|Danny Ainge: The Wolf of Causeway Street||01.15.14 at 4:12 pm ET|
Danny Ainge has pulled the trigger on two trades in the span of 10 days, and the Celtics president of basketball operations likely isn’t done dealing before the NBA’s Feb. 20 trade deadline. Hence, The Wolf of Causeway Street.
|Celtics briefly send Rajon Rondo to D-League||01.15.14 at 1:07 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo‘s Red Claws tenure lasted less than two hours.
The Celtics assigned Rajon Rondo to their NBA Development League affiliate at 12:27 on Wednesday, and then recalled him at 2:20 p.m.
The All-Star point guard participated in a workout with the Red Claws in Boston and is still expected to make his return from ACL surgery on Friday against the Lakers.
“Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this is the next step,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said in a statement.
The Celtics backcourt against the Raptors on Wednesday will be thin. They excused Keith Bogans indefinitely for personal reasons on Tuesday, and then reportedly traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks a day later.
That leaves Avery Bradley and the newly acquired Jerryd Bayless as the likely starters against Toronto, with rookie Phil Pressey as the lone true backup guard.
|Breaking down the Celtics’ Jordan Crawford trade||01.15.14 at 12:56 pm ET|
Thus ends the Jordan Crawford era.
The Celtics traded Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors in a three-team deal with the Heat that will bring Joel Anthony, a protected first-round pick and a future second-round pick to Boston, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The first-round pick comes by way of the 76ers and is lottery protected for this season and next. Should Philadelphia fail to reach the playoffs in either season, the Celtics will receive Philly’s 2015 and 2016 second-round selections. The second-round pick currently in place is reportedly Miami’s 2016 selection.
Regardless, Ainge traded one player who was out for the season (Leandro Barbosa) and another who was out of the league within two months (Jason Collins) for Crawford at the trade deadline last season, and turned him into at least two future picks. Pretty savvy on the Celtics president’s part.
Meanwhile, the Heat received Toney Douglas from the Warriors and managed to unload Anthony’s burdensome contract on the Celtics. The 31-year-old center, who has appeared in just 12 games for Miami, is making $3.8 million this season and will surely pick up his $3.8 million player option in 2014-15. That’s the downside, as Crawford is a restricted free agent at season’s end.
In Crawford and Brooks, the Warriors add backcourt depth behind the oft-injured Stephen Curry.
|Report: Celtics close to dealing Jordan Crawford||01.15.14 at 11:07 am ET|
Jordan Crawford, who has had somewhat of a career resurgence with the Celtics this season after being moved to point guard, might soon have to make a fresh start. According to a tweet from veteran NBA reporter Peter Vescey, the Celtics are close to moving Crawford, with the Nets, Clippers, Sun, Rockets and Warriors showing interest. (The league told the Celtics they can’t deal directly with the Clippers for one year following the Doc Rivers deal, but there is speculation that they might be able to work around it, perhaps with the inclusion of a third team.)
With Rajon Rondo expected back for Friday’s game against the Lakers, Crawford became obvious trade bait.
Crawford, 25, is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 assists per game.
Benched by the Wizards midway through the 2012-13 season and then acquired by the Celtics, Crawford got an opportunity to start under new coach Brad Stevens this season, following the offseason roster overhaul and with the absence of Rondo.
Crawford turned some heads with his early season play, and he peaked in early December, when he averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 assists in a 3-0 week that earned him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. However, his shooting percentages have substantially declined and his turnovers have increased since that time.
|The NBA’s big problem, according to Jeremy Lin||01.14.14 at 12:38 pm ET|
As if a game involving a team riding an eight-game losing streak and trailing by 20 points couldn’t have gotten any uglier, the Celtics began fouling Dwight Howard, over and over, midway through the fourth quarter.
Once Rockets coach Kevin McHale inserted his center into the final frame against his former team, the Celtics hacked a Howard seven times in 3:27, resulting in 14 mostly terrible free throw attempts for the viewing pleasure of the fans who remained until the bitter end. It wasn’t pretty, and that’s a problem for the NBA, because it worked.
“It freezes everybody,” Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin explained after his team’s 104-92 victory at the Garden. “We just don’t get rhythm. We don’t play offense for a while. We’re just watching. We get cold, and then there’s no flow. At that point, their goal is to freeze us, so they are accomplishing that.”
As Howard missed 8-of-14 from the line, the C’s slashed a 16-point deficit to seven and could’ve sliced it further had they not turned the ball over three times down the stretch. These are the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics, after all. Then, the two-minute mark hit, the C’s could no longer foul Howard off the ball and had to play real defense, which promptly resulted in a pair of Houston layups that mercifully brought their ninth straight loss to an end.
“I would probably support a change in the rule that would call it intentional or call it like it would be called int he last two minutes,” admitted Stevens. “But because it’s a rule and usually if a guy’s making one out of two, it makes you think twice. To his credit, he made one almost every time up to the foul line. But we were scoring, and so we were getting a plus-one in about 10 or 15 seconds off the clock for the better part of three or four possessions. And then we went dry, and that’s when the two-minute mark hit anyways and we really couldn’t do it anymore.”
To paraphrase: The Celtics, like most teams, Hack-a-Howard because they can, even if they don’t like it. And why should they? It’s ugly and cheap, like an inflatable doll, and nobody wants to see that. Especially fans.
