 21-11 at this point, I don't think they'd be waiting around. Injuries didn't aid their cause and I think they are hopeful that being healthier and working out the kinks produces better basketball when it matters.
How about trading Ray for a big? 2-guards are the easiest to replace and he might be our healthiest trade chip.
Chris Forsberg (12:34 PM)
Honestly, the idea of trading your most consistent offensive weapon in a season in which your offense is alarmingly inconsistent is scary to me. If you want to trade Ray because the season bottoms out, sure. If you're looking to fill the center spot for a run, there's gotta be better options.
Kris Humphries (New Jersey)
Any chance you guys trade for me? I can rebound. In more ways than one.
Chris Forsberg (12:35 PM)
*rimshot* I actually thought you'd be a good fit in the offseason because of your rebounding abilities. Your price tag is too high ($8 million), but you are an expiring deal, so you've got potential to be moved.
What are the realistic options for help at center? Any trade options? D-League guys? buy out situations?
Chris Forsberg (12:37 PM)
Again, health might dictate if you can move Wilcox into the starting lineup (or maybe Bass, but I don't like how that thins the bench and the 4 spot unless you want to really l lean on JaJuan Johnson). Stiemsma's defensive struggles have left Doc skittish to keep him on the floor (teams are abusing him in pick-and-roll), but just not sure you can find much in the D-League that will be better (and able to learn on the fly). Ultimately I come back to the same thing: Stick with what you got.
Celtics, too slow and old, if they make the playoffs, they will be knocked out in the first round. What do you think will make them better?
Chris Forsberg (12:39 PM)
Sure, they looked slow and old at times in the first half against OKC, but I thought we saw glimpses in the second half of a team that can hang in there when it plays better defense. The question is whether they can do it consistently. Stop me if you've hard me say it, if they have all their bodies healthy, that goes a long way towards aiding that quest to be a more consistent team that doesn't have the lapses (forcing them to look slow and old).
Tron (Waltham, MA)
What WOULD it take to get Deron and what are the chances (percentages please) of that happening?
Chris Forsberg (12:41 PM)
Rondo, JO, and a couple first-round picks this year would work salary wise. Chances? I don't know. New Jersey is clearly in love with the idea of Deron & Dwight as they move to Brooklyn and might wait that out as long as they can.
Matt (Cincinnati OH)
How can you view this team as able to "compete with anyone" when healthy. A.) this team has no where near the talent and components of the Heat or Thunder, and B.) crazy to rely on "when healthy" as that is unrealistic with the age and health history of these players. Just like it was fantasy to rely on a "healthy" Shaq last year. Admit that this team is what its record is.
Chris Forsberg (12:43 PM)
No doubt, having to rely on health is absolutely an unenviable situation and we all saw how that played out last year. I'm merely saying, given the options this season, it might be Boston's best choice.
David Stern (Headquarters)
Rondo is valuable. Why do you think I just threw him into the All-Star Game? I don't make moves for nothin'. #basketballreasons
Chris Forsberg (12:44 PM)
Absolutely, commish. To me it steaks HUGE volumes that the league didn't take the easy way out and just pick a random Philly player or Josh Smith to take that spot.
Chris, do you think it would be better for the celtics to miss the playoffs and get a lottery pick or would it be better to stick it out and see if you can get lucky for a playoff run?
Chris Forsberg (12:45 PM)
Even with the lottery, you often have to really bottom out in order to get a game-changer. If the C's are going to end up with No. 10 in the draft by missing the playoffs, then why not make the playoffs and settle for No. 16. Either way you're leaning on a little bit of luck.
Marcel (Berlin, Germany)
Keyon Dooling, a bad move signing him? Personally I'd love to see Doc using E'Twaun Moore instead of Dooling.
Chris Forsberg (12:47 PM)
I think the team saw him as a more durable option than Delonte West. Ironically, he's missed half the games thus far. It's disappointing that they don't feel he can run the offense (moving him to the 2 almost immediately). His shooting has been decent, so he can be a lift. But Pietrus has really just taking all the minutes from that group of Dooling, Daniels, and Pavlovic.
Chris (Washington DC)
Hey Cberg. What about Pierce bringing the ball up the court for the C's. We can have Ray and Pietrus on the wings. He seems like his ability to distribute the ball is fantastic. He can switch back to play the opponents' 3 on D. Then we have Rondo with his fast break crew coming off the bench.
Chris Forsberg (12:50 PM)
A few others have proposed the idea of Avery Bradley with the starters as well. Are we serious here folks? Putting three-time All-Star Rajon Rondo on the bench? I know the team is struggling, but let's not get crazy. The team is still just 6-4 without Rondo. It's not like they are 10-0.
Zenyatta of Basketball (The Barn)
Will Ray ultimately be experimented with coming off the bench some the second half?
Chris Forsberg (12:51 PM)
I could see Ray eventually shifting to a bench role. That said, the Celtics have no one that makes sense there in a starting role and they absolutely need Ray's offense on the floor at the start of games. Bench offense will improve with a healthy Bass.
