|10 questions post-NBA lockout Celtics must answer||11.26.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
Now that the NBA lockout is all but over, we can talk actual basketball again. No more exhibition games. No more Paul Pierce sightings at the World Series of Poker. No more overseas discussions. Should lawyers on both sides approve the tentative agreement as expected in the next three days to a week, both training camp and free agency are scheduled to begin on Dec. 9, leading up to a Celtics at Knicks season opener on Christmas Day.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, head coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the C’s brass face a ton of questions over the next month. Here are 10 of the biggest ones they’ll have to answer.
10. How will the Celtics fill out the remainder of the roster?
The C’s currently have just six players under contract: The Big Four of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen as well as center Jermaine O’Neal and second-year guard Avery Bradley. That leaves nine open spots on the 15-man roster.
Jeff Green has received a $5.9 million qualifying offer that makes him a restricted free agent, and the remaining eight players from the team that lost a five-game Eastern Conference semifinal series to the Heat are free agents. Only Nenad Krstic, who signed a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow that did not include an NBA out clause for this season, is off limits.
First-round draft pick JaJuan Johnson is a lock to land one of those nine open slots, while second-round selection E’Twaun Moore is a strong candidate to make the roster. Johnson has been working out in his hometown of Indianapolis during the offseason, and Moore has averaged 9.5 points in six appearances for Italy’s Benetton Treviso over the past two months.
Prior to the lockout, undrafted Pitt swingman Gilbert Brown was on the team’s radar, so he has a chance to join the Purdue pair on the bench as well.
Assuming Green remains in Boston, Ainge will at the very least have to find veteran players capable of playing significant backup minutes at center, power forward and the two guard positions. Re-signing combo guard Delonte West would go a long way in cementing the latter, and we’ll be examining the free-agent options at each position throughout this week.
9. Is the annual mid-level exception still available to the Celtics? Read the rest of this entry »
|They’re back! Players, owners end NBA lockout||11.26.11 at 10:56 am ET|
As first reported by CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, the NBA lockout is over, pending the approval of lawyers on both sides (and lawyers never ruin anything, right?). A 66-game season will reportedly debut with a rematch of the first-round playoff matchup between the Celtics and Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day (ESPN, noon) — followed by Heat-Mavericks and Bulls-Lakers. Good times.
|Irish Coffee: Boston Charity Classic leftovers (mmm … leftovers)||11.22.11 at 2:34 pm ET|
How fleeting Rajon Rondo‘s Boston Charity Classic was, providing Celtics fans a glimpse of the past, present and future for just one Saturday night before the cold reality of the NBA lockout endures into the winter. All that remains is this highlight package I put together and a few interesting quotes from the postgame interviews. It is the week of Thanksgiving after all, so here are some leftovers from what was a fun evening on the Harvard campus.
On decertifications: “A lot of players looked to me for leadership when they talk about negotiations, when they talk about options, when they talk about decertification. A lot of guys ask me, and what I did with that was just kind of give them the information. At the end of the day, as a whole, players gotta make a vote — make a choice whether to negotiate, decertify or file an antitrust lawsuit.”
On negotiations: “Right now, I want to get a deal. I want to play. I don’t have too many more years left. But we want the right deal. I think that’s the most important thing.”
On ultimatums: “We don’t feel like it’s a fair deal. If we did, we would have signed it, obviously. Maybe some players do, some players don’t, but as a majority we didn’t feel that was the right deal for us. … If I had a vote, would I make the deal now? You know what? I don’t think the deal that’s on the table is a deal that I would take.”
On meetings: “I wasn’t at the last couple meetings, so it kind of took me by surprise that last day when they broke up the union. So, a lot of that really took me by surprise, but I don’t think it was mentioned to bring it to the whole body, the whole union for a vote. The player representatives get a vote, and we’re at where we’re at.”
