|Paul Pierce: ‘I want to retire as a Celtic’||01.29.13 at 1:06 pm ET|
Since Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury, there’s been plenty of talk about trading Paul Pierce, but the Celtics captain made his plea to the media before the team’s first practice since losing their All-Star point guard.
“I want to retire as a Celtic,” said Pierce. “That’s been my longtime goal, but it’s not under my control. The organization, they make their decisions, but it’s something I’ve desired since being here so long.”
While Pierce has $15.3 million on his contract next season, only $4 million of that deal is guaranteed, so Celtics president Danny Ainge will surely be fielding phone calls inquiring about the 35-year-old. Still, responding to a question about whether or not the Celtics are already looking to fill one of two open roster spots, coach Doc Rivers said Ainge “has not brought up anything” in terms of roster changes in the aftermath of Rondo’s injury.
The Celtics did call up rookie center Fab Melo from the Maine Red Claws. Rivers also confirmed that Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger will remain in the starting lineup with Pierce, Avery Bradley and Kevin Garnett.
|10 options for Celtics to fill Rajon Rondo’s void||01.28.13 at 12:44 pm ET|
In the wake of Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending right ACL tear, the Celtics surely will be looking to add depth behind Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa in the backcourt as soon as possible.
In all likelihood, that group offers the best four options for C’s president Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers to fill the void left by Rondo’s injury, and while nobody will replace the four-time All-Star’s impact, there are plenty of available players who could eat minutes in his absence. Here are 10 options.
NBA FREE AGENTS
Keyon Dooling: After abruptly retiring this past fall and accepting a player development role within the Celtics organization, Dooling told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn he’d consider a comeback. This route probably makes the most sense, considering Dooling’s experience in the C’s system and his influence on the locker room. If he plays himself into NBA shape, his manic defense and 3-point shooting could also be useful weapons at the end of the bench.
Jonny Flynn: After a disappointing NBA career, the No. 6 overall pick in 2009 now plays for the Melbourne Tigers in the Australian National Basketball League. His contract reportedly includes a clause that allows him to return stateside should an NBA team come calling. Flynn’s averages of 5.2 points and 3.8 assists in 29 games for the Rockets and Blazers last season have translated into 16.8 points and 6.0 assists in the mediocre NBL.
Jeremy Pargo: The Cavaliers traded D.J. Kennedy for Pargo and a second-round pick, but they dropped the 26-year-old Gonzaga product after 25 games. He averaged 7.8 points and 2.6 assists in 17.9 minutes for Cleveland.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo-less Celtics defeat Heat||01.27.13 at 4:08 pm ET|
Ray Allen returned to Boston, and it wasn’t even the biggest story of Sunday’s battle between the Eastern Conference rival Celtics and Heat. While news of Rajon Rondo‘s ACL tear trickled out around halftime, the C’s submitted their most impressive performance of the season in a 100-98 double-overtime victory.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Starting Sully: Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger‘s production was finally too much for coach Doc Rivers to ignore. The C’s are 9.3 points better when he’s on the floor than when he sits, the best of any player on the team, so his replacement of Brandon Bass in the starting lineup was practically inevitable. His rebounding, ability to score on the inside and willingness to hit the floor for loose balls helped the Celtics remain tied going into halftime.
Brazilian Blur: Likewise, Leandro Barbosa gave the Celtics an energetic lift off the bench, scoring seven points in 10 first-half minutes. Entering the game, Barbosa’s 15.8 points per 36 minutes ranked third on the team behind only Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. While Jason Terry continues to struggle, there’s no reason Rivers shouldn’t give his minutes to Barbosa to kickstart a woeful Celtics offense.
“Pitbulls”: Apparently, that’s the nickname for the starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee, who started in place of the injured Rondo. They lived up to the moniker, holding their Heat counterparts Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers to subpar nights. Even on a tough shooting night for both, their defense made a definite impact on the game. That’s what the Celtics will have to rely upon going forward.
