|Rajon Rondo: Why would I want out of Boston?||10.09.13 at 10:14 am ET|
His new endorsement deal with Chinese company Anta now official, Rajon Rondo granted an interview to a few reporters at Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel to promote the shoe he helped design and a new clothing line.
The Celtics point guard held true to his vague “some time in the 2013-14 season” timeline for a return and cleared up a few recent statements, including Grantland’s assertion “he will be traded” this season and Rondo’s own claim he “didn’t feel anything” when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers left town this summer. The following quotes come from CBS Sports, Boston Herald and Comcast reports.
- On Boston: “I love it here. The fans are great here. And Danny [Ainge] has been straightforward with me. This is my team. Why would I want to leave? Why would I want out? I never really backed away from a challenge. This would be a challenge. I’m looking forward to working with coach [Brad] Stevens. It’s a brand new start for us as a team. A lot of new players and a lot of young guys willing to listen, so I’m very excited.”
- On basketball: “Whatever coach asks of me, that’s what I try to do. If he wants me to shoot the ball more, I’ll shoot it. But at the end of the day, my natural instincts are to make my teammates better. Regardless of who is out on the floor, I believe I do make everybody out there better. I’m going to push them as hard as I can. I’m going to demand a lot out of them. I wouldn’t demand anything that I wouldn’t demand of myself. So I’m excited to play with a new group of guys.”
- On brotherhood: ‘Obviously, it was different when the trade went down. I didn’t expect it to happen because I just got off a plane. But it happens, and that’s the business. But I’m not going to say, like, ‘Forget about them.’ I was just talking about them in the locker room today — telling some stories about how KG was, things Paul did. At the end of the day, I still talk to every one of those guys. I talk to JET [Jason Terry]. I talk to P. I talked to Kevin [Monday]. We still check on each other. It’s a brotherhood. It’s something you can’t erase. We won titles together. We’ve been through the fire together. It’s something for life.”
- On Rivers: “I took a lot away from Doc. I still catch myself laughing at some of the things he’s told certain guys. Now, me being the leader of this team, I mimic some of the things that Doc has said to each individual guy. I learned a lot from Doc. I tried to study his ways as far as a coach because it’s something I may want to do in the future. I’ve got a lot of respect for Doc.”
- On Adrian Peterson: ‘Obviously, he came back and had an MVP season. That’s what I want to have when I come back. I don’t want to come back and be mediocre. I don’t want to have any excuses. I want to be ready to go. I don’t want to have to blame anything on my knee.’
|Kris Humphries just needed a change of scenery||10.08.13 at 5:38 pm ET|
An excerpt from a column titled, “Reality check: In defense of Kris Humphries.”
As a joke, Keith Bogans placed a picture of the Rajon Rondo–Kris Humphries brawl in the practice facility locker room, asking who’d win the fight, and the results were split. Danny Ainge praised the 10-year NBA veteran’s early arrival ‘in great shape,’ the younger players credited his leadership during pre-camp workouts, the vets applauded his physicality during practice and Brad Stevens awarded him the starting center spot.
And despite being forced out of position, Humphries said all the right things, setting a positive tone for what will surely become a difficult juggling act for the coach, who will ask a lot of his players to do the same because of the redundancy on his roster.
‘Whatever helps this team,’ said Humphries. ‘I trust the coaches, so I’ve just got to do what I’m asked to do. I’m obviously more naturally a 4, but I’m willing to play 5.’
In that role, Humphries totaled 11 points (4-8 FG) and four rebounds in his 23:46, and he wasn’t satisfied. ‘I wasn’t really happy with the way I rebounded,’ he said.
The rebounds will come. Humphries averaged double-digit boards per 36 minutes in each of his last seven seasons. A more encouraging development? He shot 4-of-5 between 15-19 feet. To put that in perspective, Humphries made 21 field goals from that range all of last season, shooting just 36.2 percent on those long 2’s in 2012-13.
Meanwhile, the first thing out of Humphries’ mouth upon meeting Stevens was, ‘Hey, let’s run’ — a departure from a Nets system that didn’t maximize his skills last season — and Monday’s performance in a 97-89 loss to the Raptors didn’t cut it, so he dragged Jeff Green with him to run postgame sprints on a couple treadmills.