On veterans: “A lot of the older guys are kind of different players in this, because it’s for the older guys to say, ‘Take the deal, we already have contracts, we’re on our last two or three years and finish out.’ But it’s something bigger than everybody’s individual legacy. It’s about the future of the league, and that’s what we talked about when we get together. Me, Ray [Allen], Kobe [Bryant], guys who are veterans in the league — we feel like that’s the most important thing moving forward with the NBA.”
|Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo consider overseas options||11.20.11 at 11:57 am ET|
In the past, Paul Pierce has stated his desire to play in either Italy or Greece after his Celtics career is finished and before his retirement begins. For better or worse, the NBA lockout might offer that opportunity prematurely.
“I’ve been thinking about it, truthfully,” Pierce said at the Boston Charity Classic on Saturday night, addressing Italy specifically. “I love the game of basketball. It’s a shame I’m sitting at home not playing, so it’s definitely crossed my mind. Maybe I’ll think about it around mid-December. If I can see that there is no future of the league starting this year, then that’s definitely a strong possibility.”
Likewise, Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo and good friend Kendrick Perkins have discussed playing abroad as a package deal. Yahoo! Sports first reported that their representatives have put out feelers to foreign teams.
“You never know,” said Rondo. “I’m still here being a family man and just trying to do the right thing and staying in shape. I probably won’t make that decision until January. Me and Perk have talked about doing package deals, but right now we’re just enjoying our time. For me, it’s a gift and a curse. I’m trying to get as healthy as possible with all my injuries. But I’m ready to play.”
Rondo, who said his injured left elbow felt “good” after the game, has no offers currently on the table. In recent months, with players such as Kobe Bryant, the difference between the money foreign teams can offer and the insurance premiums for a star player has been too minimal to make economic sense. Since both Perkins and Rondo both finished this past NBA season battling serious injuries, they’ll likely face the same issue.
|Rajon Rondo’s ridiculous forehead alley-oop||11.19.11 at 7:25 pm ET|
The Boston Charity Classic is fairly ridiculous. Literally no defense, which seems to suit Josh Smith just fine. It also gives fans at Harvard’s Lavietes Pavilion the chance to see ridiculous plays like this forehead alley-oop from Rajon Rondo to Rudy Gay. Rondo’s Green Team (coached by Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch) led Paul Pierce‘s White Team (coached by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino) 73-50 at halftime.
|Irish Coffee: Naturally, Celtics legend Bill Russell taught Joe Torre everything he knows||11.17.11 at 12:08 pm ET|
“I was a Boston Celtics fan,” Torre told CBSSports.com. “In fact, I really got my idea of team play from watching the Celtics in the ’50s with those guys, how they shared the ball all the time. Bill Russell, of course, when I met him and told him that story, I think he was a little surprised. I just love that nobody was bigger than the other guy.”
At least we can now credit Russell for the four Yankees World Series titles from 1996-2000. Add them to his list of championships. I know this Torre type. I’m sure he was a Steelers fan in the 1970s, too. Typical.
DELONTE WEST HEADING FAR EAST?
According to a SheridanHoops.com report, the Guangdong (Beavis: “Huh-huh huh-huh-huh) Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association “is contacting Rodney Stuckey and Delonte West, one of whom may come to China.” However, over the summer, West claimed a judge ruled he could not play overseas due to his ongoing probation from a 2010 weapons charge, which isn’t expected to end until July 2012.
|Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce faces unwarranted criticism||11.15.11 at 3:00 pm ET|
I understand why role players would just want to accept the most recent NBA owners’ proposal, regardless of whether or not it benefits them or others just like them beyond the 2011-12 season.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
As longtime NBA assistant coach Herb Brown told The Jersey Journal, ‘I think it’s terrible, it’s awful. [Someone like] Kevin Garnett doesn’t get hurt by this situation, but the 10th, 11th and 12th man does.’ Still, there’s a reason you’re not supposed to shop for groceries when you’re hungry.
Take 22-year-old Cavaliers forward Samardo Samuels, for example. He’s among the rank-and-file NBA players who would have accepted the owners’ final proposal — if the NBPA ever gave him the chance to vote — and does not support Celtics captain Paul Pierce‘s charge to decertify the union.