|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||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.
|Rajon Rondo’s Celtics return coming ‘sooner rather than later’||01.13.14 at 9:52 pm ET|
With the Celtics mired in a losing streak and spiraling down the standings, Rajon Rondo‘s return can’t come soon enough, and it doesn’t appear the All-Star point guard is all that far off from playing for the first time since his ACL injury.
While Stevens, Rondo and the Celtics are avoiding any strict timeline, the coach didn’t rule out a return this week. “I think you could say possibly,” he said.
Yahoo’s Marc Spears reported that the Rondo was targeting Friday’s game against the Lakers as his comeback night. The Celtics also face the Heat on Jan. 21 before hosting Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the Nets on the 26th — on ESPN, no less, and we all know how Rondo enjoys national TV audiences.
Rondo added to the speculation when he sent out a tweet Monday night reading “29,233,380 secs.” That’s the amount of time from his surgery on Feb. 13 to tipoff for Friday’s game.
|Rajon Rondo just summed up the 2013-14 Boston Celtics||01.09.14 at 8:28 am ET|
The Celtics have lost all three games on their road trip, six straight and nine out of their last 10, dropping from first place in the Atlantic Division to within a half-game of last with the Warriors and Blazers remaining on the West Coast — and Rajon Rondo, apparently, is tired of it. With 10:30 start times for these games, so are Celtics fans.
|Irish Coffee: An in-depth look at Danny Ainge’s remarkable Celtics track record on personnel decisions||01.08.14 at 5:49 pm ET|
We constantly examine the players Danny Ainge has acquired since becoming the Celtics‘ president of basketball operations in 2003, but rarely do we take a look at his departed assets. Bill Belichick is so often lauded for the lack of success in which his ex-Patriots have wallowed in, but Ainge’s batting average rivals The Hooded One, and that’s an important notion to keep in mind in this ever-changing Celtics world. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
For the purposes of this exercise, we’re only looking at outgoing players who appeared in games for the Celtics. That rules out training camp invitees (I see you, Michael Sweetney) and immediately waived trade acquisitions (Hi, Donte Greene). Incoming players are an entirely different story, albeit another successful one (What up, Kevin Garnett?). So, without further adieu, here’s who Ainge bid adieu to (and, yes, I just used adieu twice in a sentence).
- Let free agents Mark Bryant, Bimbo Coles, Grant Long, Mikki Moore, Ruben Wolkowyski walk July 2003.
- Traded J.R. Bremer and Bruno Sundov July 2003.
- Traded Tony Delk and Antoine Walker October 2003.
- Traded Tony Battie, Kedrick Brown and Eric Williams December 2003.
- Traded Mike James February 2004.
BRYANT: Never played again.
COLES: Played just one more season, averaging 1.3 points in 22 games for the Heat.
LONG: Never played again.
MOORE: Somehow lasted another eight seasons in the NBA, including another stint in Boston (see below), even averaging 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds from 2006-08, but c’mon: This is Mikki Moore we’re talking about.
WOLKOWYSKI: Never played again.
BREMER: Averaged 3.3 points over 36 games for the Cavaliers and Warriors in 2003-04, his final season.
SUNDOV: Averaged 1.4 points over 36 games for the Cavaliers and Knicks from 2003-05, his final two seasons.
WALKER (see below): Averaged 14.6 points, 8.7 boards in 2003-04, but shot a career-worst 26.9 percent from 3.
BATTIE: Signed a four-year, $24.8 million deal in Orlando, and began declining in 2006-07.
BROWN: Averaged 1.5 points over 12 games the next seasons before playing his way out of the league.
WILLIAMS: Played for five teams over three more seasons before starring in Basketball Wives.
JAMES: Still in the league nine seasons later, including a career year (20.3 points, 5.8 assists) in 2005-06, although averaged double-digits just once more and has played for 12 different teams.
|Celtics make Jerryd Bayless for Courtney Lee trade official, waive Ryan Gomes||01.07.14 at 12:11 pm ET|
As part of the deal, the Celtics acquired Ryan Gomes from the Thunder and subsequently waived him. The remainder of Gomes’ $884,293 salary would have become guaranteed had the C’s not released him on Tuesday.
Bayless, 25, averaged 8.0 points (41.9 FG%, 35.3 3P%, 83.6 FT%), 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game in 30 appearances for the Grizzlies this season, but his $3.1 million contract is Danny Ainge‘s biggest acquisition. While Bayless becomes a free agent this summer, Lee is owed $11.1 million over the next two seasons on top of the remainder of this season’s $5.2 million salary.
We discussed the trade’s impact on the salary cap and how Ainge might exercise his newfound flexibility going forward here.
Bayless arrived in Denver on Monday and is expected to be available against the Nuggets, according to the Celtics public relations staff. He will wear No. 11, same as Lee.
“We’ve always like Jerryd,” Ainge told the Herald. ‘”He’s played really well against us, and we’re intrigued to see what he can do now. We like that he can play some point guard.”
As for Lee, Ainge added, “Courtney has played real well in a limited role for us this year. I also know he was not happy with his role. But I think he’s a good player for Memphis to acquire.”
|Report: Ryan Gomes coming to Celtics as part of Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless trade||01.06.14 at 9:52 pm ET|
Gomes’ involvement in the deal appears to be a salary dump by Oklahoma City to help facilitate the trade and create a small amount of cap space, Stein reported. The Celtics are expected to waive the former Providence College star before the remainder of his $884,293 salary becomes guaranteed on Tuesday.
Gomes has appeared in just five games for the Thunder this season, scoring all of six points in 34 total minutes. The 31-year-old forward averaged 10.0 points and 5.3 rebounds over his first two NBA seasons in Boston after the Celtics selected him with their second-round draft pick in 2005. He was traded to the Timberwolves in 2007 as part of the Kevin Garnett deal.
Second-round picks may also be involved in the trade, Stein said.
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