BOSTON – Still waiting for the old body clock to adjust to East Coast time here…
It’s been a jam-packed couple of days in Beantown, as I’m on Day No. 2 of the Sloan MIT Sports Analytics Conference after covering the Celtics-Golden State game last night and am surely looking haggard as a result. This event has been worth the lack of sleep, with some truly rich material between the hoops analysis and endless appearances from some of the NBA’s most influential personalities.
As we speak, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and Warriors owner Joe Lacob are bantering back and forth in a session deemed “New Sports Owners: The Challenges and Opportunities.” The Celtics are 2-0 against the Ws in a matter of hours at this point, as Grousbeck feigned disrespect when Lacob called fellow panelist and San Diego Padres owner Jeff Moorad “one of the smartest people” he knew but won out when he reminded Lacob who won the game the night before.
Speaking of which, the link to my piece on CBSSports.com about the new-look Celtics can be found below. Count me in the minority of folks who likes the trade with Oklahoma City that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder and brought Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and the Clippers’ 2012 first-round pick to the Celtics.
It is certainly a risk to lose the size, toughness and defensive presence that Perkins brought, but his checkered health history of late combined with the fact that Boston had been so good without him helps justify the deal. Green nor Krstic qualifies as a slouch, with both players adding a dynamic to Boston’s attack that they didn’t previously have. I have some extra material I’ll post in the next few days, with both players talking about their new roles and how they plan to fit in with the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
One programming note about the CBS story and the lede about Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren explaining the trade at this very conference yesterday: it’s all about probabilities. I met Zarren for the first time on Thursday night at the legendary Four’s Sports Bar that’s across the street from TD Garden, and he was asked about the trade in a much less formal manner. Zarren pointed to the core principle of any analysis, the question of probabilities and the conclusions you reach by assessing them.
In short, the Celtics’ data and insight leads them to believe they’re better now than they were before. The relevant variables in this equation are many, from whether Shaquille O’Neal can stay healthy after his Wednesday return (not likely) to coach Doc Rivers’ ability to tweak his defense in the postseason to hide any decrease in size (very likely).
Grousbeck just mentioned the deal in this owners session, having been asked by ESPN’s Bill Simmons whether he was the brains behind “the Perkins trade.” Grousbeck quickly corrected him.
“No, I did the Green acquisition,” he replied.
I’m going to tune into Moorad’s monotonous tone now, but there should be more colorful, interesting material from the conference up in the next day.
CBSSPORTSLINE.COM: “Boston’s Surprise Trade Could Lead to Another Championship.”