|Training camp notes: Celtics wait on Jeff Green||12.15.11 at 2:00 pm ET|
UPDATE: After Friday’s shootaround, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that Jeff Green was meeting with more doctors with team president Danny Ainge. Rivers said they hoped to have resolution on Green’s status later on Friday.
Forward Jeff Green was once again a spectator as the Celtics ran through practice on Thursday at TD Garden. Green was in shorts and workout gear getting up shots, but he is still not cleared to practice due to an issue with his physical. On Tuesday, Green said that it was related to a stress test, but there has been little clarity regarding the exact nature of the situation.
“We’ll know more about Jeff [on Friday],” team president Danny Ainge said. “He’s completing all tests and results and we should know more [Friday] afternoon. Everything. We’ll wait until then to give you guys all that information.”
Ainge said they had the results of further tests, but when asked whether they were good or bad, he said, “It’s all based on perspective.”
Coach Doc Rivers also said that Paul Pierce won’t play in Sunday’s exhibition game against Toronto because of his sore right heel. It’s too early to tell whether Rajon Rondo (sprained ankle) will play on Sunday, but Rivers hasn’t ruled it out yet.
“Paul will be out until probably around Monday,” Rivers said. [Trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] said he could possibly play but why take the chance going from no practice to playing in an exhibition game? We’re probably going to leave him back.”
Rivers added that Sasha Pavlovic took a hard fall in Wednesday’s practice but looked ready to participate in Thursday’s session.
PRAISE FOR GREG STIEMSMA
One player who has stood out so far is center Greg Stiemsma. The former Wisconsin product has put in time overseas and the in the D-League where he stood out as a rugged defender and shot-blocker. (Here’s video of Stiemsma rejecting Blake Griffin twice in summer league two years ago).
“I do like Stiemsma,” Rivers said. “I do like him a lot. He hasn’t separated himself or anything. But I like some of the things he can do. I think we have to convince what he can do. He’s actually a terrific shooter from the elbows. He’s not a post player at all. He’s a terrific shot blocker. He blocks everything.”
The Celtics have 14 players under contract (including Green), leaving one roster spot open. If they elect to keep another big man, Stiemsma is definitely on their radar.
Ainge said they’re might be another move, but their options are limited. They used their taxpayer exception to sign Chris Wilcox and he can’t trade any of the new additions or draft picks.
“I don’t know if there’s anything I need to do, but there’s some things that we’re still working on,” Ainge said. “I think this roster is what it’s going to be. Things that we would like to do are usually difficult to pull off.”
AVERY AS AN ELITE DEFENDER
Ainge offered praise for Avery Bradley, saying that in time he could become an elite defender.
“Avery is our best athletic perimeter defender,” Ainge said. “He’s young, without experience, so he has to learn to use that athleticism. He’s also a very intense kid. He’s athletic strong and intense and has a ton of energy. Once he learns to bridle that energy he can be one of the best defenders in the league.”
The Celtics acquired Keyon Dooling in part because he will serve as Rondo’s backup. That, in turn, lessens the pressure on Bradley to run the offense, which he clearly struggled doing last season. (Here’s more on how that dynamic works).
|Jeff Green: ‘I think it was just fatigue’||12.13.11 at 3:13 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Jeff Green was in a Celtics uniform and available during Tuesday’s media day, but he still has not been cleared for full contact at practice. Green watched Tuesday’s session from the sidelines as he has the last few days.
Team president Danny Ainge said on Monday that something showed up in Green’s physical and they were doing more tests. While that sounded ominous, Ainge insisted that they were just being cautious and they fully expected to have Green back on the team on a one-year contract.
Green shed some light on the situation, saying it was the result of stress tests and also didn’t sound overly concerned.
“It was a late day Thursday trying to get everything squared away, then coming here, I didn’t sleep,” Green said “And then the glight got delayed four hours and I got here and did the physical, did a stress test. I think it was just fatigue.”
Asked specifically if it was related to a heart condition, Green said, “Not at all. I heard somebody say that. Not at all.”
When he does get back on the court, Green is anticipating a smoother transition than he experienced last season after his arrival from Oklahoma City at the trade deadline. Green acknowledged that he didn’t feel comfortable last season in a role that was never really clearly defined.
“Coming to this situation last year was very stressful, trying to grasp everything right away was hard,” he said. “Now I’m in a situation where I can relax a little bit. I’m on point with everything. We’re all together and we’re looking good.”
Green’s role is still a bit of a mystery. He can backup Paul Pierce, which he did well last season, but beyond that he could be in the mix in any number of different lineups that Doc Rivers can throw on the floor. Ainge added several reserve players who can multiple positions and Rivers hinted at using some unconventional personnel.
