|Preview: Celtics vs. Kings||02.16.10 at 10:12 am ET|
Taking a much-needed break from the trade deadline rumors the Celtics return to the court Tuesday night to play the Kings… who happen to employ one of the few names actually linked to a Ray Allen trade; Kevin Martin. Obviously all eyes will be on the two shooting guards this evening, if for no other reason than idle curiosity.
Even if Danny Ainge was somehow able to swing major trade (which doesn’t seem likely) the Celtics have problems that only they can fix. They don’t rebound very well. They turn the ball over too much and they don’t shoot as well from 3-point range as they have in the past.
All those things are symptoms of other things. Their defense has allowed too much dribble penetration, which has led to defensive breakdowns and clear alleys for opponents to hit the glass. The offense has gone stagnant too often, leading to bad passes and forced shots.
These have in turn been referred to as “issues” and “agendas,” which is way more exciting and intriguing then simply noting that they are not playing well. The question, then, for the Celtics in the final 32 games is: Are their breakdowns mental or are they physical? They continue to insist that they are mental and that they can fix their problems. Now they have to prove it.
CELTICS (32-18, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 98.7
Points Allowed: 93.7
Differential: +5.0 (4th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.2 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.8 (1st)
Pace: 91.5 (23rd)
KINGS (18-34, 3-7 last 10)
Points Per Game: 102.0
Points Allowed: 105.8
Differential: -3.8 (22nd)
Offensive Efficiency: 106.5 (17th)
Defensive Efficiency: 110.5 (26th)
Pace: 94.6 (6th)
|Mavs moving in on Butler||02.13.10 at 11:19 am ET|
Reports out of Dallas and Washington indicate that the Mavericks are closing in on a deal that would get them Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson in exchange for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. (The Washington Post had a could of different names at the end of the deal, but the principles, Butler and Howard, are the same).
Jamison is still very available and has been linked to the Cavaliers among other teams.
|New rumor: Ray for Jamison, Butler||02.12.10 at 10:42 am ET|
Danny Ainge shot it down, telling the Globe that he has not talked with the Wizards. It also prompted Allen to post the following on Twitter: “I have no control over trade rumors people. Let’s just focus on being positive. I am a Celtic. Green all day.”
Washington Post beat man Michael Lee also took to Twitter to knock it down.
There is some thought that the rumor was put out there as a way to get other teams to sweeten their offers for Butler and Jamison. The Cavaliers, for example, have been rumored to be in pursuit of Jamison, but are said to be unwilling to part with second-year forward J.J. Hickson.
The following is the initial reaction to the rumor:
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski offers up an intriguing trade rumor with the Celtics potentially dealing Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine and J.R. Giddens to the Wizards for Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. If it happens the deal would fundamentally make over both teams.
Wojnarowski writes that “the trade isn’t imminent.” The Wizards have been talking with several teams, notably the Mavericks, about dealing Butler but this is the first scenario involving both Butler and Jamison.
Washington’s motivation is simple. The franchise is a mess in the wake of the Gilbert Arenas fiasco and it is loaded down with huge contracts for its veteran stars. Allen, Scalabrine and Giddens all have expiring contracts and a deal like this wouldn’t just be the first step in blowing it up and starting over, it would be the T.N.T. and the dynamite.
Butler is signed through next season at over $10 million and Jamison is signed through 2012 where he will make over $15 million. For the Celtics, a move like this would add significant money to the payroll, but it would also accomplish Danny Ainge’s stated goal of a trade that would help them win now and in the future. They would be getting two former All-Stars, and with Allen’s decline this season, the two best players in the deal.
Butler’s career has read sort of like Pierce-lite and while he has played some 2-guard, he is not the same caliber of long-range shooter as Allen (Butler is a career 31 percent shooter from 3-point range). According to 82games.com, he has played 72 percent of his minutes at the small forward position this season. Jamison will turn 34 this summer, but he has been remarkably durable during his career, playing 82 games five times in his 12-year career.
Both players have shown versatility during their careers. Jamison came off the bench during his one season with the Mavericks in 2003-04 and wound up winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. He would obviously be a significant upgrade to the second unit if Garnett is healthy, and provide better Garnett insurance then Rasheed Wallace has been able to give.
If Butler can make the transition to playing alongside Pierce it would give the Celtics two rugged scorers and defenders on the wing. It’s worth noting that he has played alongside Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant at various points in his career.
Of all the rumors that have been presented, this one has the most realistic and interesting possibilities.
(Note: The preceding sentence was written before the denials started rolling in. The “realistic” part was a bad read on my part.)
|Report: Celtics, Wizards discuss major trade||02.12.10 at 9:40 am ET|
According to a report by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and Wizards are talking about a deal that would send Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine and J.R. Giddens to Washington for forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. The report stated: “The trade isn’t imminent, but talks have progressed,” and the teams are expected to continue discussions during All-Star Weekend.
The report also indicated that the Celtics may be hesitant because they would be taking on an additional $24 million in salary next season between Jamison and Butler.
