|Irish Coffee: Imaginary 2011-12 Celtics roster||12.05.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
We’ve already discussed the Celtics reported interest in the following players: Shane Battier, Kwame Brown, Shannon Brown, Tyson Chandler, Marquis Daniels, Reggie Evans, Aaron Gray, Grant Hill, Josh Howard, Chuck Hayes, Carl Landry, Roger Mason, Anthony Parker, Joel Przybilla and Michael Redd.
Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported the Celtics are indeed among nine teams interested in Josh “Not Dwight” Howard, and The Plain Dealer confirmed the Cavaliers will have to contend with at least the Celtics and Knicks for the services of Anthony “Not Candace” Parker. And Evans practically drooled over the possibility of playing for the Celtics, telling The Boston Globe, “I was kind of surprised when they reached out to me. It was an honor, especially with the kind of players they have on their team.”
However, it doesn’t appear the Celtics are among the potential landing destinations for Chuck Hayes, as his agent Calvin Andrews told Houston’s FOX affiliate (h/t Red’s Army) his client is focusing o the Blazers, Raptors, Rockets, Kings and Timberwolves. In other words, he’s looking for maximum dollars, not victories.
Finally, according to Jason Richardson‘s hometown paper, The Saginaw News, the Bulls are considered the favorites to land him, although “rumors have also linked him with the Boston Celtics” — whatever that means.
With this knowledge (or lack thereof it), let’s take a stab at what a Celtics’ opening-day roster could look like.
|Danny Ainge plays the waiting game as trade deadline nears||02.23.11 at 11:58 pm ET|
As the clock ticks toward 3 p.m. and the end of the trade deadline Thursday, the Celtics are in the same position they were last week. They would like to make a move for a backup small forward, but they don’t have many assets other teams want and they don’t seem to want to give up the few that teams do want — namely Semih Erden and Avery Bradley.
Now that Kendrick Perkins will be held out of the remaining three games on the team’s West Coast trip, and Shaquille O’Neal seems no closer to a return, Erden is once again being counted on as a contributor, and not just a developmental prospect.
While the 24-year-old Erden is not ‘young’ by NBA standards, 7-footers with emerging offensive skills on cheap second-round contracts are rare. You wouldn’t package him for a stopgap like say, Utah’s Raja Bell, who has two more years left on his contract.
The problem is that the Celtics just weren’t built to make an in-season trade, which team president Danny Ainge has acknowledged time and again. All the pieces were supposed to be in place, but then Marquis Daniels bruised his spinal cord and that was the one area where they didn’t have a contingency plan.
The Celtics don’t have any contract-friendly veterans stashed at the end of their roster and the one that they would most like to part with — Nate Robinson’s — has an extra year left on his deal. Daniels has what’s known as ‘Early Bird’ rights and thus would be able to block any trade that involved him if it comes to that and Von Wafer and Luke Harangody don’t make enough money to match up with anyone on their own.
Despite their obvious need, Ainge has played his hand tightly this trade season and he doesn’t want to make a panic trade. If he can make a move he seems determined to make the price drop, which would take him right up to the deadline.
In the interim, the Celtics have been linked to players like Corey Brewer and Kirk Hinrich who wound up elsewhere, and for a brief moment to Shane Battier who has gone nowhere. As quickly as a rumor surfaces, it gets shot down just as fast. The other names haven’t changed: Anthony Parker, Dahntay Jones, Josh Howard.
While the deadline clock ticks, the secondary market for veteran free agents who are bought out of their contracts has begun to take shape. The first domino to fall is Troy Murphy who was traded to the Warriors and who is expected to be bought out of the final year of his contract. Once that process clears he will be free to sign with any team for the veterans minimum and is said to have Miami and Boston high on his list.
Murphy doesn’t address the Celtics need at small forward, but he can shoot 3’s and rebound and would offer a new wrinkle to the second unit. The Heat are in the same position as the Celtics. They also don’t have many tradeable assets, which is why they made Mike Miller available. Expect Miami and Boston to battle it out on the veteran free agent front.
Also, the Hawks acquired Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong from Washington in exchange for Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford. Hinrich isn’t the shooter that Bibby is, but he is a much better defender, which is important come playoff time.
Despite the blockbuster moves, there have been a dearth of smaller transactions and that’s the game the Celtics are playing. With less than 24 hours remaining, that market is still taking shape.
|Irish Coffee: Kobe Bryant’s Ray Allen praise wasn’t easy||02.17.11 at 12:11 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
For the first half of this month, Boston was the hub of the NBA universe, as the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics welcomed four other championship contenders to the TD Garden — the Mavericks, Magic, Lakers and Heat — in a span of nine days. Sports Illustrated writer Ian Thomsen followed the C’s every step of the way for a cover story in the magazine’s issue that hits stores this week.
From each game, Thomsen uncovered some pretty juicy anecdotes. Here are the highlights …
Mavericks 101, Celtics 97
- Paul Pierce didn’t know Mavericks guard J.J. Barea spent his college days in Boston: “I’m an NBA player, I’m a Celtic! I came from Kansas! What would I be doing watching Northeastern play?”
