Commentary

Mailbag: Few cheers for Robinson trade

While some wonder about the new guy, others worry about the older ones

Updated: February 24, 2010, 3:48 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

My mailman threw me a high five when I got back from Los Angeles last week. With the NBA trade deadline behind us, the mailbag shrunk to a Nate Robinson-like size, after being bloated with trade proposals for a solid month.

It probably didn't hurt that the Celtics had also won three in a row at that point (and four of their last five after Tuesday's triumph over the Knicks at the TD Garden), allowing some readers to step back from the ledge (and their keyboards).

But Celtics' fans still have plenty of questions and concerns. Let's pick up the pieces from the deadline and see what else is on your mind this week.

Q: Do the Celtics really need Nate Robinson? -- Benjamin (Highland, Calif.)

A: No and I caution anyone from thinking Robinson is the type of player that pushes the Celtics over the top in their quest for Banner 18 (not that I suspect too many of those folks exist). It remains to be seen if the Celtics did enough to counter what their rivals achieved (namely the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers and their acquisition of Antawn Jamison). But, more than anything, the Robinson trade provided the stirring of the pot this Celtics team needed. Boston appears to be playing with renewed energy and focus since news of the deal trickled out. There were glimpses Tuesday night in Robinson's debut that he could be a nice addition to the second unit, but let's remember that he's little more than a cog among that group of reserves.

[+] EnlargeRobinson
AP Photo/Michael DwyerNew Celtic Nate Robinson drives past former Celtic Eddie House of the Knicks in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game.

Q: I like the Nate Robinson move, as he will inject some energy off the bench and can spell Ray Allen (he is playing way too many minutes this season). However, I think the Celtics really miss Leon Powe this season and, even though he is just starting to come back for Cleveland, could it be said that Boston really missed out on Powe? -- Jon (Bedford, N.H.)

A: Jon, you summed up the general mood of fellow mailbaggers after the Nate Robinson acquisition. Few seemed jump-out-of-their-seats excited about it, and only those sad to see Eddie House depart were particularly upset about the deal. If the Robinson trade were a Facebook status, I'd guess most Celtics fans would have hit the "like" button. Tuesday may have only been his first game and Boston certainly eased him in, but I hope, too, that it means a minutes reduction for Allen, who still logged nearly 40 minutes of action against the Knicks. I think the Robinson-Rajon Rondo pairing has a lot of potential and, ultimately, it's going to take some time to see how it will all play out with Robinson. As for Powe, I'm sure the Celtics would have enjoyed what he offers when healthy, but they were staring at a full roster before the season and valued the ability to carry another healthy body (certainly something they've needed, even if, ironically, they have two open roster spots right now).

Q: The Celtics opened up a couple of roster spots with that trade, right? Any thoughts on who they might be able to add? -- Dan (Somerville, Mass.)

A: There's nothing on the scrap heap that jumps out at me, at first glance. I think, even with the addition of Robinson, this team wouldn't mind having a true point guard at the end of the bench. But let's combine this with another frequent question from this week's 'bag...

Q: Chris, can you offer an opinion on Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson, who both criticized the Jamison trade? My contention would be for another team to grab Zydrunas Ilgauskas before he returns to Cleveland. But not knowing the full waiver rules in the NBA, I'm not sure this is possible. Could, theoretically, the Celtics offer Big Z a contract to serve as backup to Kendrick Perkins? -- Andy (Reston, Va.)

A: Andy, a handful of readers wondered the same thing. For those unaware, Ilgauskas is expected to accept a buyout from the Washington Wizards and then re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers after a 30-day wait period. Given Boston's penchant for frontcourt depth this time of year (hello, P.J. Brown and Mikki Moore), it certainly doesn't seem outlandish to think the C's might be interested. Trouble here is, based on our understanding, once Big Z is bought out, he essentially becomes a free agent (as opposed to being waived, where he'd work his way through the wire). Ilgauskas will be free to (re)join the team of his choice. Others could throw a little bit more money, or offer more playing time, but as a guy who's played his entire career in Cleveland, and seeing as that's likely his best opportunity to win a title this year (easy, Lakers fans), we're guessing he never even called a real estate agent after the original trade.

[+] EnlargeGlen Davis
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhile Glen Davis has had trouble with close-range shots and other aspects of his game, his play has improved in the past two weeks.

Q: How can you possibly think that the Celtics -- by doing this Nate Robinson trade -- are keeping their championship window open? Unless KG gets to the fountain of youth, he is done. The Celtics will be lucky to make it out of the second round. -- Alex (Weymouth, Mass.)

