|10.27.14 at 11:04 pm ET|
I think we can all agree the Celtics won’t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’s pieces in a series we’ll call Asset Management. Next up: Gerald Wallace.
There are 58 players who will earn eight-figure salaries in the NBA this season, and only three of them project to fall outside a team’s top-six rotation when healthy: Gerald Wallace, Amar’e Stoudemire and Javale McGee.
Unlike Stoudemire, Wallace has another year left on the four-year, $40 million deal he signed in 2012. The Knicks can either let Stoudemire walk at the end of the season or find another team looking to shed $23.4 million from its books next summer. Meanwhile, the Celtics would have to part with too many assets to have any hope of shipping Wallace in a package this winter. And unlike McGee, Wallace isn’t seven feet tall and 26 years old. He turned 32 over the summer and sits third on the wing depth chart behind Jeff Green and Evan Turner, taking minutes from James Young on a roster built to develop younger players.
Wallace averaged 5.1 points (54.3 true-shooting percentage), 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 24.4 minutes per game last season, submitting the worst player efficient rating (10.0) of his career. It felt like he missed more than a third of last season, but the veteran forward actually appeared in 58 games before undergoing season-ending surgeries on the torn left meniscus in his left knee and the bone spurs in his left ankle.
|10.27.14 at 5:10 pm ET|
The Celtics finalized their 15-man roster on Monday, waiving Will Bynum, Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder, Erik Murphy, Christian Watford and Jarell Eddie. All six players were added to the roster over the summer, and their departures do not come as a surprise.
The Celtics recently acquired Bynum’s expiring $2.9 million contract in a trade that sent Joel Anthony‘s expiring $3.8 million deal to the Pistons. It’s not clear whether Bynum accepted a buyout for less than his full salary this season.
Murphy was guaranteed just $100,000, and the remaining group all entered training camp on non-guaranteed deals. The C’s can assign up to four players to their D-League affiliate in Maine, and all but Bynum are candidates for the Red Claws. Eddie, in particular, was recently claimed off waivers and seems destined for Crustacean Nation.
The news comes as a welcome sign for Dwight Powell, the Stanford forward who the Celtics acquired from the Cavaliers as part of a package of players that also included Murphy in return for Keith Bogans. The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Powell averaged 1.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in 9.0 minutes over six preseason games.
Here is the final 15-man roster, barring a last-minute trade before Wednesday’s opener.
GUARDS: Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Marcus Thornton, Phil Pressey
WINGS: Evan Turner, Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, James Young
BIGS: Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, Brandon Bass, Vitor Faverani, Powell
|10.27.14 at 1:48 pm ET|
All preseason long Brad Stevens has been unwilling to place a percentage on the chances that his star point guard, Rajon Rondo, will be available on opening night. Rondo is just over four weeks into his recovery from surgery on a broken left hand, but he seems to be way ahead of schedule despite the coach’s hesitancy to announce his return.
“There’s a lot of ifs there,” Stevens said regarding Rondo’s status prior to Monday’s practice. “I’d still say he’s somewhere in the realm of questionable, but it certainly looks like all signs have been moving forward.”
If you know Rondo, then you know he is a much more of a precise type of guy.
So what percentage would Rondo place on himself to play on opening night? “Probably 79 [percent] right now,” he concluded Monday.
Obviously, Rondo was asked to expand on his answer: “I feel good, it’s just that contact is a completely different thing if I land on it.” Rondo went on to explain that he has only been through one practice with contact so far, but has not landed on or been hit on the hand. Rondo did admit that he had gotten it tangled up in a jersey, however, it caused him no pain or issues.
“He was good on Friday,” Stevens said of the lone contact practice that Rondo referred to. “He’ll go full again [on Monday], then I think he’s going to re-see the doctors [on Tuesday], maybe Wednesday morning.