‘We want to play at a faster pace,’ said Humphries, still dripping in sweat from the workout. ‘Jeff and I actually did a little bit of extra conditioning after the game, just to kind of get us going a little bit more, so we can build to the start of the season.’
To read the column in full, click here. And check out the rest of the coverage from Monday night’s game.
|Jalen Rose to Bill Simmons: Rajon Rondo ‘will be traded’||10.08.13 at 10:57 am ET|
So, this exchange just happened.
Bill Simmons: “Clairvoyant Bill thinks Rajon Rondo has 20 games or less left as a Boston Celtic. He’ll play 20 games or under this year with the BOS next to his career stats someday, whether they hold him and hold him and hold him and just shelve him and waste the season and don’t bring him back until February and then give him some fake injury so they can tank, or whether they get 15 games out of him and then trade him.”
Jalen Rose: “Bill, this is why we give the people what they want. What you just described is the worst-kept secret in the NBA. Once you trade Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, the year before they lost Ray Allen, and you lose Doc Rivers, the next obvious domino is Rajon Rondo.”
BS: “If you’re going to blow it up, don’t leave one room in the blown-up house and be like, ‘I’m going to keep the living room.’ You blow up the house. They have to convince him that we’re going to take care of you with a max extension, but you gotta sacrifice this year. He didn’t play the second half of last year, so he’s going to give up a year-and-a-half?”
JR: “When Rondo shows that he’s back playing at an elite level, he will be traded from the Boston Celtics.”
|Stat man: The Jared Sullinger-Kelly Olynyk combo||10.08.13 at 10:29 am ET|
The debut of the much anticipated Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk frontcourt combination — one to which Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge even admitted his intrigue — didn’t come until midway through the second quarter of the team’s first preseason game. And even then only lasted 8:29 in spurts.
Based on the early returns, we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Sully-O clinic early and often. Actually, don’t be surprised if that duo with 45 NBA games between them ultimately takes over the starting 4 and 5 spots.
“I don’t have a plus/minus report right now, so I don’t know,” said coach Brad Stevens after his first game on the Celtics sidelines, a 97-89 loss to the Raptors, “but I thought they played pretty well together.”
When Stevens took a look at that report and watched film later Monday night — his self-imposed requirement before sleeping — he discovered this: Olynyk and Sullinger owned a plus-7 rating, combining for 10 points (4-8 FG), four assists and three rebounds in their 8:29 on the floor together. Of the nine Celtics field goals in those 509 seconds, the rookie and the sophomore either scored or assisted on seven of them.
When Stevens added Gerald Wallace to that frontcourt mix — forming a complementary trio of flair, hair and derriere that the coach has praised throughout training camp — the production was unmistakable.
|Rudy Gay: Rajon Rondo ‘will be stronger than ever’||10.08.13 at 1:34 am ET|
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo might not share his thoughts on the last eight months with the Boston media, but he’s certainly opened to his friends, including Raptors star Rudy Gay, the recipient of Rondo’s greatest alley-oop pass. Not that Gay, who included Rondo in his wedding over the summer, is going to share that info, either.
“If he’s not telling, then I’m not telling,” said Gay, who just finished scoring 17 points on 11 shots in an efficient 23:12 during a 97-89 victory against the Rondo-less Celtics in Boston. “He’s working his hardest to get back. He’s not the type of guy to take a day off. He’s worried about the team, and he’s worried about himself.”
While it may be strange for Celtics fans to see their team without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, it’s not all that weird for guys like Gay, who entered the league when Pierce’s Celtics won 24 games in 2006-07. Since then, he’s seen LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, James Harden, David Lee, Zach Randolph, Tyson Chandler and Jrue Holiday — each All-Stars last season — swap uniforms.
