Archive for September, 2010

Paul Pierce gets high school jersey retired

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Paul Pierce had his high school jersey retired in his hometown of Inglewood Tuesday. Pierce was a McDonald’s All-American at Inglewood High before going on to star at Kansas. He’s the second Celtic player to be given this honor this month as Nate Robinson also had his jersey retired at Rainier Beach in Seattle.

Pierce was asked about playing with Shaquille O’Neal, naturally, and he responded, “He’s one of my all-time favorite players, and now I have a chance to play with one of the greatest players to ever play the game.”

Seems like you can say that about half the roster.

Anyway, here’s video of him talking to reporters after the event:

Report: Brian Scalabrine signs with Bulls

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

After five seasons with the Celtics, Brian Scalabrine has agreed to a contract with the Bulls, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports. In Chicago, Scalabrine would be reunited with Tom Thibodeau, the former C’s assistant who is now the Bulls head coach.

Scalabrine, 32, has averaged 3.3 points per game in nine NBA seasons (his first four in New Jersey). His best season with Boston was 2006-07, when he averaged 4.0 points and 1.9 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. He averaged just nine minutes in 52 games last season, scoring 1.5 points.

Rajon Rondo would like a new pair of shoes

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Rajon Rondo (AP)

Rajon Rondo (AP)

With the start of training camp less than a week away, Rajon Rondo has been making the rounds. He talked to Slam magazine for an interview that was posted on their website about his goals, buying groceries and his shoes.

“Actually,” he said. “I wear a new pair of shoes every game for the most part.”

Good to know.

Of more immediate concern, Rondo laid out his individual goals for the upcoming season: making the All-Star and All-Defense team. Rondo gave credit to his teammates for helping him achieve those milestones last season and then said something very interesting:

“I’m pretty sure that people who don’t like my game are waiting to see how I react when I don’t have the Big Three, but I don’t really care. I’m doing what I can do now for the team, and that’s why I’m in this situation.”

If you’ve paid attention to his career, then you know that Rondo is beyond intrigued about one day playing on a team without the veterans. That’s entirely normal for a young superstar. Beyond even acknowledging it, what makes Rondo unique is that he’s able to separate the here and the now from the future.

The only other player on the 2010 All-Star Eastern Conference team who couldn’t definitively be termed as a franchise’s signature player was Atlanta’s Al Horford. But, none of those other players have a championship ring.

Along those lines, Rondo’s team goals are to win a championship, obviously, but he also has goals for the regular season and there again, he’s a little unique among the current Celtics.

As a team it’s to try to win 60-plus games and to try to stay healthy. As long as we’re healthy I’m pretty fine with what we do on the court. We don’t have to win 70 games, but it would be nice to get the first-place position and the home court advantage, because who can say? I never look back and say what if, but if we had the home seed then maybe the outcome would have been different against L.A.”

You won’t find too many Celtics worried about winning 60 games and playoff seeding. Their postseason success may have reinforced the notion that the regular season doesn’t matter, but it does in one very significant way: homecourt advantage.

That will be the largest theme of this regular season, along with health, and the two things are related. How much does Doc Rivers push his team, and how will they react? Rondo’s at the point in his career where he wants it all.

[To read the whole interview in Slam, click here]

LeBron James at the point?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

One of the persistent criticisms of the Miami Heat is that while they are overloaded with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they are weak at point guard and center. That’s if they run a conventional lineup.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra suggested that wouldn’t be the case recently when he told the Miami Herald that James will play point guard and handle the ball extensively. [Read the full story here.]

Here’s the key quote: “He will be a playmaker. But he has also been a scoring champ. He will be at the end of plays to finish them. He will be a facilitator. He’ll be so many different things. We want to take advantage of all his skills.”

Spoelstra also said that he would experiment with a starting lineup that included Mike Miller instead of Mario Chalmers or Carlos Arroyo, their two traditional point guards.

This is smart. There is no reason for Spoelstra to use a regular lineup when he has such unconventional talent. James is one the best playmaking forwards in the league and Wade has also run Miami’s offense. Both James and Wade have played on teams that demanded they take a huge percentage of shots, but both are also excellent passers. The Heat don’t need conventional players. They need shooters on the perimeter and a compliment to Bosh inside.

A lineup with Wade, Miller and James along with Bosh and Udonis Haslem is probably Miami’s strongest and one that leaves the traditional positions all mixed up.

Coming up with counters for the Heat will be a constant challenge and the Celtics have options. Doc Rivers experimented with a backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Nate Robinson at times last season, but it didn’t really take. Perhaps with a full training camp at their disposal it could have time to jell.

That would be a serious speed advantage, but obviously a gamble in terms of height. But in spots, or with Avery Bradley in the mix, it could be an interesting way to change the tempo, especially defensively.

The Celtics also have numerous options up front with Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis. Rivers said he prefers a set frontcourt rotation during the regular season, but he does have the pieces to play with in terms of matchups.

We don’t have much longer to find out. The Celtics and Heat open the season on Oct. 26.

Rajon Rondo talks about leaving team USA

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Rajon Rondo hasn’t had a lot to say about why he left the United States team just before the FIBA World Championships in Turkey, but that hasn’t stopped others from speculating about the decision. (For my take, click here).

Rondo spoke to ESPN’s Ric Bucher over the weekend in San Francisco where he was hosting a 1-on-1 tournament on Alcatraz for Red Bull, which he endorses. Bucher also talked to Rondo’s agent Bill Duffy, was said he was the one who pushed Rondo to go out for the team, something the All-Star guard has resisted in the past.

Other reasons cited in the piece include: fatigue, both mental and physical, and family issues. (His uncle died during the preliminary games.) It will be interesting to see how much weight Rondo’s decision has on the 2012 Olympic team, or if he has any desire to play when it comes around.

Poll: Avery Bradley top rookie defender

Sunday, September 19th, 2010
AP Image

Avery Bradley (AP)

If there’s one thing the Celtics think rookie guard Avery Bradley can do right away, it’s defend. That’s also the opinion of his fellow first-year players who overwhelmingly voted Bradley the top defensive player in the rookie class, according to a survey posted on NBA.com.

It’s not surprising that Bradley won the player vote, but what is interesting is that he dominated the results.

Which rookie is the best defender?

1. Avery Bradley, Boston — 41.7 percent
2. Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento — 8.3 percent
3. Lazar Hayward, Minnesota — 5.6 percent
Ekpe Udoh, Golden State — 5.6 percent

Bradley also received votes in categories ranging from best shooter and playmaker to most overlooked and likely to have the best career.

One other interesting tidbit from the poll: Kobe Bryant was the runaway winner for favorite player among the rookies.

Shaq on feuds: ‘It’s marketing’

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

It can be hard to keep track of all of Shaquille O’Neal‘s battles. One day he’s killing Mo Williams, and the next he’s saying it’s all for show. That’s Shaq  in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “I know what I’m doing when it comes to selling out games,” he told the paper sounding like Don King trying to get a good house.

Shaq went on to say that he has a good relationship with Dwight Howard off the floor, but it’s different when they’re on the court. “He’s a great young player,” Shaq said. “But on the court it’s not about making friends, it’s about doing what you’re supposed to do to win that game to win a championship.”