Archive for July, 2013

Living the very un-NBA life that is the Orlando Summer League

Saturday, July 13th, 2013
Celtics first-round pick Kelly Olynyk made his mark at the Orland Summer League. (AP)

Celtics first-round pick Kelly Olynyk made his mark at the Orland Summer League. (AP)

ORLANDO — There is no glamor in this.

The Orlando Summer Pro League is the player’s equivalent of a physical exam. It’s sterile. Clinical. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable.

A few dozen young men, many of whom just met, assemble at what must feel like an ungodly hour to perform for the assembled coaches, executives, scouts, agents, and media. For many, it’s a first taste of life as a pro. For some, it’s another in a line of chances to prove they are worthy of an invitation to training camp. For a few, it’s a mandated appearance to hone a skill, or work on something new.

The players are fully exposed on the court. Every squeak of sneakers, every slap of a foul, every curse after a missed shot is heard quite plainly by just about everyone. With no more than three rows of seating surrounding the court, expressions are clearly visible, even winces from coaches who clearly expected something different from a play.

Yes, the environment during these games can be unforgiving.

But most of these guys love it.

“I’m really having fun out there and having fun with my team,” said first-round pick (and summer league star) Kelly Olynyk. “It’s a great group of guys, a great group of coaches, very encouraging.”

Strip away all the ancillary stuff like crowds and a PA announcer, and what these guys have been doing out there all week is simply playing basketball. For the purists who want to hear and see every little bit of detail, this is a little slice of bliss.

“It’s been great,” new C’s coach Brad Stevens told me this week. “I’ve been able to get to the gym and sit, and listen, and talk, and evaluate and then I can go back to my room and work. So it’s been a great balance.”

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Celtics wrap up Summer League with a win and a seventh-place finish

Friday, July 12th, 2013
Tony Mitchell, shown here playing for Alabama, scored 14 points Friday to lead the Celtics to a Summer League win. (AP)

Tony Mitchell, shown here playing for Alabama, scored 14 points Friday to lead the Celtics to a Summer League win. (AP)

Behind 14 points from Tony Mitchell and 12 apiece from Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson, the Celtics raced out to a 29-point lead and blew out the host Orlando Magic, 102-83, on Friday afternoon to capture the seventh-place game in the the Orlando Summer League series at Amway Center.

Olynyk, Boston’s first-round pick in this year’s draft, finished the week averaging 18.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, finishing as one of the most impressive young players in the tournament that features first and second-year talent and rookie free agents.

The Celtics, who finished their week in central Florida at 3-2, were blazing hot in the first half, scoring 61 points in the 20-minute first-half. The Celtics connected on 57.1 percent of its field goals and 58.3 percent of their 3-pointers in the first half.

Leading the way in the first half was Lawrence Hill, with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting. He hit three of his five 3-point attempts in the half. Olynyk and Omar Reed also chipped in 10 points apiece in the first half while Boston left Orlando in the dust.

Boston pulled ahead by as many as 29 points early in the third after a 7-0 run to start the second half. That spurt was highlighted by a nice and-one hook shot by Fab Melo, who finished the game with 11 points and five rebounds in less than 18 minutes of action.

Orlando trimmed Boston’s lead down to 81-69 with 7:47 remaining in the game. The Celtics, however, responded by scoring 14 of the game’s next 18 points, building their lead back to 95-74 with three minutes left.

Seven Celtics scored in double-figures. Mitchell led the team with 14 points, while Olynyk and Iverson each poured in 12. Phil Pressey was the only Boston starter who failed to score at least 10 points finishing with seven but earned his second straight game of double-digit assists with 10.

Celtics announce Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett trade

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Celtics

The Celtics officially announced the trade of superstars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets.

The only surprise is forward D.J. White‘s inclusion in the deal that will send Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. White signed a $1.03 million non-guaranteed deal for 2013-14.

Meanwhile, Kris Humphries ($12 million) officially becomes the highest-paid Celtic, joining Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks and Kris Joseph in Boston. More importantly, the C’s acquired Brooklyn’s first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 as well as the option to swap No. 1 picks with the Nets in the 2017 draft.

