|Even with $20 million in the bank, Brandon Bass still has big dreams||07.14.12 at 5:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brandon Bass was rewarded for his career year, collecting a reported free agent prize of $20 million in a three-year deal to come back to Boston.
Now, he focused on proving the Celtics spent their money wisely.
“I had other offers out, but I knew where I wanted to be and that’s back in a green jersey playing for the Celtics,” Bass said. “It’s a great organization, a great group of guys who are all about winning. I’m excited to be back.”
Danny Ainge, the club’s president of basketball operations, certainly saw enough of Bass to feel the investment is a wise one, especially with so many moving parts on the roster since the end of the season. There is a certain intangible value in familiarity, both for Bass and the team.
“Bringing Brandon back to the team was a top priority of ours after the season had ended,” Ainge said. “Brandon has improved as a player every year that he has been in the NBA and we believe that the best is yet to come from him.”
Last season, Bass had the best season of his career, averaging a 12.5 points. He became invaluable to Ainge and Doc Rivers when Jermaine O’Neal went down for the season with a bad wrist. With Kevin Garnett moving to the center position, Bass started nearly every game down the stretch, playing in 59 games, including 39 starts.
“I think I still have a long ways to go,” Bass said. “I’m ready to get back in the gym, and come back a little bit better, [actually] a lot better.”
The funny part of bringing Bass back – presumably to start next season at the big forward spot between Garnett and Paul Pierce – is he might have to win over his family more than he has to convince the Celtics.
“I’ve got big dreams,” he said. “I’m 27 now. Some of my cousins say I’m getting old, but I think I’m still young and I still got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on the organization, on a team. I think this is the perfect team.”
|Chris Wilcox: ‘This is a blessing for me even to be here’||07.14.12 at 2:29 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Among teammates, coaches and even owner Stephen Pagliuca, Chris Wilcox is known to be a fun-loving man.
So, it was with great humor and appreciation that Pagliuca listened to Wilcox tell him recently that if only he had been able to play against Miami, things might have turned out differently for the Celtics.
“It’ll be even more special to have all these guys on board and we’ll win that seventh game against Miami this year,” Pagliuca said with a smile and chuckle. “Chris said he would’ve made the difference and I think he was right.”
It was no laughing matter in March when Wilcox became the second Celtics player in three months to undergo heart surgery after being diagnosed with a heart irregularity.
He was officially waived by the Celtics on March 23, but like with Jeff Green, who had heart valve surgery two months earlier, there was an unwritten agreement that the team would offer him a contract once he was medically cleared to resume basketball activity. Saturday was that time, as Wilcox, a much-needed veteran big man in the C’s front court, was formally re-introduced in a press conference at the team’s practice facility.
“I’m good. I’m back now. I’m full contact,” Wilcox said. “I can do everything, lifting weights, just to a minimum though, lifting weights. Everything else, I’m back and I’m ready.
“By training camp, I’ll definitely be full-go. I’ve been working hard all summer, trying to get back right, being prepared and it’s going along well.”
What’s been the biggest challenge of training since heart surgery?
“Cardio. Your cardio, your wind,” Wilcox said. “You have to re-train your whole body over again after surgery like that. So, I think the main thing for me is the my cardio so I’ve just been running, trying to get my wind up. That’s the main thing right now.
“This is a blessing,” Wilcox continued. “This is a blessing for me even to be here right now. So, I’m just going to take full advantage of all my situations and all the opportunities that have been coming my way. And it’s a blessing to come back to a team and be able to pick up where I left off. Read the rest of this entry »
|Danny Ainge on Ray Allen: ‘I was hopeful … but I was not surprised’||07.14.12 at 1:38 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The departure of Ray Allen has been interpreted in many ways since the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goal shooter decided to leave the Celtics and join the NBA champion Heat on July 6. On Saturday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge gave his.
“I don’t feel like we lost Ray,” Ainge said. “I feel like Ray left us to go to Miami. We appreciate all that Ray has done and all that him and [wife] Shannon have done in our community and we tried to get Ray back and he chose to go to Miami.”
Ainge reportedly had a two-year, $12 million deal on the table for Allen, but the guard was rumored to have a serious personality conflict with point guard Rajon Rondo and was concerned about his role and playing time next season.
