Archive for August, 2012

Why Kris Joseph deserves the 15th Celtics roster spot (Part One)

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Montreal manufactures hockey players, and business is good. Except if you’re Kris Joseph.

So, when the late second-round Celtics pick in this summer’s NBA draft arrived stateside as a 17-year-old high school junior in search of a basketball education, the jet lag lasted a little longer than usual.

“He was pretty lazy,” admitted Clinton Perrow, who coached Joseph for two prep seasons at Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) from 2006-08. “A lot of things came to him without a whole lot of effort. Early on, he didn’t see the need for conditioning because the game came so easily for him.”

Still, no coach questioned Joseph’s potential. Not as an inexperienced junior. Not as ESPNU’s No. 50 overall senior recruit in the Class of 2008. Not during a collegiate career that culminated in a Wooden Award finalist bid in his fourth and final season at Syracuse. And not when he fell all the way to the Celtics at No. 52 in the draft.

“When you see him, you know he’s a player,” said Curtis Malone, president of the D.C. Assault AAU program that recruited Joseph in 2006. “And we didn’t have to see him much to say, ‘We’ve gotta get this guy on our team.’ There were so many moments that made you say, ‘Wow, this kid is really, really good.’ He’s a talent.”

Six years later, Joseph joins undrafted rookies Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith in a three-man battle for the final two spots on the C’s 15-man roster. And he still may not have realized that full potential.

“He hadn’t played lot of high-level ball until his last two years of high school, so once he puts everything together this kid has so much talent that the upside is huge for him,” said Syracuse assistant Adrian Autry, who served as Joseph’s positional coach this past season and faced him as a high school assistant at Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.). “He played basketball, but not at that level and not every day. Hockey is the sport in Canada, so once he got into that type of environment where he was playing at a high level and playing every day, he was very impressive.”

Joseph’s skill set, for the most part, hasn’t changed all that much since he made the 600-mile mission from Montreal to Washington, D.C. How seriously he approaches his craft, however, has evolved dramatically.

“After summer league, I had to take a little time off, just for my body,” said Joseph during an appearance last week at the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s Summer Soiree. “Two summer leagues was kind of grueling, but it was a great experience overall. I’ve just been working out, trying to maintain my body. I’ve been making sure I’ve been eating the right things and doing things the right way, just so I can work out. This is a job, so you’ve got to make sure you do things the right way, especially with your body.”

In a way, when Celtics training camp commences at September’s end, Joseph’s story is only just beginning.

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The Celtics’ Andrew Bynum problem

Friday, August 10th, 2012

With Andrew Bynum now in the Celtics' divsion, their road back to the Finals just got tougher. (AP)

If there’s one thing Kevin Garnett hates about playing center, it’s playing against an actual center. Thankfully, there are fewer and fewer of those in the NBA. Unfortunately, most of them now live in the Atlantic Division.

While Dwight Howard commands all the attention, the Celtics are certain to be keeping an eye on developments much closer to home. Namely, Philadelphia, where the 76ers took a massive step in their overhaul by acquiring Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson in exchange for Andre Iguodala and two recent first round picks as part of a four-team blockbuster.

Bynum’s arrival in the C’s division coincides with the NBA debut of the well-regarded Jonas Valanciunas in Toronto as well as the presumably healthy return of Brook Lopez to the Nets. Those three plus Tyson Chandler — the reigning Defensive Player of the Year — gives Garnett more than 28 feet of headaches, 16 times a year.

The Celtics have always kept a close eye on Howard — they built their 2010 team with the idea of beating the Magic in the playoffs — but that has always been from a comfortable distance. With Howard in Los Angeles that’s a problem only if they both happen to make the Finals and Bynum stands as a much bigger issue now.

Bynum scored 36 points and grabbed 31 rebounds against the Celtics last season, both with Garnett at center, an experience that left him drained. Bynum is coming off his best season and will be just 25 years old when the season starts, so if the Sixers can convince the Jersey-native to stay, he could be a problem for a long time for the Celtics. (more…)

Irish Coffee: Celtics ‘veteran’ Avery Bradley emerges from Ray Allen’s shadow

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Two years ago, as a rookie, Avery Bradley actually tried to hide in practice.

“I didn’t want to get in, because I was so scared of KG [Kevin Garnett] yelling at me if I messed up,” he said during a panel Thursday hosted by Jessica Camerato at the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s Summer Soiree. “I would sit on the sideline. I might not even get in the whole practice, because I didn’t want KG to yell at me.”

You forget Bradley’s only 21 years old, since he’s the elder Celtics statesman on a panel that included newcomers Courtney Lee, Kris Joseph and Dionte Christmas. How far the shy kid has come from Tacoma, Wash.

“We’re like a family,” added Bradley, making his third charitable appearance in as many days. “These guys are going to learn that we’re like a family on and off the court. We all hang out. We all go to each other’s house. It felt good to be part of a family, and I felt a lot more comfortable around the guys.”

It was once almost impossible to elicit more than a few words from Bradley, who could often be found fixating on the floor from a chair at his locker. Now? Camerato couldn’t get him to stop talking.

“You guys are going to be happy once we start that first day of training camp because all we want to do is win,” he added. “We’re a family. We don’t care about anything but winning. To be part of a team like that, it makes you feel comfortable, because there’s no pressure. You’re not going out there worrying about scoring or doing things you can’t do. You do your role and everything else will work itself out and we’ll win games.”

The only subjects he wouldn’t expound upon were his right and left shoulders, deftly explaining, “I’m just taking it day by day,” four times during an interview session prior to the public panel. And when someone from the crowd later blurted out, “Avery, when you coming back?” he simply smiled and said, “Can’t tell you.”

