Boston Celtics: Trouble in paradise, again?

TheBostonCelticscannotaffordtohaveasmuchlocker-roomissuesastheydidduringthe2018-19season.Aretheresignsoftroublebrewing?

IrecentlydevelopedseriousconcernsoverresponsesgivenbyMarcusSmartinaninterviewconductedbyAmandaPflugradandpostedtotheBostonCelticsofficialteamwebsite.

Duringtheinterview,Smartannouncedhisintentiontobeless“passive”thisupcomingseason.Hewentontosaythatinthepasthehasbeen“toounselfish”ofaplayer,itwasn’tgoingtobe“thesameme”,andhewas“cominginwithamission”thateverythingwasaboutbusiness.

Thesesentimentsrepresentastrangeshiftinattitudeforaplayerwhountilnowhasalwaysseemedtoputhisteamfirst—andtheymightbeespeciallyworrisomeviewedinthelargercontextofMarcus’limitedoffensiverepertoire.AmoreassertiveMarcusSmartcouldbeadangerousthing,andinaverybadway.

IthenbegantothinkabouttherestofthisBostonCelticsrosterandwhichplayersonitmightalsostiruptroublethiscomingseason,shouldtheyfindthemselvesnotbeinggiventheopportunities/playingtherolethey’denvisioned.

Hmmmm…

So,guysandgals,whichCelticsplayerismostlikelytofallvictimtolettinghisowninterestssupplantthoseofhisteam’sashisprimarymotivationnextyear,thusjeopardizingtheteam’schancesofsuccess?

TheCandidates—

JaylenBrown

Ifweasked“theveterans”fromlastyear’steam(I’mlookingatyouKyrieIrvingandMarcusMorris),andlikelyMarcusSmartaswell,whohadbeen“theproblem,”Ithinkit’ssafetosaytheywouldallpointthefingersquarelyatJaylenBrown.

Andtheycouldhaveastrongcasetomake.StatisticaldatadiscussedduringanearlysummerbroadcastoftheFelgerandMazzprogram,on98.5TheSportsHub,provedBrownwastheleastlikelyofallCelticsplayerstopassthebasketballthispastseason.Andonateamoverflowingwithacapacityforselfishplay,thisspeaksvolumes.

Nonetheless,apartofmecan’thelpbutfeelJaylen’steammatesweretoohardonhimattimes.

Kyrie’sconstantwhiningtothemediaabout“theyoungplayers”wasaclearindictmentthatincludedBrown.Therewasthein-gameincidentinwhichMarcusMorrisshovedJaylenduringateamhuddleonthesideline.Andofcourse,wecan’tforgetSmart’sonthecourteruptionsofangerandfrustrationwheneverBrowncommittedsomeminormisstep.

Itwasprettydarncleartoanyonepayingattentionthattheyweren’tfansofol’Jaylen’s.

ToBrown’scredit,though,hewouldeventuallyacceptareducedrolecomingofftheteam’sbench,wouldevencometoembraceit,andbyseason’send,hehadbeguntothriveintherole—unlikeoneMr.TerryRozier,forexample.

BrownwasperhapsBoston’sbestplayerdownthefinalstretchoftheseasonandintotheplayoffs.

EnesKanter

Kanter’sreputationasagregariousandoutspokenindividualiswell-deserved.HisoutspokennesshasevengottenhimintoserioushotwaterwiththeTurkishgovernment.Though,Ican’tsayIblamehimforwantingtospeakoutagainstagovernmentheviewsasharshlyoppressive.

However,Icanimagineascenarioinwhichhisoutspokennesswouldn’tservetheBostonCelticsterriblywellifbychanceKanterbecomesdisgruntled.

SinceKanter’ssigningwasannounced,I’vestruggledtounderstandhowhefitswiththeothermembersourpresumedstartinglineupofWalker,Brown,Hayward,andTatum.

Kanter’saggressivenessonoffensehascausedhimtobedescribedbysomeassomethingjustshortofablackhole.Andwhereastherestofthestartingline-upwillbecomprisedofplayerswhoeitherareorfancythemselvestobehighvolumescorers,thiswouldn’tseemtobeamatchmadeinheaven,tosaytheleast.

