|Even with $20 million in the bank, Brandon Bass still has big dreams||07.14.12 at 5:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brandon Bass was rewarded for his career year, collecting a reported free agent prize of $20 million in a three-year deal to come back to Boston.
Now, he focused on proving the Celtics spent their money wisely.
“I had other offers out, but I knew where I wanted to be and that’s back in a green jersey playing for the Celtics,” Bass said. “It’s a great organization, a great group of guys who are all about winning. I’m excited to be back.”
Danny Ainge, the club’s president of basketball operations, certainly saw enough of Bass to feel the investment is a wise one, especially with so many moving parts on the roster since the end of the season. There is a certain intangible value in familiarity, both for Bass and the team.
“Bringing Brandon back to the team was a top priority of ours after the season had ended,” Ainge said. “Brandon has improved as a player every year that he has been in the NBA and we believe that the best is yet to come from him.”
Last season, Bass had the best season of his career, averaging a 12.5 points. He became invaluable to Ainge and Doc Rivers when Jermaine O’Neal went down for the season with a bad wrist. With Kevin Garnett moving to the center position, Bass started nearly every game down the stretch, playing in 59 games, including 39 starts.
“I think I still have a long ways to go,” Bass said. “I’m ready to get back in the gym, and come back a little bit better, [actually] a lot better.”
The funny part of bringing Bass back – presumably to start next season at the big forward spot between Garnett and Paul Pierce – is he might have to win over his family more than he has to convince the Celtics.
“I’ve got big dreams,” he said. “I’m 27 now. Some of my cousins say I’m getting old, but I think I’m still young and I still got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on the organization, on a team. I think this is the perfect team.”
WALTHAM — Among teammates, coaches and even owner Stephen Pagliuca, Chris Wilcox is known to be a fun-loving man.
So, it was with great humor and appreciation that Pagliuca listened to Wilcox tell him recently that if only he had been able to play against Miami, things might have turned out differently for the Celtics.
“It’ll be even more special to have all these guys on board and we’ll win that seventh game against Miami this year,” Pagliuca said with a smile and chuckle. “Chris said he would’ve made the difference and I think he was right.”
It was no laughing matter in March when Wilcox became the second Celtics player in three months to undergo heart surgery after being diagnosed with a heart irregularity.
He was officially waived by the Celtics on March 23, but like with Jeff Green, who had heart valve surgery two months earlier, there was an unwritten agreement that the team would offer him a contract once he was medically cleared to resume basketball activity. Saturday was that time, as Wilcox, a much-needed veteran big man in the C’s front court, was formally re-introduced in a press conference at the team’s practice facility.
“I’m good. I’m back now. I’m full contact,” Wilcox said. “I can do everything, lifting weights, just to a minimum though, lifting weights. Everything else, I’m back and I’m ready.
“By training camp, I’ll definitely be full-go. I’ve been working hard all summer, trying to get back right, being prepared and it’s going along well.”
What’s been the biggest challenge of training since heart surgery?
“Cardio. Your cardio, your wind,” Wilcox said. “You have to re-train your whole body over again after surgery like that. So, I think the main thing for me is the my cardio so I’ve just been running, trying to get my wind up. That’s the main thing right now.
“This is a blessing,” Wilcox continued. “This is a blessing for me even to be here right now. So, I’m just going to take full advantage of all my situations and all the opportunities that have been coming my way. And it’s a blessing to come back to a team and be able to pick up where I left off. Read the rest of this entry »
WALTHAM — The departure of Ray Allen has been interpreted in many ways since the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goal shooter decided to leave the Celtics and join the NBA champion Heat on July 6. On Saturday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge gave his.
“I don’t feel like we lost Ray,” Ainge said. “I feel like Ray left us to go to Miami. We appreciate all that Ray has done and all that him and [wife] Shannon have done in our community and we tried to get Ray back and he chose to go to Miami.”
Ainge reportedly had a two-year, $12 million deal on the table for Allen, but the guard was rumored to have a serious personality conflict with point guard Rajon Rondo and was concerned about his role and playing time next season.
“No one player makes a team and players choose not to come here all the time,” Ainge said. “There are 30 good basketball teams out there and it’s a very competitive league and there’s other teams outside of Boston. We knew Ray had this option and this opportunity and he chose to go that direction.
“I’ve talked with Ray much over the last five years. I’m a fan of Ray. I’m grateful for what he’s done and he’ll always be part of that 2008 championship and the success we’ve had since then as well. But I have a feeling there wasn’t one thing. I think it was an accumulation of lots of things, including the allure of Miami. And I’ll just leave it at that.”
As a reporter was asking a question about the club’s roster, Ainge went back and finished up his thoughts on Allen.
“I will say that I was hopeful that he would make another decision, but I was not surprised,” Ainge concluded.
|Powerade gives Celtics fans figurative middle finger||07.13.12 at 1:04 pm ET|
Only a few miles north of Boston, Powerade unveiled an electronic I-93 South billboard that reads, “Congrats, LeBron. Championship has a nice ring to it,” as reported by the Boston Metro.
Just weeks after the Heat’s LeBron James averaged 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game to defeat the Celtics in a seven-game Eastern Conference finals, what better time for the sports drink company to remind Boston basketball fans of their most recent heartbreak? At least Butterfinger wasn’t behind dropping 900 pounds of the candy bars on Copley Square in thanks to Wes Welker for his drop in Super Bowl XLVI.
