Archive for June, 2011

Celtics extend qualifying offer to Jeff Green, make him restricted free agent

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The Celtics extended forward Jeff Green a one-year qualifying offer at $5.9 million, which will make the forward a restricted free agent. The move was procedural and gives the team the right to match any offer Green receives once the league opens — or rather re-opens — for business following a lockout that could start as early as midnight on July 1.

The team also announced that they have exercised the third-year option on Avery Bradley. For first round picks, the first two years of their contracts are guaranteed. The team has options on the third and fourth years before a player can become a restricted free agent like Green is now.

Green can still sign a long-term extension with the team once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules in place or he could return for the one-year offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Celtics could also let him walk if another team offers a huge deal, but that seems unlikely as they have maintained that he is a part of their long-term plans.

Yet the Celtics have also carefully planned to have as much cap space as possible after next season and it will be interesting to see how much they ultimately invest in his services. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for the franchise if Green simply came back for the one-year offer and kept the books clear for the summer of 2012. Of course all the roster speculation is premature until the new CBA rules are in place.

The question for the Celtics and Green — assuming he does return — is what kind of player will he be for them?

Green arrived from Oklahoma City in the Kendrick Perkins trade with the expectation that he would provide scoring and athleticism off the bench, as well as a solid backup for Paul Pierce. Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games for the Celtics and while his minutes were cut from 37 in OKC to 23 with the C’s, that was essentially the same production he gave the Thunder. On the plus side his field goal percentage jumped from 44 to 49 percent, but his 3-point shooting dipped under the 30-percent line.

After four years in the league, Green seems to have settled in as a good but not great player, which doesn’t exactly translate into future franchise cornerstone. But the Celtics believe that he still has room to develop, particularly with a full training camp under his belt.

“I think Jeff played excellent,” team president Danny Ainge said in an end of the season media session in May. “Maybe the expectations were too high. We knew he wasn’€™t going to start. We knew he wasn’€™t going to play 35 minutes. We needed a veteran player, an experienced player, an athletic player. We know what Jeff Green is. He’€™s a highly efficient offensive player who plays good defense. That’€™s what we need and he’€™s young and I think he’€™s just going to get better because of his character and work ethic.”

The problem — as it was last season — is finding a role for Green. Ainge floated the idea of starting Green and using Pierce off the bench, which seems like a reach considering Pierce is one of the best players in franchise history and still playing at an All-Star level.

While Pierce’s minutes are likely to go down next season that’s still only about 15 minutes of action. Green also struggled defensively as a four-man, although that had a lot to do with whoever was playing center. When he was in the lineup with Pierce and Kevin Garnett for example, he did just fine. When he teamed with Glen Davis to form an undersized frontcourt, not so much. Adding legitimate depth at center behind Jermaine O’Neal and rookie JaJuan Johnson can only help Green.

The Celtics believe that they can contend for a championship again next season with their core players in place, provided they receive some help from free agency and their young players develop into contributors. But no player needs to help more than Green.

If Ainge is right that Green’s best years are ahead of him he can give the Celtics a dimension they’ve lacked since the big three era began. If this is as good as it gets then it doesn’t seem likely that Green will be enough to get them past Miami and Chicago.

Celtics free-agent options at shooting guard

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

We’€™re 12 hours and counting from the NBA lockout, but that doesn’t mean we can’t examine who will be available to the Celtics through free agency for the (fingers crossed) 2011-12 season once commissioner David Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter hash out their differences. Since we have already analyzed the centers, we’€™ll move on to the C’€™s next-greatest need: Shooting Guards.

Just as the Celtics seemingly solidified the center position prior to the 2010-11 season, the same could be said for two-guards. They featured a Hall of Fame starter (Ray Allen) along with a tough combo guard (Delonte West), a lengthy swingman (Marquis Daniels) and a shoot-first scorer (Von Wafer). The latter three are unrestricted free agents this offseason, and there’€™s a chance any of the trio could return.

As we’€™ve noted  before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2; Paul Pierce, $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo, $10; Jermaine O’€™Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley, $1.53), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.

However, unlike the center situation, there will be a ton of quality available shooting guards. As a result, Celtics president Danny Ainge can more easily upgrade the team as a whole by dedicating what little money he’€™ll have available to a two-guard once the collective bargaining agreement is in place.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at shooting guard, separating the current free-agent players into four categories ‘€¦

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Assessing the 2011 NBA Draft

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The 2011 NBA Draft was short on star-power and long on intrigue. It failed to deliver on the latter count and it will take two, if not three years before we know the definitive answer to the first.

For all the sound and fury leading up to draft night it was fairly straight-forward affair. Trade rumors swirled, but in the end only one major deal went down: the three-way trade between the Bobcats, Bucks and Kings. Players that fell — Kawhi Leonard, Jordan Hamilton — didn’t fall far very far and there were few outright surprises in the first round.

Here’s an early look at how this year’s draft unfolded broken down into five tiers: Winners, losers, teams that gambled, teams that helped their cause and solid selections. For those who don’t want to search for it, I’ll throw the Celtics up top and place them right in the “solid” category.

Celtics

Picks: JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore

The Celtics needed two things: size and shooting and they got both with Johnson, a 6-foot-10 shot-blocker with decent range. He’s not Chris Johnson thin, but he’s skinny, which is why he was available late in the first round.

The Celtics have been looking for complimentary big men for years. They’ve tried tall, athletic guys like Mikki Moore and Patrick O’Bryant, undersized bruisers like Leon Powe and Glen Davis and seemingly every fading veteran star from Rasheed Wallace to Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal.

