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Celtics to face Heat in opener

08.03.10 at 7:27 pm ET
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The NBA unveiled the schedule for their three marquee dates and all of them feature the Celtics.

The Celtics will open the NBA season with a home game against the Miami Heat on October 26 at 7:30 p.m. on TNT in a game that will be hyped as the New Big Three vs. The Old Big Three. Beyond that, the Celtics will get the first crack at what should be their toughest challenge in defending their Eastern Conference crown.

The Heat loaded up in the offseason adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team with Dwyane Wade, while the Celtics countered by signing ex-Heat center Jermaine O’Neal and possibly Shaquille O’Neal.

The second half of the opening night doubleheader will have the Rockets playing the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Like last season, the Celtics will be in Orlando on Christmas Day at 2:30 p.m. for a rematch of last season’s conference championship series. The Heat and Lakers will occupy the prime Christmas Day spot at 5 p.m.

The Magic will be in Boston on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 17 with an 8 p.m. game at the Garden.

NBA.com has a full list of the opening week, Christmas and MLK games.

Read More: NBA Schedule,

Source: Shaq to Boston close, not done yet

08.03.10 at 4:43 pm ET
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Shaquille O’Neal is close to signing with the Celtics according to a source, but the deal is not done yet.

It’s a move that has been gathering momentum in recent days. Shaq went on Jimmy Kimmel Monday night and suggested that he and the Celtics would make a good match.

Unless the Celtics can work out a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers, O’Neal would have to agree to sign for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million. Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Brian Windhorst indicated on Twitter that the two teams were not in sign-and-trade talks. If that’s the case then credit the Celtics for waiting him out while his price drops.

O’Neal has maintained that he wants to sign with a contender, but considering that Orlando, Miami and the Lakers were never real possibilities that left Shaq looking at the Celtics, Spurs and Hawks as viable destinations and both San Antonio and particularly Atlanta have cooled on the idea.

Even at age 38, Shaq would give the Celtics insurance while Kendrick Perkins rehabs from knee surgery. In a recent interview with Dime Magazine, Perkins said that doctors told him that he was ahead of schedule and was looking at a mid-February return. If Perkins is able to come back by then, he would still miss more than half the season and need to work his way back into playing shape.

The Celtics added Jermaine O’Neal for the full mid-level exception and without Perkins the center depth is O’Neal and untested rookie Semih Erden. Getting Shaq, even at age 38, would be a huge upgrade at the spot.

Since the 2004-05 season, Shaq has played more than 2,000 minutes just once (in 2008-09 with Phoenix) and he missed 29 games with the Cavaliers last season. But he can still score (12 points in less than 24 minutes a game) and his rebounding-rate numbers have held steady. He would also give the Celtics their best low-post scoring option by far.

Where he struggles is with pick and roll defense, but he can still hold his ground in the low post and the Celtics would be better-equipped to scheme around his deficiencies than most teams.

There’s also the notion of Shaq’s outsized personality. He had issues with the Celtics three biggest rivals — Miami, Orlando and Los Angeles, which would only add to the hype surrounding those matchups. Over the years, however, the Celtics have not shied away from adding outspoken veterans; Sam Cassell, Stephon Marbury and Rasheed Wallace to name three.

The free agent market has been picked clean at this point and so have opportunities for joining the true contenders. Shaq and the Celtics may just be a match whose time has come.

(CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely was the first to report the two sides were close).

Read More: NBA Rumor Mill 2010, Shaquille O'Neal,

Report: C’s close to signing Shaq

08.03.10 at 4:24 pm ET
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The Celtics are close to adding perhaps the biggest man left on the free agent market: Shaquille O’Neal, according to a tweet by CSNNE.com’s A. Sherrod Blakely. NBA.com’s David Aldridge confirmed the story with a similar tweet. With Kendrick Perkins expected to miss a chunk of the upcoming regular season, the Celtics had been looking to add another big man to their roster, and if the report is true, they may have found just that in O’Neal, who had said that he would welcome a move to Boston on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show Monday night. O’Neal averaged 12.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game with the Cavaliers last season and certainly has the championship pedigree (he’s won four championships between the Lakers and the Heat) the C’s are looking for as they try to make another push for their 18th banner.

