Archive for December, 2013

Donny Marshall on M&M: Celtics talking to Kings about trading Rajon Rondo for Isaiah Thomas, others

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Donny Marshall says a potential deal with the Kings might land the Celtics 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas. (AP)

Donny Marshall says a potential deal with the Kings might land the Celtics 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas. (AP)

Donny Marshall, the former CSNNE Celtics analyst who now works for NBC Sports and the YES Network, joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the trade rumors surrounding Rajon Rondo.

Marshall turned heads earlier this week when he said Sacramento is a possible landing spot for Rondo, who has yet to play this season as he works his way back from a torn ACL suffered in January. According to Marshall, there is a multi-player deal in the works between the Celtics and Kings.

“This is actually something that the teams are talking about,” Marshall insisted. “The name that people would understand and would know is a guy like Isaiah Thomas. He’s a great little guard. He’s having career highs right now, he’s averaging about 18, 19 points a game. He’s a scorer. He’s a guy who can run the point for you, but he can also score. He’s one piece.

“I think the other piece, you throw in some other athletes — remember, they just made a trade, Sacramento, to get Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray. And they’ve had some other guys there that they’re trying to move. The key for them is two future first-round picks. If you’re to stay on that same theme that the Celtics have been on, to get young and to be good for a long time, how do you do that? You get them through the draft. ‘€¦ I think here’s another opportunity to not only get a couple of good players now, young players, but you get two future first-round picks. To me, it makes total sense.”

Added Marshall: “Guys are always going to be talked about. In Rondo’s situation ‘€¦ it makes sense. Do you want to be mediocre? Do you want to finish sixth this year? Not that anyone is going to try to tank — this team is playing terrific. ‘€¦ I’m happy that they’re playing the way they’re playing. But for the fans and for that market, to be mediocre is not fun. ‘€¦ That, I don’t think the Celtics deserve. The fans don’t deserve that, the players don’t deserve that. The way you get past that sooner than later is trying to move a guy like Rajon Rondo. And that’s not to be disrespectful to a player like Rondo.”

The Celtics also reportedly are pushing to acquire disgruntled Rockets center Omer Asik.

“You talk about Omer Asik, they want to now try to find a package to get him out of Houston. Brandon Bass is a name that they’re throwing in there. I don’t think Jeff Green will be a guy that you would want to [trade]; I think he’s untouchable, in my opinion. I think that’s one guy you can try to continue to build around, but there are some other pieces that will go.

“A complete dismantling? No. But I think Danny [Ainge] will do what he’s always done. He will think these things through. He will talk to all of his guys around him. The one thing that’s great about Danny is he always has people around him that are smarter than him. I love that theory. Because now you go to them and you trust them, and those people are doing their due diligence to make sure the team is going in the right direction.

“I don’t think they’ll dismantle, but I do think Danny will take some pieces that he can build around and and not completely be in the basement, but put himself in a position to be able to get — I think they can get some of those lottery picks. I really think they can get some of those game-changers in the next two drafts.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

Kevin Love on loss to Celtics: ‘[Expletive] happens’

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Count Kevin Love among those not overly impressed by the Celtics‘ 12-14 start.

“We beat that team the large majority of the times we play,” said Love, who recorded 27 points and 14 assists against a soft interior Boston defense, “but, like they say, [expletive] happens.”

Asked if he felt his T-Wolves gifted the Celtics a victory, Love added, “Big time. Big time.”

The Timberwolves (12-13) did hand the Celtics a beating in their first meeting, a 106-88 decision in Minnesota last month. Prior to this season, however, the two-time NBA All-Star owned a 1-10 record in his career against the C’s, but this is a different Celtics team under a different Celtics coach — a younger roster that plays equally as hard, even if Love isn’t prepared to give them a whole lot of credit just yet.

“We thought we could’ve beat that team,” said Love. “They executed down the stretch, but more than anything we beat ourselves.”

