By Sterling Pingree
Do it Danny. Do it.
Make the big deal that you’ve been building towards since the moment you traded Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn. You’ve stock piled assets, you’ve scouted college players and even landed a max contract free agent but now is the time for the coup de grace. DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is out there and he is the piece that could make the Celtics a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Having this cache’ of picks has been like getting a gift card for Christmas, the possibilities on how to spend it are endless. Do you use it on something practical that saves you from spending your own money, or do you spend it on something frivolous that you’d never have the guts to buy otherwise? I think the loss on Tuesday night in Toronto displayed that the Celtics biggest weakness is rebounding. The Celtics were out rebounded by more than 20 by the Raptors, a team not known to polish the glass. Jonas Valanciunas looked like a Lithuanian Moses Malone while he casually grabbed 23 rebounds with little resistance. You know who’d add some resistance? Boogie.
Boogie is listed at 6’11, (which is code for “I’m really 7 feet at least, but I don’t want to be labeled as a 7 footer.” Have you ever noticed that people who are 5’11 always round up, but people who are 7’ always round down? I’m convinced that 85% of people who say that they’re 6 feet tall are really 5’10. Wow, did I digress here? I still think this is a topic worthy of discussion.) Boogie is also listed at 275lbs and 26 years old. He’ll turn 27 in August, which for most athletes is the prime of their career. There are very few “bigs” who play the post in the NBA anymore. Even a player like Al Horford, who is a distinguished low post player, surprises me on a night to night basis with how much he sets up around the free throw line on offense. The days of the back to the basket big man seem to be fleeting, but a reliable rebounder and someone to bang bodies inside will never totally go out of style.
With a team that is built around tough guards who play good defense and actually rebound very well, the missing piece seems to be that one extra post player. The hole couldn’t be more glaring when you look at the Celtics starting lineup and their first 4 guys off the bench: Amir Johnson is a starter and Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Kelly Olynyk come off the bench. Smart and Rozier are guards, Brown is a hybrid 3-4 swing forward and Olynyk is a center but has a game of a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki.
These are all giant glowing neon arrows pointing at the Mobile, Alabama native saying “Danny, this is the guy!” They say that you shouldn’t give in to peer pressure. (Yes, I consider myself a peer of Danny Ainge. I once lifted up a rope for him at TPC Boston a couple years ago and if you don’t think that makes us peers then you clearly don’t know peer qualifications.) However you slice it, now is the time, Boogie is the target and the Celtics are the team to make a deal for Cousins. He fits the team position wise and he adds a skill set that they don’t have. Quite frankly, there is nothing coming out of the draft this year or probably even next year that will be Cousins’ equal.
The worst place to be in the NBA is the middle. Good enough to just sneak into the playoffs, but not good enough to win a series. The problem with the middle is that nobody sees a first round exit as a success and you aren’t even in the draft lottery to get top talent each year. The Celtics are in the middle, they finished last season in a 3 way tie of mediocrity and got bounced in the first round. Does it get anymore middle class than that? A trade for Boogie might not bring the 18th banner to the rafters this year or next, but it will hoist the green out no man’s land.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.