So, what should the NBA do about it? Take a cue perhaps from Shaquille O’Neal himself, who once said of the Hack-a-Shaq technique, “The only thing I call cowardly is when you’re up by 10 and do it. That’s a coward move.” Adam Silver could make it his first order of business upon taking over for David Stern as commissioner: Off-the-ball whistles become intentional when a team is leading by 10 points. That way ugly basketball can’t get any uglier.
|Irish Coffee: When Rajon Rondo returns, Jerryd Bayless should bump Jordan Crawford down the Celtics depth chart||01.14.14 at 9:31 am ET|
Since winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week for Dec. 2-8, Jordan Crawford is among a handful of the NBA’s worst shooting regulars (46.5 TS%), and yet his usage rate ranks second only to Jeff Green on the Celtics.
By no coincidence, the C’s are 3-14 in that span. We have a sample size of 215 games in Crawford’s career, and his teams are now 71-144 when he takes the floor. That’s a .330 winning percentage. And that’s bad.
Rajon Rondo has hinted that his return could come as soon as Friday against the Lakers, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens will be forced to adjust his backcourt depth chart. Assuming Rondo and Avery Bradley start and each play 30-plus minutes a night, that leaves somewhere around 25-30 minutes to split between the remaining guard corps.
Who deserves those minutes more? Crawford or Jerryd Bayless. Friday night’s loss to the Rockets offered the answer: Jordan Crawford is the odd man out. As Crawford forced shot after shot through three quarters, Bayless bided his time, taking only two in 11:31. Then came the fourth quarter, when Stevens stuck with Bayless over Crawford for all 12 minutes, and the newly acquired guard asserted himself as the game demanded, ultimately scoring 15 points on 11 shots and making a game of what was once a mockery.
|Celtics fall to Rockets in return to Garden, drop ninth straight||01.13.14 at 9:53 pm ET|
When the Celtics and Rockets matched up on Monday night, Boston clung to the hope that a change of scenery, and the end of its arduous road trip, would finally stop the bleeding.
But a night back in the TD Garden did nothing to suture the wounds administered from Boston’s disappointing five-game West Coast trip. The Celtics lost their ninth straight game, as the Rockets claimed a 104-92 victory. Boston has lost 12 of its last 13 games. The lost to Houston means that Celtics are 3-14 against the Western Conference this season.
Avery Bradley led Boston in scoring for the third time in four games, as he tallied 24 points. Jerryd Bayless used a massive fourth quarter to post 17 points. Brandon Bass, coming off the bench, scored 14 points, and Jordan Crawford added 13.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS:
Defending Dwight: Boston managed Houston’s behemoth center very well in the first quarter, as Howard scored eight points, but that figure came on eight shots and he only pulled down one offensive rebound. It’s no mistake that the Celtics led 27-19 at that point. But the final three quarters went nothing like the first one. Howard missed just one shot for the rest of the game, and accumulated 24 points on eight shots from the second quarter on. No Boston defender should be held solely culpable as the Celtics rotated a number of defenders on him, and the help defense required to shut down a player of Howard’s caliber was absent.
First half free throws: The difference at halftime was simple enough: the Rockets got to the free throw line, while the Celtics did not. Houston outshot Boston by a slim margin (Rockets=41.9 percent, Celtics=35.8 percent) front the field, Boston turned the ball over two times less than Houston and the rebounding figures were nearly deadlocked. But the Rockets made 16 trips to the line, and converted 13 times, en route to a 52-43 advantage. Boston reached the charity stripe just three times, as Crawford finished 3-for-3. Houston made seven more free throws than the Celtics in the second quarter, which the Rockets claimed emphatically 33-16.
Avery’s starting helpers: Bradley did everything he possibly could have to keep Boston in it, scoring a team-high 24 points and forcing Harden into 6-of-17 shooting. But the other four starters did next to nothing on offense to aid Bradley. Only Crawford reached double digits, and he achieved his 13 points at an inefficient 3-for-11 rate. Bradley finished the game 11-for-21 from the floor. The rest of his unit shot 10-for-39.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS
Bayless: With Boston trailing by 19 points after three quarters, Bayless received the opportunity to play the entire fourth quarter. The newly-acquired reserve guard ran with his chance, scoring 16 of his 17 points in the final frame and cutting the deficit to six points at one juncture late in the quarter. Bayless’ effort was not enough, but his performance will not be forgotten with starter Crawford struggling, and Boston thin at guard.
Bradley’s first: For the second straight game, Bradley erupted in the first quarter and helped push Boston to an early lead. Against Houston, Bradley tossed in 14 first-quarter points, and added three steals, two assists and two rebounds in a first quarter that Boston dominated, 27-19. He shot 6-for-8 from the field, and made five jump shots, including two 3-pointers. On Saturday, Bradley tallied 13 first-quarter points, again buried six shots and only missed one in the Celtics‘ loss to the Trail Blazers.
MarShon returns: MarShon Brooks, one of the returns in the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets this offseason, made his first appearance for Boston since Dec. 22. Brooks ran the point for Boston and led a spirited fourth quarter, when the Celtics provided the crowd something to cheer for, for the first time since early in the second quarter. Brooks did not light up the stat sheet (two points, five rebounds, one assists in 12 minutes), but he ran the point with a confident aura that was not prevalent prior to his demotion to the D-League.