“We want to get him as quickly as possible because he’s important to us,” Rivers said. “He’s important to our bench. Some of the stuff we’re doing offensively we can go with crazy lineups. When [Rajon] Rondo’s off the floor we can literally put anybody at that position and still run some kind of offense, so we need him on the floor.”
|E’Twaun Moore impresses in first day of practice||12.12.11 at 7:26 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics finally had enough players to conduct a practice on Monday and second round pick E’Twaun Moore took advantage of his opportunity. Doc Rivers said that Moore’s teams won both scrimmages and that the guard hit the game-winning shot in one and ran the show at the other.
“E’Twaun was one of the best players in the gym today,” Rivers said. “Forget being a rookie.”
Moore took advantage of the lockout by playing in Italy with Benetton Treviso with former Celtic Brian Scalabrine and Brookline’s Jeff Adrien. Moore earned immediate playing time and knocked down 44 percent of his 3-pointers while averaging 9.5 points per game.
“It definitely helped me out a lot,” Moore said. “The biggest thing I learned from being over there was the patience of the game. I thought 24 seconds, OK, you have to play faster, but that’s not true. Actually you slow the game down and react faster.”
Moore views himself as a guard, capable of playing both the point and the wing. That versatility will be important for a Celtics team that is loaded with veterans. Keyon Dooling is the likely backup point guard and can play both positions. Rivers said on Saturday that Dooling’s addition will pave the way for Avery Bradley to focus on the off-guard spot and Marquis Daniels can also both the off-guard and small forward position.
“The [backup] two spot will have to be determined,” Rivers said. “Somebody’s going to have to take it.”
Moore and fellow rookie JaJuan Johnson have been unable to practice while the team explored trade opportunities. Rookies can’t be traded for 30 days after they sign their contracts. Moore received a two-year deal with a team option for the second year and the first year is guaranteed, according to his agent Mark Bartelstein.
MEET BRANDON BASS
Danny Ainge acquired Bass from the Magic in a sign-and-trade involving Glen Davis and Von Wafer. Bass is a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 11 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Magic last season, while shooting over 51 percent from the floor. He is particularly adept at knocking down 16-23 foot jump shots where he made 47 percent of his attempts from that range.
“I feel very comfortable shooting it,” Bass said. “I’ve been working on that shot since I was 15 and the last couple of years I’ve been able to knock it down.”
“I like that he can score, number one, before anything else,” Rivers said. “Great pick and pop player. Not bad in ISO situations away from the basket. We need that coming off the bench. I like that he just plays hard. Low maintenance, just plays hard, and that’s something we were looking at.”
Just as important from the Celtics perspective is that Bass has a solid contract with a player option for next season at $4 million. If he picks up his option, the Celtics will have a rotation player at a fair price and another trade asset. If he doesn’t, they will have even more cap space for next season.
“Brandon is just a real high character, high-energy player,” Ainge said. “He’s athletic. He’s a fantastic mid-range shooter. Just a real active player with a lot of athleticism and energy. He fits our timeline too. We’re trying to have great success this year and his contract length sort of fits into our timeline.”
Pavlovic gives the Celtics another option on the wing and another backup behind Paul Pierce at small forward. Pavlovic saw action in just 17 games after they signed him late in the season, but Ainge and Rivers feel that there is potential in the 28-year-old.
“We wanted to bring Sasha back at the end of last year,” Ainge said. “The coaches loved his work ethic and he played very well for us when he got an opportunity. He’s young. He’s athletic. He’s got some experience. Sasha’s just a good all-around player.”
Pavlovic’s best days were in Cleveland where he saw significant playing time for teams that advanced deep into the playoffs. He’s a career 35 percent 3-point shooter and can guard both wing positions.
“I believe he can be a good player,” Rivers said. “I told him that last year. I told him in our exit meetings his talent is in there, it’s all between his ears. I think he can be a really good player. We’re going to try to get it out of him.”
Rivers said that Pierce participated in most of the practice after sitting out the last two days with a sore right heel. He was on the sidelines during the portion that media were allowed to watch. Rajon Rondo sat out after spraining his right ankle in Sunday’s session. Rivers said he expects to have Rondo back soon.
|An updated look at the Celtics roster||12.12.11 at 4:07 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Here’s a snapshot of how the Celtics roster looks after the team announced a number of signings and the official completion of the Brandon Bass trade. Veteran players who sign free agent contracts can’t be traded for until March 1 and rookies can’t be traded for at least 30 days.
Second round pick E’Twaun Moore signed a two-year deal with the first year guaranteed and a team option in July for the second season, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein.
Team president Danny Ainge said that the team used its taxpayer mid-level exception on Chris Wilcox, making it a one-year deal for $3 million. He also said that Sasha Pavlovic’s deal was guaranteed, also for one year.
