There’s Rajon Rondo’s slump. There’s Shaquille O’Neal’s health and skills. There’s getting the No. 1 seed in the East. There’s a couple tough road trips ahead.
There’s plenty of things that Celtics GM Danny Ainge could worry about. But what he is most worried about is getting the Celtics healthy and rested headed into the playoffs, as he told the Boston Herald.
“Of course, you worry about whether you have time to get the chemistry right,” the general manager said yesterday as his lads were boarding a plane for Houston.
“I think we’re going to be fine, but you always have concerns. I think guys are going to get healthy, but will they get hurt two games back or three games back?
“And probably the biggest concern we have is that the teams we’re playing against are really good. Chicago, Miami and Orlando are really good teams, and we’re going to have to get through them to win our conference. But we can’t control that right now. All we can control at this point is getting healthy and playing better basketball. I’ve always said that being healthy and fresh is more important than anything else for us right now.”
Boston, when healthy, may be the best team in the East, the best team in the NBA. They looked like it at points this season, just not now. But then, we go back to how the Celtics limped into the playoffs last year and think that if they can just be healthy and fresh when the playoffs start…..
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.
After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.
So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?
Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.
The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.
Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.