- Mavericks center Tyson Chandler idolized Kevin Garnett: “What I try to do for my team is what he’s done his entire career. I respect what he’s accomplished, so I’m just trying to mirror that.”
- Like many players, Barea thinks Garnett isn’t always nice: “He likes to pick on little guys, I think.”
Celtics 91, Magic 80
- Magic swingman Quentin Richardson joined the anti-Garnett club: “Garnett is a great player, he’ll be a Hall of Famer, and his rÃ©sumÃ© speaks for itself. But at the same time you may not have a lot of respect for some of the things he’ll do. He picks fights with [the Raptors’ 6’3″ Jose] Calderon or with Barea. Come on, man, that’s not showing that you’re big or bad. You’re trying to fight point guards.”
- And Celtics coach Doc Rivers once again came to Garnett’s defense: “This guy should be the model. He is as pure a team player as I’ve ever been around. Does he say things the wrong way at times? Clearly Kevin has used the ‘F’ word as a noun, adjective and verb, and it’s mean-spirited if you’re not on his team. With his teammates he talks the same way, but it’s all about help, it’s all about team. The players who don’t like him are usually the players who aren’t winning, and maybe they should be more like him instead of talking about him.”
- Pierce didn’t enjoy 25-year-old Magic center Dwight Howard‘s imitation of Garnett’s chest-thumping pregame regimen: “I don’t know if they’ve won a game when he’s mocked anybody. I think he’s got to stop it. I saw LeBron [James] go for 51 [in a Feb. 3 win at Orlando] when he mocked him.”
- When Celtics 26-year-old center Kendrick Perkins baited Howard into a technical foul, that showed maturity on Perkins’ part, according to Rivers: “First time in his life — he fouled Dwight, holds him and holds him, Dwight hits him with an elbow, hits him with another one, and Perk just stands there. At halftime I said to the team, ‘That is toughness. Toughness is somebody hitting you in the freaking face, and you’re looking at him and laughing and walking away. That’s a tough mother.'”
- Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t believe his team can contend with the Celtics: “Not even in the same ballpark as these guys. We can be, but we’re not right now.”
|Inside the Rondo adjustment||05.09.10 at 3:04 pm ET|
In Game 3 the Cavaliers made a simple, but effective adjustment on Rajon Rondo by having Anthony Parker pick him up full court. The move slowed down the Celtics offense just enough to force them into a number of forced perimeter jump shots. Rondo made only three of his first nine shots in the first quarter and six of those were from outside the paint.
The Cavs jumped out to a 36-17 lead and never looked back.
“Rondo’s playing major minutes,” Parker said. “He’s the guy that makes them go. We felt like if we could just make him work. He’s so quick and so talented that he can get where he has to go. So if you just make him work a little bit more. The mentality of our team is one that puts us in an aggressive mindset and that’s the kind of mindset we had for four quarters in the last game.”
The Cavs haven’t come up with anything special for Paul Pierce. They seem content to see if Kevin Garnett can beat them in the post. All of their defensive attention and focus has been on Rondo, and for good reason.
“He does so much,” Parker said. “He’s the steals leader. He’s a great rebounder for a guard. He runs the team and he’s extremely capable of finishing in the paint with all kinds of awkward shots. He’s continued to improve since he’s come into the league.”
What made the move so intriguing is that it came from Parker and a handful of other players and assistants. Cavs coach Mike Brown trusts the people around him to offer insights and suggestions. While the final decision rests with him, he is confident and secure enough to listen. That’s unusual in the NBA, especially for a coach who probably has more pressure on him than any of his peers in the playoffs.
“That’s the thing that I give him so much credit for,” Parker said. “In this environment, coaching is so competitive and the tendency is to have your hands on everything. I give him so much credit because he delegates so much authority, but honestly the final decision still rests with him.”
And so does the criticism.
“He still does it and I think he does it effectively,” Parker said. “He makes everybody feel like they’re a part of this. The success of it is I think you can get your players to buy into the system and buy into what you’re doing it will be more effective.”
Brown has good reason to trust Parker who has banged around Europe and the NBA and brings experience and smarts to his role.
“AP’s extremely intelligent,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him coaching, whether it’s at this level or the collegiate level, wherever he wants to. He’s a great character guy, he has patience and he’s been there, done that in a lot of different situations. His IQ for the game of basketball is pretty high.”
The Celtics have downplayed the adjustment and Rondo did do a good job of dealing with the defense and remaining a threat. He finished with 18 points and eight assists and it’s a measure of how far he’s come that his stat line was considered a sub-par game.
Parker has something to do with it as well. He has played solid defense in this series and remained a threat shooting corner 3-pointers.
“He brings length to the team and great shooting,” Brown said. “He’s not necessarily a physical defensive presence like a Bruce Bowen, but he has a defensive presence because he’ll bust his behind on every play. It’s a better team with him out on the floor.”
