Archive for July, 2011

Would locked out Celtics consider signing overseas?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Almost 50 years after The Beatles led The British Invasion of rock bands into the popular culture in the United States, none of the self-proclaimed Heatles have committed to participate in what increasingly appears to be an invasion of NBA players into basketball leagues overseas.

But that’s not to say none of the NBA’s superstars aren’t (triple negative!) considering overseas options while the league’s owners have locked out the players with the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. A different wrinkle in this Eurasian Invasion pops up almost every day.

Nets point guard Deron Williams is leading the charge of superstars attempting to create leverage for the players, as he reportedly agreed in principal to a one-year, $5 million deal with Turkey-based (get it?) Besiktas should the NBA’s lockout last through the summer. Upstart Canadian National Basketball League has already extended invites to the likes of Dirk Nowitzi and LeBron James. Imports like Zaza Pachulia, Andrei Kirilenko, Marco Belinelli, Patrick Mills and Carlos Delfino are all considering returning overseas. Free agent veterans like Sonny Weems and undrafted free agents like David Lighty have already agreed to deals that will keep them in Europe even if there is a 2011-12 NBA season. And Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has discussed the possibility of leading a group of players represented by his agent, Rob Pelinka, on an exhibition tour of China.

It’s hard to believe that Nenad Krstic started this trend, snubbing the Celtics and other free-agent center pursuers to sign with CSKA Moscow for two years and $9.8 million. With new rumors emerging every day, are the Celtics in danger of losing any other members of the 2010-11 roster overseas?

Let’s examine the potential for Celtics to explore options abroad …

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Austin Rivers dunks twice on Rasheed Wallace

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Duke University’s No. 1 basketball recruit and son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Austin Rivers put on a show in his debut at the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am (a.k.a. “The Rucker of the South”), dunking not once but twice on former Celtic Rasheed Wallace – thanks to some vintage Sheed defense (or lack thereof).

Shaq video chronicles gruesome cast removal

Friday, July 8th, 2011

For anyone who might think Shaquille O’Neal exaggerated the right Achilles tendon injury that kept him from all but 12 minutes of the 2010-11 NBA Playoffs, take a look at the foot-long surgical incision on his leg in the embedded video — pieced together from a series of videos he posted on Tout.

Apparently, Shaq underwent surgery on the Achilles in the month and change since he informed the Celtics that he would retire from the NBA after 19 seasons. He now sports a supportive boot, complete with a chrome lining.

During his retirement press conference, Shaq announced his final nickname — The Big AARP — laying his Superman, The Big Shamrock and countless other monikers to rest. Of course, he only lasted a little over a month before declaring yet another nickname as a result of the surgical staples you can see being removed from his calf and ankle: The Big Staple Center.

Both Shaq and girlfriend NicoleHoopzAlexander hinted at more to come. First, Shaq said he’ll be hiding his removed cast somewhere and will provide clues to its location soon. And then Hoopz tweeted that she and Shaq will be driving to the West Coast and back in an RV. Kinda like “On the Road” but with Jack KerouShaq.

Let’s just hope Yao Ming follows a similar post-career path after Yahoo! Sports broke news of his retirement.

Mickael Pietrus: ‘Celtics are interested in me’

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Four months after the Celtics could have used his services — and possibly avoided trading Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green — Suns swingman Mickael Pietrus is claiming the C’s are interested in him, according to French newspaper L’Équipe (via HoopsHype).

Phoenix didn’€™t use me, but that’€™s their problem. I’€™m going to continue working. The only thing I care about is winning a title. … A lot of teams are interested in me, like the Lakers or the Celtics. This came from the best player in the world: Kobe Bryant. He told me two months ago that he would like to see me with the Lakers.

It’s unclear whether the curiosity coming from Boston is new or just an aftereffect from the rumors that circled around Pietrus and fellow Suns swingmen Grant Hill and Jared Dudley before this past NBA trade deadline.