I’m guessing Gatorade sales just soared in New England. No word on James’ awareness of the Boston campaign. Maybe Zico should unveil a Kevin Garnett ad in Miami reading, “Congrats, LeBron. Suck on my coconut water.”
|Irish Coffee: Fifty shades of Ray Allen||07.09.12 at 7:14 pm ET|
Ray Allen‘s decision to take his talents from Boston to South Beach for half the price and better than twice the odds of winning another NBA championship ran most Celtics fans through the five stages of grief.
- Denial: The Celtics offered Allen $12 million over two years. The Heat offered $9 million over three years. He’s already made $178 million in his career, but there’s no way he’s going to Miami, right? RIGHT?
- Anger: If Judas Shuttlesworth prefers the glitz and glam of a team in its prime that eliminated the Celtics each of the last two seasons to the grit and balls of an aging team that took LeBron James & Co. to the seventh game of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, who needs him anyway?
- Bargaining: Never a great defender, the 36-year-old Allen missed 20 games this past season due to a pair of bum ankles, and then averaged just 10.7 points on 39.5 percent shooting in the playoffs. In the end, all he really did was run around and make a couple 3-pointers every night. How hard can he be to replace?
- Depression: Allen made 1,004 triples in a Celtics uniform, and each seemingly brought the C’s back from the dead, snared a lead or sent a nail through another coffin. Eight broke the NBA finals single-game record, and another set the league’s career mark — all against the Lakers. How can you replace that?
- Acceptance: Playing through bone spurs, the ever-prepared Allen gave the C’s everything he had until the end, and that never stopped Danny Ainge & Co. from shopping him every trade deadline, benching him for a 21-year-old kid and always keeping his longterm future in Boston on the back burner. Who wouldn’t leave?
Whether like Doc Rivers you believe, “He should’ve stayed,” you lump in with the traitorous likes of Johnny Damon or like me you think his time in a Celtics uniform had come and gone, and his departure won’t change the fates of either team all that much, one thing is clear: Ray Allen didn’t want to be here anymore. Now what?
|Ric Bucher on M&M: Tyler Hansbrough is ‘best-case scenario for Jared Sullinger’||07.02.12 at 1:10 pm ET|
ESPN’s Ric Bucher joined Mut & Merloni Monday morning to discuss Kevin Garnett‘s contract, what the future holds for Ray Allen, what the Celtics’ expectations should be for Jared Sullinger, and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
While he didn’t think it was a surprise that Garnett would return to Boston, Bucher said Garnett’s reported three-year, $34 million contract offer was far more than expected.
The deal was ‘pretty surprising considering the length and the size of it,’ Bucher said. ‘We all know that KG has been battling through a number of things the last few years, and while I thought that [the Celtics] might make him a healthy offer, I never expected that it would be that long.’
Bucher said he felt that Garnett’s effectiveness away from the basket, with his height and shooting ability, was a major factor in the Celtics’ decision to offer the 36-year-old a three-year deal.
‘KG has demonstrated with his length and with that silky jumper that he can still be effective,’ Bucher said. ‘And with that size and ability to space the floor, it doesn’t really come down to athleticism. He can probably make that shot over guys when he is 40 years old, and now we may get the chance to see him prove it.’
As for his prediction regarding the Ray Allen sweepstakes, Bucher said he’s come full circle since Garnett agreed to come back, at first believing Allen would definitely return, then wondering whether the Suns would lure him away with a huge contract. However, Bucher said he ultimately he made up his mind when he heard Celtics coach Doc Rivers‘ comments.
‘Doc coming out and saying, ‘Hey, I feel like Ray’s going to be here,’ and knowing Doc usually doesn’t talk empty-handed in those sorts of tones, and knowing just the general relationship between KG, Ray, Doc and Paul [Pierce], I’m back around to finding it hard to believe that with KG in the fold for that period of time that they’re going to let Ray Allen walk.’
|2012-13 Celtics free agent options at point guard||at 12:18 pm ET|
Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joined NBA free agency over the weekend. While Kevin Garnett became the first to announce his plans to re-sign, everyone from Ray Allen to Greg Stiemsma can still leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap (an estimated $58 million). We’re finishing up our examination of the C’s free agent options at each position with point guards (Also see: Centers, shooting guards, power forwards and small forwards).
Rajon Rondo makes this job a little easier. The Celtics point guard averaged 42.6 minutes in the playoffs, cementing himself as one of the game’s great floor generals, so forget about guys like Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, Raymond Felton, Jameer Nelson and Jason Kidd. All of them will be looking for starting roles, with the possible exception of Kidd, who seems settled in Dallas even if the Mavericks lure Williams.
Still, Avery Bradley‘s move to the two last season left C’s coach Doc Rivers with Keyon Dooling and E’Twaun Moore as his primary backup point guards. So, while Bradley could still spell Rondo at times and both Dooling and Moore remain options — the former for the veteran minimum as a free agent and the latter for his $0.76 million non-guaranteed contract — the Celtics could make an upgrade at the position.
The Celtics now have five players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for roughly $45.8 million (Paul Pierce, $16.8M; Garnett, approximately $11.3M; Rondo, $11.0M; Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson, $1.1M) as well as $2.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Pending decisions on or by Allen, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Mickael Pietrus, Chris Wilcox, Ryan Hollins, Dooling and Stiemsma, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from zero to $10 million to spend in free agency.
As a result, expect the Celtics to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Almost nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at backup point guard, separating the current free agent players into three categories.
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