As Gay described it, “Listen, man, the league changes every year.” And he should know. The Grizzlies sent him to Toronto just last year. Really, the departure of Pierce and Garnett is nothing new in today’s NBA, so don’t you think Rondo eventually realized that, too? In fact, Gay believes Rondo will ultimately flourish without them.
|Jeff Green: The [expletive] mentality is coming||10.08.13 at 12:35 am ET|
Jeff Green is embracing the mentality with which Kevin Garnett encouraged him to play. Just as he did on Media Day, the de facto Celtics star cut right to the point when a reporter approached the subject delicately.
“[Expletive]-hole? It’s coming. I didn’t bring it tonight, obviously, the way I played, but it’s coming. It’s coming.”
In his first game as the focal point in the Celtics offense, Green struggled in the C’s 97-89 preseason loss to the Raptors, scoring just six points on 2-of-7 shooting (0-4 3P) and committing as many turnovers (3) as he totaled assists (2) and rebounds (1) in his 23:17 on the floor. Did he sense the added attention from the Raptors?
“Most definitely,” said Green. “The rotations weren’t solid. It was tough to get a rhythm, but you can definitely sense where the attention is headed. So, I’ve just got to look at film and see where I can attack and take my shots.”
First thing he’ll notice: a lack of transition buckets. Of Green’s seven shots, five came from outside 20 feet. He took two shots from the paint — a miss 2:18 into the game and a fourth-quarter dunk that cut Toronto’s lead to 89-86 with 4:15 remaining. In other words, he played a span 41:03 without being an [expletive]-hole.
“Like I said, we’re still learning. It’s only been seven days and a couple practices. This is our first preseason games. We’ve got three more this week, so we’ve just got to continue to practice and continue to do better.
|Fast Break: Raptors spoil Brad Stevens’ Celtics debut||10.07.13 at 9:58 pm ET|
The new-look Celtics may have lost their preseason debut, but the defeat wasn’t entirely discouraging.
In front of the handful of fans not watching the Red Sox, four Celtics reached double figures in the 97-89 loss to the Raptors. Gerald Wallace (16 points) led the way, followed by Jared Sullinger (14 points, 6 rebounds), Avery Bradley (12 points) and Kris Humphries (11 points). Of course, other things happened, too.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Tough start: Let’s just say the introduction to the Brad Stevens Era defense wasn’t pretty. The Raptors grabbed an 8-0 lead, including a pair of uncontested Jonas Valanciunas dunks, and then stretched it to 14-2 against a starting lineup of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.
No contest: The Celtics played everyone on the 14-man roster in the first half with the exception of Phil Pressey, and things didn’t get much better defensively. The Raptors shot 59.4 percent from the field and scored 53 points in the opening 24 minutes, including 26 in the paint and 10 on second chances. Somehow, only two of those 53 points came on the fast break, which means the half-court defense wasn’t so good.
Window watching: At halftime, the Celtics had six rebounds. Six. That’s one every four minutes. Their leading rebounder? Six guys with one apiece (four bigs, Gerald Wallace and Avery Bradley). Meanwhile, the Raptors had 22 boards at the break. Valanciunas had a half dozen, or as many as the entire Celtics roster combined. Things improved in the second half, but Toronto still out-rebounded the C’s 46-26 for the game.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Frontcourt depth: The first three non-guards off the bench — Wallace, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger — transformed the early 14-2 deficit into a three-point lead late in the first quarter. Olynyk’s passing game was the biggest surprise, as the rookie registered more assists (5) than the rest of his teammates (4) through the first two quarters.
Vitor FAVErani: The mystery behind the Brazilian big man landing in Boston and the unveiling of his mohawk during a glorious Media Day interview established Faverani as the Honorary Brian Scalabrine Award winner of this preseason (also known as the Greg Stiemsma Lifetime Achievement Award), and he didn’t disappoint in his Garden debut. In the 7-footer’s first three minutes, he threw down a breakaway dunk, poached a pair of steals, blocked a shot and set a handful of hard screens. Vitor is still the best.
Over the Hump: For all the off-the-court drama that has plagued Kris Humphries, he quietly showed up early in Boston (in great shape, too), served as a leader to the younger Celtics during pre-camp workouts, earned a starting spot out of camp and then drew a pair of charges early in the first preseason game. In other words, he’s motivated and could win over some Celtics fans this season. In related news, Humphries is in a contract year.
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