|Ian Thomsen on M&M: Expect more Rajon Rondo trade rumors||12.22.11 at 2:04 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Ian Thomsen joined Mut & Merloni Thursday to talk about the Celtics, who open the season in New York on Christmas Day.
Thomsen said the early part of the NBA season likely will be tough to watch, following a shortened preseason.
“It will be a lot like April baseball when it’s freezing cold and no one really wants to be out there, including the fans,” Thomsen said. “And then, how many empty seats are we going to see? All the fans that didn’t renew their season tickets, not knowing what the NBA was going to be, if they were going to have a season, not knowing if they wanted to support the team even if they did come back.
“It’s going to be a lot of interesting things to watch for, and almost none of them are positive over the first month, I would say. By the end of the year, I would think the NBA’s hoping everybody forgets all about all of this. Right now, it’s just really interesting to see how it plays out.”
However, Thomsen said he can’t fault the owners for pushing to start the season on Christmas.
“I think this was the right thing to do,” he said. “People are complaining about it, for sure. ‘¦ This was all part of trying to save as much of the season as they could. To me, the greater good was served by that.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
On the Celtics’ near acquisition of David West and why West chose instead to go the Pacers: “They thought they were going to get him. And it would have been a huge get. Now, would he have been lost a little bit here? What was his role going to be alongside Garnett? The talk was Kevin Garnett would shift over to center and then David West would be the power forward. But everyone knows that Kevin doesn’t like to play around the basket. And even now, when Doc [Rivers] says he wants Kevin to be more of a scorer, he’s not saying he has to go inside.
“Maybe from David West’s point of view, where was he going to play? Because this was Kevin Garnett’s team. David West isn’t going to come in and take over for Kevin Garnett this year. So, what were their roles going to be? They sort of play on the same areas on the floor. Maybe that was a big part of it. Whereas if he goes to Indiana, he can take a team that’s on the rise, make them better. They barely made the playoffs last year. They should be much better this year. They have a great coaching staff. It’s not the Celtics. It’s not nearly as close as that. But maybe he can establish himself again coming off knee surgery. After his two-year deal’s up, he can go get another big contract. But they thought they had him, for sure.”
On Rajon Rondo trade rumors: “At times there may be complaints from Danny Ainge that he’s not generating it. But I think he wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t generating it. He should be generating it. He should be trying to figure out what can be done to make the team better. And really, the only thing he has going for him right now is cap space, the chance to play with Paul Pierce, who isn’t going to be traded, and then the ability to trade Rondo. What else does he have? What other assets does he have? So, I think we’re going to be hearing more of it. There’s just no way around it.”
On the C’s improved depth: “It’s really not a bad bench. It compares pretty well to the other second units they’ve had. And if Jeff Green was there, it would be even better. It’s not a bunch of old guys. Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox, Marquis [Daniels], Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, E’Twaun Moore, who looks like he’s going to be able to play a little bit — all these guys, they can come in and do some things to help them.
“What they don’t have is size. It’s the weakest group of big men they’ve had since they brought in Garnett and Ray Allen to go with Pierce. Jermaine O’Neal has a long history of not being able to stay healthy. And Chris Wilcox is an athletic big man but doesn’t have the low-post skills you’d like to have coming off the bench. That might be an issue. Brandon Bass is height deficient like Big Baby [Glen Davis] was. That’s really going to be a problem for them. Really, the bench is OK. The problem is the age of the players that are going to define the team.”
|Transcript of Kevin Garnett on D&C: Rajon Rondo the smartest, most stubborn, possibly most hated player in NBA||12.14.11 at 10:53 am ET|
Following rumors that Rajon Rondo could get traded, Garnett was asked his opinion of the young point guard. Garnett said Rondo is the smartest player in the league, as well as “the most stubborn, the most probably hated.”
Said Garnett: “I’ve grown to understand Shorty. His greatest gift is his greatest curse. We as players try to help him to understand that. Me, more or less, I see a lot of myself in him. I’m not as cocky as he is. I like to actually set aside ego when I step on the court and let the play do the talking.
“Shorty’s very smart but he’s also very stubborn. Nonetheless, with all that said and done, talking to him, I see the maturity, I hear the maturity in him wanting to be better. That’s what you want from your young guy. You want your young guy growing. You want your guy to always be in a sense to where he’s understanding that he’s the future. I think him understanding that, him being confident in that. You hear your name in talks, that’s not what you want to be. Things like that come on for a reason. Just understanding growth and understanding being young. But I love Shorty. I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Did you think there was a chance there might not be basketball this year? Did that thought dross your mind? Did it worry you?
To be honest, yeah, I didn’t think that we were going to have basketball, and I thought for the betterment of. I thought players should have stayed solid and together on what we thought was right. I’m a fighter, man. I understood the demographics. Obviously 500-plus players, everybody’s going to have a preference. This was just my own. I understood the negotiating. I understood the whole process of it, going through it in ’99 and ’98. But times are different now. And here we are.
Do wounds need to heal?
