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What Paul Pierce’s opt out means for the Celtics 06.29.10 at 11:28 pm ET
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As ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported, Paul Pierce will opt out of the final year of his contract, which will make him a free agent on July 1. While Pierce is leaving $21.5 million on the table, he is setting himself up for a longer deal before a new collective bargaining agreement is in place following next season.

The move, while not unexpected, makes Danny Ainge’s life a little more difficult as he attempts to bring back the core of the Celtics team for another run. The Celtics still retain Bird rights on Pierce and Ray Allen, which allows them to go over to the cap to re-sign both of them.

That remains the best course of action for Ainge. Despite their status as free agents, Pierce and Allen are still tied to the Celtics cap in the form of cap holds at around $20 million each until they sign a new deal. The Celtics would have to renounce both players, as well as the remaining six free agents on the roster, in order to get significantly under the cap to pursue free agents.

There is a chance that a team like the Clippers, Nets or Knicks could make a run at Pierce if they fail to sign LeBron James.

The big question on new deals for Pierce, and for Allen, is the length. Ainge would prefer to tie everything back to Kevin Garnett’s contract, which has two years remaining, but he may be forced to go to three, or even four years in Pierce’s case.

Still left to be determined before the start of free agency is whether Doc Rivers will return to coach the team, which may also have an impact on whether Pierce and Allen want to return.

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Rivers on Sheed: I think it’s over 06.24.10 at 11:57 pm ET
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Word spread around the league on draft night that Rasheed Wallace is going to retire. While it’s still not official, Doc Rivers said that he thinks it will be soon.

“I don’t think he’s going to change his mind,” Rivers said. “Rasheed had told me three days before the last game that he was pretty sure this was it. The night before he called and said hey I’m going to give it everything I’ve got because this is my last time playing. He was pretty definite. But again, it was very emotional so you never know. I think it is over.”

There are still procedural issues that will need to be clarified regarding the remaining two years on his contract and what that will mean in terms of potential cap and luxury tax relief, but for now it seems that we have seen the last of Wallace in a Celtics uniform.

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Ainge on Big Show: No Doc decision yet 06.23.10 at 6:06 pm ET
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Danny Ainge appeared as a guest on The Big Show Wednesday afternoon and touched on a number of topics swirling around the Celtics, including his own future. Here are some highlights:

ON RUMORS HE WOULD GO TO PHOENIX

Ainge said the Suns have not approached him about their general manager job. “I have a contract [with the Celtics] and I love what I’m doing and the people I working with. We have things to accomplish here. That is just a rumor. It has no substance.”

ON DOC RIVERS

“Doc has not made a decision. I know everyone wants to speculate but the reality is he has not made a decision. I don’t want him, personally, to make a decision too soon.”

“Doc and I spoke yesterday and the day before and today. We don’t talk necessarily about his decision, we’re just talking about the team and different things. Doc is taking his time and he’ll take some time with his family this weekend. He’ll make some decisions, I believe, probably by next week or shortly thereafter.”

Quick take: The Celtics can afford to wait. Ainge said Rivers is not very involved in the draft process. The longer this plays out, the better the chances are for a return. Ainge also said he would take his time if he needs to hire a new coach and that he wouldn’t rush to hire a replacement. “I don’t think it needs to be done quickly,” Ainge said. “It needs to be done right.”

ON KEEPING THE CORE OF THE TEAM TOGETHER

“We had lots of conversation that revolved around Ray [Allen] at the trade deadline, but we felt like our team could win. I feel like this is still a good team and has another run in them.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics draft prospects 06.22.10 at 3:51 pm ET
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The revamping, or possibly the rebuilding, of the Celtics begins Thursday night with the NBA Draft. The C’s still have a number of unanswered questions heading into the offseason, but they do stand to select a player who can contribute next year.

This year’s draft is top-heavy with two sure things: John Wall and Evan Turner. After that the next five picks figure to be (in some order): Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, Greg Monroe and Al-Farouq Aminu.

That’s where the draft begins to take on an unexpected flavor. There doesn’t appear to be much separation among the next 20 or so prospects, which could lead to a wild night of trades if teams have zeroed in on a specific player.

If the Celtics stay at 19 they are likely to be looking at either NBA-ready wing players or developing big men. While not perfect, Danny Ainge has a strong track record of drafting both types of players. He hit on numerous second-round picks such as Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe and Glen Davis and he also drafted solid role players late in the first round in Delonte West and Tony Allen.

