|02.15.13 at 10:24 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, as the NBA heads into All-Star Weekend, and talked about the team’s need to bolster the lineup.
The Celtics are looking for help following season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa.
“Danny [Ainge] and I, we thought about it and we all have been thinking about it since all the injuries,” Rivers said. “With the last one with Barbosa, now we can’t look at one position anymore. That’s what we were looking at — looking at size first, then a guard. Now we’re looking at players. We need players. We need to pick up a couple of players as soon as we can get them. That’s what basically we’re doing.
“But we don’t want to do anything so quick that somebody else comes available and then we don’t have room because we’re at the cap threshold. We have to be very careful in what we do.”
Asked what kind of player would help most right away, Rivers said: “I would say a ball-handling guard. It’s no longer a point guard, it’s just a guard. If I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard that can play multiple positions and that can shoot, that has some toughness.
“And then you need a big. You’re not going to find a center, so a 4. Obviously a 5 would be great, but a 4 that can stretch the floor. Or a 4 that can rebound, just a great rebounding 4 that has skills.
“That’s the list. There’s so many places to look. The China league ends in a week. So now some of the American players that are playing over there will begin coming back over to our league. The D-League. And then obviously through a trade. We don’t have a lot of assets to trade, so we have to be very careful there.”
Added Rivers: “We’re just looking for the best available player now. Obviously it would be great to have a shooter, one more shooter for us. Then we need a big that can rebound and defend.”
|02.14.13 at 5:50 pm ET|
Making his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday afternoon, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge discussed a number of topics, including how the team plans to try to replace the production of Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, all three of whom have gone down with injuries.
Ainge said the trade options are “much less” than they were prior to the injury streak, and added, “It’s going to be tough. We have a tough week ahead of us.” At the same, he noted the team would take advantage of the break provided with this weekend’s All-Star Game and “explore trades and free agent signings.”
One name that was floated as a possible signee is Delonte West, a free agent who has some experience in the Celtics system.
“Delonte is a player we certainly know, probably better than anybody in the NBA,” Ainge said. “And he’s on a list of guys we are looking at. We’re going to take this entire week during the All-Star break and explore trades and free agent signings. We have a long list of players, and he’s on that list. It’s hard. It’s a difficult thing for players to not play basketball all year who haven’t played since last April and expect them to come in and be able to contribute.”
On the options the Celtics have now being different than they were two years ago when three of the team’s top players went down with injuries:
“Obviously, our options are much less. You know, I was really anxious to see the team play. When Rondo went down, obviously, it was a devastating blow, and I think that hurts because Rondo has been a terrific playoff player for us and … but I was anxious to just see, because Doc [Rivers], from the beginning of the year, we’re going to trying to do some things different. We’re going to try — instead of running a similar offense when Rondo is off the court, we’re going to do some different things. And we still hadn’t seen much of that because Rondo had played so many minutes, but the team was really jelling and really playing well. But losing Jared, who, obviously when he plays, we’re just a better rebounding team and have an extra body in there to give Kevin [Garnett] rest. That was a big blow, and we immediately tried to figure out how we can replace Jared, and then, when Leandro went down, that was crushing because Leandro, every day in practice, is one of our best players. I watch him from my office and I look down there and he just lives in the paint. Just blows by guys and finishes shots and makes passes. And he’s been really good all year long. And he just hasn’t had a lot of opportunities. But there just aren’t people out there who are as good as those players. It’s going to be tough. We have a tough week ahead of us.”
|02.14.13 at 12:55 am ET|
Paul Pierce confirmed what Celtics president Danny Ainge divulged to the viewing public while sitting down with broadcasters Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn during the second quarter of Wednesday night’s 71-69 victory against the Bulls: The C’s captain has played with a pinched nerve in his neck since December.
“It’s getting better,” Pierce said in response to the injury inquiry. “It’s something that’s been bothering me probably for like the last two months. It’s getting better, though. The last couple weeks have been better than it has been.”
Pierce struggled mightily in January, shooting 39.9 percent from the field (28.9 3P%) for the month, but he’s emerged once again as the C’s leader in the two weeks since Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury.
During the C’s 8-1 stretch in their last nine games, Pierce has still struggled with his shot (39.0 FG%) — including a 2-of-12 performance in the win over Chicago — although his 39.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc and a boatload of clutch shots have helped assuage any concerns about his health. At 35 years old, Pierce has averaged a ridiculous 16.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists in 36.6 minutes a night since Rondo’s injury.
|02.13.13 at 11:14 pm ET|
Asked how he’ll approach this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game, especially after playing an exhausting 102 minutes in his last four games, Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett took everybody by surprise when he mentioned mid-sentence that his 15th appearance would be his last.
“For it being my last,” said Garnett, “I got my family coming down.”
“This is definitely my last All-Star Game,” he repeated.