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Report: Von Wafer wouldn’t rule out Celtics return

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

In order to break his streak of starting with a new team each time he enters an NBA training camp, Von Wafer is reportedly opening to returning to the Celtics if and when the 2011-12 season begins, according to a report by ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. Here’s what Wafer’s agent, Terrance Doyle, told Forsberg:

“Von would love to be back. He’s never gotten that opportunity to go back with a team.”

But do the Celtics want Wafer back? Especially considering they gave Wafer’s No. 12 to their first-round pick (Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson) and drafted a shooting guard with their No. 55 pick (Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore) in addition to signing another undrafted guard (Pittsburgh’s Gilbert Brown). Not to mention the number of quality shooting guards expected to be available via free agency — including Delonte West.

In just 9.5 minutes per over 58 games — no thanks in part to a calf injury — Wafer averaged 3.2 points on 42.1 percent shooting from the field (26.9 from 3-point range). Unless you count his preseason brawl with West, Wafer didn’t exactly provide the firepower off the bench the Celtics had hoped from a guy who scored 9.7 points on 44.7 percent shooting (39.0 from 3) during his 2008-09 campaign in a Rockets uniform.

While Wafer’s defensive deficiency improved under the tutelage of Doc Rivers & Co., he only reached double-digit scoring just six times during the season. Two of those performances came in the final two games of the regular season, when the starters rested, and two more came in 15-point blowouts. Chances are the Celtics could find somebody to provide better punch on both ends of the floor — even at the bottom of the salary barrel.

Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: NBA Owners ‘want rollbacks on current contracts’

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Yahoo! Sports’€™ Adrian Wojnarowski joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to discuss the NBA lockout. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Wojnarowski got right to business, making it clear that both sides of the lockout — the owners and the NBA Players Association — are prepared to dig in for the long haul.

“I think there’s a real chance that they lose a whole season with this lockout,” Wojnarowski said. “I don’t claim to be an expert on the NFL labor dispute. I’m not sure I’m an expert on the NBA’s yet, but I don’t think they’re looking to change the structure of things in the NFL. In the NBA, they’re changing the structure, and really the whole system. That’s not going to come easily. I think the comparison is what happened in hockey, where they tried to put the hard cap, and they lost the full season in ’04-’05. I think that’s where we may be headed with this stoppage. There’s no doubt in my mind they will miss games, and they’ll be where they were in ’98, where it’s either going to be a shortened 50-game regular season, or they cancel the whole thing.”

On the timing of the lockout:

“I think the NBA’€™s in a different place than the NHL was then,” Wojnarowski said. “The NBA is at the height of interest and popularity.”

He added: “The game’€™s never been more popular, watched certainly globally, but here the interest from what happened last year in free agency with LeBron, whether people love him or hate him they all watched. Boston has been good, your marquee markets have been very good again. Boston, L.A., Chicago, New York is having a bit of a revival. I think it’€™s a dangerous time for the league. I think the players are going to have to give. I think they know they’re going to have to give back, but I think right now, to me, there are so many organizations in the NBA, so many bad owners, poorly run franchises who want to blame competitive balance on the fact that they don’t do their jobs very well.  There are enough small-market examples — San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Detroit for a very long stretch without a superstar player, who have shown you can do it. While I understand there’s got to be some tightening up here, there’s no question, I think a lot of this the owners, they’re looking to have the players dig them out of a hole that in many instances, they’ve created for themselves.”

Concerning how current contracts will be handled:

“They want rollbacks on the current contracts. They want rollbacks. This is my feeling on contracts in the NBA. I think that star players, the elite players, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, even like a Blake Griffin who comes in the league and is selling out arenas on the road in his first year. What Clippers games have ever sold out anywhere? This year I live in Jersey and I was going to take my son to a Nets-Clippers game because he wanted to see Blake Griffin and it was sold out. And I said, ‘€˜How could a Clippers-Nets game be sold out? Wow, Blake Griffin.’€™ Those guys, generally are to me underpaid for what they do for television, for the interest.

