|Source: Shaq to Boston close, not done yet||08.03.10 at 4:43 pm ET|
It’s a move that has been gathering momentum in recent days. Shaq went on Jimmy Kimmel Monday night and suggested that he and the Celtics would make a good match.
Unless the Celtics can work out a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers, O’Neal would have to agree to sign for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million. Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Brian Windhorst indicated on Twitter that the two teams were not in sign-and-trade talks. If that’s the case then credit the Celtics for waiting him out while his price drops.
O’Neal has maintained that he wants to sign with a contender, but considering that Orlando, Miami and the Lakers were never real possibilities that left Shaq looking at the Celtics, Spurs and Hawks as viable destinations and both San Antonio and particularly Atlanta have cooled on the idea.
Even at age 38, Shaq would give the Celtics insurance while Kendrick Perkins rehabs from knee surgery. In a recent interview with Dime Magazine, Perkins said that doctors told him that he was ahead of schedule and was looking at a mid-February return. If Perkins is able to come back by then, he would still miss more than half the season and need to work his way back into playing shape.
The Celtics added Jermaine O’Neal for the full mid-level exception and without Perkins the center depth is O’Neal and untested rookie Semih Erden. Getting Shaq, even at age 38, would be a huge upgrade at the spot.
Since the 2004-05 season, Shaq has played more than 2,000 minutes just once (in 2008-09 with Phoenix) and he missed 29 games with the Cavaliers last season. But he can still score (12 points in less than 24 minutes a game) and his rebounding-rate numbers have held steady. He would also give the Celtics their best low-post scoring option by far.
Where he struggles is with pick and roll defense, but he can still hold his ground in the low post and the Celtics would be better-equipped to scheme around his deficiencies than most teams.
There’s also the notion of Shaq’s outsized personality. He had issues with the Celtics three biggest rivals — Miami, Orlando and Los Angeles, which would only add to the hype surrounding those matchups. Over the years, however, the Celtics have not shied away from adding outspoken veterans; Sam Cassell, Stephon Marbury and Rasheed Wallace to name three.
The free agent market has been picked clean at this point and so have opportunities for joining the true contenders. Shaq and the Celtics may just be a match whose time has come.
|C’s officially sign Wafer||08.03.10 at 1:57 pm ET|
The Celtics made it official, signing Von Wafer for the 2010-11 season. Terms were not announced, but it is believed to be for one season for the veteran minimum. (Here’s a more in-depth look at Wafer).
Wafer gives the Celtics 13 players under contract with second round pick Luke Harangody expected to be the 14th player once he reaches agreement on a contract.
The current Celtics roster is as follows:
SG: Ray Allen, Von Wafer
Non-guaranteed: Oliver Lafayette, Tony Gaffney
Second round pick: Luke Harangody
|What Von Wafer does for the Celtics||07.29.10 at 8:28 pm ET|
Von Wafer is a 6-5 shooting guard who does one thing well: shoot 3-pointers, and according to Hoops World he will be doing it for the Celtics this season. Wafer made 39 percent of his 3’s with the Rockets in 2008-09 when he appeared in 63 games and played over 1,200 minutes. Wafer also made 45 percent of his 3’s in his one extended season in the Development league in 2007.
He was drafted by the Lakers in 2005 and has had cameo NBA appearances in each of the last five seasons (Dallas signed him to a 10-day contract this past season but he didn’t see any action). After his breakthrough season with the Rockets, which included scoring 14 points and making a late shot to beat the Celtics — Wafer signed with Olympiakos Piraeus in the Euro League.
Wafer was bought out of his contract only a few months into the deal and he appeared headed back to the NBA, but he reportedly failed physicals with the Grizzlies and Rockets. He spent the summer training in his hometown of Louisiana and declared himself healthy. It’s still unclear what caused Wafer to fail his physical, but he has had back issues in the past.
Wafer also clashed with Rockets coach Rick Adelman about playing time and was sent to the locker room during a playoff game, for which he later apologized.
All of that makes this an interesting addition for the Celtics. His shooting ability will certainly be a plus for a bench that could use some. If he can accept his role and do it without complaint then this move has solid potential. If not, then it’s still a reasonable low-cost gamble for a player with an obvious skill.
Wafer gives the Celtics 13 players under contract with second round pick Luke Harangody expected to become the 14th shortly. They also have Tony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette on non-guaranteed deals. Counted in those 13 contracts players is Rasheed Wallace, whose situation remains in limbo.
|What Nate Robinson’s return means for the Celtics||07.16.10 at 2:02 pm ET|
As late as May 27, the notion that Nate Robinson would return to the Celtics seemed far-fetched. Danny Ainge’s trade deadline acquisition had fallen so far out of the rotation he was spending more time with Marquis Daniels on the bench than with Paul Pierce or Ray Allen on the court.
But then on the night of May 28, Rajon Rondo went down hard on the floor in Game 6 of the conference finals against the Magic and all of Celtics fandom held its breath. Enter Nate Robinson.
In a little over eight minutes Robinson scored 13 points and the Celtics were on their way to averting disaster and en route to the NBA finals. The X-factor had finally arrived.
“I told him I loved him, and I told him at some point this was going to happen,” Doc Rivers said after Game 6. “It was all up to him to stay engaged, and he did. I get no credit for this. Nate Robinson stayed focused in 30-straight whatever games without playing. To me that’s more important than anything he’s done tonight.”
Once Robinson delivered on the court, Rivers kept him in the lineup and he provided valuable backup assistance to Rondo against the Lakers. Still, while Robinson had finally found a niche with the 2010 Celtics, there was some debate as to whether he would still fit with the team going forward.