Garnett has two years and $23.5 million remaining on his contract after this season, and considering he was voted a starter at age 36, what’s to stop him from making the roster in either of his next two seasons?
“Y’all don’t know what I know,” he said. “So, let’s put it like this: I’m more than grateful for going, but I’m not going to act like I’ve got more All-Star Games in me, so I’m actually going to enjoy this one with some friends and family.”
Despite signing a three-year extension with the Celtics this past offseason, Garnett repeatedly has dropped hints that any season could be his last, but this is the first time this year he’s alluded to it so clearly.
|02.13.13 at 10:00 pm ET|
Thanks to another all-out effort by the few healthy players left on the roster, the Celtics outlasted the visiting Bulls 71-69 to win ugly, earning their eighth victory in nine tries since the first of the injury dominoes fell two weeks ago.
The Celtics (28-24) equaled their highest point above .500 as four C’s reached double digits, led remarkably by Brandon Bass (14 points, 9 rebounds). Kevin Garnett (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (8-6-6) scored the C’s final nine points as they held off a Chicago charge to close the final quarter.
The Celtics’ 19 combined points in the second and third quarters marked the team’s lowest point total in consecutive quarters of a game during the shot clock era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Likewise, their 71 total points was the third-lowest point total in a C’s victory since the inception of the shot clock.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Defense: The Celtics held the Bulls to 15 points in the first quarter and 13 in the third. Chicago’s five starters — Luol Deng (4-10 FG), Carlos Boozer (5-14 FG), Joakim Noah (3-8 FG), Richard Hamilton (1-6 FG) and Nate Robinson (2-7) — shot a combined 33.3 percent. It’s a good thing, because the C’s actually shot worse until …
Heart beats: As they’ve done since the injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never quit. Playing their third game in four nights, shooting miserably and trailing by as many as seven in the first few minutes of the final quarter, the C’s found life. Capped by back-to-back buckets from Jason Terry (12 points) and Jeff Green (8 points) off the bench — both assisted by Garnett — the Celtics put together a 12-0 run, holding the Bulls scoreless for a stretch of 5:44 midway through the fourth quarter and capturing a 59-54 lead.
Bass finishing: In desperate need of offensive help, the Celtics found an unlikely hero. Beginning to emerge from a season-long funk, Bass scored his highest total (14) since Nov. 28. He also grabbed more rebounds (9) than he has since Nov. 25. Bass and Garnett combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds, forming a formidable frontcourt that limited a sizable advantage by the bigger Bulls, who got 27 rebounds from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
|02.13.13 at 9:31 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers touched on just about every issue facing his team — and there are many — prior to his team’s final game before the NBA All-Star break: 1) the season-ending ACL injury suffered by Leandro Barbosa (who he “absolutely” wants back next season); 2) the search for a point guard (or any warm body, for that matter); 3) losing Barbosa, Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo in the locker room (a bigger deal than people think); 4) his depleted roster (“We are really right at the threshold”); 5) whether we’ll see more Fab Melo (we won’t); 6) similarities between Rondo and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson (few beyond the ACL tear); 7) Michael Jordan‘s 50th birthday (“I wish they were all like that”), he hit them all. Here goes:
On Leandro Barbosa’s absence: “You don’t know a player or a coach or anybody until you actually coach with them or play with them, and he’s one of those guys you just like in your locker room — forget the basketball part. His spirit has been really good for us, and losing that, that’s big. And then he was our wild card. It’s good to have a wild card. When you throw him in, it could go either way, but you knew he was going to be aggressive.”
On point guard prospects: “In the last 48 hours, [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and I have probably covered every human being that’s breathing and can dribble and shoot. We’re just going to take our time. At the end of the day today, that’s basically what we came to. You don’t want to rush anything. We don’t have a lot of flexibility cap-wise. We’re just going to wait. If somebody shakes loose or you can get somebody, we will, but until then we’re stretched at the guard spot.”
|02.13.13 at 8:20 pm ET|
Most of Jared Sullinger‘s days since undergoing season-ending back surgery on Feb. 1 have been spent sitting at an angle that resembles a reclining chair, so the 20-year-old Celtics rookie has plenty of time on his hands.
“I haven’t been doing anything but Twitter, playing video games and catching up on movies,” Sullinger said during a press conference prior to the C’s hosting the Bulls before their NBA All-Star break begins. “That’s about it.”
The back problems that have plagued Sullinger since Nov. 29, 2011, when the Ohio State product scored 21 points in a blowout win over Duke, flared up for the first time this season four minutes into a game against the Kings exactly two weeks ago. The next day, he couldn’t walk. And the next, he underwent surgery to repair a disc that was bulging into his central nervous system.
“I didn’t think it was going to come this fast; maybe two or three years later down the line,” said Sullinger. “That’s what an NBA season does to you. It’s a long season. You’re going to have a couple knick-knack injuries. My knick-knack injury turned into surgery. I’d rather have it now than later.”
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