|What about Perk?||08.10.10 at 3:06 pm ET|
Left out in the Celtics big summer moves is Kendrick Perkins who underwent knee surgery and is expected to be about until the All-Star break. With Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal on board, the Celtics are loaded with size at the center spot, so where does that leave Perk?
“Kendrick has a very bright future and obviously he knows that we think very highly of him,” Danny Ainge said. “Were not certain when he is going to be 100 percent and that does us allow to be patient with Kendrick. At the same time I’m sure Kendrick is worried and nervous because we are going to win basketball games with this frontline even when he’s not playing. Hopefully he can just focus on getting healthy and competing for his job back.”
|Shaq and the bench question||08.10.10 at 3:02 pm ET|
On the day he was introduced as Celtic, Shaquille O’Neal artfully maneuvered around the question of whether or not he will start at center next season.
“There will be an O’Neal on the floor,” Shaq said referring to himself and Jermaine O’Neal, the Celtics other key free agent center acquisition. Shaq went on to say that it didn’t matter to him who started.
In the days leading up to the signing, Doc Rivers was brutally honest with Shaq about his playing time, about his motives and whether he would accept coming off the bench.
“I told him there was not 30 minutes on this team,” Rivers said. “There will be 20-25 minutes. I asked him if that was OK because that’s the only way it will work. We talked about coming off the bench. It’s very important when you get a guy like Shaq to be up front and honest and tell him where you see he’ll be. If he can accept that he’ll fit our mold.”
Rivers would prefer for Shaq to come off the bench because it would give the second-unit a low-post scorer, something it hasn’t had since Leon Powe was healthy. Rivers prefers to set his lineups and stick with them, but this lineup could present some interesting possibilities.
“I think that Shaquille and Jermaine could play together,” Danny Ainge said. “I think Jermaine and [Kevin Garnett] can play together. One of the things I like is there are interchangeable pieces. Glen Davis and Shaq can play together, Glen Davis and Jermaine can play together. Any of those four combinations can play well together.”
The Celtics contacted Shaq’s representatives on July 1, but weren’t sure that he would agree to their terms. They still didn’t know how it would play out until last week when Shaq’s people told Ainge that they were ready to sign and do it on the Celtics terms. That last part is key to making it work in a locker room with more than its share of outsized personalities.
” The reason we’re bringing in these personalities is because we have a pretty solid locker room with KG, Paul and Ray.,” Rivers said. “We did it last year with Rasheed [Wallace] and now we’re trying to do wit with Shaq. There’s no guarantees though. There never is. Chemistry is a delicate thing. This has to be about the Celtics and it has to be winning. If there’s any other motives or agendas’¦ I was very honest with him, that’s why he’s here.”
|An older, more mature, Von Wafer||08.10.10 at 2:30 pm ET|
For many the enduring image of Von Wafer in an NBA uniform is when Rockets coach Rick Adelman sent him back to the locker room during a playoff game. Wafer apologized the next day, but the damage had been done.
The Rockets didn’t renew his contract, even after a breakout year in which he averaged almost 10 points a game, and he spent a year in exile.
“I just acted out at the wrong time,” Wafer said. “I love Coach Adelman. He’s the first coach who gave me an opportunity to play. I never talked back to him. I just acted out at the wrong moment. It cost me. It cost me a lot. That just can’t happen.”
Wafer signed with a team in Greece, but he bought his way out of his contract and his attempts to return to the NBA were thwarted when it was reported that he failed physicals in Memphis and Houston. The Mavericks eventually did sign him to a 10-day contract but he never saw action.
Wafer said that he’s fine physically and that mentally he’s a much stronger player. He knows he has a lot to prove this season.
“I didn’t want to go out that way,” he said. “A lot of bad things were said about me. That’s why I’m here early trying to get ready. This is a big year for me. I can’t go out like that. I’ve got too much pride. I’m more mature now. I know how this business works. You work hard, keep your mouth shut and stay out of trouble and you’re going to be blessed and fortunate.”
The biggest knock on Wafer is his defense, which he also acknowledged. “Not good,” he said. “I’ve heard bad things about my defense. I think I’m an okay defender. The name of the game is putting more points up on the board than the other team.”
