Designated Hitter: Thoughts on the Avery Bradley trade

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Random thoughts while waiting for the coffee to perk and the bagel to be properly toasted.

Avery Bradley was one of my favorite Celtics players to watch. Former Eagle sports editor, and current golf columnist, Richard Lord — who pays rapt attention to all things Celtics — would tell you that he was a real keeper on the roster.

That's what made Friday's decision to trade Bradley so disappointing. At the same time, it was understandable.

Boston had to clear salary cap space in order to pay Gordon Hayward.

Bradley, moreso than Marcus Smart or Jae Crowder, was probably the most marketable asset the Celtics had that someone else wanted and Boston was willing to give up.

Bradley wasn't the best at anything. He wasn't the best shooter or the best scorer. He wasn't the league's best defender and wasn't the best rebounder for a guard.

But he did all of those things at an above average level, making him — in my opinion — a most valuable Celtic.

My friends on the Celtics beat will tell you that Avery Bradley was one of the easiest pro athletes in Boston to deal with, and was a thoughtful interview.

For all of the above reasons, he will be missed in the Hub of the Universe.

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His departure helps Hayward put his signature on the dotted line to sign his hefty free-agent contract.

Gordon Hayward is a fine player, and will help the Celtics a great deal this coming season, and for years to come.

More importantly, Danny Ainge did not have to rip apart the current team, nor did he have to trade those sterling draft pick assets that are coming up.

When you can make your team better without wrecking your play, things couldn't be much better.

I also thought that Ainge didn't make a bigger splash because he realized that even if he had made every rumored move, Boston would not be better than Cleveland. When the Cavaliers beat the Celtics in the NBA playoffs, Ainge came to understand that all of those moves would close the gap, but Cleveland would still be on top.

Now, if Ainge has enough patience to let LeBron James go to the Lakers when his deal is up in 2018 (and I know that is only a theory and not fact), this Celtics team should be ready to ascend to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Sometimes, patience is a virtue.

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The news out of Bristol, Conn., last week wasn't good for baseball fans.

Dan Shulman, ESPN's outstanding Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play broadcaster, announced he was giving up that chair. Shulman, who does ESPN's main college basketball games with Jay Bilas, will continue in that role and will have a reduced baseball footprint.

I happen to be a fan of Shulman, Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza. I happened to also enjoy Curt Schilling when he talked pitching only.

If I were king of ESPN, I would ask Sean McDonough to move into that seat. McDonough has plenty of baseball experience, from his days doing Red Sox games before Don Orsillo, to being the voice of CBS's baseball coverage in the 1990s.

In fact, McDonough is the voice of my worst sports nightmare as a fan. He broadcast the NLCS final game between Pittsburgh and Atlanta, describing every step of Sid Bream's run home to score the winning run in 1991 and send the Braves to the World Series. Bream, the slowest man in baseball, beat Barry Bonds' throw to the plate.

McDonough told me a story once that he was in Pittsburgh for a speaking engagement when a fan told him the day of that game was the worst day of his life.

The broadcaster turned and told him "then you must have a pretty good life."

That sense of perspective is why I think Sean McDonough would be perfect on Sunday Night Baseball.

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Berkshire County is thought of as a baseball community, and Independence Day cemented that in my mind.

Between Pittsfield and North Adams, more than 10,000 of you actually went to watch baseball games.

That is a very impressive number, and demonstrates why baseball is our sport here.

The season may be relatively short, but the passion runs deep.

And this is a pretty good baseball week ahead. We are in the middle of the Futures League and NECBL regular seasons, and our local youth baseball programs are in the middle of their playoffs.

Cal Ripken teams have already taken their first steps toward the pot of gold at the end of their respective rainbows. Little League Baseball, meanwhile, began its playoffs late last week in both the 11- and 12-year-old tournaments.

Don't forget that the NECBL All-Star Game makes a return to Joe Wolfe Field on Sunday, July 30. That is only three weeks away.

Reach sports columnist Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or on Twitter @howardherman.


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