Boston Celtics' Mailbag: Trading DeMarcus Cousins, Benching Paul Pierce and More

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst IJanuary 8, 2013

The beginning of a new year is always an exciting period.

It’s the time to look back and evaluate your progress in reaching your goals. It’s the opportunity to make good on previous shortcomings. It’s a chance to put the past behind us.

But most importantly, it’s the promise of a fresh start.

That’s something the Boston Celtics have taken to heart after wrapping up the 2012 portion of the season at 14-16.

In 2013, the Celtics have looked rejuvenated all across the board. From their shooting, to their defense and even their rebounding, the team has shown all the makings of finally putting it together.

However, every new year also comes with several new questions.

So without further ado, here are the issues that are on the minds of YOU, the readers.


“Is there any way the Celtics could pick up DeMarcus Cousins without giving up Avery Bradley? If not, is Cousins worth giving up Bradley?”

-Brendan Mac

No and no.

By now, we have all seen the tweet by USA Today’s Sam Amick:


DeMarcus Cousins is not going to the Celtics. Teams continue to be told that he's not available. That is all.

— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 7, 2013


But as we have come to learn in the sports world: listen to everyone, trust no one.

If you are a Celtics fan, any variation of Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee, in exchange for DeMarcus Cousins and some expiring contracts, would seem ideal.

The team gets to hold onto Avery Bradley and gets the missing piece they needed.

But look at it from the point of view of the Sacramento Kings.

Cousins is a 20-10 guy. In his last four games alone, Cousins is averaging 27.5 points and 15.3 rebounds per game.

Which one of those players listed above coming over from Boston would help the Kings feel even halfway content about losing Cousins?

The answer is none of them.

Sacramento would likely want Bradley to be involved. But even then, the Celtics still would not have enough to put together a deal unless they considered moving Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett.

Not happening.

But really, if Boston cannot put together a deal for Cousins, consider it a blessing in disguise.

If you think Rondo’s antics are bad, Cousins makes him look like a saint in comparison. He’s had attitude issues ever since he was in high school.

Take it from one prominent league executive:

“That is a seriously troubled kid. There are problems there that go beyond basketball. That’s not something a coach can fix. He can play when he wants to, but how could you ever count on that? And what would you have to give up to get him?”

Sure, Doc Rivers and Garnett might be just the combination of people who can keep Cousins in check. But the Celtics already have so much on their plate that they need to pay attention, too.

Is it really fair to ask them to babysit, as well?


“What do the recent releases of Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado really mean?”

-Rich (Swampscott, MA)

Honestly, this move could have been made for numerous reasons. Only GM Danny Ainge could tell you for sure.

The initial belief on Sunday night was that the Celtics were clearing up roster space in light of an impending blockbuster move. Specifically, a deal that included the highly anticipated DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings.

However, after going to bed with large grins upon their faces, Boston fans sadly awoke to news that such a deal was never actually in place, nor likely to happen.

So what now?

Cutting Varnado makes sense. But cutting ties with Joseph makes me still think that the team is looking to make a move for the present. Joseph, the team’s second-round pick in June’s draft seems to be the victim of Boston’s pursuit of banner No. 18.

As far as names go, the Celtics are linked with moves for several impact players. From Marcin Gortat, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson and Anderson Varejao, the team certainly has a lot to choose from.

However, with Boston finally settling into a groove, I don’t see Ainge shaking up the boat too much.

By waiving Joseph, the Celtics will save around $275,000. That just so happens to be around the same amount needed to pick up a late-season addition via the veteran’s minimum.

Kenyon Martin comes to mind.

At 35, Martin is still young enough to make a solid impact in Boston coming off the bench. He would prevent the team from losing a beat when Kevin Garnett has to come off the floor. Martin possesses the post skills and the interior presence that the Celtics desperately need.

It’s a low-cost, low-risk gamble that could pay dividends for Boston.


“Would you consider starting Jeff Green at small forward and bringing Paul Pierce off the bench to run the second unit? Would this extend Pierce’s career as well?”

-Scott (Peabody, MA)


Sure, limiting Pierce’s playing time would definitely extend his playing career. No doubt about it.

But don’t expect such a move to extend the Celtics’ postseason run this season.

When Green was the starting power forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2010-11 season, he averaged 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 43.7 percent from the floor.

Through 33 games this season, Pierce has per-game averages of 19.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, while connecting on 43.1 percent of his shots from the floor.

Any game plan that sees Green included in the starting lineup over Pierce is one that is doomed to fail. And that’s when comparing Green at his peak.

The Jeff Green we’re seeing now is a shell of his former self. He often looks lost on the court and does not seem too motivated.

In 33 games this year, Green has averaged 9.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. To make matters worse, his shooting percent has dipped to a career-low clip of 41.3 percent.

You’re dealing with two players on opposite spectrums of their games right now.

In all fairness to Green, he has been utilized fairly inconsistently throughout this season. Being used in such a way makes it difficult for a player to get into a rhythm.

Perhaps a situation where Green and Pierce share minutes would be a more viable option?

As it stands, Pierce averages 33.7 minutes a night, while Green averages 23.1 per night. If Rivers can bring that number down by just four minutes, it might bring forth significant results for Boston.

The move would allow the team to lessen Pierce’s playing time, thus keeping him rested for the tail end of the season and the playoffs. It would also provide Green with more time on the court to develop a rhythm and get into the game.

It’s a win-win situation.


“Why has Jason Terry struggled to find consistency on this team?”

-Marc (Boston, MA)


Quite simply, it’s because Jason Terry is not Ray Allen.

After watching Allen walk away over the offseason, the Celtics moved quickly to pick up Terry.

He was expected to provide a spark for the second unit. He would be their weapon from three-point range. His catch-and-shoot ability would drive opponents nuts.

Essentially, Boston was building Terry up to become Ray Allen 2.0.

But that’s not the type of player he is.

It could be a good explanation as to why Terry is having one of the worst statistical seasons of his career.

Through 33 games this season, Terry is averaging 11.0 points and 2.2 assists per game, while shooting 42.7 percent from the floor. All three marks serve as his lowest output since his rookie season back in 1999-00. Furthermore, Terry’s 12.1 PER currently ranks as the worst total of his career.

So what gives?

Just two seasons ago, Terry served as one of the go-to-guys during the Dallas Mavericks’ championship run. He averaged 15.8 points and 4.1 assists per game, while shooting 45.1 percent from the floor.

His usage in each offense can be credited to creating the differing results.

With the Mavericks, Terry’s usage percentage was 24.7 percent. With the Celtics, that number has dropped down to 17.6 percent—another career-low.

Over the years, Terry has been known to have the ability to create his own shots. He did not need to rely on screens or pick-and-rolls to generate offense.

However, in a Rajon Rondo-led offense, Terry has rarely been entrusted with the ball.

Until that changes, don’t expect Terry to pick up his game anytime soon. 



All stats used in this article are accurate as of January 7, 2012 (not including the Boston Celtics’ game against New York Knicks)

Also check out: Should the Celtics Consider Trading Rajon Rondo?

Want to get your question featured here next week? Send me a message here or on Twitter at @SP7988


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