Wafer will find out soon enough that okay doesn’t cut it defensively with the Celtics, but he is more prepared for the challenge.
“I had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs, but it made me stronger,” Wafer said. “I actually became a better basketball player last year. Most people might not believe it, but mentally, I’m definitely better. Physically, that will come, but the mental, I needed that.”
|Ainge: Sheed will be resolved soon||08.10.10 at 2:06 pm ET|
One question that has continued to hover around the Celtics this offseason, is what will they do with Rasheed Wallace? The veteran has two years left on his contract, but he indicated through his agent and to the team that he will retire.
The Celtics have tried to trade his contract this summer but have not found the right deal. Danny Ainge said the situation will be resolved soon. “We have looked at trade possibilities throughout the summer,” Ainge said. “We’ll continue to do that. I would say it will all be resolved soon and you guys will all hear how we’ve resolved it shortly.”
At this point it seems unlikely that they will find a trade partner for Wallace and will try to work out a buyout agreement for the final two years of his deal. If the Celtics are able to settle with Wallace that would clear a roster spot.
“One more piece is possible,” Ainge said. “But I like the team we have at this stage. There are different scenarios but I would say the most likely scenario [to signing another player] is the veteran minimum.”
|What Shaq brings to the Celtics||08.04.10 at 7:43 pm ET|
O’Neal is 38 years old and will be 39 in March. It’s impossible to write about Shaq without mentioning his age (or his conditioning) because he’s not the same player who destroyed the NBA earlier this decade and he hasn’t been for several years.
Since his first season with the Heat, 2004-05, Shaq has gone over the 2,000-minute mark just once. That was in 2008-09 when he shot almost 61 percent and was named to the All-NBA third team with Phoenix.
The Suns were so enthralled with his work that they traded him for to the Cavs for Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace and a second-round pick. They promptly released both players, making the return for Shaq a strict salary dump. The Cavs are letting him leave for nothing.
That doesn’t mean he’s not effective. In 53 games with Cleveland, Shaq averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds in about 24 minutes of action a game and remained a productive low-post scorer and rebounder, especially on the defensive glass. He was not, however, the difference-maker for the Cavs against the Magic and Dwight Howard as advertised last summer.
The good news for the Celtics is that they don’t need him to be one. They don’t need 20 and 10 every night, and he’s not the center complement for a young perimeter superstar. as with Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James elsewhere in his career. What they need is for him to team with Jermaine O’Neal to hold down the middle until Kendrick Perkins returns from knee surgery, which may be as late as the All-Star break.
After that? Who knows. That’s something for Doc Rivers to figure out in February.
For now, the Celtics have fortified their front line and credit Danny Ainge with doing it deliberately and without panic. The Celtics could have had Shaq as far back as early July if they were willing to give him their mid-level exception. They didn’t, using that money to sign the younger O’Neal. They could have had him back in mid-July if they could have worked out a sign-and-trade, but they didn’t go for that either.
|Shaq signs with the Celtics||08.04.10 at 4:46 pm ET|
“It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille’s caliber to your team,” Danny Ainge said in the release. “His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster.”
And here’s the Shaq quote:
“I am honored to be joining the Celtics. I have played against Paul, Ray, Kevin, Rajon, and Jermaine for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship.”
According to the report O’Neal will wear No. 36.
|Celtics to face Heat in opener||08.03.10 at 7:27 pm ET|
The NBA unveiled the schedule for their three marquee dates and all of them feature the Celtics.
The Celtics will open the NBA season with a home game against the Miami Heat on October 26 at 7:30 p.m. on TNT in a game that will be hyped as the New Big Three vs. The Old Big Three. Beyond that, the Celtics will get the first crack at what should be their toughest challenge in defending their Eastern Conference crown.
The second half of the opening night doubleheader will have the Rockets playing the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Like last season, the Celtics will be in Orlando on Christmas Day at 2:30 p.m. for a rematch of last season’s conference championship series. The Heat and Lakers will occupy the prime Christmas Day spot at 5 p.m.
The Magic will be in Boston on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 17 with an 8 p.m. game at the Garden.
NBA.com has a full list of the opening week, Christmas and MLK games.