“It’s going to be about how he feels,” Stevens ultimately offered. “So if he goes through the next couple of days without pain and feels really good and the doctors give him clearance, then he’ll be good to go.”
So what could Rondo’s minutes look like on Wednesday?
“If he were to play as early as this week then I would probably play him in shorter stints, but still play him quite a bit,” said Stevens. “Obviously you want him to get a flow and rhythm, but when we’re talking about five- or six-minute stints, that’s plenty of time.”
On Rondo’s overall minutes per game, Stevens said: “I think we’ll probably play it as is once he’s ready to play. Again, it has not been a conditioning issue because he’s been able to run the whole time.”
It’s still too early to jump to any conclusions and rule Rondo a go for Wednesday, but his status clearly looks much more optimistic than anticipated. The original prognosis of 6-8 weeks suggested that Rondo would miss between 4-10 regular-season games, so simply the fact that he has a chance of playing in the first game is impressive.
Seventy-nine percent is a high number, though — and it seems to be getting higher every day. Without being overly optimistic, it feels like there’s a great chance we hear Rondo’s name announced when it’s time for the starting lineups on Wednesday night.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow
|10.23.14 at 2:45 pm ET|
According to WCVB, Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty was arraigned in Framingham District Court on Thursday morning on a charge of larceny. The station said that the charge stemmed from accusations of repeatedly bouncing checks to a contractor who installed approximately $39,000 worth of cabinets in McCarty’s home.
“This matter stems from ordering some kitchen cabinets for a home that my family and I are building,” McCarty said in a team-issued press release. “We hope to resolve the matter soon, but I simply cannot comment further while the case is pending.”
McCarty pleaded not guilty and was released without bail, with a hearing date of Dec. 11. According to WCVB, a court document said that McCarty’s identity was stolen, playing a role in the bouncing of checks. McCarty spent 10 seasons in the NBA (eight with the Celtics). He’s in his second season as an assistant coach with the Celtics.
|10.22.14 at 10:09 pm ET|
The Celtics wrapped up the preseason with a 100-86 victory over the Nets at the TD Garden on Wednesday night (check out the box score here). Brooklyn rested its starters, while Rajon Rondo was out once again with a broken left hand for the Celtics.
Here are other reasons why you should have cared about the Celtics‘ preseason finale:
Marcus Smart had a very strong showing back in the starting point guard role
Smart opened up the game by swishing a 3-pointer out of the corner, which was nice for Celtics fans to see since shooting is one of his biggest weaknesses. However, Smart did a much better job of slashing through the lane than he has in previous games. He was able to connect on three layups in traffic, while also going 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Attacking the basket might be Smart’s biggest strength, so it was certainly positive to see him do so efficiently before the preseason came to an end.
Smart never saw the floor in the second half, but the damage was done. He racked up 16 points in just 15 minutes of action, adding four assists, a rebound and two steals. Perhaps most importantly, he did it on 5-for-8 shooting from the field — all three of his misses coming from downtown. Good things happen when Smart gets into the paint.
Jared Sullinger was a beast on the boards once again
Sullinger is a very good scorer, but he is a phenomenal rebounder. After ripping down 19 boards on Sunday, Sullinger grabbed 13 in the first half alone Wednesday. He finished the game with what is becoming a classic Sullinger stat line — 15 points and 17 rebounds. Sullinger did so while shooting 7-for-10 from the field in 26 minutes of action.
James Young returned from a hamstring injury
Young hurt his hamstring while warming up for the first preseason game, but kept that information to himself and ended up by playing in the game. Young posted 10 points in his debut, but then has missed each preseason contest since. He also didn’t play in a summer league game following a car crash.
The rookie wasted no time Wednesday, nailing a 3-pointer on his first possession in the game. He finished with just five points and four rebounds, but keep in mind it was just his second professional game. Young has plenty of room to grow this season.
|10.22.14 at 2:16 pm ET|
In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.
