|07.01.10 at 12:27 pm ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Jon Barry joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday on the first day of the free-agency period in the NBA and discussed the Celtics‘ two biggest free agents, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. He said that both players have some ‘mileage’ on them and that although Boston wants to bring the pair back, it should be cautious before jumping right in and signing each.
‘I know Boston’s a great organization, and I know they want these two guys back,’ Barry said. ‘They’d love to make a run with the same team and see if they can do it again. But you have to use your head and decide whether these guys can get you back to that level.’
Barry also dished on who he thinks has the best shot at LeBron James‘he says it’s the Bulls’and just how bad it would be for Cleveland if it lost its King.
‘They’ll win no more than 28, maybe 30,’ he said. ‘They’ll be devastated. This guy means absolutely everything to this team. It’d be horrendous. Cleveland’s gone through so many hardships throughout the years with all their teams, but nothing can get worse than this. This would absolutely ruin this franchise.’
Some highlights from that interview are below. To hear the interview in its entirety, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Does Doc Rivers coming back help the Celtics have a chance at getting back to where they were halfway through Game 7?
Well, I honestly didn’t think they’d get into Game 7 this year. You saw this team. They were 27-27 in the last 54 games. This is a team that no one thought would have gotten to the finals. I didn’t write them off just because of their championship pedigree and the guys they have on this roster. I think that’s what made it so attractive for Doc to come back that it’s an intriguing group, it’s a different group. I think it’s a really special group that he has there. You think about what they’ve done. They put this together. They got a title in the first year that Garnett and Allen come in. If Kevin Garnett‘s not hurt last year, they have a real good opportunity to win again. Then this year, they have a 13-point lead in the second half of an NBA finals Game 7. You’re talking about a team that was on the cusp of winning three straight NBA titles so I guess to him that’s something attractive to come back and give it one more try.
What is the perception around the league of Paul Pierce?
I would just say aging. Two years ago when they won this thing, he was the best player in the playoffs. He outplayed Kobe Bryant. He outplayed LeBron James. He was the best player in the playoffs bar none. He was unbelievable. Just saw some chinks in the armor this year. He got banged up. He got injured. Looked to me to be a tired player at the end of the season last year. Quite frankly, I’d say Ron Artest outplayed him in Games 6 and 7, which I would have never thought possible. So he’s an aging guy. I think he’s only 31, but he just seems to have a lot of mileage on him. You know, an aging superstar. He’s still a superstar player though. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.01.10 at 12:35 am ET|
Yahoo! Sports has reported the Celtics are trying to trade Rasheed Wallace‘s contract in order to keep their midlevel exception. Should Wallace’s money come off the books, one target for the Celtics could be restricted free agent J.J. Redick, according to Yahoo!:
Wallace has yet to file retirement papers, so the $6.32 million owed him next season and $6.79 million in 2011-12 would come off a team’s books after Wallace is traded to them. They could do a deal and not take on his money. Ainge is trying to use the Wallace contract to bring back a power forward or center to replace Wallace and the injured Kendrick Perkins.
The Celtics could then use their midlevel exception for a different player. Several sources believe that Ainge’s target is Orlando’s J.J. Redick, who is a restricted free agent.
The Magic have made a qualifying offer to Redick, which allows them to match any offer he receives this summer. Redick averaged 11.2 points (50% 3PG, 95.8% FT) against the Celtics this season in the Eastern Conference semifinals. During that series, Doc Rivers deemed Redick, who studied Ray Allen’s game in college and contained him defensively, the Magic’s “most consistent player.”
|07.01.10 at 12:12 am ET|
Stemming from an original report in the New York Daily News that James reached out to a free agent to join the trio on a ‘Dream Team,’ Jorge Sedano of the Miami Herald writes:
‘I’ve come across a source who has told me that free agent player could be Ray Allen. The source tells me that Allen has spoken to James and his preference is to remain with the Celtics, but that’s predicated on Paul Pierce remaining with the team. The money is not a huge factor. Winning more championships is the most important factor.’