“No one player makes a team and players choose not to come here all the time,” Ainge said. “There are 30 good basketball teams out there and it’s a very competitive league and there’s other teams outside of Boston. We knew Ray had this option and this opportunity and he chose to go that direction.
“I’ve talked with Ray much over the last five years. I’m a fan of Ray. I’m grateful for what he’s done and he’ll always be part of that 2008 championship and the success we’ve had since then as well. But I have a feeling there wasn’t one thing. I think it was an accumulation of lots of things, including the allure of Miami. And I’ll just leave it at that.”
As a reporter was asking a question about the club’s roster, Ainge went back and finished up his thoughts on Allen.
“I will say that I was hopeful that he would make another decision, but I was not surprised,” Ainge concluded.
|Rajon Rondo: ‘We let this one slip away’||06.10.12 at 4:03 am ET|
How rare is Rondo? He became the first player in NBA history with two Game 7 triple doubles, scoring 22 points, dishing 14 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds in Boston’s 101-88 Game 7 loss to the Heat at American Airlines Arena Saturday night. This comes just two weeks to the night he had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Boston’s 95-85 win over the Sixers in Game 7 of the Eastern semis.
But that was hardly on Rondo’s mind after just missing out on his third NBA finals appearance in five seasons.
“Great season,” Rondo began before clarifying, “we let this one slip away. We had a lot of opportunities, and they made the 50’50 plays, and they got to the loose balls, got the offensive rebounds and made plays.”
Rondo led the Celtics with six points in the fourth quarter but the problem was Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Ray Allen combined for nine, as the C’s were outscored 28-15 in the decisive 12 minutes of the game – and the series.
“We had some great looks, Paul, Ray, myself, Kevin, we just didn’t knock them down,” Rondo said. ” What I told them earlier, they got to the loose balls, offensive rebounds and made plays and executed offensively and made great plays.”
Did the Celtics and Rondo just run out of gas?
“Nope,” he said succinctly. “We missed shots.
“We could have done a couple of things better defensively. Our rotations weren’t crisp in the pick’and’roll. We made bad decisions, overpenetration, gave up a lot of threes, two to Bosh, a couple to Battier. Give them credit. They spread the points out as a team tonight. And about five or six players scored in double digits. Give them credit. They played great tonight as a team. We just came up short.”
|Keyon Dooling: ‘We have hearts of champions’||06.10.12 at 3:23 am ET|
Dooling, who wears a floral lapel pin in honor of his late father, revealed just how much Saturday’s loss hurt the Celtics as a team.
“My father passed away three years ago and I haven’t cried since my father passed away until tonight,” Dooling said. “This bunch of guys, it was a like a senior year of high school. It was a memorable, lifelong friendships, a lot of great moments. This team was very unique. We love each other, we care for each other and though we aren’t champions this year, we have hearts of champions, and that will always keep us connected.”
LeBron James has been one of the most scrutinized and criticized superstars in any sport over the last six years. But on Saturday night, in the moments after he scored 31 points and lifted his Heat team to a 101-88 win over the Celtics in Game 7, he was showered with praise by one of those who tried to slow him down.
“I’ve never bought into this whole persona that LeBron isn’t the guy,” Dooling said. “I think everybody should relax a little bit. He’s great for our game, he is our game. We need to uplift him instead of tear him down. He’s a guy who’s the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever seen. He rebounds the ball, he assists the ball, he’s empowered his friends from his community. He does a lot of charity work in the community. He’s a model citizen. He should not have a stain on his reputation and I hope it stops.”
Dooling was part of a Celtics bench that could only muster two points and was outscored by Miami’s new bench weapon, Chris Bosh, 19-2. Dooling said the Celtics weren’t tired in the fourth quarter as they were outscored, 28-15. It was just a matter of the Heat’s execution.
“It wasn’t about gas,” Dooling said. “They just did a great job of defending. They’re a great team. You have to give them credit. We fought, we hung around, we were there. We had some good shots at the end. We just couldn’t make plays. They did a phenomenal job. They made all the plays, they shared the ball. They executed down the stretch. They got some interior baskets as well. They did a phenomenal job. Tip your hat to them.”
|Paul Pierce on Kevin Garnett, leadership and heartbreak after Game 7||06.10.12 at 2:49 am ET|
MIAMI — Following Boston’s 101-88 loss to the Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, captain Paul Pierce made it clear he wants management to do whatever they can to bring Kevin Garnett back for one more run with the Celtics.
