BOSTON (CBS) – Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning to talk some Celtics basketball, including the big topic around Boston: tanking.
Mannix doesn’t believe in tanking because it doesn’t guarantee success. Just look at the Charlotte Bobcats, who are in Boston Wednesday night to take on the C’s.
“I never believed in tanking because it never works. If tanking worked, the Charlotte Bobcats would be the best team in basketball right now,” said Mannix. “They’ve tanked every year of the Michael Jordan era. Just losing a lot of games doesn’t mean you get a good talent in the draft.
“Just tanking doesn’t get the job done. You have to play these young guys, give them big minutes and see if you can develop them over the season, and see where you are at the end of the year,” he said. “Losing doesn’t do anything, you have to make the smart pick one way or the other.”
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Mannix talked about the strength of the upcoming draft class, and says a team can get a franchise player anywhere in the top eight picks. So for the Celtics, it makes sense to compete each and every night rather than go out and tank.
“I don’t believe you can do anything more than what they’re doing right now, and that is give the young players extended minutes,” said Mannix. “Kris Humphries has been in and out of the rotation and Gerald Wallace is upset with his role and how the team has played. When the veterans are ticked off that’s a good thing when you’re in this kind of position. The young players are the guys they’re invested in. If the young guys are getting big minutes, Boston shouldn’t be worried about the end results. You can’t tank, because telling guys to lose instills bad habits in the young guys that will be really hard to break in the coming years.”
The Celtics are at .500 on the season after winning four straight. Head coach Brad Stevens has them playing great team basketball, but some are worried they could make a push for one of the final playoff spots — putting them in “NBA Purgatory.”
But Mannix doesn’t think that will be a problem.
“I don’t think they’re good enough to make the playoffs. If Rondo comes back earlier than expected… maybe they can because Rondo himself is worth 10 wins,” he said. “They’ve played good defense but some of the stuff I’m seeing is just not sustainable. Jordan Crawford is not a point guard, and I don’t see this roster built to play the type of defense they’ve been playing for an entire season.”
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“They’re riding a wave right now, and you have to give them credit for that, but these things even themselves out,” said Mannix. “When we get into December and January the losing streaks are likely to pile up. The talent they have, I don’t see them being able to keep up with the talent in the conference.”
Things could get interesting for the Celtics around the trade deadline with all the assets they currently have on their roster. And if Danny Ainge doesn’t make any big moves at the deadline, he is in good position to do so following the season.
“This is a team built to make a trade,” said Mannix. “Danny believes in that philosophy; you saw what he did in 2007 with all those assets. You could make an argument they’re better equipped to make a big trade now than they were back then with the young players on the roster and the draft picks. With their picks, Brooklyn’s picks and the assets they have with guys on the roster, there is the potential over the next year or two to go out and get a super star.”