|Irish Coffee: Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments||12.14.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
Tuesday’s Media Day marked the official unveiling of the 2011-12 Celtics at their practice facility in Waltham. Some familiar faces. Some new ones. Here are the top 10 highlights from what was a tame afternoon compared to the Shaquille O’Neal hoopla from a year ago.
10. BACK TO SCHOOL: After finishing six courses during the fall and summer semesters at Georgetown, Celtics forward Jeff Green is just two classes away from finishing a major in English and a minor in theology. He plans on completing his degree in the summer to become the first member of his family to earn a college diploma.
“It’s something I can cross off my bucket list,” he said, adding that a diploma and an NBA championship trophy would be comparable achievements to place on his mantle.
Asked if he could avoid being seen in lectures, Green smiled and said, “I’m 6-9. I can’t hide.”
Pierce, 34, called the “42-year-old” Allen (he’s 36) an inspiration to play five more years, and then referred reporters to his website PaulPierce.net/TruthonHealth for any questions. Green wasn’t the only one learning during the lockout; Pierce is apparently now a marketing expert.
8. SUPER SIZE ME: We all remember the Shawn Kemps and Vin Bakers of the 1999 lockout — the guys who showed up to training camp so out of shape their bodies never fully recovered. Allen remembers, too.
“There were some guys back in ’99, when you saw them, it was like, ‘Holy cow, this guy was on vacation for the last three months, didn’t do a thing, didn’t pick up a basketball or a weight,'” Allen said. “And that’s not the case in this locker room. We knew it, because we have too many strong-minded individuals.”
Allen had a front-row seat for Baker’s transformation from a guy who averaged 19.2 points and 8.0 rebounds for their Sonics the season before to 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds after the last lockout-shortened season. Naturally, the Celtics traded for Baker four seasons later.
“Every day I sat around the house,” said Allen, “I was like, ‘I gotta go work out, because I don’t want to be that guy.'”
7. TOP CHEF: Celtics forward Kevin Garnett cracked one smile during Media Day, when analogizing team chemistry to the culinary arts. “Chemistry is something that you just don’t throw in the frying pan, mix it up with another something, throw something on top of that, then fry it up, put in a tortilla, put in a microwave and heat it up, and then give it to you and expect it to taste good,” he said. “For those who can cook, y’all know what I’m talking about. If y’all don’t know what I’m talking about, you can’t cook and this doesn’t concern you.”
|Paul Pierce: ‘I see Kevin and Ray playing past this year’||12.13.11 at 5:20 pm ET|
‘I really see Kevin [Garnett] and Ray [Allen] playing past this year, hopefully with the Boston Celtics even though their contracts are up,” Pierce said. “But if Doc [Rivers] wants to use that as motivation, then I will.’
Both Garnett and Allen are free agents after this shortened season, clearing $31 million worth of contracts from the books, and neither addressed his future beyond this season. Speculation has ranged from this being Garnett’s last season to both he and Allen signing more cap-friendly deals and making another run in diminished roles.
‘At any moment, anything can change, so this year, last year, the year before, you guys have asked this same question: ‘Is this our last opportunity?'” Allen said. “Every moment we come out here is our last opportunity, because nothing is promised.”
Pierce, on the other hand, is one of only three Celtics players signed beyond this year ($16.8 million in 2012-13 and $15.3 million in 2013-14). Obviously, he’d like to see the Big Three remain intact beyond 66 more games.
|Jeff Green shoots around before Celtics Media Day||12.13.11 at 9:58 am ET|
Celtics forward Jeff Green participated in a shoot around for 10-15 minutes prior to the team’s Media Day from 10 a.m. to noon, and our own Mike Petraglia caught it on tape. Following Monday’s practice, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge indicated that something in Green’s physical raised a red flag, thus delaying both Green’s one-year, $9 million contract from being finalized and his ability to practice. While the team has not further addressed the issue, the fact Green was on the floor shooting around at the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham — especially in front of a group of about 30 media members — is a good sign.
|Irish Coffee: Have the Celtics upgraded their roster?||12.12.11 at 1:22 pm ET|
When Brandon Bass is your biggest offseason acquisition, would you consider that a success? The Celtics needed to get a lot better, and without knowing who the 15th man on the roster will be it’s hard to say they did.
Here’s your 2011-12 Celtics roster, with 14 of the 15 available roster spots all but filled.
Kevin Garnett: $21.2 million
Paul Pierce: $15.3 million
Ray Allen: $10 million
Rajon Rondo: $10 million
Jeff Green: $9 million
Jermaine O’Neal: $6.2 million
Brandon Bass: $4 million
Keyon Dooling: $2.2 million
Avery Bradley: $1.5 million
Marquis Daniels: $1.3 million
Chris Wilcox: $1.3 million
Sasha Pavlovic: $1.3 million*
JaJuan Johnson: $0.9 million**
E’Twaun Moore: $0.5 million***
Total: $84.7 million (plus $14.4 million luxury tax)
*Pavlovic is expected to re-sign for one year at the veteran minimum, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
**Johnson has yet to reach a deal, but the rookie pay scale suggests he’ll get just under $1 million.
***Terms of Moore’s guaranteed deal have not been disclosed, so I’m slotting him at the rookie minimum.
Did the Celtics improve themselves at any position from the team that lost the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games to an improved Heat squad? Let’s attempt to answer that question. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Another NBA conspiracy theory||12.09.11 at 2:20 pm ET|
Please indulge me, whilst a tell you an NBA conspiracy theory. It involves a Mormon, a camel, two giants and an insurance salesman. None of them walked into a bar.