“We would like to thank Paul, Kevin, and Jason for everything that they have done for this franchise,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a press release. “We would not have won Banner 17 without Paul and Kevin and they will go down amongst the all-time great players to have ever worn a Celtics uniform. At the same time we are excited to welcome Gerald, Kris, Keith, MarShon and Kris to the Celtics family. They bring a wealth of talent, experience, depth, and flexibility to our team.”

Excited, huh?

“We are really excited to welcome Gerald, Kris, Keith, MarShon and Kris to the Celtics organization,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens added in the release. “They collectively bring a great deal of versatility, unique skill sets and production to our roster. I cannot wait to get to work with them.”

Excited, I guess.

Believe it or not, the Nets were pretty excited themselves about landing Pierce, Garnett and Terry.

“Today, the basketball gods smiled on the Nets,” Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a separate press release. “With the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, we have achieved a great balance on our roster between veteran stars and young talents. This team will be dazzling to watch, and tough to compete against.”

“We are excited to welcome Kevin, Paul and Jason to Brooklyn” added Brooklyn GM Billy King. “All three players have championship pedigree and posses the veteran qualities that will make us a stronger team.”

Brad Stevens on D&C: Rajon Rondo ‘really, really intelligent, insightful,’ will be a Celtics leader

Friday, July 12th, 2013
Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, and the new Celtics coach made sure to clear up a couple of big question marks about the organization moving forward: Yes, he expects Rajon Rondo to be on the team, and yes, he expects the point guard to be one of the leaders.

Stevens has spent much of the last week meeting with members of the organization — both staff and players — and Rondo is no exception. The two met up in Louisville, Ky., when Stevens made the two-hour drive from Indianapolis.

Aside from giving a quick talk at Rondo’s youth basketball camp, Stevens spent some time getting to know his point guard.

“I just enjoyed spending time with him, asking him questions about not only his time with the Celtics but his time before,” Stevens said. “I found him to be really, really intelligent, really, really insightful. I thought he had great ideas. I’m really looking forward to working with him.

“I think [Rondo is] eager for that challenge [to be the leader] and I’m looking forward to that. I’ve talked to a lot of guys that are on this team already, and I think we have a good, young group that has been great to me. They seem eager, they seem excited, and they all speak very highly of playing with him.”

Another one of the players Stevens spoke with during his time in Orlando — where he watched some summer league action — is first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, who has gotten plenty of headlines during his first taste of professional action.

While Stevens was wary of putting grand expectations on the 22-year-old, he is expecting big things.

“I sat down with him the other day, and I just told him, a lot of people will use their rookie year or their second year or their third year as an excuse for not being the best that they can be because they have this transition/grace period. And then there’s other guys that make the All-Rookie team. And I think that certainly should be a goal, and he’s certainly capable,” Stevens said.

“He’s a very good player, he’s a very skilled player. He has a great feel for the game, and I just like him. I like him as a person. He’s a very driven young man, so I’m looking forward to coaching him.”

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Rajon Rondo: ‘I am not a coach-killer’

Friday, July 12th, 2013
Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

As is his custom, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has remained quiet throughout his team’s tumultuous summer, but C’s broadcaster Cedric Maxwell shared a recent conversation between the two about new coach Brad Stevens.

“On the Fourth of July, I happened to be walking on one of the beaches of Boston, ran into Rajon Rondo’s brother, had him give Rondo a call and I spoke to Rondo personally about this,” Maxwell told Yahoo! Sports Radio. “Rondo said to me, ‘Look, I am not a coach-killer,’ so I think that he wants to get in here, he wants to work hard, he wants to get along with the coach, and he feels like he’s been put into an unfair picture of being such a hard, difficult guy to coach.”

Somewhere along the line, Rondo developed a reputation as a player no coach but Doc Rivers could handle — and even Rivers grew tired of him, or so the rumors go. We tackled how that tale got taller here.

“He is stubborn and pig-headed when it comes to doing it his way and getting it done his way,” added Maxwell. “And he wants to prove people wrong because he was drafted down in the draft — how good he is, how good he’s become. He’s become an All-Star, and he’s become one of the better point guards in the NBA, so I think he has kind of a chip on his shoulder. That kind of comes into play, but a lot of great players always have some kind of idiosyncrasy that kind of goes along with that.”