Ricky Rubio on Rajon Rondo’s return: ‘It’s hard’

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Rajon Rondo has returned to practice, and, according to his coach, the Celtics point guard’s return is entirely up to him, but Ricky Rubio knows recovery from ACL surgery isn’t over when you step back on the court.

“It’s hard,” said Rubio, who scored just six points on 2-of-12 shooting in a 101-97 loss to the Celtics. “It depends on how he feels and how he tries his knee. It’s something I’ve been through, and I can tell you from what I’ve been through that it wasn’t easy. It took a tong time, and even when I was playing, it took a couple months for me to be myself again. Everybody’s different, so I wish and I hope the best for him, but from what I felt, it’s hard.”

Rubio tore his left anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments when his left knee buckled while trying to defend Kobe Bryant in the final moments of a loss to the Lakers on March 9, 2012, just under a year before Rondo tore his right ACL in the final minutes of a double-overtime loss to the Hawks on Jan. 25 of this year.

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Jared Sullinger, Celtics get better of Kevin Love, Timberwolves

Monday, December 16th, 2013
Jeff Green and the Celtics stayed atop the Atlantic Division with their win Monday night. (AP)

Jeff Green and the Celtics stayed atop the Atlantic Division with their win Monday night. (AP)

After scoring just 88 points in an 18-point loss to the Timberwolves exactly a month ago, the Celtics showed Monday night just how far they’€™ve come.

It was a tight one for much of the second half, with the Celtics owning a lead as big as nine points in the second quarter, but leading by just one at the half. But big performances by Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley, as well as contributions from the Celtics bench, pushed Boston past Minnesota, 101-97, as the Celtics split the season series with the Timberwolves.

With the lead beginning to slip away in the last minutes of the fourth quarter, it took a few big defensive stands and three free throws from Sullinger to give the Celtics a little breathing room. Sullinger would put the final nail in the coffin with a free throw with just one second left to give the Celtics a four-point lead.

Sullinger led the Celtics with 24 points and 11 rebounds, as well as five assists. He outplayed superstar Kevin Love in the fourth quarter with 15 points, including a big three to give the Celtics a 95-92 lead with just over  two minutes to play. The forward was also 9-of-11 from the line and shot 50 percent from the floor.

Avery Bradley got the Celtics off to a hot start, scoring six unanswered to kick off the first quarter and scoring 10 points in the by halftime (though he was stuck at 10 for the entire second quarter). Bradley would finish with 19 points on the evening with five boards.

In his second game back from an ankle injury, Kelly Olynyk scored nine points with four boards, while also making some big plays that didn’t necessarily show up in the box score. He threw himself into the stands twice in the fourth quarter to save loose balls, with Courtney Lee ready to receive the pass on both occasions. Kris Humphries, who was also sidelined, missing the last two games with a bruised right knee, made his presence felt with eight points and seven rebounds. The bench came up big for both teams, with the Celtics reserves adding on 35 points and the Minnesota bench coming up with 45 points, including 12 from Dante Cunningham and 10 apiece from Northeastern product J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved.

The Timberwolves came into the night hitting about 44 percent of shots from the 3-point range in their previous four games, with Love hitting 17 of 29 from behind the arc. But the Celtics defense held Minnesota’€™s 3-point game in check, with the T-Wolves hitting just 27.6 percent of shots from 3-point range, while Love was just 2-for-11 behind the line.

The Celtics contained Love and the Timberwolves offense in the first quarter, holding Minnesota to 21 points while Love was just 1-of-7 shooting and 2-of-4 at the line. Love came alive in the second quarter, but was still just 3-for-11 from the field. Regardless, the MVP candidate notched his 22nd double-double of the season and was the game’€™s leading scorer with 27 points and 14 boards.

Wolves’€™ point guard Ricky Rubio was a surprising non-factor, shooting just 2-for-12 from the field and hitting just one three on the night.

With the win, the Celtics move to a full game ahead of the Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division and improve to 12-14.

How Danny Ainge’s Celtics can acquire Omer Asik

Monday, December 16th, 2013

As we’ve discussed in great detail, the Celtics have the picks and assets to enter just about every NBA trade conversation, so it comes as no surprise that they have reportedly entered the Omer Asik sweepstakes.