Additionally, Ainge said that Jeff Green‘s arrival at practice has been held-up over something they found with his physical. “We anticipate he’ll be here,” Ainge said. “I don’t think he’ll [be out] very long. He’s just going through the tests again today and tomorrow, and we should be fine.”
Asked if there was a chance this could nullify his deal, Ainge said, “Oh, no, no, no. We’re not close to that yet. It’s just precautionary. Practice just started today officially when we had our whole team here. It will be resolved this week.”
Ainge wouldn’t say if he was done making moves, but he would only make them if they fit under the team’s parameters to keep the salary cap books clear after next year. “I don’t know the answer yet. We’ll only make moves if we think they’ll fit our parameters. We may be done but we may not be. I don’t know.”
If the Celtics are done, that would give them only five players with contracts after this season:
Rondo and Pierce are on the books for a little less than $28 million combined. Johnson and Bradley are on rookie deal that will bring the total closer to $30 million and Bass has a player option for $4 million. The salary cap was set for this season at $58 million and is not expected to go down next year.
That would give the Celtics about $24 million under the cap, not including cap holds, which would leave them enough money to offer a max-contract next season. Doing so would force them to renounce the rights of most of their pending free agents including Allen and Garnett.
(Roster note: Several players can be slotted into different positions.)
SF: Paul Pierce, Jeff Green (pending clearance), Sasha Pavlovic
PF: Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass
Training camp invites: Gilbert Brown, Jamal Sampson, Mike Sweetney
|How the Celtics look after David West signs with Pacers||12.11.11 at 4:02 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Give Danny Ainge this: He turned Marquis Daniels into Keyon Dooling via a trade exception and Glen Davis into Brandon Bass in a sign-and-trade. If he had been able to parlay Jermaine O’Neal‘s expiring contract into David West, Ainge would have emerged as a clear winner in this chaotic chapter in NBA history.
While the West situation resolved itself, the rest of the Celtics have been on hold. Doc Rivers conducted practice with just nine players on Sunday and that number was reduced to eight after Rajon Rondo sprained his ankle. Rivers said the injury wasn’t serious, but he joined Paul Pierce (right heel) on the sidelines. Rivers said they were keeping Pierce out as a precaution.
Also absent, but not for medical reasons, were Bass, Jeff Green and rookie JaJuan Johnson and E’Twuan Moore. Rivers said the team was waiting for the paperwork on Bass and Green to be cleared, but it is believed that either Johnson or Moore could have been included with O’Neal in the sign-and-trade effort for West. Rookies can’t be traded for 30 days after they sign their contracts.
“The first day we camp is when we have everyone,” Rivers said. “As far as I’m concerned we haven’t started camp.”
With only two weeks and counting until the Celtics open the season on Christmas Day against the Knicks, here’s where things stand on the roster:
Forwards: Pierce, Daniels, Green
When Johnson and Moore sign their rookie deals, that will give the Celtics 13 players.
They also have big men Greg Stiemsma, Jamal Sampson and Michael Sweetney in camp, although Stiemsma has been the only one on the court while media has been allowed to view practice. The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Stiemsma has played in the D-League and Turkey after his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin and will get a long look.
Ainge still has the taxpayer mid-level exception to offer and the Celtics could use another big man and possibly a shooter.
|Larry Bird vs. Danny Ainge for David West||12.11.11 at 2:45 am ET|
It’s not true that it’s part of the new NBA bylaws that everything has to happen after midnight on weekends, but once again the league descended into chaos after the Lakers pulled out of the Chris Paul sweepstakes. While the Celtics could try to get themselves back in, it’s unclear how they could improve their offer to New Orleans after the Hornets resisted overtures throughout the process. The Clippers also reportedly emerged as the frontrunners for Paul.
Of more immediate concern is the Celtics other deal with New Orleans for free agent forward David West. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported early Sunday morning that the Celtics competition for West is none other than Indiana, whose team president is Larry Bird.
According to Woj’s report, the Celtics have offered Jermaine O’Neal along with possibly JaJuan Johnson and/or E’Twaun Moore in a sign-and-trade for West. Neither rookie has practiced with the team yet or signed their contracts, making them eligible for a deal. O’Neal essentially confirmed the reports when he spoke candidly about not wanting to play for a team that isn’t a contender after Celtics practice on Saturday.
“If I go somewhere else it won’t be a losing team,” O’Neal said. “That wouldn’t make any sense. If it was a deal with New Orleans, I’m sure there would be a third team. My stop wouldn’t be to New Orleans. They’re not trying to get older.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers talked gingerly about the possibility of a deal after practice on Saturday but wouldn’t comment on any specifics. “I hope there’s a possibility of that but I don’t know it,” Rivers said. “Some of the decisions are in the player’s hands.”
