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Thomsen on D&H: ‘Celtics got a better version of Eddie House’

06.25.10 at 3:17 pm ET

A day after the NBA draft, Sports Illustrated NBA insider Ian Thomsen talked to the Dale & Holley show to discuss what the Celtics picked up in the draft, what the future holds in store for the C’€™s and where LeBron James will end up next year.

‘€œThe Celtics got a better version of Eddie House,’€ Thomsen said about Avery Bradley, the Celtics’€™ first-round pick. ‘€œThey got a guy who’€™s a terrific shooter; he’€™s got great range, but he’€™s a very good defender.’€

‘€œThe one thing he doesn’€™t do [is] he doesn’€™t drive the ball great. He’€™s a much better shooter than he is a driver. …They’€™re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed.’€

Highlights of the interview are below. To listen to the interview in full, click on The Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On the possibility of Paul Pierce signing a smaller contract to bring in a big name free agent:

You know, they renounce him and then they give up their Bird rights to him, so now when he signs a new contract, he gets none of the value of re-signing with his own team. It’€™s like he signed with another team. It’€™s a risky thing; I can’€™t remember the last time that happened. I’€™m sure it has, but would it happen?

I would say it won’€™t, because when you look at it now with these other teams trying to clear so much space, there’€™s more cap space out there than there are star players. There’€™s going to be a lot of money that goes unspent or it’€™s going to be spent badly because there’€™s nobody to sign. It’€™s one of those things you think about, it’€™s like a loophole kind of deal. It’€™s like when they drafted Larry Bird the year before they signed him. I just don’€™t see that happening.

On Avery Bradley:

The Celtics got a better version of Eddie House. They got a guy who’€™s a terrific shooter; he’€™s got great range, but he’€™s a very good defender. The one thing he doesn’€™t do [is] he doesn’€™t drive the ball great. He’€™s a much better shooter than he is a driver. And is he a true point guard? They’€™re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed.

A lot of teams looked at him and wondered if he ever would be a true point guard. You’€™re going to have to think of him as more of an off-guard. If he’€™s your third guard and he can come in and play some point guard minutes, and then he can bring the ball up, he’€™s your deep shooter that they used to have with Eddie House.

They sort of have this hybrid, all-for-one thing that works well with what the Celtics have been the last few years. It’€™ll be interesting to see what the Celtics are a couple of years from now, if they’€™re operating on the same formula. I think that there’€™s always that need for an Eddie House kind of threat.

On Danny Ainge possibly going to the Suns:

Look, do I think Danny’€™s going to Phoenix? I don’€™t, I really don’€™t. I think it would be a step down. From Phoenix’€™ perspective, I think they would love Danny to come down. He would be an upgrade over Steve Kerr and I think the hope was that he would want to go back.

He came to Boston in a highly pressurized environment. He had health issues, his family was happy in Phoenix, and maybe as a quality of life he would like to move back to Phoenix as a former player there, as a former coach there.

I don’€™t think there’€™s any signal that that’€™s what he wants to do, but from Phoenix’€™ point of view, that’€™s what they were hoping for ‘€” to steal a guy back on those sort of grounds. I don’€™t see it happening and I’€™m glad I originally wrote the story [on Ainge thinking about moving] because I think that’€™s what Phoenix wanted to do, but I never thought it would work out.

On how close Boston came to making a draft night trade:

I didn’€™t hear that, but none of us would surprised if that was true. Even if Danny wasn’€™t sure if he wanted to do that, he would surely look into all those kind of possibilities. I think that’€™s part of the reason why he loves the job so much. He just gets to explore all these things. He’€™d be one of the few guys in the league who has the guts to pull off a major move like that, so I’€™m sure that he looked into all the possibilities. The only other thing I heard was moving back and trading with Memphis, taking that 19th pick and turning it into two picks in the 20s, if two guys on their list were going to be available there. The only thing you can guarantee with Danny is that he looked into every possible thing.

On moving Kendrick Perkins to another team:

I don’€™t think that he would have a lot of weight. The one team that would like him, and that has some interest in him, would be Utah. We’€™ve talked about it before, at the last trade deadline, that there was talk about a deal sending Perkins as part of a package out to Utah and Carlos Boozer would have came back to the Celtics. That was contingent on first being able to make a deal with Washington that would have brought [Caron] Butler back to Boston for Ray Allen, but none of that ever happened.

A lot of times when you talk with a team about a trade and it doesn’€™t happen, it’€™s sort of leads to a trade months later. Utah would be a team interested in Perk, but otherwise I don’€™t see that there is a lot of desire for a traditional low post center anymore. Even DeMarcus Cousins, he was picked No. 5 [in the draft], a few years ago, I would bet he would be picked a lot higher. The value of true centers has gone down in the NBA because it’€™s become such a guard-oriented league now.

On the evolution of the center:

And now think about how people look at the decision to take Greg Oden over [Kevin] Durant. Let’€™s say Greg Oden had never been hurt, he was a good player, but not a great player. People would still be second-guessing that. I think that’€™s one of those nails-in-the-coffin-type things.

And now, on the other hand, look at how the Lakers won the championship. If [Andrew] Bynum were healthy, would it have gone the full seven games? Probably not. The whole deal in the NBA now, that it’€™s a guard-oriented league, and guys are slashing out on the perimeter, I think the Lakers invented the new formula where you protect the rim. You can’€™t stop the guys from getting started out on the perimeter, but you can stop them at the rim. You need two long guys defending the rim, one on each side basically, and you have this defensive wall now.

