In this week’s matchup of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Greg Oriolo, challenges staff writer Kevin Lee, correspondent Alec Zucker and news assistant Julie Kayzerman to answer questions about life without Rajon Rondo for the Celtics, the PED debate in baseball, and which NHL team has been the most impressive so far.
1. With Rajon Rondo out for the season with a torn ACL, what possible trades could the Celtics make to improve their roster, and will they ultimately make the playoffs?
KL: Rondo is a point guard that you can build around, making the possibility of bringing in another point guard of his value (such as Brandon Jennings) pointless. Because we are talking about hypotheticals, I think a trade that would make sense for both teams is the Kings trading Tyreke Evans to the Celtics. The Kings don’t see Evans as part of their long-term future, and Evans would benefit from a change in scenery. Evans has experience running the point and can comfortably slide back to the two when Rondo returns. He would also fit nicely into the Celtics’ rotation because of his youth and athleticism, which the current lineup is lacking. Evans’s contract also gives the Celtics some flexibility, should Evans not be a good match this season. Evans is on the books for a salary at $5.3 million this season and at just under $7 million as a qualifying offer in the 2013-14 season.
AZ: The Boston Celtics currently hold the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, but after the season-ending injury of star point guard Rajon Rondo, the Celtics may need to make a few trades to remain in the playoff hunt. Coach Doc Rivers is optimistic about his team’s chances, claiming, “We’re not going anywhere. I still like our team.” Given the state of their roster, it will be even more challenging for the Celtics to replace a guy that averaged 11 assists and 14 points this year. Aging star Kevin Garnett has a no-trade clause, Paul Pierce has been a Celtic his entire career, and the Celtics would eat much of his salary if traded. And the only other players of significant value, Avery Bradley and now-injured Jared Sullinger, are the bright stars of Boston’s future. The Celtics need to decide if they want to win this year, or in the future. If they choose to trade their younger pieces, I’d go after Kyle Lowry or Tyreke Evans. However, if I were Boston, I’d stand pat for the rest of this season, because any acquisition this year will still not be enough to beat Miami in the Eastern Conference.
JK: With Rajon Rondo out for the season with a torn ACL, the Celtics are definitely going to suffer a setback. Although Paul Pierce has been having a consistent season and has been performing well for the Celtics, he is getting older and might be a good player to trade in order to bring in young, talented players to spark up the team. It could be a good time for the Celtics to rebuild their team instead of relying on individual superstars, like Rondo, to get them to the playoffs. In addition, Kevin Garnett is also getting older, and as a result, his minutes have been limited. Despite Rondo’s injury, the Celtics still have a solid chance to make the playoffs if Pierce and Garnett can step up and use their veteran experience to lead their team to success. However, it will be a significant struggle for the Celtics to get far in the playoffs without Rondo as their point guard. In addition, any other injuries will be extremely negative for the team after losing Rondo and Ray Allen during the offseason, unless they are able to make trades that provide them with young players.
Kevin gets 3 points for his in-depth analysis of Tyreke Evans, Alec gets 2 points for analyzing the possibilities of trading younger players, and Julie gets 1 point for considering trading older assets.
2. In light of another report regarding PEDs in baseball, do you feel that players who have been proven to use physical enhancements should make the Hall of Fame?
KL: Baseball is a game of eras that is constantly changing. In the early 1900s, baseball experienced a deadball era where the mound was closer and raised. We interpret these statistics in that context. In the 1990s to early 2000s, baseball experienced a steroid era where the majority of players were using PEDs. In regards to this era, we should be interpreting statistics in this context as well. Further, there is so much gray area of who used what and when. For all we know, Bonds was facing pitchers who were juiced up on PEDs as well. That’s what the era was. It’s impossible for the Hall of Fame to play PED police and stop all the cheaters when there is so much uncertainty. Ethically, players did not know which substances were banned and which ones weren’t. The MLB did a terrible job of defining strict drug policies. Simply buying something from GNC nowadays would ring up positive on a drug test. It wasn’t like that back then, and it’s unfair to punish these players for the era they lived in.