“And I think a lot of probably the middle class might be overpaid. A lot of those guys are probably more interchangeable than they want to believe they are. They don’€™t put people in stands. What will happen is while their salaries are going to go down, the superstar player is probably going to be very underpaid compared to what they’€™re worth for these franchises. But, what they do want is rollbacks on the current deals. What the owners proposed right now, they’€™re looking at 25 percent, 20 percent rollbacks on an existing deal you already have now. That’€™s going to be hard to swallow for guys, not just on your next deal, but on your current deal. You’€™re going to lose money on a deal you’€™ve already agreed to.”

The owners have announced that 22 of 30 teams lost money last season. Both Wojnarowski and the players association aren’t sold on that number.

“I’€™m not an economist and I don’€™t have access to their books, but I know on the players’€™ side, they feel like a lot of these numbers get cooked,” Wojnarowski said.

Added Wonjnarowski: “I know the union doesn’€™t believe there are 22 teams losing money, not with the way teams have spent. You know you look at free agency, I was talking to a GM last night and he said he was watching actually the lockout press conference and he started going through every deal done last summer and said, ‘€˜I counted about $220 million in bad contracts done in our league last summer.’€™ So all the owners are crying poverty. They’€™re still spending money. And it certainly leads you to believe, and not necessarily wisely, I don’€™t believe there are 22 teams losing money in the NBA. Now, are there a few? Yeah. And if you’€™re going to look at places with arenas empty, Minnesota or New Jersey, but half the places they’€™ve not run their franchises very well either. It’€™s not just because they can’€™t spend like the Celtics or Lakers or other teams. It’€™s because they haven’€™t done a good job drafting, making deals, hiring coaches and yet you never hear them take accountability for that because like I said, we’€™ve seen the Spurs do it, we’€™ve seen the Thunder do it, we’€™ve seen a bunch of small-market teams be able to do it.”

Former Celtic Nenad Krstic recently signed a two-year deal to play in Europe for CSKA Moscow. Wojnarowski expects others to follow.

“I think you’€™re going to see that,” he said. “The problem right now is that a few years ago overseas was a big threat and then the euro crashed. There aren’€™t as many teams in Europe as there were a few years ago. There was a couple years there where, you know, Josh Childress had a $6 million a year deal in Europe. Those deals aren’€™t there anymore for those kind of guys. If a front line NBA guy wants to go over there, he can get a good contract. The middle-of-the-road, the middle-class guys who were going over there and really getting paid well, getting paid more than they could get with say the veterans minimum here or even like a $1.8, $2.2 million deal, they could get a little better over there. That money isn’€™t really there anymore. So you will see more guys go over there. Now for Krstic it was easy because he’€™s from Europe and he has a comfort level there. But I think you’€™ll see a few more guys sign up like that, fringe guys, but the guys who are under contract and aren’€™t free agents right now, they’€™re going to have to ride it out.”

Ken Berger on D&C: NBA owners ‘want the players crushed and brought to their knees’

Friday, July 1st, 2011

CBS Sports’€™ Ken Berger called in to Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss the NBA lockout. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Berger said the key difference between the CBA negotiations in 1998 and 2011 is ‘€œa groundswell now of support among the owners to fundamentally change the sport.’€

‘€œThat was not the case in the ‘€™98-99 lockout,’€ Berger said. ‘€œThe owners wanted cost-certainty, now they want to be guaranteed profit. They essentially want the players crushed and brought to their knees.’€

While Berger said that the two biggest issues in these negotiations are profit-splits and the hard-cap, he also criticized the NBA owners for misrepresenting their profitability to justify their position.

‘€œI don’€™t want to say that the owners are lying, or committing accounting fraud, or anything like that,’€ Berger said. ‘€œBut as anybody knows, anybody who’€™s ever done a tax return or opened a lemonade stand, you know that you can make the numbers say whatever you want them to say.

‘€œThey are clearly massaging the figures so that certain expenses ‘€¦ are counted on their books as money going out the door year after year, when it’€™s not really money going out the door.’€

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