Haskell's Hot Stove

LeBron to Celtics? Shut the front door!

By Mark Haskell | Jun 07, 2018
Mark Haskell

No. Just no. Please stop.

A firebomb was dropped in New England on Wednesday, June 6 when it was reported by ESPN’s favorite blowhard Stephen A. Smith that when Cleveland Cavalier forward LeBron James tests free agency this summer, one of the teams he would “have a conversation with” would be — gulp — the Boston Celtics.

If you thought my head was not spinning enough with it being playoff season for high school sports as we attempt to cover all our local teams in various locales throughout the state, this news essentially spun my head clear off my shoulders and is now spinning beside me like a top.

LeBron James in Celtic green? Why would the Celtics even entertain this?

Over the past few years, Danny Ainge has assembled a myriad of seeds (i.e. players) through trades, free agency and the NBA draft. And those seeds bloomed ahead of schedule this season as the young Celtics came within one game of the NBA finals — of course, losing to LeBron and the Cavs.

Since hiring coach Brad Stevens in 2013, the Celtics have made several notable, crucial moves, including drafting Marcus Smart in 2014, drafting Terry Rozier in 2015, signing Al Horford in 2016, drafting Jaylen Brown in the 2016 draft, drafting Jayson Tatum in the 2017 draft, signing Gordon Hayward in 2017 and, having the presence of mind to cash in the Isaiah Thomas trade chip when it could not have possibly been higher, dealing him in a package to the Cavs to bring in MVP-caliber point guard Kyrie Irving.

Short of Hayward getting injured five minutes into the season, all of these players were absolutely pivotal to the success of the Celtics this season (even Irving, who put them in position to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference before going down with a late-season injury). More than that, Stevens and Ainge were right on every one of these moves.

But signing LeBron in free agency would be a misfire of epic proportions and one that would sink the battleship that Stevens has galvanized the past five years.

Now, would getting LeBron potentially put the Celtics over the top and help them hang banner 18? Absolutely, yes.

Would landing LeBron be worth the headache? If you are thinking only in terms of winning an NBA title sooner than later, yes, we can have that debate as well.

Would having him ensure that night in and night out, we would have the best player on the floor? Probably.

But will the Boston Celtics be better for making this move? Absolutely not.

We’d likely have the best player on the floor, but we’d never have the best team. And anyone who needs evidence of which is more important can take a look at what the Golden State Warriors currently are doing to LeBron and the Cavs in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors are a well-oiled machine. They play for each other and for a coach they believe in. They may not be the most well-liked team, but a team that succeeds and wins titles consistently often becomes a lightning rod for that type of attention (see Patriots, New England).

They are the ceiling in terms of what the Celtics, as they currently are constructed, could become over the next several seasons, and are about to win their third straight NBA title. Sure, the Warriors signed Kevin Durant, but that also did not hurt the team’s chemistry, nor did the majority of Warriors’ fans hate Durant with the fire of a thousand suns.

Over the past 15 years amid all of LeBron’s greatness, we have seen him do nothing but undermine every coach he’s ever had, dog every teammate, put himself before said teammates at every turn (I’ve never seen a player say “I” more than “we” more than he does) and essentially become a sideshow for whatever team he’s on.

And, to be fair, he’s also won three NBA titles, a four-time MVP award winner and is currently playing in his eighth straight NBA finals (and about to lose his fifth).

We haven’t even seen what this Celtic team was supposed to look like at full strength yet. Based on what we all saw this year, don’t we all want to see what a team that has a healthy Hayward and Irving — and all these other players that were just one cold-shooting fourth quarter away from making the NBA finals on their own — can do in the playoffs?

A potential LeBron signing also would be a very hard sell for many Boston fans. Hating him has basically been embedded into our DNA as whatever team he has played for over the past eight years, based on him alone, has been the favorite in the Eastern Conference. He represents everything the Celtics are not. It would essentially be like trying to sell Patriot fans on signing Bernard Pollard.

More than that, are we also forgetting that one of the main reasons we were able to land Irving in a trade in the first place is that he wanted to be part of his own team and away from LeBron? Then one season later we sign LeBron?

Look, there’s my head, still spinning beside my body.

Sometimes the best move is the move you don’t make. If I’m the Celtics, I stand pat. And not only do I stand pat, I’d publicly tell LeBron to not waste the airfare and cross the Celtics off his list of teams to visit.

We don’t want that old bush ruining this young, vibrant garden.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Keryn Laite | Jun 08, 2018 11:29

Very well put. I am excited to see a healthy Celtics team in the coming season.   How bout those Warriors ?



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Staff Profile

Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves iced coffee, cargo shorts, spending time with friends and family and suffers no longer after his beloved Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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