I think that’€™s going to be like the thing that people are going to be talking about doing from now on, having two mobile 7-footers, or big guys, around the rim.

On Shaq possibly coming to Boston:

Personally I would love it. Whoever they bring in as coach, he’€™d better have a lot of Doc [Rivers‘€™] characteristics, because how many in the league could do so well with so many personalities on the team that Boston had this year, as Doc did. If you bring in Shaq to basically replace [Rasheed Wallace], how many guys could you say are more inflammatory and eccentric than Rasheed? Basically, I’€™d maybe say that Shaq is the only one, so you went out and found the one guy who’€™s going to make the locker room louder, more flamboyant and all these other things. It would be amazing really to think about just the charisma that they would have.

Now, would they be a better team? I still think he’€™s a very effective player. Not nearly what he was, but in the right situations, I still think he can be very helpful to a team, and if he hadn’€™t been hurt this year for Cleveland, if they could have had their team together, I think it might have been a little different in the playoffs for them.

On Phil Jackson retiring:

I don’€™t [think he’€™ll retire]. I guess I believe it more now that he’€™s said it, but I think he’€™s got a little bit of LeBron in him where he wants to be loved, he wants to be courted and he also wants a lot of money. The way to get all those things is to threaten, in a really firm way, to leave and then come back. If he does leave, I don’€™t see all this talk about him coming to Cleveland, that’€™s ridiculous. If he wants to coach a championship team, he’€™s going to do it in the warm weather in Los Angeles with his life partner, Jeannie Buss. The one thing I will say is that I don’€™t see him going anywhere and I will still be surprised if he isn’€™t coaching the Lakers next year.

On where LeBron James is ending up next week:

Cleveland. I just think there has to be a compelling reason for him to go. It got more interesting now over the last 24 hours than it was before. Now there are three teams that can go out and sign two [maximum contract] guys. Now all of a sudden, this talk about him going to Chicago before, I just didn’€™t get it. He would have had Derrick Rose as his second-best player, but now maybe he can go to Chicago and bring another player with him, maybe Chris Bosh or someone else. And then Derrick Rose becomes the third-best player on the team, and now all of a sudden, I can see it.

I think Cleveland has a lot more now to worry about than they did two days ago. I still don’€™t see him going to Miami to play with Dwyane Wade. If Shaq and Kobe couldn’€™t get along, these two guys are going to both want the ball in their hands. I always remember Doc saying that [Kevin] Garnett, Pierce and Allen couldn’€™t have played together in their 20s because they were all trying to make their own ways as individuals. It would only work when they were in their 30s and they had gone through that period. Well, LeBron and Dwyane Wade haven’€™t even peaked yet as players. They’€™re approaching their peak and I still think they want to beat each other and each wants to become the best player in the league as opposed to deferring to one another.

In my mind, and I know people disagree with me on this, I don’€™t see him going to Miami and I don’€™t see there being enough in New York for him wanting to go there. Chicago is still a very interesting thing all of a sudden. At the end of the day, I still think he stays in Cleveland.

On the possibility of Sam Mitchell becoming the next coach of the Celtics:

I think so much of this is going to depend upon Danny feeling very comfortable with the coach. It is the most important thing, in my opinion, for hiring an NBA coach that a general manager and the coach are on the same page. That’€™s why Kevin McHale makes so much sense. If the general manager is going out and getting players and the coach doesn’€™t agree with it or agrees with it and can’€™t implement the idea, if they can’€™t argue and still be good at the end of the argument, it’€™s just going to fall apart and it happens all the time in the league.

A secret to the Celtics’€™ success was that Doc and Danny have gotten along so well and that they support each other. They present a united front to everybody. So how close is Danny with Sam Mitchell? Is Sam Mitchell going to be the fluid offensive coach that we all know Danny covets? Before he hired Doc Rivers, he was looking at guys like Lionel Hollins to run that offense in Minnesota and Paul Westphal was an interesting name to Danny. I don’€™t view Sam Mitchell as that same kind of offensive mind and therefore I don’€™t see him outrunning Kevin McHale is this kind of race.

On the rookie, besides John Wall, who will have the most impact this season:

Probably Wes Johnson will have a chance to be the leading scorer for Minnesota. He might be Rookie of the Year. [He’€™s] very skilled offensively and he could translate the NBA right away. Not a bad passer, and they have a need for him to fill. I don’€™t see Minnesota going out and getting Rudy Gay or any free agents, so I think he’€™s going to be the star of the team next year and put up big numbers for a very bad team.

On piecing together a team of free agents for a championship run:

I think the same dynamic that we see in the NBA exists now in college basketball where it’€™s just so hard to throw a team together and win right away. Those guys [at Kentucky] there was just so much that they didn’€™t know about winning at a major level and they didn’€™t know that much about each other and it was new to them. We saw it with Orlando, they put together a new team with Vince Carter and all the changes they made after making the finals last year. Cleveland has added a major piece every three months to their team and I think when they went up against the Celtics in the playoffs, that the cohesion of the Celtics and knowing each other so well [helped them win]. They played so much more like a team than either Cleveland or Orlando that was a huge difference.

Go back two years ago to when the Celtics won the championship, think about how hard it was for them to get their act together, and that was because they were still basically a new team. They had to figure it out in the playoffs. I think that’€™s a big deal and that helps the Lakers going into next season.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Ian Thomsen, LeBron James, NBA Draft
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