|Celtics’ big man search: Ronny Turiaf||03.18.12 at 2:47 pm ET|
The big man dominoes are starting to fall as the Nuggets waived Ronny Turiaf after acquiring him from the Wizards in a trade deadline deal. Turiaf is a 6-foot-10, 245-pound forward/center who has posted solid seasons with the Lakers, Warriors and Knicks in his seven-year career. He’s good rebounder and defender with good touch near the basket, averaging 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The big question with Turiaf is his health. He played only four games for the Wizards due to a broken left hand this season. Turiaf suffered the injury against the Celtics back on Jan. 1 and it was the same hand that he injured over the summer playing for the French national team. He has not played since the injury, and he told The Washington Post in early March:
“If was just me, choosing to play, I would’ve been back a long time ago. They are putting the strain on myself, on me, because they know sometimes, I may not be the most rational guy when comes to help teammates and to do stuff.”
The other issue with Turiaf is his heart, and for a team that has lost two players to aortic surgery that is no small consideration. After Turiaf was drafted by the Lakers in 2005, doctors found an enlarged aortic root and he underwent open heat surgery. The Lakers voided his contract but re-signed him six months later and he was able to resume his career.
If healthy, Turiaf would be a perfect for the Celtics, who desperately need another big man behind Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Greg Stiemsma. Turiaf is versatile enough to play both the center and big forward positions and would provide some needed muscle and size on the interior. With several contending teams look to beef up their frontcourts, the Celtics would certainly have competition for his services.
|Celtics stand pat, but real work already done||03.16.12 at 10:51 am ET|
SACRAMENTO — Someone asked Danny Ainge if the Celtics were sellers or buyers at the deadline, and the answer was basically both, but the question missed the essential element of the position Ainge believes he is in with the franchise.
This has never been about this year. That was evident in December when Ainge loaded up on players with one-year contracts, and it’s been evident for the last several years when he refused to extend commitments beyond the summer of 2012. Ainge wasn’t going to deal his first-round draft picks in an attempt to put a Band-Aid on this year’s squad, and at the same time he was engaged in talks involving some of his core stars, but only if they yielded picks and players. So while he wasn’t looking to buy, he also wasn’t trying to conduct an everything-must-go fire sale.
“I was looking at both opportunities,” Ainge said. “To strengthen our team for the playoff run this year and for building up some chips and grabbing some assets for the future. We actually had a lot of conversations on both sides of that.”
The Celtics did nothing at the deadline, although they were active in talks right up until Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline. They will be active in the search for a big man to replace Chris Wilcox and possibly Jermaine O’Neal, but that will take at least a week. The deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for the postseason is March 23, and Ainge said the team will be patient while that process plays out.
This year’s team stays intact and will be allowed to take one final shot at pulling off some kind of a miracle run. You can call it misplaced optimism if you like, but the players and coaches truly believe they can be dangerous in the playoffs, as long as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and especially Kevin Garnett are healthy in May.
“We have a lot of games and not very many days. So I anticipate us looking really good some nights and looking bad some nights,” Ainge said. “I have a lot of faith in our guys. They know the time and the score and they know when the lights are on. They rise to the occasion at big moments. They have a great deal of pride and experience and know-how. I’m hoping that we can get to the playoffs healthy. And add a little bit of beef between now and the playoffs and we’ll take our chances there.”
This summer Ainge will have cap room and draft picks and a handful of young players along with Pierce and Rondo to work with. No one is ever safe on the Celtics as long as Ainge is in charge, and while that may yield an uncomfortable working environment on occasion, he will never let his team get caught in a mess like the one Orlando is going through with Dwight Howard.
At the same time, he won’t let the Celtics fall down the same path as a team like the Nets, who put all their eggs in Howard’s basket only to see him scuttle their plans by letting emotion get in the way of business.
This is only the first step in Ainge’s rebuilding plan and there are only guesses as to where he goes from here. The real effort begins this summer, but the legwork already has been done.
|Celtics search for a big man||03.15.12 at 11:57 pm ET|
SACRAMENTO — After not making a move at the trade deadline, the Celtics are going forward with the core of their roster intact, but they are by no means a finished product. After learning that Chris Wilcox will need aortic surgery and miss the rest of the season, the search is on for a big man, and possibly two.