Washington also reportedly is in trade talks with the Mavericks, as well as part of a stalled three-team discussion with the Knicks and Rockets that would send Tracy McGrady to the Knicks, Al Harrington and Larry Hughes to the Wizards and Caron Butler and possibly Mike Miller to the Rockets.
|Rondo’s All-Star game plan||02.12.10 at 7:02 am ET|
This weekend, Rajon Rondo will be making his NBA All-Star team debut representing the East. He learned a lot from his trip to the 2008 All-Star Weekend as a member of the Rookie-Sophomore game ‘ ‘It’s a lot of work, really,’ he said. ‘There’s not as much free time as you think’ ‘ and is ready for Dallas.
Dressed to Impress: In addition to the game, All-Star Weekend is filled with events that draw the “who’s who” of the NBA.
‘I’m sure everybody’s going to be in their best, probably. I try to dress my best all the time, but I’ll just have fun with it, I guess. I’m definitely big on my appearance but I look forward to just packing and probably taking a long time to pack. I’ll pick out what I want and I’ll probably overpack. I usually do that on the road trips so, so I’m sure with All-Star Weekend I’ll probably overpack.’
Red Carpet Must-Have: Flashy suits aren’t Rondo’s thing. It’s all about what’s on his wrist.
‘Probably a nice watch, really. Clothing, I mean that’s just pretty much is what it is, but a nice watch probably sets the outfit off right. A nice ‘ I wouldn’t say expensive ‘ but a nice, casual timepiece. [My dream watch is] a Patek Philippe. I have a couple of IWCs, a couple of Bell & Rosses, I have a Breitling. Probably a Patek Philippe.’
Undercover Kicks: Rondo won’t reveal just yet which sneakers he’ll be sporting for the All-Star Game.
‘Nike will provide me with them. I think I’m going to have two, but I think I pretty much know which ones I’m going to be wearing. They’re low-cuts, that’s about all I can really say. I can’t really describe them. I’ve played in them already, but they’re not All-Star colors.’
Cheering Section: Friends and family of No. 9 will be making a trip to Dallas.
‘Everybody ‘ brother, sister, high school coach, cousins, friends I haven’t seen in 17 years ‘¦ I actually only reserved like eight [tickets], but I don’t know if I’m going to get all eight.’
Hitting the Gift Shop: There’s just one souvenir Rondo wants for himself from All-Star Weekend.
‘I’m sure they’ll have all the souvenirs, I probably won’t get much. As long as I get my jersey, that’s all I pretty much need. Put the jersey in the house and put it in frame, but other than that, I’ll bring other people other stuff. Maybe hats, T-shirts, socks, practice gear.’
Dunking Predictions: This year a rookie has caught Rondo’s eye to take the Slam Dunk trophy.
‘I’ve got to go with [DeMar] DeRozan, if he gets in. He’s pretty athletic, he’s a rookie, something new, nobody’s ever seen him dunk before. Maybe he’s got something crazy.’
Showing His Support: Rondo plans to be front and center when Paul Pierce competes in the Three-Point Shootout.
‘I’ll probably be baseline with a 34 jersey on. ‘
|The Celtics’ Tweeting Machine||02.11.10 at 1:53 pm ET|
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Hornets||02.10.10 at 10:34 pm ET|
At what point does a string of bad performances become a problem that can’t be fixed? At what point does the Celtics uninspired second-half play inspire Danny Ainge to do something to change the mix?
Ainge was a guest on The Big Show hours before the Celtics collapsed (again) in the third quarter of a 93-85 loss to the Hornets Wednesday night and said he was, “not ready to blow it up.” [Click here for a full transcript]. If the Magic breakdown wasn’t enough to change Ainge’s mind, was this one?
There’s a week to go before the trade deadline and the Celtics have shown few signs of breaking out of their funk, which has now stretched to 23 games. The Celtics are 10-13 over that span. Is that the real Celtics, or is it the team that started the season winning 22 of the first 27 games? That’s the question Ainge has to answer, and time is running out.
Player of the Game: Darren Collison. The Hornets rookie who was starting in place of the injured Chris Paul routinely broke down the Celtics defense with dribble penetration and finished with 25 points and nine assists. When Collison wasn’t getting into the paint, he killed them with his pull-up jump shot.
Turning Point: Once again the Celtics collapse started with a sluggish offense and carried over to a lackluster defensive effort. The Celtics actually held serve with the Hornets until the 7:26 mark of the third quarter. That was when Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic began to heat up from behind the arc. The 3-point barrage was eerily similar to the Magic game, as was the Celtics lack of an answer on offense.
* Ray Allen was scratched about an hour before the game with back spasms. It was the first game Allen has missed this season.
* The Celtics started off hot, but the Hornets got hotter making eight of their first 10 shots.The C’s also turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter.
* The second unit rode to the rescue, at least momentarily, with an inspired effort. With all five starters on the bench, the reserves opened up a nine-point lead in the second quarter. They did most of their damage down low as Glen Davis (nine points) and Rasheed Wallace (eight points) took advantage of mismatches against the Hornets reserve big men.
* Paul Pierce did play despite pain in his left foot. After 13 points in the first half, Pierce scored just two points in the second.
* The Celtics made just 3-of-13 free throws during a stretch of the second half.
* Daniels and Wallace were the only Celtics who played strong games. They combined for 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
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