If Johnson pans out he will give them a dimension they’ve lacked and help them matchup with teams like the Bulls, for example. On a team with so many open roster spots Moore will have a chance to stick if and when training camp ever begins.

Here’s the rest of the list: (more…)

Larry Bird on the Big Show: I never would have coached at old Garden

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Celtics legend Larry Bird was a guest of The Big Show on Tuesday and he sat down with Glenn Ordway for a wide-ranging interview that touched on his job with the Pacers, how he feels about the modern game — and some of the players — and his memories of playing with the Celtics.

Bird also said that he never would have coached at the old Boston Garden.

“All my memories I just wanted them to be as a player,” Bird said. “Even here in Indiana, I told Donnie [Walsh] if the Garden was still up I would never go in there as an opposing coach and play the Celtics as an Indiana Pacer coach. I just couldn’t do that. But they tore it down and I got in there in the other Garden and it didn’t bother me as much.”

Asked if he would have handed over the team to his then-assistant coach Rick Carlisle, Bird laughed, “Carlisle did a lot of it anyway. No, I just wouldn’t have taken the job. I just couldn’t do that. I couldn’t see myself walking in the Boston Garden as a visitor. I just couldn’t do that.”

Listen to the whole interview on The Big Show audio on demand page. Here’s the rest of the transcription from the interview:

You haven’t made a lot of trips back [to Boston]. Is that by design or is that just how the schedule worked out?

Well, we’re pretty busy here and I try to get out there as much as I can, just never enough because my admiration I have for that city, it’s a great city, it’s a sports town. I always like to go back out there but an opportunity hadn’t arose as much as I’d like. But obviously I’m going to be there for a couple of days and I’ll probably enjoy it.

As you look back at the great period that you had with [the Celtics], is there anything you look back at and say, “I wish I had done this?”

Yeah, a couple more championships would have helped. You know in 1981 when we won our first championship, I looked at our team and I thought, “Boy, we got a chance here to win at least five championships.” And we had a couple years where we didn’t do as well. Starting in ’84, ’85, ’86, and ’87, we were well on our way to winning a lot of championships. Then all of a sudden the back issues started coming in and things started changing. I always felt that we had a good enough team to win five championships.

We played in five finals but we just won three, so that’s probably the most disappointing thing, but overall it was the greatest time of my life. It was something I loved and playing in a city that cared for their players and their teams, really it was a positive for me and I miss it. I miss being out there, I miss playing, but sometimes I forget I even played because it’s been so long. But it was a great experience for me, I grew up in Boston and met a lot of good people and obviously got to play for Red [Auerbach], and I had some good teammates. We were a good team out there. (more…)

JaJuan Johnson on D&C: I just want to learn from veterans

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Celtics first-round pick JaJuan Johnson joined Dennis and Callahan Tuesday, discussing Boston and his upcoming rookie year (to listen to the entire interview, click here).

Given that the Celtics are a veteran team that hopes to compete for a title, the 27th overall pick may have a hard time finding regular minutes, something Johnson said he’s ready to deal with.

“I don’t expect too much,” Johnson said. “Really, this year I just want to take in as much as I can from those older guys. Just learn from those guys and really just continue to get better as a player.”

The 221-pound forward is trying to bulk up so he is better-suited to play forward in the NBA. Johnson said that it’s a matter of diet, which he hopes to get straightened out in short order.

“When I was back in Chicago, I had a chef, and he was cooking for me every day, pretty much helping me with calories, the amount of calories I needed to put in each day,” he said. “Once I get in [to Boston on Thursday] I’ll get back on track.”

As for having his college teammate join him in Boston, Johnson seemed thrilled. E’Twaun Moore, with whom Johnson played at Purdue, was taken by the C’s in the second round.

“It’s a huge comfort factor,” Johnson said of the team also drafting Moore. “He was with me freshman year, in college. To have somebody else at this stage is almost unheard of. It’s definitely a blessing to have him with me.”

Johnson said he was told by Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge that he was coming to a respectable organization, and noted that he’s ready to do whatever he can to help it.

“It’s a team with tradition,” he said. “They do things the right way. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m willing to put in all that work, just to become a better player.”

Celtics free-agent options at center

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Sure, the NBA is on the precipice of a July 1 lockout, but we can still examine what options will be available to the Celtics at each position once the salary cap landscape is determined (God knows when). We’€™ll start with the C’€™s biggest need: Centers.

The Celtics started the 2010-11 season with four centers on the roster (Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O’€™Neal, Jermaine O’€™Neal and Semih Erden) along with sometimes center Glen Davis. Now, a year later, only JO remains from that list. While Big Baby remains an option depending on his value on the open market, the C’€™s still need at least one if not two more guys who can play the five.

The Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2; Paul Pierce, $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo, $10; Jermaine O’€™Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley, $1.53), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason. That leaves little wiggle room for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, no matter how the collective bargaining agreement shakes out.

As a result, don’€™t expect any big-name free agents. So, let’€™s start by crossing Nene (early termination option), Marc Gasol ($4.5 million qualifying offer) and Tyson Chandler (unrestricted) off the list of potential targets. While any of those three would be a fantastic fit on the 2011-12 Celtics (assuming, of course, there’€™s a 2011-12 season in the NBA), they’€™re all out of their league.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at center, separating the current free-agent players into four categories ‘€¦

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Video: JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are introduced

Monday, June 27th, 2011


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