Celtics issue ‘thank you’ to Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Thank You

On the day the trade becomes official, the Celtics issued a message to departed superstars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on both the team’s social media accounts and in an ad in The Boston Globe.

“To two of the greatest Celtics legends of all-time: Thank you. You will always be Celtics.”

The statement is accompanied by a photoshopped image of KG hoisting the 2008 NBA championship trophy and Pierce clutching his Finals MVP award in front of the Garden parquet and banner-filled rafters. The caption:

THANK YOU
FOR YOUR HEART
FOR YOUR PASSION
FOR YOUR SACRIFICE
FOR PLAYING THROUGH THE PAIN
FOR BLEEDING GREEN
FOR HONORING TRADITION
FOR AN AMAZING RIDE
FOR RESTORING CELTIC PRIDE
FOR BANNER 17

Apparently, they forgot: “FOR THREE FIRST-ROUND PICKS,” since it was the team’s decision to trade them.

Yup, it’s official, folks. The trade is scheduled to be finalized on Friday, shipping Jason Terry along with the two Celtics greats to Brooklyn in exchange for Nets Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and Kris Joseph as well as Brooklyn’s first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

If you’re a tortured fan who needs more proof Pierce and Garnett’s time in Boston is over: Check out these images of their Nets jerseys and watch Pierce tell TMZ, “Who says it’s the end of my career? I plan on playing 10 more years dude.” Also, read this retrospective on Truth and Ticket.

Kelly Olynyk posts a double-double, but Celtics fall to Rockets in summer league

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Kelly Olynyk had a double-double on Wednesday against Houston. (AP)

Kelly Olynyk, shown here in Tuesday’s game against the Pacers, had a double-double Wednesday against the Rockets. (AP)

Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 19 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in 28 minutes, but the Celtics had their two-game win streak snapped in an 85-78 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday afternoon in NBA Summer League play in Orlando. Olynyk did commit five turnovers and seven personal fouls in the loss. Summer league rules allow players to commit an unlimited number of fouls.

The Rockets, who recently signed free agent center Dwight Howard, jumped out to a quick start, leading 24-17 after one quarter.

The Celtics responded by outscoring the Rockets 23-19 in the second period and cut Houston’s lead to 43-40 at the half. But the Celtics offense went cold again in the third as Boston scored just 16 points and trailed 67-56 entering the final quarter.

Trailing 81-73 with 1:38 left in the game, the Celtics made one final push, cutting the lead to three, 81-78, on a Lawrence Hill 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds remaining. But those would be the final points of the day for the Celtics, who finished the scheduled portion of summer league at 2-2. They will have Thursday off before a playoff game on Friday.

The Celtics, who entered the day in third place in the standings, earned two points in the loss by winning the second and fourth quarters. They have 14 points, tying them with the idle Heat for third place. The Heat play Thursday. The Celtics are likely to play in either the third-place or fifth-place game on Friday.

The Rockets are a perfect 3-0, with their final scheduled game set for Thursday. The Rockets are second in the standings now with 16 points after earning five on Wednesday. Oklahoma City leads the group with 20 points after earning six on Wednesday in a win over the 76ers.

Tim Abromaitis (14) and Courtney Fells (10) were the only other Celtics scoring in double figures. Phil Pressey got the start again at point guard for the Celtics. He had an up-and-down game, dishing out a game-high 10 assists but committing four turnovers and making just 2-of-9 field goal attempts.

At halftime, new Celtics coach Brad Stevens spoke to NBA TV. Stevens said he’s not worried about next season’s record as much as he is about the overall approach his new team takes to playing.

“I’ve been a lot less concerned about results [this summer] than playing to a standard. That’s going to be a major emphasis,” Stevens told Nick Cellini and Kendall Gill.

Stevens was also asked about Rajon Rondo and whether he’s reached out to his All-Star point guard.

“From everything I’ve been told, his rehab has been going well,” Stevens said. “Shared quite a few texts, talked on phone. Will talk to him soon.”