KanterwouldfitbetterwithabenchunitmadeupofSmart,Edwards,Ojeyele,Theis,GrantWilliams,etc.,whereastheroleof“scorer”isnotquiteasfullycasthere.Yes,thatmeansRobertWilliamsslidesintoyourstartinglineup

WouldKanterbeasacceptingofthistypeofroleashehasbeeninthepast?Oratthispointinhiscareer,hashetiredofbeingjustanotherback-up?Onlytimewilltell.

JaysonTatum

Tatumbeganlastseasonwiththesetdeterminationtomissasmanymid-rangefade-awayjumpersasaKobeBryant-inspiredstyleofplaycanmakepossible.AndtoBostonCelticsfans’greatdismay,Jaysonwastremendouslysuccessfulattimesinthisregard.

Fromtheverystartoftheyear,itwasfastbecomingobviousthatthisnewapproachofJayson’swasn’tdoinganyoneanyfavors.

OnanearlyseasonepisodeofEarlyEdition,IrecallJackieMcMullanattestingtotheleveloffrustrationTatum’sdedicationto“iso-ball”hadcausedthosewithintheCeltics’organization.

TherewasadefiniteselfishnessevidentinTatumstubbornlyimpersonatingBryantdespitethepoorreturns.

FortunatelyforJayson,theBostonCeltics,andtheirfans,however,theyoungstarrealizedtheerrorinhiswaysearlyenoughnottodragtheteamdown,atleastfortoolong.Forthis,hedeservesamodicumofcredit.

MarcusSmart

ThetopicofMarcusSmart’scandidacyhasalreadybeendelvedintoalittle.ButinthinkingmoreandmoreaboutSmartand,inparticular,abouthowhisresumeastheultimateteam-firstguyholdsupunderscrutiny,IbelieveImayhavefoundaholeinsaidresume—andagapingoneatthat,Celticsfans.

EveryseriousNBAfanknowsMarcusSmart’sreputation.Heneverhesitatestodiveontothefloorforlooseballs,givesalloutefforteveryplayonthedefensiveend,andhemakesthetough-nosed,winningbasketballplaysdownthestretchinclosegamesthatyourteamneeds.

However,hehasalsoshownaseriousproclivityfortakingtoomanyill-advisedthree-pointers,notdemonstratingtheleastbitofself-awarenessregardinghisverypoorcareershootingpercentagefromdeep.

Smart’sthree-pointshotdidimprovethispastseasontothepointofrespectability(thankfreakin’God),butdoanyofusdoubtforonesecondhewouldhavetakenjustasmanythrees,regardlessofwhattheresultshadbeen?

Ofcoursewedon’t.Becausewe’veseenthisroutinebeforefromMarcus.Andunfortunately,that’scompellingevidenceofSmart’svulnerabilitytoaself-servingandpotentiallyharmfulattitude.

TheDarkHorse

Haywardwassurprisinglyvocallastyearregardingfrustrationsaboutrole,opportunity,etc.

NotGordon.Robyn.Asinthehiswife.

RobyntooktoinstagramtodiscussherfeelingsaboutmattersoneeveningontheheelsofaparticularlyimpressiveperformancebyGordon—youknow,oneofthoseseldom30pointoutburstswhichgaveusallwhatturnedouttobefalsehope?

RobynproclaimedtotheworldofsocialmediathatGordon’sstellarplayonthenightcouldbeexpected,ifonlyher“baby”gottheneededminutesandtheoffensewouldflowthroughhimmoreregularly.

WhileGordonhimselfhadn’tmadetheseremarks,it’sasafebethiswife’ssocialmediamusingsweren’tantitheticaltohisownfeelingsabouthowthingswereshakingoutinsidetheTDGarden.

SoasortofquietdiscontentmentmightbesomethingtowatchoutforfromHayward.Gordon,thatis.

TheVerdict—

MyvoteisforMarcusSmart—followedbyJayson,thenJaylen,thentheHaywardhousehold,andlastly,Kanter.

IbelieveMarcushasbeenthemostconsistentlyselfish,whenconsideringwhetherhispastshootinghabitsbelongontheresumeofanytrulyunselfishplayer.

AndthoserecentcommentsofSmart’scontinueswirlingaroundinmymind,despitemybestefforts.

Whodoyouthinkisthemostlikelycandidatetocausetroublethisupcomingseason,BostonCelticsfans?AmImissinganyone?

I’minterestedtohearfromyouinthecommentssection.

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