Although the report did not specify which team James was referring to, the rumor mill has been buzzing for weeks about James, Wade, and Bosh signing together with the Heat.
For Allen, who turns 35 in July, he doesn’t just play basketball for the sake of it. He plays to win. But there is more to his free agency than just aligning himself with the hottest megastars for a shot at a title.
Allen likes playing in Boston and believes the C’s could have a chance to win it all next season should they return their core players. The fact that Doc Rivers is returning to the sidelines will also be a draw.
There is an off-the-court side to it as well. Allen’s young son is battling juvenile diabetes. He was hospitalized less than a month ago during the NBA finals. Being in Boston affords Allen the proximity to some of the best diabetic care in the country.
“I’ll deal with that when the time comes, but it’s obvious that I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Allen said of free agency following the Celtics Game 7 loss in the finals.
After the clock struck 12:01am on July 1, the time is here.
|06.30.10 at 1:31 pm ET|
The Herald’s Steve Bulpett was first to report the story.
This is very encouraging news for the Celtics and Danny Ainge as he attempts to bring back the core of the team for another run. The veteran players had all expressed support for Rivers while he took some time to consider his options.
It also allows the Celtics a degree of stability in what has been an eventful few weeks since their loss in Game 7 of the NBA finals against the Lakers.
In addition to Pierce’s decision, Tom Thibodeau was introduced as the head coach of the Bulls ending what had been a very successful three-year relationship between Rivers and his assistant. Also, Kendrick Perkins told reporters Tuesday that he would have surgery to repair a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his right knee and would probably be out until late December or January.
What isn’t known yet is whether Rivers would consider extending his contract beyond next season. But with the start of free agency Thursday, his return eliminates some of the guesswork for potential free agent targets and also increases the likelihood that veteran players who miss out on big contracts would sign with the Celtics.
|06.29.10 at 11:28 pm ET|
As ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported, Paul Pierce will opt out of the final year of his contract, which will make him a free agent on July 1. While Pierce is leaving $21.5 million on the table, he is setting himself up for a longer deal before a new collective bargaining agreement is in place following next season.
The move, while not unexpected, makes Danny Ainge’s life a little more difficult as he attempts to bring back the core of the Celtics team for another run. The Celtics still retain Bird rights on Pierce and Ray Allen, which allows them to go over to the cap to re-sign both of them.
That remains the best course of action for Ainge. Despite their status as free agents, Pierce and Allen are still tied to the Celtics cap in the form of cap holds at around $20 million each until they sign a new deal. The Celtics would have to renounce both players, as well as the remaining six free agents on the roster, in order to get significantly under the cap to pursue free agents.
There is a chance that a team like the Clippers, Nets or Knicks could make a run at Pierce if they fail to sign LeBron James.
The big question on new deals for Pierce, and for Allen, is the length. Ainge would prefer to tie everything back to Kevin Garnett’s contract, which has two years remaining, but he may be forced to go to three, or even four years in Pierce’s case.
Still left to be determined before the start of free agency is whether Doc Rivers will return to coach the team, which may also have an impact on whether Pierce and Allen want to return.
|06.29.10 at 11:55 am ET|
Lost in the LeBron James sweepstakes (well, at least lost on a national level) is that Paul Pierce has until midnight tomorrow (June 30) to decide whether to decline the option for the final year of his contract and walk away from $21.5 million.
Is he going to do it? Does a 33-year-old forward with about 125,000 miles on his NBA tires really think there is a team out there that is going to throw him, say, $75 million over five years?
“I do have doubts,” said Danny Ainge last week on WEEI when asked if he thought Pierce would return to finish out his contract. “I’m not certain of what Paul may do. I don’t know because he may be able to get a long-term contract somewhere else. It may be better than what we have [to offer].”
Not exactly the hard pitch for Pierce to stick around. There is growing sentiment that Ainge might not be inconsolable should Pierce choose to take his chances in free agency. Paying someone big money for what they have done as opposed to what they will do isn’t exactly Step One in the rebuilding handbook. The idea of keeping Pierce as a career Celtic is great in theory, but in the salary-cap era there simply isn’t a lot of wiggle room for sentimentality.