The market is limited, but there is some hope that a few players will become available by March 23. That’s the deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for a postseason roster. It’s important to note that players can sign at any point up to the end of the regular season as long as they are not on someone’s roster after the March 23 deadline.
“We do need to add a big man,” team president Danny Ainge said. “We need to find the best big man available and we’ll be a little bit patient in that.”
Here’s a list of some of the big men who are, or may become available.
Chris Kaman – The biggest name by far, Kaman is averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Hornets who have to tried to trade the 7-footer most of the season but found no takers for his $14 million contract. Hornets GM Dell Demps told reporters on Thursday that the team plans to keep Kaman.
“Everything is always a possibility,” Demps said. “I mean there’s no reason to say I’m certain, 100 percent sure. There’s always a possibility. I never want to say never. But our intention is to keep Chris.”
If Kaman is waived, the Celtics will have competition. Yahoo! reported that the Spurs and Heat would also be interested in signing him.
Jermaine O’Neal – This may be a stretch, but his situation remains murky.
“I don’t think he’ll be back, but nothing clear,” Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “It’s not been final but I don’t see him playing.”
Still, Ainge said later that he hasn’t closed the door on O’Neal who has been working out at the team’s facility and he plans to meet with him on Friday. “I don’t know what’s going to come from that meeting,” Ainge said.
It’s an indication of how thin the big man market is that O’Neal could be a lot of team’s Plan B if Kaman isn’t available.
Ronny Turiaf: The Nuggets acquired him at the deadline in the JaVale McGee-Nene swap and plan to waive him to make room for the returning Wilson Chandler.
Turiaf is a tough interior presence and a consummate pro, but he played in only four games with the Wizards this season. He also underwent aortic heart surgery in 2005. He’s played without incident since the surgery, but this is a team that has already lost Wilcox and Jeff Green to heart surgery. Still, he’ll be in demand like Kaman and possibly O’Neal.
Chris Johnson – The one-time Celtic is expected to be waived by the Blazers, along with Greg Oden. Johnson appeared in 20 games for Portland this season and played just 93 minutes. He’s 7 feet tall and a shot blocker, and the Celtics are obviously familiar with him after signing him to a 10-day contract last season.
As for Oden, forget it. The former No. 1 overall pick is recovering from his fifth knee surgery and won’t play again this season, if at all.
Leon Powe – The popular former Celtic has been playing in Puerto Rico, but the Celtics have shown little interest in bringing him back since they cut ties with him after the 2009 season.
Earl Barron – Currently playing for the Meralco Bolts in the Philippines, Barron has played for six NBA teams over seven seasons.
Here’s a look at some of the players in the D-League. Among the names are Brian Butch, Keith Benson and NBA veteran Dan Gadzuric.
Other veterans: Jake Voskhul, D.J. Mbenga, Francisco Elson, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Brian Skinner.
|Brandon Bass is starting to get what it means to be a Celtic||03.15.12 at 10:48 pm ET|
OAKLAND — Forward Brandon Bass has been remarkably consistent for the Celtics this season. He averaged 11 points and six rebounds a game in January and February and even after moving into the starting lineup full-time just before the All-Star break, his minutes, shots, points and rebounds haven’t changed all that much.
Beneath that game in and game out consistency has been enormous growth, especially on the defensive end. More than that, Bass is truly coming to understand what it means to play for the Celtics, and play alongside Kevin Garnett.
“If you’re a big and you play on the same team as Kevin Garnett, you’re going to be a better defensive player,” coach Doc Rivers said after the Celtics beat Golden State. “He’s just going to talk you into it. He had one earlier in the game where he missed a rotation and you could see Kevin: He tells you. You may not like the way he delivers the message, but I think where Brandon has grown, he’s gotten over the MFs and [understanding] what he’s saying is really important.”
Bass acknowledged that it’s been a bit of a culture shock coming to Boston and yes, there are times when Garnett’s constant NSFW barking gets on his nerves. But he’s learned that he can also dish it right back and that’s OK.