The advice offered to us on Sunday was stern: Keep an eye on Boston. The Celtics possess two players in different salary ranges that would presumably fit in useful ways next to Dwight Howard: Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. The Celts also have a spare first-round draft pick or two to plug into any trade equation to sweeten the deal for Houston, amid rising suspicions around the league that Morey’€™s Rockets are going to find a way to come out of the Asik saga with at least one future first. Marc Stein, ESPN.com

The Rockets set a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to deal Asik, who requested a trade last month and even sat out a game due to concerns that resulted from the Dwight Howard signing this summer. The 7-footer hasn’t played since Dec. 2 after suffering a bruised right thigh and getting his swollen right knee drained.

This season and next, Asik is owed $20.1 million of his uniquely structured three-year, $25.1 million deal, including $14.9 million next year, although he would count $8.4 million against the salary cap. Make no mistake, though, Asik is a catch. The 27-year-old Turk played every game of his first three NBA seasons, culminating in career averages (10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds) during his first winter in Houston. He’s widely considered an elite rebounding center with an improving offensive game whose impact is measured best by advanced analytics.

But how much would the Celtics be willing to give up for Asik? First, Rockets GM Daryl Morey‘s asking price.

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Celtics push past Knicks with game-ending surge

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Down by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Celtics went on a game-ending 22-7 run in the final 10 minutes to claim a 90-86 victory over the visiting Knicks on Friday night. Avery Bradley contributed seven points in the fourth quarter, including the 3-pointer that put the Celtics ahead for good with 2:38 left to play. Bradley’s 24-footer turned an 84-83 deficit into an 86-84 lead for Boston that set up the team to maintain its first-place standing in the Atlantic Division.

Jared Sullinger scored 19 points to lead the Celtics in scoring, but most of his damage came early, when the Celtics opened up a lead of up to 17 points in the first half. But in a game of drastic swings, New York ended up outscoring the Celtics by 28 points between the second and fourth quarters, until Boston went on its game-ending run.

For a more detailed recap, click here.

How much is Avery Bradley worth to Celtics?

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Avery Bradley turned down a four-year, $24 million offer from the Celtics in hopes of earning an $8 million average annual value in restricted free agency this coming summer, according to a Bleacher Report report (h/t Red’s Army).

While everything from Bleacher Report requires one part sodium and one part chloride, this line from NBA analyst Jared Zwerling‘s piece should be taken with an extra packet of salt: “Bradley will be a restricted free agent next summer, so things could get ‘tricky,’ as one source said, for the Celtics to keep him.”

There’€™s really nothing tricky about the Celtics keeping Bradley. They can match any offer this summer, and they have the means to do so. The hard part, given present salary cap restrictions, will be for others to offer Bradley $8 million.

The Celtics thinking here probably goes something like this: We currently value Bradley as a $6 million player, but if he commands $8 million on the open market, then so be it. We can still match it. No harm, no foul, no overpayment. There’€™s no sense in starting a bidding war when everyone else has yet to arrive at the auction.

Given the guard’€™s inability to remain healthy, it was a smart play on Danny Ainge‘s part. The variance in what Bradley might earn this summer was simply too vast to offer more than a bargain level salary at the time.

However, Bradley has played himself into the $8 million conversation as an All-NBA defender averaging a career-high 15.7 points on 44.6 percent shooting, especially considering Marcus Thornton cashes a similar check.

But Thornton’€™s deal was signed in 2011, and most teams smartened up this summer. Look at the deals top free agent shooting guards landed. Talented two-guards Tony Allen (4 years, $20 million), Gerald Henderson (3 years, $18 million), Kyle Korver (4 years, $24 million), Kevin Martin (4 years, $28 million), J.J. Redick (4 years, $28 million), O.J. Mayo (3 years, $24 million) and Monta Elllis (3 years, $25 million) all signed between $6-8 million, and they also took a quarter of the league out of the running for Bradley’€™s services.