A: Again, as we've long maintained in this space, the Celtics didn't have to make any deal at all in order to keep that championship "window" open this year (beyond this season is a whole 'nutha argument). While they kinda have to believe what they say, I trust president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers when they suggest they would have been fine had this team not made a single deal at the deadline. I think the Celtics examined everything that floated their way in regards to Ray Allen, but, as we've seen the past five games, a non-distracted Allen is extremely valuable to this team. The Celtics, by not making a deal, believe a healthy and focused Big Three can still make a run at a title this season. They'll reexamine the long-term needs of the team later. I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the notion that the C's could lose in the second round -- Nate Robinson surely doesn't ensure they won't -- but I still think this team can go far if they peak at the right time.

Q: Were the Celts involved in any other trade talks? It's disappointing that this Nate Robinson trade was the only deal Danny Ainge could pull off. Did the Celts ever look at Ray Allen for Amare Stoudemire? -- Jens (Boston)

A: Ainge admitted during a radio appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (850 AM) that the team at least inquired about players like Sacramento's Kevin Martin and even Stoudemire. Again, I never thought the Celtics were going to see an offer that would have truly forced them to say, "OK, we're going to trade Ray Allen." They weren't going to get comparable value from a team looking to simply clear cap space. While time will be the true judge, I think the Celtics made the right decisions at the trade deadline. Blowing up the roster with a big-splash move might have helped next season and beyond, but you play to win now.

Q: When will Paul Pierce be back at full health? When will the Celtics be at full health? Are the Celtics a title contender? -- Timmy (Alabama)

A: With no timetable for his return, Pierce is technically sidelined "indefinitely" due to a sprained right thumb (as well as the flu). The Celtics' mantra all season long has been fix the problem now and worry about the ramifications later. Marquis Daniels proved Tuesday he's more than capable of filling in at that 3 spot and, even if the Celtics' bench takes a hit with Daniels shuffling up to the starting lineup, Boston seems content to weather the storm if it means a healthy Pierce moving forward. Unless the hand starts feeling better Wednesday, I suspect Pierce will rest through Sunday's game, then take it day by day to see when he can return.

Q: My question is in regards to the artist formerly known as "Big Baby" Glen Davis. How is it that 7-foot-6 Manute Bol could shoot 21 percent (43 for 205) from 3-point range in his career, yet Glen Davis seems to have the same percentage when it comes to making a layup. In my 30 years of watching basketball, I've never seen anyone miss so many layups, consistently on a daily basis. This didn't just start this year, in my eyes. It was an issue last year as well. Am I off base? -- Howard (New York City)

A: It's certainly downright staggering to see that Davis, according to the stats site 82games.com, is getting 31 percent of his "close-range" shots blocked this season. What's more, he's making only 54 percent of those shots, a number that should be decidedly higher closer to the basket. Now, all that said, I think Davis has shown tremendous growth the past two weeks and he's really settling into a role as an energy guy with the second unit. Check out those season rebounding numbers: 56 offensive rebounds, compared with 53 defensive. The pessimist will say the defensive rebounds should be higher, but we'll suggest he's doing a fantastic job under the offensive rim -- an area of weakness for the Celtics. What's more, his field-goal percentage is creeping up this month (47.5 percent in February after 43.3 percent in January).

Q: Do you believe we'll ever witness any discernible positive effect from Rajon Rondo's shooting work with Mark Price? People talk all the time about how Rondo has worked vigorously to improve his jump shot, but the statistics don't add up. -- Ben (Belmont, Mass.)

A: Rondo's enduring his worst shooting month of the season at 48.6 percent in February. That's a little disappointing considering we all got a bit excited after his showing at the H.O.R.S.E. contest, where he nailed a bevy of 3-point shots, suggesting he does have the ability to develop a perimeter game. On the other hand, he does have six 3-pointers this month, nearly half his season total, so that's encouraging. Plus, Rondo's averaging 13.8 points and 10.5 assists per game this month, and it's hard to nitpick with any player averaging a double-double.

Q: With a lot of rumblings in the blogosphere about you being called "the sleepy-eyed blogger" I have a two-part question. Do you think T-Mac is offended that you have a nickname similar to his? Also, will the world see a new picture next to your stories? -- Nick (Auburn, Mass.)

A: Yep, the trade deadline has definitely passed. You guys are already back to picking on my photo.

Chris Forsberg is a roving reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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