“You know what? Man. I have problems with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett because they throw a lot of words out there and sometimes I want to throw them back,” Bass said with a bit of a grin. “At the end of the day I know they want to win. And at the end of the day I want to win. So if I throw it back, they don’t mind. It’s life. That’s also what’s made us closer. You can’t be close when everybody’s just being nice. Hey man, how you doing? You got to fight a little bit. Argue a little bit. That will make us closer and I think that will make us fight for each other on the court.”
The Celtics have won eight of their last 10 games and while the only constant thing has been change, they are finally starting to get into a groove since Bass replaced Jermaine O’Neal in the starting lineup. With a regular starting five and a bench rotation of Avery Bradley, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma and Keyon Dooling the Celtics are finally approaching normalcy.
It’s also worth noting that while the core four All-Stars have remained intact, that nine-man rotation is entirely new except for Bradley who is getting the first consistent minutes of his short career.
“We had a bunch of new guys, especially myself,” Bass said. “Everybody was on me about this, about that. I’m finally getting it. I knew it was going to take some time. I guess all the guys knew it was going to take some time as well. We’re jelling and I just hope we can continue to do that.”
|The wait for Chris Kaman||03.15.12 at 3:19 pm ET|
OAKLAND — With no deadline deals to be had, the Celtics will now turn their attention to the veteran free agent market in their quest to fill the big-man void left by Chris Wilcox who will have heart surgery on March 29. The Celtics will have to clear a roster spot to add a player as they are at the 15-man roster limit. A prime candidate for a buyout is center Jermaine O’Neal who has not played since the All-Star break.
The deadline for players to be waived and be eligible for the postseason on another team’s roster is Mach 23rd.
If the Celtics are able to make room, they will surely have their eyes on Hornets center Chris Kaman who is in the final year of his contract worth $14 million. New Orleans wasn’t able to make a deal for Kaman at the deadline and under normal circumstances, he’d also be a likely buyout candidate. However, the Hornets are owned by the NBA and that might complicate matters. Would the league sign off on a buyout knowing that Kaman will be in high demand for teams that are trying to win a championship?
They will have competition. Yahoo! reported that San Antonio and Miami would also be interested in Kaman if he is bought out.
The Celtics have gone to the buyout route in the past. They were able to coax PJ Brown out of retirement and add Sam Cassell in 2008. Both players helped them win a championship. They weren’t as fortunate in 2009 — Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury — or last season when they aacquired Troy Murphy, Carlos Arroyo and Sasha Pavlovic.
|Trade Rumor: Jermaine O’Neal wants buyout, C’s looking for deal||03.15.12 at 1:08 pm ET|
Jermaine O’Neal has been away from the team since the All-Star break and don’t look for him back any time soon. The Celtics have been trying to trade his 6.2 million contract, but have found no takers. O’Neal would like a buyout, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, but the Celtics are still trying to deal him before the 3 p.m. deadline.
It would make sense if the Celtics waived him to clear him a roster space in order to try and save a big man, but Woj adds that the team doesn’t want to let him return to Miami.
|Trade Deadline: Making the Chris Kaman cap math work||03.14.12 at 5:18 pm ET|
The Celtics need a big man. The Hornets have no real use for Chris Kaman. They made him available earlier in the season and even kept him away from the team while they explored trade possibilities.
The problem is that Kaman makes $14 million and fitting that contract under the cap is difficult, especially for a team like the Celtics who are not only over the cap, they’re also over the luxury tax line. Recent reports indicate that New Orleans is willing to accept second round picks for Kaman, but not willing to take on any more salary.
With a number of players in the final years of their contracts, there are a handful of scenarios where the Celtics could satisfy that demand, starting with the expiring deals for Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox. Adding Keyon Dooling’s expiring deal would make the math work, but adding a young player like JaJuan Johnson would make it more difficult.
Further complicating matters is the fact that the Hornets are owned by the NBA. Would the league be willing to sign-off on a deal that yielded only second round picks and expiring deals? Celtics team president Danny Ainge has said that he wasn’t going to trade future assets to help this year’s team and it’s not likely he’d be willing to part with one of his two first round picks for a short-term rental.
If the price for Kaman goes beyond those bare-bones parameters, the Celtics could wait and see if the Hornets buy him out. They’d have to make room on the roster, which is at the 15-player limit.