Heart of a champion: With Rondo out for the season, Celtics veterans Paul Pierce (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) and Kevin Garnett (24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists) each came up huge in the final minutes of regulation and both overtimes, punctuating a valiant effort from a team without its brightest star. Pierce’s sweet spin move past Allen in the lane and Garnett’s 18-foot jumper gave the Celtics an 85-81 lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Pierce also fed Garnett for a pair of buckets to tie the game 93-93 with 1:14 left in the first overtime. And Pierce buried a jumper over LeBron James to give the C’s a 99-98 lead with 30.4 seconds left in double OT.
|Celtics pay video tribute to Ray Allen||01.27.13 at 1:32 pm ET|
In somewhat of a surprise, the Boston crowd gave Ray Allen a standing ovation during a first-quarter video tribute from the Celtics. Those cheers quickly turned to boos once Allen checked into the game for the Heat.
|Is one NBA scout’s scathing take on Celtics accurate?||01.26.13 at 3:05 pm ET|
NBA general managers must be hovering like vultures over Danny Ainge‘s struggling Celtics, so it’s no surprise they are a main focus ESPN.com writer Marc Stein’s must-read Weekend Dime.
With all due respect to the NBA scout who rightfully ripped the Celtics to shreds in Stein’s piece, the outlook isn’t quite as bad as he makes it out to be, despite their current six-game losing streak.
“Their bench has to be playing at the top of their abilities for them to win.”
According to HoopsStats.com, the Celtics are 12-11 when their bench outperforms the opposing team’s and 7-11 when it doesn’t. That lends some credence to this statement, but they can win when their reserves don’t contribute. We knew these C’s would rely on their depth more this season than they have in the past, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even begin to structure a consistent rotation until Avery Bradley returned this month.
And they don’t have enough guys big-guy-wise that Doc [Rivers] is comfortable with.
The C’s everlasting search for frontcourt depth behind Kevin Garnett has been no secret. Hence, their rumored interest in both Marcin Gortat and DeMarcus Cousins. The struggles of Brandon Bass and the thumb injury to Chris Wilcox haven’t helped, but don’t rule out those two contributing more in the second half of the season.
|Carmelo Anthony: Kevin Garnett feud ‘overrated,’ Celtics crowd ‘kind of quiet’ and Knicks win ‘satisfying’||01.25.13 at 1:54 am ET|
Even before Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett and Knicks counterpart Carmelo Anthony‘s pregame fist bump, Boston’s Garden security starved the crowd of any further beef between the two NBA All-Star Game teammates, confiscating enough Honey Nut Cheerios paraphernalia to fill the rink for Friday’s Bruins game.
Of course, you’ll remember Anthony confronted Garnett at his team bus after the C’s defeated the Knicks, 102-96, in New York on Jan. 7. Rumors suggested KG told Melo his wife La La “tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios” — a claim all parties involved since denied — but Anthony earned a one-game suspension for his postgame antics.
“I think it was overrated,” said Anthony. “I think people just blew it up for no reason. They were just kind of waiting to see what was going to happen, but it’s sports. That’s what happens in sports.
On Thursday night, Anthony finally got his revenge, scoring 28 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dealing one of his three assists to teammate J.R. Smith for the dagger in an 89-86 “satisfying” victory in Boston.
“It was kind of quiet today for the most part,” Anthony said of a Garden crowd that NBA on TNT announcer Marv Albert accused of being artificially enhanced during the broadcast. “I was expecting there to be boos and a real hostile environment tonight, but it was cool for the most part.”
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo’s triple-double can’t keep Celtics from five-game skid||01.24.13 at 10:43 pm ET|
Give them this: At least the Celtics played with heart, but the Knicks still handed them their fifth straight loss, an 89-86 defeat made even more discouraging by J.R. Smith‘s wide-open 3-pointer and Paul Pierce‘s turnover with several chances to tie the game in the final minute. Here’s what else went wrong (and right).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Terry dry: Since his return to the bench, where he’s been most comfortable during his career, Jason Terry continues to slump. He entered the game shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in 22 minutes a night this month, and those numbers didn’t get any better. After getting off to an 0-for-4 start in his first six minutes, Rivers limited his playing time. Terry finished 1-for-6 in 14 minutes, including a costly fourth-quarter turnover.
Brain farts: As well as the Celtics played in stretches, they still took their foot off the pedal at times. The Knicks started the second quarter on a 9-0 run made up of a couple Amar’e Stoudemire buckets around the basket, a J.R. Smith layup and a Pablo Prigioni 3-pointer. In the third quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, including three that directly led to layups and New York’s 72-66 lead after three quarters.
Off the mark: While the C’s defense held the Knicks below 40 percent shooting on the night (38.6 percent FG), their offense wasn’t much better (40.8 percent FG). Despite getting a ton of open looks, the Celtics missed jumper after jumper. They combined for 3-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc, including an 0-for-5 night for backup guards Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa. Compounding that fact, the C’s didn’t tally a single point off their misses, getting outscored 16-0 on second-chance points.
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