The game within the game in this series for the Celtics offensively starts with Rondo. He had controlled the pace and play in the first two games. The Cavs found a way to slow him in Game 3 and now it’s on him to provide the counter.
|Expect more physical play in Game 2||05.03.10 at 1:40 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — There has been a lot made of the hard foul that Shaquille O’Neal administered to Rajon Rondo late in Game 1 that sent Rondo careening to the floor. One overheated Cleveland media member asked Cavs coach Mike Brown if it was the hardest playoff foul he’s ever seen.
Obviously it wasn’t, but Brown raised some eyebrows when he said he asked the NBA for clarification over whether it actually was even a foul. Brown’s contention is that Rondo initiated the contact.
That’s standard operating procedure during playoff series when teams will send a handful of plays to the league to ask for clarification. The real reason is to send a subtle message about calls that were, or were not made, during the course of a game to set the tone for the next one.
The referees for Game 2 are Dan Crawford, Dick Bavetta and Eddie Malloy. They should expect to see a lot of contact. For the record, the Celtics had no problems with the foul that O’Neal gave to Rondo.
“He’s just got to keep going in there,” Doc Rivers said. “Shaq’s doing what should do. I didn’t think what Shaq did was dirty or anything else. It was just a hard playoff foul. I actually applaud it. We need more of that. Both ways.”
Cavs guard Mo Williams lauded O’Neal for his foul both after Game 1 and again Monday morning as the team went through their shootaround.
“It’s a great asset to have, knowing that he’s going to give hard fouls,” Williams said. “Teams know that. They know that once they go in there they’re going to get hit, so brace yourself.”
Rondo can expect to get a huge amount of attention from the Cavs defense tonight. He saw Williams, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon at times in Game 1. The Celtics expected as much and while Brown said he would probably start Game 2 the same way — with Williams on Rondo — he won’t hesitate to go back to Parker, who is being hailed around Ohio as a Rondo stopper. A notion the Celtics don’t agree with.
“Honestly, it didn’t really affect us much,” Rivers said. “I thought Rondo’s fourth foul affected Rondo far more than Parker guarding Rondo. I think Rondo likes that matchup in a lot of ways. But that’s what you do. That’s what teams do. That’s what I would do. It’s always better to put a longer guy on a quicker guy. We actually thought it would be LeBron more.”
One thing is certain. If the Celtics are going to come back to Boston with a split, they will have to be the aggressors. Both in taking the ball to the basket and in defending the rim.
“We do have to be more physical,” Kendrick Perkins said. “We have to take it to them tonight. We have to be the more physical team. Last game they were, so tonight we just got to go out there and do what we got to do to get the win.”
|All eyes on Rondo||05.02.10 at 5:03 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — Rajon Rondo might have the most difficult job of any player in the playoffs.
On the one hand, he is emerging as the Celtics best player and their best chance to upset Cleveland. On the other hand, he still has to make sure that his teammates, particularly Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are all involved in the offense.
“It’s difficult,” Rondo said. “I still believe that we have to go through the Big Three. I try to get those guys the ball as much as possible, but at the same time keep [the defense] honest. I guess in the second half that’s exactly what I did, called more movement plays. At the start of the third I was aggressive but after that I wanted the ball to keep moving. I wanted to keep everyone involved.”
The Cavaliers don’t have anyone who can guard him, so they tried three different players — Mo Williams, Anthony Parker and superfreak Jamario Moon in certain situation. Parker earned praise for containing Rondo in the second half after he blitzed Williams for 19 points and eight assists in the first half, but that’s a classic case of a cause and effect.
Rondo took just two shots and scored just eight points to go with four assists in the second half and for that, Parker gets the credit. But really the Celtics didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were available to them. Some of that is on Rondo, but not all of it.
“It’s a tough one for Rondo because he’s so conscious of Paul and Ray,” Rivers said. “If you have a pick and roll advantage you have to take advantage. I thought he tired to facilitate and the guys didn’t take advantage of it. We didn’t take advantage of what he created and that actually makes Rondo better if we do because then they can’t focus on him as much.”
If there was one overriding truth from Game 1 for the Celtics, it’s that Rondo has a huge mismatch over Williams, and no matter who the Cavs put on him, he has to take it upon himself to carry the load.
“I’m still trying to figure it out.,” Rondo said. “It’s hard at times. At first I wasn’t aggressive at all to start the game. As soon as I came out, maybe nine minutes into the game, and came to the sidelines, Doc was telling me to be aggressive. I just tried to turn it on and attack the rim.”
Is there a danger of relying too much on Rondo? A better question might be, as opposed to what?
“He’s a good player and he’s going to have the opportunity to get into the paint,” Rivers said. “Should we say they rely too much on LeBron? You got something going, you stick with it. I thought we should have done it more.”
|Family affair between Cavs and Celts||10.27.09 at 2:26 pm ET|
Williams is married to Parker’s sister Candace Parker, a hoops star in her own right. Candace is a star for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
“It’s all business,” Anthony Parker said. “I’ve competed against friends, maybe not family, before and yeah, you want to have bragging rights and it’s fun to go through that but we’ve played against each other so this is nothing new.”
Parker played in Toronto for the last three seasons before joining Cleveland this season while Williams has played for Atlanta, Sacramento and Minnesota over that same time frame.
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