I think everybody needs to get past mad and come here and be professional. And I think that’s what you see, guys understanding what this is. But to sit back and complain about the things that [David] Stern is doing, jamming up trades and all this other stuff, I think he’s been playing God for a while. But we need to understand that he’s also grown our league. He’s also done a lot of good things in our league.
At some point if you’re going to go forward, you’ve got to get past mad and come in here and understand that and focus on the positives. So, that’s what I think everybody’s doing. We’ve got a new team here. Basketball is back and alive here. I think all the guys here agree that we’re happy to see each other. Now, it’s just about preparing for this year.
|Antoine Walker setenced to probation, ordered to repay gambling debts||12.07.11 at 9:15 am ET|
Former Celtic Antoine Walker was sentenced Tuesday by a Las Vegas court to five years of probation and ordered to pay $770,000 in gambling debts. Walker, 35, pleaded guilty in June to felony fraudulent check charges related to his failure to pay gambling debts to three casinos.
As part of a plea deal, Walker is prohibited from gambling.
A three-time All-Star with the Celtics, Walker last played in the NBA in 2008 with the Timberwolves. He has tried to make an NBA comeback since making a brief appearance in a Puerto Rican league in 2010.
|Report: Celtics wouldn’t be able to get Chris Paul to sign long-term extension||11.30.11 at 11:37 am ET|
There are reports on the web that the Celtics have offered Rajon Rondo to the Hornets for Chris Paul, who is due to be a free agent after this season. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the C’s pursuit of Paul is futile because, he tweeted: CP will not sign a long-term [extension] with Celtics, according to source close to situation.
Broussard tweeted Tuesday that Paul wants to play out the season and became a free agent, with the Knicks his first choice as a landing spot. He wrote that Paul also would consider the Clippers, but the Clippers are more focused on Dwight Howard.
|Report: Celtics offered Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green to Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, Russell Westbrook||11.30.11 at 7:14 am ET|
Broussard credits sources with the information that the Celtics were looking for another scorer who can create his own offense and thought Westbrook might be available after his erratic postseason play. But Oklahoma City apparently was not interested.
Westbrook averaged 21.9 points and 8.2 assists per game last season. Rondo averaged 10.6 points and 11.2 assists.
|Transcript of Danny Ainge on D&C: Big Three still can lead Celtics to championship||06.24.11 at 10:41 am ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, the day after he selected two Purdue players in the NBA draft.
The C’s first-round pick was 6-foot-10 JaJuan Johnson, and Ainge sounded cautiously optimistic that Johnson can help the Celtics immediately.
“I think he can contribute,” Ainge said. “I always hate to put too many expectations on guys before the draft and after the draft. I think that sometimes we get all excited and get carried away on the draft. Historically, there’s just not that many guys that come in on a good team, on championship-caliber teams, that are able to contribute. Well have three or four young guys on our roster this year, and one or two of them might contribute day in and day out. The others will have to find their spots through injuries and opportunities in other ways.
“Size is hard to find. I think that his size gives him a little bit of an advantage. And his experience in college ‘ he was an All-Big Ten player, and he’s nearly 6-foot-10 and he’s long. There’s just not that many of those guys out there, so the competition is much thinner.”
Following a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Obviously, you’re happy with your guy. How long did you target this particular guy, JaJuan Johnson?
We started following JaJuan closely last year, trying to see if he should come out to the draft. He was counseled to back to school. We liked him some last year, but we did follow him closely this year.
I think the only minus, really, is just he’s very thin. But he’s multi-skilled. He can shoot, handle the ball, pass, block shots, rebound. He just needs to put a little weight on.
|Chris Mannix on D&C: ‘Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year’||06.22.11 at 9:35 am ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics and Thursday’s NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Mannix said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will not shy away from dealing any player in order to avoid a slow descent into mediocrity, and he noted that even the team’s young star, Rajon Rondo, has been the subject of trade talks in the recent past.
“I think he’s talking about moving everybody. I really do,” Mannix said of Ainge. “I’ve had conversations with different people around the league; I would throw Rajon Rondo on that list as well. ‘¦ He has explored dealing Rajon Rondo in the past. He has talked to other GMs about him in the past. I’m not saying he’s been willing to pull the trigger in the past, but Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year or so.
“This is just something that Danny does. He’s not afraid to make the blockbuster deal if he thinks it helps him in the long term. So, I think Danny is absolutely working the phones right now. I think every one of those guys is on the table for a potential deal that he’s sure is going to help him.
“This goes back to what I thought the second after Doc Rivers signed that five-year extension,” Mannix continued. “Doc didn’t sign on for five years to be part of a team that just decomposes as it goes back to the Gerald Green era from a few years ago. He believes this team is going to be able to contend in Year 3, 4 and 5, when presumably Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are gone. But to do that, I think Danny is going to have to shake up the roster. And I absolutely believe, right now, before the draft, after the draft, in the offseason, whenever he’s able to talk to these teams again once the lockout is lifted, he is going to be aggressive on the phone lines trying to improve his team.”
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