Celtics puzzled by Allen’s departure

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives past Boston Celtics guard Tony Allen in the second quarter during Game 5 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts, June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

In my minor NBA moves post, I wrote the following about Tony Allen:

Jeff Van Gundy called Allen the best perimeter defender in the league, and the C’s curiously let him sign elsewhere for around $3 million a season. He is a very good defender. I watched him cover LeBron James, Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant in consecutive playoff series and he didn’t give up very many easy shots. Why Boston would let him go is beyond me.

When asked about Allen’s departure, Danny Ainge said that it wasn’t a financial decision.

Allen left even though the Celtics could have exceeded the $10 million, three-year contract the swingman received.

“We had a good six years with Tony,’’ said Celtics president Danny Ainge. “I think you’d have to ask Tony [why he left]. We wanted Tony back. We tried to get him and it wasn’t a financial decision. It was other decisions. That’s something you’d have to ask Tony.’’

Allen is a very good perimeter defender, so the failure to re-sign him could bite the Celtics down the road.

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Discussing some smaller NBA moves, Part 2

Apr. 01, 2010 - Dallas, TEXAS, UNITED STATES - epa02101336 Orlando Magic player Marcin Gortat (C) gets a rebound against Dallas Mavericks players Dirk Nowtizki (L) from Germany and Brendan Haywood (R) in the first half of the game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas USA, 1 April 2010.

Want to read Part 1 first? Click here.

Mavs acquire Tyson Chandler, re-sign Brendan Haywood (6/$55 M).
Dallas missed out on Marcin Gortat last summer and in Chandler/Haywood they have a pretty good two-headed defensive center. If they split time and produce at 09-10 levels, the Mavs will get 14-14 and 2.7 blocks per game. But that production does come at a price. Chandler is in the last year of his deal ($12.6 M) and Haywood’s deal is fairly outrageous for a 30-year-old. The Mavs will need both players to produce if they hope to get past the Lakers’ talented bigs.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is reportedly signing with the Heat. (2/vet’s min)
It’s not clear how much ‘Big Z’ has left in the tank, but at the veteran’s minimum, it doesn’t have to be much. The Heat just need Ilgauskas to play 15-20 minutes, protect the glass and hit his patented set shot. Veterans appear to be lining up to play with the Super Friends.

Kyle Lowry signs with the Cavs. (4/$24 M)
Byron Scott said he wants the Cavs to push the ball more and Lowry is a talented point guard who hasn’t had a chance to start, but has been productive in major roles for Houston and Memphis in his young career. Whether or not he starts for the Cavs remains to be seen. Mo Williams is still there and was an All-Star just two seasons ago. Also, Lowry is restricted and the Rockets have a week to match the Cavs’ offer. Update: It looks like the Rockets are going to match the offer. Daryl Morey always seems to get something for his assets, so maybe the two teams will make a trade.

Steve Blake signs with the Lakers. (4/$16 M)
Blake should be a nice fit in the Lakers’ triangle offense. He lacks the speed to beat guys off the dribble, but he’s a good passer (4.8 apg) and a solid spot up shooter (39% 3PT), two requirements to play alongside Kobe in L.A. With Jordan Farmar on the way out, Blake and Derek Fisher will likely split time at the point.

Tony Allen signs with the Grizzlies. (3/$10 M)
Jeff Van Gundy called Allen the best perimeter defender in the league, and the C’s curiously let him sign elsewhere for around $3 million a season. He is a very good defender. I watched him cover LeBron James, Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant in consecutive playoff series and he didn’t give up very many easy shots. Why Boston would let him go is beyond me.

Rondo’s perfect behind-the-back pass [video]

You don’t see in-the-air, behind-the-back passes every day, and this one is beautiful.

It’s fitting that Rondo and Tony Allen had the highlight play from Game 4 because they’re the ones that spearheaded the C’s big win over the Cavs.

What’s wrong with the Celtics?

The Christmas Day loss to the Lakers was understandable. And maybe even the next night’s loss to the Warriors was forgivable, since it the second of back-to-back games and Oakland is always a tough place to play. But what about consecutive losses to the Knicks and the Bobcats, each with a day’s rest beforehand? After racing out to the best start in league history, the Celtics are now 2-5 in their last seven, and have lost back-to-back games to teams with a combined record of 26-42. Ouch.

It’s tough to be the defending champs, because every night you’re going to get your opponent’s maximum effort. It’s also important to note that all five of those losses were road games, and it can be tough to win on the road in the NBA, especially when you have a big bull’s eye painted on your back.

A quick look at the Celtics’ season stats reveals a few things:

1. Other than Eddie House, they don’t have a legitimate three-point threat on their bench. This is an area where they miss James Posey (along with what he brought to the table defensively).

2. Glen Davis is shooting 37% from the field, which is absolutely dreadful for a power forward. Despite bigger minutes, his points and rebounds are down. Not good.

3. Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins are holding up to their end of the deal. Rondo is averaging 11.1 points, 7.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds a game, and he’s fourth in the league in steals. He is quickly developing into one of the best all-around point guards in the league. Perkins hasn’t made as big of a leap, but he’s a few minutes away from averaging a double-double. Right now he’s at 8.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest.

Given how important James Posey was to the Celtics’ title run, we knew heading into the season that it was a big risk to let the Hornets sign him away. He brought solid defense and good three-point shooting, which are two things that are lacking on the Boston bench right now. The C’s are toying with the idea of bringing Stephon Marbury in for a trial run (if he ever agrees to a buyout with the Knicks), and he would provide some long-range punch off the bench. I don’t see a lot of other options for the Celtics, considering they don’t have a substantial expiring contract or tradeable players. Garnett and Pierce are untouchable, and the team can’t do without Ray Ray’s outside shooting. Rondo is too good and he would leave a gaping hole at point guard, and the same goes for Perkins in the middle. What are the C’s going to get for House, Tony Allen or Glen Davis? Leon Powe would be good trade bait, but the Celtics need his toughness and rebounding off the bench. Besides, it’s doubtful that Danny Ainge would make any major changes to this group since it got them to the Promised Land last season.

I don’t think this 2-5 stretch is a sign that the Celtics aren’t for real. They are. The NBA season is a grind and they’ll be there at the end. It’s going to be interesting to see how they play at home tonight against a good Houston team and then on Friday at Cleveland.

Thursday (1/8) Update: The Rockets did indeed beat the Celtics in Boston.

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