Archive for July, 2011

Celtics’ free agent options at backup point guard

Friday, July 15th, 2011

We’re two weeks into the NBA lockout, but that doesn’t mean we can’t examine which free agents will be available to the Celtics for the (fingers crossed) 2011-12 season once commissioner David Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter hash out their differences. We have already profiled the C’s biggest needs — at center and shooting guard — so we move to a less pressing but critical position: Backup Point Guards.

The Celtics started and finished the 2010-11 season with three additional players capable of playing the point guard position behind All-Star starter Rajon Rondo on the 15-man roster: Delonte West, Avery Bradley, Nate Robinson (before trade) and Carlos Arroyo (after trade). Only Rondo and Bradley remain, so it stands to reason that the Celtics will sign at least one more floor general.

The C’s targets depend on how confident they are in Bradley and how cheaply they can find a reliable backup (or third-string). 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 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.

Signed through 2014-15, Rondo has cemented himself as the franchise’s foundation, and Bradley — under their control until his restricted free agency in 2014-15 — is slotted as the backup of the future. As a result, the C’s ideally would seek a veteran pure point guard and/or a capable combo guard who wouldn’t completely destroy their chances should Rondo’s injury issues persist and Bradley prove ill-prepared for big minutes. Arroyo and West fit those descriptions, but one might be too expensive and the other could sign overseas during the lockout.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at backup point guard, separating the current free agent players into five categories …

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Report: Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal cited in Charles Oakley’s assault lawsuit

Friday, July 15th, 2011

This past season, when Charles Oakley was hired by the Bobcats as an assistant coach in January, Celtics guard Ray Allen openly wondered why it took so long for a team to give Oakley a chance to mentor younger players in the NBA. Now, we might know why, and Allen’s teammate Jermaine O’Neal might have to answer for it.

A group of Las Vegas security officers are countersuing Oakley, seeking damages of at least $20,000 for a May 2010 incident — during which Jermaine O’Neal was reportedly present — that they claim was the third of a series of assaults by Oakley on Vegas casino employees since 2005, according to business journal Vegas Inc.

Oakley had sued them along with the Aria hotel and casino on May 12, claiming the officers physically attacked him following an argument at the hotel-casino’s Liquid pool. Oakley missed the final 13 games of the season with back problems he claimed stem from this incident, and the Bobcats have since hired assistant coach Rob Werdann as a potential replacement should Oakley not be able to return to the bench next season.

Here’s the passage from the Vegas Inc. website that indicates the current starting Celtics center was present when the incident went down:

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Rajon Rondo: ‘It’s the worst pain I’ve ever been in playing ball’

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Rajon Rondo

At his annual basketball camp in Louisville, Rajon Rondo took time to talk to reporters earlier this week. The local Fox affiliate has the video.

Among the things he discussed are his dislocated elbow, an injury he suffered in Game 3 of the Celtics playoff series with Miami. “It’s the worst pain I’ve ever been in playing ball,” Rondo said. “I’m still in a little bit of pain right now, but the swelling is down. The only thing is there’s swelling in my joint. I’ll be fine, it just takes time. I’ve got a couple more weeks that I’m off, as far as rest and the repetition of weights.”

As for possibly playing overseas, Rondo said he’s talked to his agent Bill Duffy about it, but it doesn’t sound like it’s in his future. “A lot of things go into playing overseas, a lot of little things you have to take care of,” he said. “For me, right now, I’m just focused on getting healthy — getting healthy and getting better for my team next year, the Boston Celtics.”

Shaquille O’Neal confirms move to TNT

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Shaquille O’Neal’s move to TNT as an analyst has been made official, as Turner Sports announced Thursday that a multi-year deal had been reached. The 15-time all-star also announced the move on Tout.com.

O’Neal, who played the final year of his career with the Celtics, will join Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson on Inside the NBA and also be an analyst for The NBA Finals, All Star weekend and the NBA draft.

In 1,207 career games, O’Neal had 28,596 points and 13,099 points. He announced his retirement following last season, a campaign in which he was limited to 37 regular-season games and two postseason contests.

Lockout links: July 12

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Minnesota finally fired coach Kurt Rambis. (AP)

We’re almost two weeks into the NBA lockout and while there’s a whole lot of nothing happening on the labor front — no talks, no proposals, no urgency to get a deal done — the league hasn’t quite gone to sleep. Here’s a look at some of the news that’s been making the rounds while we sit around and wait.

ITEM: Minnesota fires Kurt Rambis

Minnesota finally got around to firing Rambis three weeks after it had been reported that that was the plan all along. It was an embarrassing situation for a franchise that has devolved into train-wreck vaudeville under general manager David Kahn.

Rambis may not have earned a third season after winning just 32 games over two seasons with an ill-fitting triangle offense and not even a hint of defense (his resistance to playing Kevin Love in his first season didn’t help matters either). That’s fine, but the way this played out was unnecessarily silly. (Read this Yahoo report on how Kahn tried to kick Rambis upstairs).

Now the Wolves need a new coach and here’s where it gets interesting. Up and coming assistant J.B. Bickerstaff has reportedly left for Houston, along with former college coach Kelvin Sampson, to join Kevin McHale‘s new coaching staff. But Yahoo reports that Bickerstaff’s father, veteran coach Bernie Bickerstaff, is in the mix.

Also mentioned is University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, which is curious, and (shocker!) Don Nelson would be interested in coming out of retirement for a shot at the job. The jokes just write themselves.

Under normal circumstances, the Timberwolves would be an attractive opening as they have nowhere to go but up and a bevy of talented players including Love, rookie Derrick Williams and the mysterious Ricky Rubio. But then you remember that Kahn is calling the shots.

What was it that Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said as the lockout commenced?

“We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable.”

If well-managed. Right. (more…)

Nate Robinson loves locked out sports

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Nate Robinson

Quite an offseason for former Celtics guard Nate Robinson. First, he was arrested for urinating on a bookstore in a New York City suburb. Now, after joining hundreds of players in the unemployment line due to the NBA lockout, the former University of Washington two-sport athlete is hoping to spend his summer trying out for the NFL. Here’s what the 5-foot-9 Robinson  told SLAM Magazine:

“I might go play football. Do something that nobody’s tried to do.  If I can, I would love to play football a little bit. I’ve been doing a little bit of training. Why wouldn’t you want to have an NBA player that can play football try out? That’s a lot of publicity for your organization.”

There’s one little problem: The NFL is locked out, too. Kinda makes you realize why Robinson decided to pull up for 3-pointers when he was on a 1-on-4 fast break. It’s fairly safe to assume Nate Robinson is the best two-sport locked out athlete in history.

Paul Pierce bounced from World Series of Poker

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Paul Pierce had already been a world champion in his own occupation and this summer, with the NBA players locked out by the owners, he had tried to become a champion in one of his hobbies: Texas Hold ‘Em poker. The Celtics captain posted the $10,000  entry fee for the World Series of Poker’s main event and lasted 17 hours and 40 minutes on the felt before he was finally left without any chips late Monday night, according to the ESPN Poker Blog.

Pierce lasted longer than more than half of the 2,031 hopefuls who entered the popular competition in Las Vegas’s Rio casino but fell well short of finishing in the money. He went all-in with a 2-2 – interestingly enough, Pierce has averaged 22.2 points per game during his 13-year NBA career – but the C’s swingman ran into a pair of Jacks and there would be no luck of the Irish on the flop. He exited to a round of applause from the Rio crowd as well as his fellow gamblers.