Until I see otherwise, the defending champion Spurs are still the best team in the NBA. Coach Pop is already in midseason form, holding himself and a number of starters from even attending a preseason game against Phoenix. Suns owner Robert Sarver was so horrified by the gesture he felt it was necessary to take control of the team’s PA system and apologize to all fans in attendance.
In classic Popovich fashion, the coach responded by saying he was surprised “that he didn’t say it in a chicken suit.” See the King stay the King.
If the Spurs are still king, does that make LeBron James and the Cavs the queen? That jab was for Mikey Adams and the rest of the Celtics fans who refuse to acknowledge LeBron is the best basketball player in the world. Personally, my hatred of LeBron James has slowly transitioned into begrudging respect, as its impossible not to be impressed by his absurd physical talents and genius-like basketball IQ. I am genuinely excited to see LeBron catch 50-foot outlet passes from Kevin Love and play with a legitimate point guard for the first time in his career. While there are lingering questions about the team’s chemistry and defense, the East is the Cavaliers‘ to lose.
Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah will make sure the Bulls have an elite defense and Pau Gasol, Dougie McBuckets, and Nikola Mirotic were outstanding offseason additions, but yet again the Bulls season depends entirely on the health of Derrick Rose. If Rose is even 85 percent of what he was during his MVP season, Chicago will finish with the best record in the East. Let us not forget that.
I realize that including that song in my Bulls analysis is incredibly trite, but I did so in order to ask some more hard-hitting societal questions. Why was glam metal ever popular? Can anyone actually look at a picture of Poison or Bon Jovi from that era and provide a reasonable explanation as to why the general public embraced these bands? Was it the emergence of crack cocaine? Reaganomics? The inevitable end of the Cold War? I was born in 1990 and understand that there is a generational divide, but its incomprehensible that a bunch of white dudes with teased-up hair, elaborate blouses, and spandex pants were ever cool. (Why did I make it racial? Because Prince did all of those things and somehow was the epitome of cool.)
|10.22.14 at 12:34 pm ET|
Boston, he’s home.
Brian Scalabrine announced his homecoming in LeBron James-esque fashion in August, as the former Celtics power forward will handle the bulk of color commentary for Celtics road games this season for Comcast Sports New England.
“LeBron really set the template for me,” a smiling Scalabrine said. “But I put that letter together once I knew I was going back to Boston and I wasn’t coaching anymore.”
Scalabrine returned to Boston on Tuesday night for a welcome home party at Battery Park hosted by 2 Gingers Irish whiskey, and he sat down with WEEI.com to share his thoughts on why he’s no longer coaching, Rajon Rondo‘s future in green, and his memories playing with the NBA champion Celtics.
Although he was demoted last season from his job as a Warriors assistant coach after having a falling out with then-coach Mark Jackson, Scalabrine said he left coaching — despite having offers — to spend more time with his family, including three children under the age of 8.
“It’s better for me, right now in my life, to have a much better balance in my life with my family and basketball,” he explained. “It looked like leaving coaching was not my decision, but in reality, it was my decision to leave the Warriors.”
While Celtics fans will enjoy the opportunity to hear Scalabrine analyze games and banter with Mike Gorman during road trips, he said he did have opportunities to join an NBA staff this season, including that of new Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
“But I still have an opportunity to coach. I had an opportunity to work out players before the draft, and I worked out Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. This job is a great opportunity to be around the game without the grind of film and all the other major commitments.”
Scalabrine isn’t shy to admit the Celtics — as currently constituted — are a fringe playoff team. But he says they’re not as far away as some might think.
“The Celtics are one really good center away,” he said. “And I’m talking about a guy who can plug the lane or roll down the lane, get the ball from Rondo and rise up. This team has Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, two really good stretch 4’s that also rebound and defend their position. But if you add a 5 to the mix — a Steven Adams type or Omer Asik — this team goes from fighting to make the playoffs to a team fighting for home-court advantage.”
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