Ainge also tabbed Kendrick Perkins and Al Jefferson out of high school. The misses tended to be on projection players like Gerald Green.

His biggest hit was acquiring a first round pick from Phoenix to draft Rajon Rondo and there may also be the chance to draft a another point guard if either Avery Bradley or Eric Bledose falls to them.

This is an important draft for the Celtics. If they bring their core back for another run the draft can add some needed youth. If circumstances force them to adapt their plan, getting a player to grow with Rondo would be an important step.The 19th pick is no sure thing, see below, but based on the scouting reports and mock drafts they should be able to get someone who can be useful in whatever direction they wind up taking.

LAST FIVE PICKS AT 19

2009: Jeff Teague, Atlanta

2008: JJ Hickson, Cleveland

2007: Javaris Crittenton, Lakers

2006: Quincy Douby, Sacramento

2005: Hakim Warrick, Memphis

Here’s a look at some of the players that may be available: Read the rest of this entry »

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C’s face uncertain future 06.17.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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LOS ANGELES — All around the silent Celtics locker prior to Game 7 lay uncertainty. Not about the game. That will take care of itself and while the players weren’t talking, they aren’t suddenly lacking for confidence tonight.

Rather, the unknown lies in what happens after the game. The Celtics have five players under contract for next season: Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis. A sixth, Paul Pierce, has a player option. Not counting Tony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette, that leaves seven players who will become unrestricted free agents.

Perhaps the most uncertain future lies with the coach, Doc Rivers. He has another year left on his contract but he also has indicated that he won’t make a decision about his future until after the season. His kids are elite athletes in high school and college and he has expressed on several occasions a desire to spend more time with them.

Rivers acknowledged before Game 7 that the thought has crossed his mind that this could be for it for the core of his team.

“Yeah, you do think about that,” he said. “I always allow myself to think about that. I don’t want it to distract me, but it could be for some of the players on our team. That’s why you want them to do so well. It’s how they’re going to be remembered around here, and so I think that’s very important for them.”

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Odom, Artest come through for Lakers 06.16.10 at 3:01 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — If the Lakers had lost Game 6, the line for scapegoats would have started with Ron Artest and worked its way over to Lamar Odom.

They didn’t lose, obviously, and Odom and Artest were two of the biggest reasons why they were able to force a seventh game. Artest scored 15 points and had his best shooting night of the series, while Odom added eight points and 10 rebounds playing major minutes for the injured Andrew Bynum.

“Well, [Artest] made a shot,” Phil Jackson said. “It’s always great to make a shot when you’ve been struggling. It was good to see that ball go in, but we tried to simplify things for him tonight.”

Artest made good use of the corner 3-pointer and the Celtics gave him ample room to get his shot off. Even for a player as mercurial as Artest, they can’t afford to give him that much space.

Odom, meanwhile, may have to do even more in Game 7. Jackson pulled Bynum after just two minutes of the second half and he never returned. Odom has been battling the flu and Jackson was concerned about his energy, but he was able to play almost 30 minutes.

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C’s veterans call a meeting 06.16.10 at 2:50 am ET
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LOS ANGELES — In the late moments of Game 6, the television cameras caught a glimpse of a conversation on the Celtics bench between their veteran players. That conversation carried over to the locker room and while the details are murky, the point was clear.

“We take complete responsibility,” Ray Allen said. “We just put us in a hole early. It affects our bench. We didn’t give them any great rhythm, any great chemistry. I think we talked about our defense and how we allowed so many points, but I think it stemmed from the offense because we didn’t make the extra pass. Each individual tried to make the home run play early.”

Oddly enough, the veterans finally put together solid shooting nights in the same game. Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined to go 19-for-42 and score 44 points. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider the rest of the team shot 9-for-42 and scored just 23, they accounted for a sizable portion of the Celtics limited production.

All the veterans know that this may be their final chance at winning another ring, and given the uncertainty surrounding the summer, it may be their final chance together in the same uniform.

Pierce said he was keeping the conversation in-house, while Garnett said it was nothing. But one thing is certain: They don’t want to go out like they did in Game 6.

“As a unit, starting unit, we take responsibility,” Allen said. “We have to do a better job for next game.”

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