Also working out for the Celtics: Cuttino Mobley, Rashad McCants, and Trenton Hassell

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cuttino_mobley.jpgThe Boston Celtics currently have 17 players on their roster, but that hasn’t stopped them from batting their eyelashes at a handful of available free agent wings. As Kurt mentioned earlier (via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports), Adam Morrison is among them. He’s the headliner, in a way. As a 26 year-old former No. 3 overall pick and a former NCAA Co-Player of the Year, Morrison has some standout lines on his résumé and plenty of prime years left, even if he hasn’t proven much on the pro level.

Along with Morrison, Boston has brought in the thought-to-be-semi-retired Cuttino Mobley, the out-of-work-but-not-yet-retired Rashad McCants, and the probably-should-be-retired Trenton Hassell. It’s an odd bunch, each with their own quirks and red flags.

Mobley is attempting a comeback to the NBA after spending a season away from the game, which is rarely a promising sign for a 35 year-old wing. Apparently Mobley doesn’t view his potentially career-ending heart condition as quite so career-ending, and should he play his way into roster consideration, it’ll be interesting to see what Boston’s doctors have to say.

Regardless, it’s hard to see what Mobley can offer that the Celtics that they don’t already have. He’s an average three-point shooter that plays the type of defense you’d expect of a player his age at his position. I guess that makes him a fine Michael Finley substitute, but Boston doesn’t really need that.

McCants, too hasn’t played NBA ball since 2009, and his biggest contribution to the league since that time has been a denial by the staffers at last year’s Summer League. McCants can score, though he’s typically given his coaches headaches in his various NBA stops. Part of that stems from McCants’ personality, but I’m sure it has more to do with his reluctance to move the ball and stay focused on defense. NBA franchises seem to think that McCants is more trouble than he’s worth, particularly due to the one-dimensional nature of his game. He’s a scorer (not a particularly efficient one, at that) and nothing else, and teams can generally find such players in spades.

Hassell was once considered a defensive stopper, which was more indicative of his offensive limitations than his defensive prowess. He found ways to earn minutes, I’ll give him that, but Hassell has long benefited from a reputation for playing strong perimeter defense while his on-court product has been a bit less impressive. Hassell can still get the job done in spots, but he isn’t Bruce Bowen. He’s not even Quinton Ross. He’s an aging defender with nothing to contribute on offense.

Due diligence is encouraged, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Boston bringing in players for workouts or camp. Yet the Celtics are already absurdly deep, and have perfectly capable players deep on their bench. Given Boston’s current roster, the probability of any of these four players making it through training camp is quite slim.  

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.