But back to Pierce himself. Does it make sense to take his bat and ball into the open market? A couple of questions he has to consider:
Does he care about his legacy?
OK, that’s a little extreme. He’s done enough to earn his place, no matter where he plays in 2010-11 and beyond. But Pierce has always been steadfast in his desire to be a member of the Celtics for his entire career. The truly great players in franchise history– Russell, Cousy, Hondo, Bird, Cowens, McHale — never played a significant NBA second in another uniform. Does that matter to Pierce? Or does he feel that his legacy is secure even he spends four years with the Clippers or (ugh) Knicks?
Does he think the Celtics are still legitimate title contenders?
Could be that Pierce takes a look at the landscape and sees an aging and oft-injured Kevin Garnett, a possibly departing Ray Allen, a retired Rasheed Wallace and Doc Rivers getting ready for his TNT closeup. That is glass is half empty to be sure, but not too far from reality. If Pierce doesn’t think there is another title chance left in Boston during his remaining basketball years, why not take the money and go somewhere else? Or it’s possible he could see how who goes where , take a little less dough, and be the No. 2 or 3 guy for a team that needs one more piece? How about 4 years and $48 million to play with Dwayne Wade and Carlos Boozer in Miami?
Is there a team that will give him a long-term deal?
If Pierce is simply looking for the biggest cash out, his best bet might be a team that struck out in the LeBron derby and are trying to placate a bitter fanbase. Could be the Knicks or Clippers, of course. Maybe a reunion with Tom Thibodeau? I don’t think the idea of Paul Pierce, in the autumn of his career, coming in as de facto savior would be a great lift to the spirits of a jilted hoops community. Pierce’s value around the NBA isn’t close to what it is for the Celtics. And I can’t believe that he’s going to get a maximum contract, particularly in a lousy economy with a collective bargaining agreement looming (and the owners smell blood — they will sit and wait for the players to give in. Nothing close to a middle ground this time. The days of huge contracts will be gone) just a year away. But you can never count out an owner or GM giving in to panic.
Is the smart move to work out an extension with the Celtics?
Makes too much sense not to happen, doesn’t it? Can’t Ainge and Jeff Schwartz (Pierce’s agent) find a number of years and dollars that work for both sides? How about three years and $42 million? Gives the Celtics some cap room over the next few years and Pierce keeps face with a solid extension. Pierce may not be the player he was a couple of years ago, but he’s still be decent value at that contract. And he gets one more payday before what will be a hugely restrictive CBA kicks in.
If I’m Danny that’s my best and final offer. Three years, $42 million. If Pierce doesn’t think that’s enough? You shake hands, wish him well, and get started on the rebuild. Remember, only so much room today for sentimentality.
|06.29.10 at 9:01 am ET|
As the Celtics await a decision from Doc Rivers on whether he will return to the sidelines next season, there has been relatively little chatter on potential replacements should he choose to step away.
One possibility is Vinny Del Negro, according to CBSSports.com. The former Bulls coach and Springfield, MA native is reportedly on the Celtics radar should Rivers leave:
“Still no word from Celtics coach Doc Rivers to some of his closest confidants as to whether he will be back on the Boston bench next season. Vinny Del Negro, who along with Dwane Casey is a finalist for the Clippers job, is on the Celtics’ short list of candidates to replace Rivers if he steps down to spend more time with his family.”
Del Negro coached the Bulls for two seasons before being fired in May. He accumulated an 82-82 regular season record and 4-8 in the postseason, including a seven-game first round series against the Celtics in 2009. The Bulls were eliminated by the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the first round this season.
Last Thursday Rivers said he was looking to make a decision this week and is still weighing the options between his personal and professional life.
‘It’s a tough one and it’s a serious one for me,’ Rivers said on Draft Night. ‘Either way. Let’s just wait and we’ll figure it out soon.’
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