Of course, it wasn’t always so easy for Bradley. As a rookie, he averaged only 5.2 minutes over just 31 games, shooting 34.3 percent from the field and precisely 0.0 percent from 3-point range. And it seemed worse.

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Analysis: Lakers get Dwight Howard in four-team trade

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Dwight Howard is going west in a blockbuster trade.

Well, this was unexpected. After a summer of rumors that went nowhere, the Magic have finally agreed to trade Dwight Howard in a four-team deal that only became public Thursday morning.

The trade, as reported by numerous national outlets and which is expected to be finalized on Friday, will send Howard to the Lakers continuing a long legacy of disaffected big men that have made their way to Los Angeles. Howard joins Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal as All-Star centers who joined the Lakers after beginning their careers elsewhere.

In exchange for Howard, the Lakers sent Andrew Bynum to the 76ers but held on to Pau Gasol. That gives them a starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Gasol and Howard.

The trade sent Bynum right into the Celtics’ backyard and if there’s one center Kevin Garnett struggled with this past season it’s Bynum.

The Sixers also absorbed the contract of Jason Richardson, who has three years left at over $18 million. Richardson is still an effective player whose perimeter shooting helps shore up their biggest weakness, but he’s already beginning to decline and will be 32 in January. The cost was Andre Iguodala, who will go to the Nuggets, along with Nicola Vucecic and Moe Harkless, who will go to the Magic.

It’s a weird mix for the Sixers, who also amnesty’d Elton Brand and replaced him with Nick Young and Kwame Brown earlier this offseason. They dropped Brand, Iguodala and Lou Williams from the team that took the Celtics to seven games, and while Bynum is immediately the best center in the Eastern Conference, it remains to be seen if they got better after all their offseason moves. Bynum also has one year left on his contract. (more…)

Courtney Lee: Joining Celtics ‘a no-brainer for me’

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Here’s all you need to know about Celtics sign-and-trade acquisition Courtney Lee before this NBA season begins: He took less money to play in Boston, and he doesn’t care whether he starts or comes off the bench.

“I had a lot of different offers from a lot of different teams, but the one I really wanted to come to was Boston,” Lee said Thursday from the Boston Children’s Museum, where the Celtics held their Summer Soiree to benefit the Shamrock Foundation. “So, I spoke to my agent and I spoke to my family. It was a decision that I had to take less money to come here, but in that I’ll be winning, I’ll have a chance to play on TV. That’s what everybody wants to do. They want to win big and a chance to win a ring, so it was a no-brainer for me.”

In town for his first public appearance as a member of the Celtics and to find a place to live for at least part of his four-year, $21.5 million contract, Lee joins a shooting guard logjam along with Avery Bradley and Jason Terry after being signed-and-traded from the Rockets in a complicated deal that involved the Celtics shipping JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, Sasha Pavlovic and three second-round draft picks out of Boston.

Still, when asked if he preferred starting to backing up Bradley upon his return from surgery on both shoulders, Lee said all the right things while not giving up too much outside of the fact he and Celtics coach Doc Rivers have already discussed his role “in details” over dinner multiple times.

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Dwyane Wade ‘pretty happy’ about ‘hurting’ Celtics

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

During a promotional appearance at the London Olympics, Heat superstar Dwyane Wade made the media rounds while recovering from July 9 left knee surgery, and Celtics fans should take note of two statements: 1) He believes as many did that Miami’s addition of Ray Allen improves the Heat and hurts the C’s, and 2) He expects to be in uniform for the Oct. 30 ring ceremony in Miami before the opener between the Celtics and Heat.

  • Wade on Allen (via The Globe): “When you get a chance to add one of the best shooters in history, the best 3-point shooter in history, and you’re adding him and making your team better while at the same time hurting one of your biggest rivals, you’re pretty happy when it works out. Ray’s going to give us another element in our offense, another weapon, and he’s really going to enjoy the golf courses, I know that.”
  • Wade on whether or not he’ll be healthy for the NBA opener (via the Associated Press): “I should be. We’ll see. We’ll see how we approach it as an organization. But I should be able to go. It just depends on how much they feel like they want me to work. But I should be ready when the season starts.”

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Irish Coffee: Where in the world are current Celtics?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

We’re less than two months away from the start of Celtics training camp, so now is as good a time as any to take a roster role call. There are 16 players currently under contract — or, in Jeff Green‘s case, under agreement to a contract — with the Celtics, and all have popped up at various times and in various places across the globe this summer, so let’s quickly review their last known whereabouts and salary structure.

BRANDON BASS: Teaching basketball in China.

“I’ve got big dreams, man,” he told reporters at a press conference last month. “I’m 27. Some of my cousins think I’m getting old, but I’m still young, and I’ve got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on an organization, and on a team. I think this is the perfect team to do that.”

Contract: Reportedly owed $20 million spread out over next three seasons.

AVERY BRADLEY: Praising Ray Allen. And recovering from double shoulder surgery.

“Ray was a great tutor,” Bradley told ESPN.com. “I’m sad that he’s gone, but we all wish the best for him. But he definitely meant a lot. He helped me out every single day. Sometimes I’d just be working out and he’d be watching on the side. He’d get up and tell me what I needed to work on, or tell me how I can be more consistent.”

As for his shoulder rehab? “I’m just ready to do whatever my team needs me to do,” he added. “I’m just going to be prepared and ready to go out there and do my role, and do whatever my team needs me to do to win games.”

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