I suspect that for most Boston fans the biggest downer of the off-season was Ray Allen leaving for Miami. Even before the excellent Wojo article on his interview with Doc Rivers, I had come to a similar frame of mind as the coach expressed. Please read the interview, it is the best piece on the whole Ray Allen debacle and I think every fan would be best served if it was all they read (and all the time they spent) on Allen’s exit. The quote that provides the best bottom line is:
“As a coach, you’ve got to do what’s best for the team. If guys don’t like it, they’re going to leave. If they stay and don’t like it, well, your team’s going to suck anyway. Even if this happens, you still have to do it. You can’t coach worrying about any individual. You’ve got to coach worrying about your entire team: whether that gets you a championship or whether that gets you fired.”
Dateline: August 5, 2012––56 days until the start of training camp!
So Ray’s departure was obviously not the biggest disappointment for me this summer. No, the loss that really made me cringe was that of Greg Stiemsma. Now the Steamer got more flames than love from the Celtics’ fan base, but I think most people overlook, or forget, that he played the majority of the season on feet that would have most people avoiding getting out of their bed or chair. Both bone bruises and planar fasciitis are excruciating unless you keep all weight off the affected area. That Stiemsma was able to contribute is a testament both to his determination and to his intestinal fortitude. Unlike our other backup big men during the playoffs, he showed some actual offensive tools. Lost on defense at the beginning of the season, by the second half he was doing a creditable job on rotations and throughout he was a real factor altering shots even when he didn’t block them. If he could contribute under such debilitating circumstances, I have to feel that with an actual training camp and good health he might have been an integral of a successful Celtics team this season.
While Greg was middle-aged for a rookie, he showed real promise, and big men do often develop late. He seemed to work well, and take coaching well, from Kevin Garnett. It was quite disappointing to me that he didn’t eschew the added money to continue the career that the Celtics’ had enabled. Now to be fair, Greg was having his first big (relatively) payday last season; and it’s easy for me to say he should have turned down an additional seven figures to stay with the green. Stiemsma will make more this year than he has in his entire professional career and that money, carefully husbanded, may sustain him and his family for his lifetime. Yet I am left wondering.
Why didn’t Ainge offer him the BAE (or perhaps did)? Those two years would have put Stiemsma into the Bird-rights range and made keeping him beyond that contract purely a monetary and tax decision rather than a cap restriction. If he continued to progress (and it seems rather easy to argue that the Celtics offered him the best environment to blossom) then he might well have made more money over his career in Boston than he will in the frozen tundra. Right up until his actual signing with Minnesota I kept hoping that Danny would offer, and Greg would accept, the BAE $1.96M rather than the 2.6 he got with the Timberwolves.
Boston, and all points beyond