You talk a lot about the team needing to be healthy to compete and Rondo being a cornerstone and such, but how long can we ignore the fact that Rondo only seems to bring max effort maybe once every two weeks? His averages this season are way below what he's capable of and I'm getting incredibly frustrated with him
Chris Forsberg (12:53 PM)
Sure, we see him put up 32-15-10 vs. Chicago and wonder why he can't do that on a nightly basis. Why? Because it's damn near impossible. Right now Rondo is still averaging 15-10-5 and with what he has around him, that's still All-Star caliber. Yes, he gets up for some matchups more than others. That's just the way he is. But to suggest that his averages are below what he's capable of ignores the fact that he's at a career high for scoring this year while still facilitating the offense to a consistent level.
Tron (Waltham, MA)
Rondo will never learn to shoot, correct?
Chris Forsberg (12:55 PM)
He's shooting 42 percent from 16-to-23 feet this season, which is virtually a career high. What's more, league average for PGs from that range is 39 percent. Expectations are rather insane for him sometimes.
Bouncing off Chris from DC's comment, i like Rondo with the starters but is there a way to make the starting 5 faster. Ray and Pierce seem to go against Rondo when he starts running.
Chris Forsberg (12:56 PM)
I think moving a run-happy center into the first unit would aid that cause. Allen thrives as a trailer in transition, so I don't think he's part of the problem.
Hey Chris, Just a general question: Would the Celts ever trade with the Lakers? I can't recall this ever happening.
Chris Forsberg (12:57 PM)
I don't see why not. You only see them twice per year. Rivalry aside, if I'm a GM, I'd be more likely to do that than trade to Miami, Chicago, or an Atlantic Division rival you see four times per season.
Thanks, FBerg. I'm going to win the Skills Challenge just for you, homie.
Chris Forsberg (12:58 PM)
What will be hilarious is when Rondo wins that and everyone accuses him of putting in more effort than on a nightly basis.
John ((Jersey City))
Yes, sometimes one has do what's outside of the box: Bring Rondo off the Bench. Let's set labels aside (he is an all star, fine). The team is 6-4 without him but is 9-13 with him! And in that 6-4 stretch, some of the best wins have come for Boston (Orlando, Pacers, etc). Of those 4 losses, a couple of come with Garnett, Bass, and Wilcox also being absent. It makes sense for Rondo to come off the bench because the starters to better with Bradley. No one is saying Bradley is better than Rondo.
Chris Forsberg (12:59 PM)
You know, in the grand scheme of things, I'm fine with erasing starter/bench labels, too, because ultimately, it comes down to how many minutes you play. Jermaine O'Neal is the starting center, but plays 22 minutes; Brandon Bass comes off the bench and plays 30 and often closes out games. That said, I just don't see how taking one of your best young players out of the first unit makes this team better.
big boy (la)
You can throw all the numbers you want out there. When it counts Rondo tightens up and can barley hit the rim when open from the free throw line - which is only 15 feet away. Is that why you're quoting stats for the 16-23 feet range?
Chris Forsberg (1:02 PM)
Rondo shoots 40 percent from 10-to-15 feet, but attempts less than a shot per game there this season. To me, it's all irrelevant. The fact that his shots per game have jumped back up at the rim (and he's shooting 3 more free throws per game this season) is all that matters. The Celtics need that aggressiveness.
Shawn (West Springfield MA)
Chris when will you realize RONDO does not fit with this team! I totally agree with john! I would rather have paul pierce bring the ball up a than Rondo. Pierce seems lost with rondo on the floor but becomes a playmaker when avery or moore plays the point.
Chris Forsberg (1:05 PM)
I don't know. He sure seemed to fit the team the past four seasons, including two runs to the Finals. Just seems a bit too convenient when the team starts struggling to want to make lineup overhauls like that.
an idea for John... Maybe a way to get better (faster) would be to go smaller and play Bradley and Rondo together.
Chris Forsberg (1:06 PM)
The only reason I don't like that is because you lose a 3-point threat at the 2 spot. Maybe if you had a small lineup with Pierce, Pietrus, and KG to spread the floor, but otherwise I don't see the value. I like the idea of Bradley as defensive pest at backup 1.
Mark Jackson (Amherst, MA)
How will Greg Stiemsma learn to play pick and roll D?
Chris Forsberg (1:06 PM)
Time and reps. It's not impossible, but he's got some work to do. The problem is he can't get a lot of game reps because Boston is in too many close games.
Chris Forsberg (1:08 PM)
Alright, let's wrap it up there. I've got to get to my next session of the Rajon Rondo Fan Club (just kidding; honestly, his game is flawed -- like most stars in one way or another -- and I was 100 percent on board with the Chris Paul trade. I just don't understand why some are so against him at this point). Thanks as always to everyone for hanging out. Let's do it again next week and see where this team is at coming out of the break.
Chris Forsberg (1:09 PM)
Enjoy the All-Star break, everybody!