Here’s where it gets complicated. According to Wojnarowski, the Celtics offer is a 3-year deal in the $24-25 million range with the fourth year likely only partially guaranteed. The Pacers, meanwhile, have offered a 2-year deal for a higher annual salary. Resolution is expected as early as Sunday.
The 31-year-old West had surgery on a torn ACL suffered last March that cost him the final 12 games of the regular season and the playoffs. When healthy, West is a skilled offensive player who averaged 19 points last season and has made two All-Star appearances. He would provide an inside-out threat that includes an underrated post game.
The Celtics have been loading up on power forwards, acquiring Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox and seemed content to move away using a traditional center. Rivers said on Saturday that he was would pair Kevin Garnett up with forwards more this season.
“Kevin will play some five this year, which honestly I don’t think is a problem at all,” Rivers said. “You can play him and Bass together. Either one can guard the five or the four so it makes us pretty versatile.”
Asked if the team needed a center, Rivers said, “If we don’t have one, I’m not upset by that. I’ll always take one so if you can find one for me please help out. If we have enough fours who can play both [positions] and we have enough fouls we can get away with it.”
A healthy West would help cement that strategy, which could be an effective counter against teams like Miami, who also don’t use a traditional center. Additionally, an ESPN.com report said that the Lakers have turned their attention to acquiring Dwight Howard, who earlier in the day told the Magic that he would like to be traded to New Jersey.
Short of acquiring both Paul and Howard themselves, which seems like an extreme longshot, if the Celtics add West and the two superstars wind up on different teams in the Western Conference, that ultimately might be the best-case scenario for the Celtics in this chaotic environment.
|What Keyon Dooling does for Avery Bradley||12.10.11 at 10:34 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers has long been an admirer of veteran guard Keyon Dooling. So much so that Rivers tried on three occasions to get Dooling to join his teams. He finally got his man after Danny Ainge traded a second round pick to Milwaukee to acquire him via a trade exception created in the Marquis Daniels deal to Sacramento last season.
“It’s a good pickup for us,” Rivers said. “He’s a veteran guard. He can play one or two, he can shoot, he can really defend. He’s high character, which is an area we were looking for and he’s a good fit for this group. He’s hungry. He wants to win. Those are the players we wanted. We wanted players who are over themselves and who are hungry and want to play with a sense of urgency.”
It’s safe to say the feeling is mutual.
“I’ve had an opportunity to play before a few good coaches in my career,” Dooling said after his practice with the team on Saturday. “Stan Van Gundy [and] Lawrence Frank have been very influential in my career, my progress as a player and a person. Doc has been somebody who’s been a great mentor to me. I always pick his brain every time I see him because I’m fascinated by him. He’s awesome. He’s everything that a player like me would want to be.”
The Celtics will be Dooling’s sixth team in an 11-year career that began in Los Angeles with the Clippers and took him to Miami, Orlando, New Jersey and Milwaukee and he’s excited about the chance to play for a contender.
“It’s something I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “Going into the season having an opportunity to play for a ‘chip every year. I haven’t really had a legitimate chance to win the ‘chip sing I played with Shaq back in Miami, so I’m licking my chops, man.”
Dooling is expected to primarily backup Rajon Rondo at the point and at 6-foot-3, he’s capable of defending both backcourt positions in the right matchup. He’s also a solid 3-point shooter. As Dooling said, “They used to use the word, ‘tweener.’ As my career progressed and I earned some respect around the league I became a combo guard.”
That’s basically what he is and he’ll essentially fill the role that Delonte West played last season. But Dooling brings an extra benefit to the table because with him on board, the Celtics no longer feel that they force Avery Bradley into a point guard role. “Keyon has created us two players because Avery is better this way,” Rivers said.
From the moment Bradley was drafted it was unclear whether he would develop into a point guard. He had limited experience in his one collegiate season at Texas at the position and he never really had a chance as a rookie after an ankle injury kept him out of summer league and part of training camp. In limited minutes he clearly struggled running the team.
“You watched Avery last year and I thought he was paralyzed when he had to run the position, when he had to call plays,” Rivers said. “I thought he was really good when he was just playing. So that told me let’s make him that and stop trying to make him a point.”
The Celtics love his defensive ability and see the potential for him to fill a similar role to the one Tony Allen played so well during the run to the NBA finals in 2010. Bradley doesn’t have the size to guard forwards like Allen does, but he can be a fullcourt on-the-ball defender and also cover off-guards.
“What we want him to do is get on the floor,” Rivers said. “He has to earn that, but defensively he can really help us. I feel like he has to play all year so when the playoffs start he’ll be able to guard guys.”
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