C’s officially sign Wafer

08.03.10 at 1:57 pm ET
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The Celtics made it official, signing Von Wafer for the 2010-11 season. Terms were not announced, but it is believed to be for one season for the veteran minimum. (Here’s a more in-depth look at Wafer).

Wafer gives the Celtics 13 players under contract with second round pick Luke Harangody expected to be the 14th player once he reaches agreement on a contract.

The current Celtics roster is as follows:

PG: Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, Avery Bradley

SG: Ray Allen, Von Wafer

SF: Paul Pierce, Marquis Daniels

PF: Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis

C: Kendrick Perkins, Jermaine O’Neal, Semih Erden, Rasheed Wallace

Non-guaranteed: Oliver Lafayette, Tony Gaffney

Second round pick: Luke Harangody

Read More: NBA Rumor Mill 2010, Von Wafer,

Celtics reportedly will open season vs. Heat

08.03.10 at 6:51 am ET
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According to multiple reports, the Celtics will open the 2010-11 season by hosting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat in a matchup of Eastern Conference powers. The game, scheduled for Oct. 26, will be televised nationally on TNT. The NBA is scheduled to announce its opening week and Christmas Day schedules Tuesday night.

Read More: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James,

Report: Wafer ‘so happy’ to play for Celtics

07.31.10 at 2:08 pm ET
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When Doc Rivers delivered a straightforward message, Von Wafer was happy to oblige.

‘€œI just hope to help the team,’€ Wafer told SLAM. ‘€œI’€™m all about the team first. I want to do anything I can to help make this a better team. Coach Rivers said, ‘€˜If you’€™re not going to be a team player I don’€™t want you here.’€™ So I’€™m just gonna do my best to help make us a stronger group.’€

Wafer, a 25-year-old guard, confirmed to SLAM that he has agreed to play for the Celtics next season. He spent time playing overseas last season. Now he is embracing the opportunity to return to the NBA ‘€¦ and a contender.

‘€œI wasn’€™t always sure I’€™d be back,’€ says Wafer. ‘€œIt’€™s unbelievable. I’€™m just so happy to be back. I’€™m just so happy.’€

Wafer was drafted by the Lakers in 2005. He most recently averaged 12.4 points in 19.4 minutes for the Rockets during the 2008-09 season.

Click here for the entire SLAM story.

Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Lakers, Rockets

What Von Wafer does for the Celtics

07.29.10 at 8:28 pm ET
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Von Wafer is a 6-5 shooting guard who does one thing well: shoot 3-pointers, and according to Hoops World he will be doing it for the Celtics this season. Wafer made 39 percent of his 3’s with the Rockets in 2008-09 when he appeared in 63 games and played over 1,200 minutes. Wafer also made 45 percent of his 3’s in his one extended season in the Development league in 2007.

He was drafted by the Lakers in 2005 and has had cameo NBA appearances in each of the last five seasons (Dallas signed him to a 10-day contract this past season but he didn’t see any action). After his breakthrough season with the Rockets, which included scoring 14 points and making a late shot to beat the Celtics — Wafer signed with Olympiakos Piraeus in the Euro League.

Wafer was bought out of his contract only a few months into the deal and he appeared headed back to the NBA, but he reportedly failed physicals with the Grizzlies and Rockets. He spent the summer training in his hometown of Louisiana and declared himself healthy. It’s still unclear what caused Wafer to fail his physical, but he has had back issues in the past.

Wafer also clashed with Rockets coach Rick Adelman about playing time and was sent to the locker room during a playoff game, for which he later apologized.

All of that makes this an interesting addition for the Celtics. His shooting ability will certainly be a plus for a bench that could use some. If he can accept his role and do it without complaint then this move has solid potential. If not, then it’s still a reasonable low-cost gamble for a player with an obvious skill.

Wafer gives the Celtics 13 players under contract with second round pick Luke Harangody expected to become the 14th shortly. They also have Tony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette on non-guaranteed deals. Counted in those 13 contracts players is Rasheed Wallace, whose situation remains in limbo.

Read More: NBA Rumor Mill 2010, Von Wafer,
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