“He’s been everything for my career, just his locker room presence, his desire, his determination, his leadership,” Pierce said. “I’ve said before when Kevin first got here, he really changed the culture of everything we did around here, from the practice habits to the on-court discipline. He made everybody accountable, from the ballboys, to the chefs to the guy who flew the plane. Everybody was accountable. It was just tremendous to have him around, just the culture he brought.
“It would be great for me to end my career with Kevin. I have a couple of years left [on Celtics contract] and who knows what his future is going to bring. Hopefully, management can do something to bring him back, maybe add some pieces to this team that we need to get us over the top. If not, it’s been a tremendous ride.”
Garnett, who fell into early foul trouble in Game 7 and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes, is now an unrestricted free agent after spending the last five seasons in Boston.
Garnett did not speak to reporters after the game but Pierce did address what went wrong in Game 7, a contest the Celtics led by seven at halftime before being outscored by 20 in the second half.
“It’s tough when you don’t have the chance to accomplish your goals. Every year your goal, as a Boston Celtic, is to try and come out and win a championship. We had our opportunities. We were right where we wanted to be. We had a chance in Game 7. We had a chance to close it out at home in Game 6. We didn’t take advantage of it. We’ve got to take our hats off to what the Heat was able to do the last couple of games. They played inspiring basketball. What can I say? [Chris Bosh] was definitely an X-factor. He shot the ball well. It was an ideal situation [for us]. It was a tie game, one quarter to go, winner plays for the championship. What more can you ask for? They made the plays they needed to make to get there.
“Everything is going so fast right now. It’s tough to think about. You feel like you let your teammates down,” said Pierce, who followed up his 4-for-18 night in Game 6 with a 7-for-18 night in Game 7. That’s 11-for-36 in his final two games of the season.
And if this was it for the “Big Three”?
“It was a great opportunity,” Pierce said. “Whenever you have the chance to play with some of the greatest players of all time in Ray, Kevin and an up-and-coming great in Rondo, you can’t ask for anything more. There are a lot of people who have been in my position who do not get that opportunity.”
“That’s a question you’re going to have to ask management,” Pierce said. “Obviously, we want to play together. Management has their choices that they can make. I’m just happy that they were able to let us play.”
|Setting the scene from Celtics-Heat Game 7, where Ray Allen has it over everyone||06.09.12 at 6:47 pm ET|
MIAMI — Welcome to Game 7.
It’s the seventh such Game 7 in the “Big Three plus Rondo” era. They are 4-2 in the previous six but of those six, only one came on the road. The 2010 Game 7 in the NBA finals in which, like this series, the Celtics were leading 3-2 but couldn’t close out in Game 6 when Kendrick Perkins went down.
In losing Game 6 to LeBron James and the Heat, the Celtics have put themselves in the position of fighting history.
There have been 110 Game 7s, and the home team is 88-22. The Celtics are 3-3, last winning on the road in 1974.
What’s even more improbable is a team winning both Game 5 and Game 7 on the road. The Celtics took a 3-2 series lead by winning in Miami last Tuesday. In the 110 seven-game series, only five times has the road team won both Games 5 and 7 – the 1968 and 1974 Celtics, the 1981 and 1995 Rockets and the 2005 Pacers all did the highly improbable.
On the Heat side, LeBron James is playing in his third Game 7 and everyone recalls the last one. He scored 45 points in a 98-91 loss to the Celtics at the Garden on May 18, 2008 in the Eastern semifinals. Before that, on May 21, 2006, James’ Cavaliers also lost to the Pistons in the Eastern semis.
Ray Allen will have more Game 7 experience than anyone on the floor Saturday night, playing in his ninth such contest. In addition to the six with the Celtics, he played in two with the Bucks in 2001, beating New Orleans in the Eastern semis before bowing out to Allen Iverson and the Sixers in the Eastern finals in Philadelphia.
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