On July 31, 2007, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge convinced former C’s teammate, good friend and Timberwolves general manager Kevin McHale to ship Kevin Garnett to Boston in return for Al Jefferson and a cup of poop soup over a deal with the Lakers involving Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. And the road to a 17th NBA championship was paved.
On Feb. 1, 2008, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak dangled the immortal Kwame Brown and his 5.7 points/5.7 rebounds per game as the centerpiece of a trade for Grizzlies All-Star Pau Gasol and his 18.9 points/8.8 rebounds per game. And former C’s general manager Chris Wallace delivered the 2009 and 2010 NBA titles to L.A.
|Irish Coffee: The return of Marquis Daniels||12.08.11 at 11:20 am ET|
Just 10 months removed from suffering a season-ending spinal cord injury and nine months removed from being traded to the Kings for a 2017 second-round pick that freed up his roster spot, Marquis Daniels is close to rejoining the Celtics, according to a Boston Globe report.
Daniels’ ability to backup Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — even spelling Rajon Rondo at the point in spots — was a safety net for Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. The swingman’s scary injury against the Magic cut short a second consecutive season in Boston and forced Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on a trade for Jeff Green.
Daniels averaged 5.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 100 games over two seasons in a Celtics uniform. He can officialy re-sign with the Celtics on Friday at 2 p.m.
TO TRADE OR NOT TO TRADE, THAT IS THE QUESTION
I was going to discuss the latest Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul trade discussions, as reported by Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, but colleague Paul Flannery’s column from Thursday on the importance of timing in this matter still holds true.
Quickly, my two cents. The Boston Herald quoted a source in saying the Celtics’ “window is just too short for him. He looks on them as having one year left to do something, and that’s it.”
That might be Paul’s opinion, but it’s far from the truth. If the C’s made a deal for Paul, they would have just $18 million worth of Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley on their books. Even if Paul signed an extension in Boston (a financial windfall for him as opposed to entering unrestricted free agency), Ainge would have plenty of cap space to sign a Dwight Howard while offering Allen and Kevin Garnett more affordable deals to stay.
What I’m trying to say is this: The window wouldn’t be closing if the Celtics acquired Paul, because he actually is the window. His presence alone would make Boston an attractive destination to free agents for years to come, not to mention the fact that Ainge isn’t handcuffed by any bad contracts so the C’s will have the money, too.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics on Grant Hill’s short list and other NBA free agent rumors||12.06.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
Because NBA teams can contact free agents but cannot sign them until Friday, you’ll hear plenty about players truncating lists of potential destinations — mini versions of LeBron James‘ ill-conceived Decision, if you will.
Battier would require the $3 million mini mid-level exception, and that might still not be enough for Danny Ainge to lure The No Stats All-Star. Hill might cost the C’s $3 million as well, unless by some miracle coach Doc Rivers can leverage his relationship to convince his fellow former Orlandoan to sign for the 10-year veteran minimum ($1.4 million). Both free agent’s list include seven teams, according to SI.com.
- Battier’s list: Heat, Spurs, Pacers, Raptors, Grizzlies, Celtics, Thunder
- Hill’s list: Suns, Knicks, Bulls, Spurs, Warriors, Celtics, Clippers
While Sports Illustrated cited the Suns as the heavy favorite to retain the 39-year-old Hill, a New York Post report confirmed Hill’s interest in the Celtics, Bulls and Knicks, making the point that Phoenix is a rebuilding team that can’t offer the chance for a title like the Celtics, Bulls or even Knicks.
With the possible exception of the Spurs, the Celtics will be in the unfortunate position of offering the lowest contract to either player, as those other teams as currently constituted will have the full $5 million exception.
The Post report also linked the Celtics, Heat and Bulls to another 39-year-old in Thomas. While all three teams would be offering the 10-year veteran minimum, the Bulls can offer slightly more to retain Thomas, but the Celtics and Heat would probably have more minutes available for him.
Finally, ESPN Los Angeles reporter Dave McMenamin talked to a familiar face, tweeting: “Leon Powe said the Grizzlies and Celtics are the teams he’s looking at.” The injury-plagued Powe chose Memphis over a return to Boston after being waived by the Cavaliers late last season. He averaged 5.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.8 minutes over his final 16 games, and then played only 3.5 minutes a night during the Grizzlies’ playoff run.
To recap, the Celtics can offer the worst contract among seven teams vying for the best player on this list (Battier) and would be lucky to land a pair of 39-year-olds (Hill and Thomas) or a guy who has played a combined 50 games over his last two seasons due to serious knee injuries (Powe). And I’m on board with any and all of these moves. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2011-12 Celtics free agency period!
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