Then Tony Allen spurned the Celtics to sign with the Grizzlies and re-signing Robinson became a higher priority. To be sure Robinson and T.A. have very little in common as players, but as Ainge looks to fill out the bench with only the veteran minimum to offer, quality players at any position have become a premium.
Now Robinson is back in the fold and that’s good news for the Celtics. Here’s what he has to offer. Read the rest of this entry »
|What’s next for the Celtics?||07.14.10 at 2:34 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — Out here in the steamy desert, it’s been difficult to keep track of all the coming and goings. One day, New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower is sitting in the stands watching the action at summer league. The next day various Hornets assistants were scrambling for an impromptu meeting in the same section to discuss what they’re going to do now that they don’t have a general manager anymore.
The free agent market typically has a defined rhythm to it. The top players go first, along with a handful of role players who actually set the market — Drew Gooden, Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, etc. Then come the secondary players along with the sign-and-trades and restricted free agents.
This can take as long as a month, but in the wake of ‘The Decision’ things have happened at a breakneck pace. When LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Amar’e Stoudemire signed with new teams, they didn’t just take their talents with them. They also left parting gifts in the form of trade exemptions, which shifted cap space from one franchise to another.
So while the Heat, Bulls, Knicks and Nets have used their cap space to varying degrees, the Raptors, Suns and Jazz have also remade their teams.
(Somewhat hilariously, the Timberwolves picked up up a sizable trade exception after they gave away Al Jefferson to Utah. The only problem is, they can’t use it unless they are over the cap. They used some of that cap space on Luke Ridnour and now seem intent on giving away Ramon Sessions, who they signed last year. There appears to be no method to the madness that is [David] Kaaaaahn.)
While all this has gone down, the Celtics have basically been forced to sit and watch with nothing but the veteran minimum left to offer.
Danny Ainge did almost all of his work before July 8 when he agreed to contracts with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and used the full mid-level exception on Jermaine O’Neal. The consensus out in Vegas is that the Celtics did well with those deals, particularly with O’Neal who will probably have to start at center for most of the season while Kendrick Perkins rehabs from his knee surgery.
But the Memphis Grizzlies threw them a curveball when they signed Tony Allen to a three-year deal. The issue wasn’t the money. It was the years. Having lived with T.A. for this long, they felt that three years was just too long to commit to a player with his inconsistencies and injury history.
The minimum offer from the Celtics has more cache then say, the minimum offer from the Pacers, because they can also offer a chance to play for a championship with a universally respected coach like Doc Rivers. But, money is money and there is still some of it out there to grab before the market settles back down.
So, where do they go from here? The operative word from people here in Vegas is time, as in it will take some before the market comes back to them. Read the rest of this entry »
|Landry upset over C’s departure||07.11.10 at 6:53 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — Marcus Landry’s time with the Celtics was brief, and not a very happy one either.
Landry appeared in just one game with the Celtics after arriving from the Knicks as part of the Nate Robinson trade. He was then assigned to the Maine Red Claws, the team’s D-League affiliate, where he averaged 11 points and four rebounds in 13 games.
But Landry was waived late in the season as the Celtics made room for Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney, and his unexpected departure left a bad taste in his mouth.
“Anybody would have been disappointed,” Landry said after playing for the Knicks summer league team. “It was a situation that wasn’t explained to me. I can understand it’s a business, but the way it was handled was unprofessional. Personally, I had no reason given to me why it was done. Every time I step on the court I think about that. It’s something that goes through my mind a lot.”
Landry also played for the Pacers in the Orlando summer league and he said he has received a handful of training camp invitations. He said he and his agent will sift through the offers before making a decision that makes sense for him as he tries to get back in the NBA.
|What LeBron’s decision means for the Celtics||07.08.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
After an interminable half-hour of television that followed two years worth of hysteria and hype, LeBron James announced that was leaving Cleveland and signing with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a new superteam.
In the end, we may never know the whole story on all the background machinations. Maybe there was a master plan all along. Maybe it was just a bunch of young men playing mogul.
Regardless of all the drama, both real and contrived, James joins Wade and Bosh as the single biggest free agent haul in the history of the sport. James will also have to live with the fallout for the rest of his career after he abandoned his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now that it is official, we can finally ask the basketball question: How good are the Heat? Good enough to instantly become one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference along with the Celtics and Magic, even with just five players and three second-round draft picks on the roster at the moment.
One of those players, Michael Beasley, is expected to be traded in a salary-cap dump, which leaves Mario Chalmers as the only other player with NBA experience on the roster. Pat Riley has his work cut out for him in shaping the roster.
They are over the cap now, which means they will have to entice a center and most of a bench with minimum contracts. What’s also unknown is how these three superstars will play together. [Note: An earlier version of this post noted the Heat’s interest in Mike Miller with the mid-level exception. They don’t have the MLE after these moves.]
This isn’t quite like the Celtics moves in the summer of 2007 when Danny Ainge added Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Paul Pierce. Those were all veteran players hungry to win a championship and the better-than-expected young core of Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo certainly helped them attain that goal.
Wade, Bosh and James are at different stages in their careers and there is no one remotely as good as Perkins, to say nothing of Rondo on the Heat roster.
Ainge has brought the Celtics back together for one more run after a playoff run that saw them beat Wade and James’ teams, and it has been reported that Tony Allen will be as returning as well. Allen will have his work cut out from him when they play the Heat.
If nothing else, this move, and others in free agency, make the East much stronger. The Knicks added Amar’e Stoudemire and appear ready to try and play to win again, while the Bulls finally added a low-post scorer in Carlos Boozer.
The Celtics road to repeat as Eastern Conference champions just got more difficult, but not impossible.
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