AZ: There is no question in my mind that talented players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez, who were proven to enhance their already superior talents through PEDs, should make the Hall of Fame. This is not a black and white issue. There is a significant amount of nuance that many sports fans fail to recognize. Some of these players in question, like Rodriguez and Clemens, had Hall of Fame numbers even before there were suspicions of illegal drug use, though some, like Melky Cabrera or Gio Gonzalez, did not. Furthermore, it is difficult to decipher if these newly prohibited actions were the norm in clubhouses a decade ago. Even if a player was proven to have used PEDs, some players used different PEDs for various reasons and for incomparable lengths of time. How do we differentiate between a player who used steroids briefly to recover from an injury, from another who used them for years on end? Looking to the future, the writers, who hold the keys to the Hall of Fame, must review each candidate individually and review their entire career holistically, instead of immediately writing them off due to PED use.
JK: The use of PEDs in the MLB has been a consistent problem and has sparked much controversy over the years with players like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. PEDs are not only a violation of the rules, but have given way to several disingenuous performances in the sport that America has prided itself in being the national pastime, discrediting the sport for genuine athletes and fans. Therefore, players that have been proven to use PEDs should not be allowed in the Hall of Fame in order to preserve the credibility of the sport and its reputation as the national pastime. In addition, being the national pastime in America means that children grow up to love the sport and look up to the players. Having disingenuous role models growing up can negatively affect children’s perspectives of the world. Children need to grow up with positive role models to have goals to strive toward in life. However, placing disingenuous athletes in the Hall of Fame sends the message to impressionable young children that PEDs are okay to use and that cheating in life is okay since you can use them and be rewarded.
Julie gets 3 for bringing up how the game’s future and children are influenced by PEDs, Alec gets 2 for saying that PEDs may have been the norm in clubhouses, and Kevin gets 1 for saying players may have not have known certain supplements contained illegal drugs.
3. With the NHL now in full swing, which team has impressed you the most thus far this season and why?
KL: The San Jose Sharks have transcended most people’s expectations coming into this season. Just the seventh seed last season in the West, the Sharks look to be one of the elite teams this season. The Sharks are off to a blistering 5-0 start with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau leading the team. Thornton and Marleau are on pace for 124.8 points in a mere 48 games. The Sharks have received outstanding play from their entire team, ranking second in the NHL in both goals per game and goals for. The Sharks have impressed me with their ability to improve on both ends of the puck.
AZ: Even after the lockout cut the NHL season short, it’s still too early to make conclusive judgments about how teams will perform. Some teams, however, look much more impressive than others — especially the Boston Bruins. As we all know, this team won the Stanley Cup in 2011 because of stingy defense and solid goaltending from Tim Thomas. This year, Thomas decided to take the year off for personal reasons, and many analysts predicted Boston to struggle early this year. They were dead wrong. Boston has won five of its first seven games and currently sits atop the Eastern Conference. The team is led by Captain Zdeno Chara, who is arguably the best defenseman in hockey. Offensively, Boston has gotten contributions from everyone on the depth chart, showing how deep their team is. With Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron, this team knows how to score. In goal, Tuukka Rask (yes, that’s his name), is off to very consistent start. Rask has a 2.44 GAA and a .910 save percentage, and if he continues to play this well, Boston will easily be a favorite to hoist the Cup once again.
JK: The New York Rangers have impressed me thus far in the NHL season, specifically with their continued improvement with team chemistry. Although Ryan Callahan’s recent injury is a severe setback for the team, as they lost arguably their most aggressive and hardest working player on the ice, Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle and others have certainly stepped up their game. In addition, their penalty kill is proving to be a strong force with a penalty kill percentage of 80.6 and several offensive opportunities and breakaways. Also, their defensive lines have continued to impress me against teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs with solid backchecking and consistent aggressiveness. Of course, having the King in net has certainly proven to be a significant asset to the team, as he recently saved three close shots in a row against the Flyers on Jan. 29 and made 26 saves to help the Rangers go home with a 5-2 win. Although they had a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins this past Thursday, the team is young and led by strong veterans such as Marion Gaborik, Brad Richards and Rick Nash, providing the team with an incredible amount of potential and chemistry throughout the upcoming season.
Alec gets 3 points for his analysis of the Bruins in all three phases, Kevin gets 2 points for how San Jose has outplayed expectations, and Julie gets 1 for stating that the Rangers are developing strong chemistry.
Alec wins Around the Dorms 7-6-5.