|Chris Mannix on Mustard & Johnson: Celtics should do ‘exactly what [Danny Ainge] has been doing’||05.04.13 at 3:09 pm ET|
With the future of the Celtics now up in the air after the six-game first-round playoff loss to the Knicks, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, in an interview on WEEI’s Mustard & Johnson show, suggested that the team should proceed in precisely the fashion in which president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has operated for some time. Mannix noted that Ainge actively explored the possibility of dealing longtime mainstays Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett leading up to this season’s trade deadline, and suggested that the Celtics should again explore the market for the duo this offseason — while remaining comfortable with the notion of bringing them back if the team is unsatisfied with the return.
“I don’t think it would be [financially] difficult to trade Pierce if you wanted to. Boston was motivated to do it the last couple years. Leading up to the trade deadline, they spoke to Brooklyn, they spoke to Atlanta, they spoke to Dallas. They were actively looking to deal Paul Pierce,” said Mannix. “They had conversations with the Clippers about Kevin Garnett and were trying to figure out a way to get a deal done for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Look, they were trying to make some moves with these two guys. Boston’s issue wasn’t financial. It was that they wanted a lot in return. I remember talking to some people in the Nets organization about how much Boston wanted in return. It was a combination of draft picks and young talent.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a financial issue for the Celtics to trade either one of those players if they’re motivated to. It’s just how much less they’re willing to take back in return.
“I would do exactly what Danny’s been doing to this point,” added Mannix. “If you can trade one of them and get a lot in return, get something that you know is going to help reboot your franchise, do it. If not, hold onto them and just play this thing out, wait for their contracts to expire and play with the flexibility then.”
Mannix noted that the avenues to upgrading the Celtics roster are limited this offseason, particularly in terms of free agents. Read the rest of this entry »
|Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘can’t win without Rajon Rondo’||04.24.13 at 9:51 am ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics, who are in a 2-0 hole against the Knicks in their Eastern Conference playoff series following Tuesday night’s 87-71 loss at Madison Square Garden.
“They can’t win without Rajon Rondo. It kind of just boils down to that,” Mannix said. “It was such a gutty first half, how they played. They defended, they made shots, Jason Terry was big for them. But the second half, when the Knicks came out with a modicum of defensive intensity, they could do nothing, because they don’t have anyone on the floor that knows how to manufacture shots. [Paul] Pierce did the best he could, but it was pretty clear to me that the Knicks were loading up on him and really putting a focus on keeping him under control in the second half, contesting more shots in the second half. And without Rondo, they got nothing in the paint. Everything was a contested jump shot off one or two passes.
“In a lot of ways, it’s kind of depressing to watch. Because the Knicks, they’re not a good defensive team. They were good for like five games in the month of November. Then all of a sudden they reverted back to Carmelo Anthony ball, circa 2008, and decided to outscore people. But the Knicks, when they put any kind of pressure on the Celtics last night, they just didn’t have anything in terms of playmaking that could respond.”
The Celtics were able to play well for stretches after Rondo’s season-ending ACL injury in the regular season, but Mannix noted that the style and intensity in the playoffs are a different matter.
Said Mannix: “We’ve seen first-hand the last two years what Rondo has done for this team in the playoffs — he’s been the best player on the floor every single year. … He just creates shots, and he wreaks havoc in the paint. You simply can’t replace that.”
Jeff Green‘s inconsistency continues to be an issue. After recording 26 points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, Green had 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting with one rebound in almost 35 minutes Tuesday.
“I don’t know what it is, other than the fact that it’s just kind of who Jeff Green is at this point,” Mannix said. “He has been a workhorse for him in the second half of the season, and so many nights you can see just that talent. But I can tell you this: The inconsistency was maddening to Oklahoma City back in the day. They wanted to keep Jeff Green, they offered him a good contract extension. But they weren’t willing to go as high as Jeff Green wanted them to go because of that inconsistency. It was a big part of it. They didn’t know if he was going to be that guy every single night. At his best, he’s one of the most versatile forwards in the NBA, he can do a lot at either forward spot from the perimeter and on the inside. But some nights, as you mentioned, he does disappear. That’s one of the most frustrating things about Green, and that’s something I think that until he resolves, it’s always going to hold him back.”
|Chris Mannix on M&M: JaJuan Johnson ‘could become a legitimate starter in this league’||06.24.11 at 12:17 pm ET|
SI.com’s Chris Mannix spoke with Mut & Merloni Friday morning about Thursday’s draft and the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Mannix said that although he needs development, Celtics first-round draft pick JaJuan Johnson “in a few years could become a legitimate starter in this league.”
“He is a big guy, a legitimate 6-foot-10 with that I think 7-foot-2 wingspan,” Mannix said. “He’s a very good low-post player. … I think with NBA coaching he can become an even more polished offensive player.”
Mannix also said that Johnson should develop well under the veteran leadership the Celtics have.
“I think JaJuan Johnson is going to benefit enormously from playing behind Kevin Garnett for a year, and practicing against him for a year, two years,” Mannix said. “I think having Garnett and having Ray Allen on the roster are invaluable assets, because guys are going to be able to learn from these two guys.”
|Chris Mannix on D&C: ‘Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year’||06.22.11 at 9:35 am ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics and Thursday’s NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Mannix said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will not shy away from dealing any player in order to avoid a slow descent into mediocrity, and he noted that even the team’s young star, Rajon Rondo, has been the subject of trade talks in the recent past.
“I think he’s talking about moving everybody. I really do,” Mannix said of Ainge. “I’ve had conversations with different people around the league; I would throw Rajon Rondo on that list as well. … He has explored dealing Rajon Rondo in the past. He has talked to other GMs about him in the past. I’m not saying he’s been willing to pull the trigger in the past, but Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year or so.
“This is just something that Danny does. He’s not afraid to make the blockbuster deal if he thinks it helps him in the long term. So, I think Danny is absolutely working the phones right now. I think every one of those guys is on the table for a potential deal that he’s sure is going to help him.
“This goes back to what I thought the second after Doc Rivers signed that five-year extension,” Mannix continued. “Doc didn’t sign on for five years to be part of a team that just decomposes as it goes back to the Gerald Green era from a few years ago. He believes this team is going to be able to contend in Year 3, 4 and 5, when presumably Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are gone. But to do that, I think Danny is going to have to shake up the roster. And I absolutely believe, right now, before the draft, after the draft, in the offseason, whenever he’s able to talk to these teams again once the lockout is lifted, he is going to be aggressive on the phone lines trying to improve his team.”
|Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics don’t know what they have for playoffs||03.28.11 at 9:51 am ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and their recent struggles. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Mannix said he thinks there is something to the theory that the Celtics are disinterested in getting the one-seed and seem to think they’ll be able to just turn it on in the playoffs like they did last year.
“I think there’s a lot of truth to that,” Mannix said. “I think we saw at the end of last year that the Celtics had the same kind of laissez-faire attitude about the end of the regular season. The difference last year, though, was the core of that team was still in tact and they kind of knew what they could do if they turned the jets on and played well in the postseason. This year, they’re banking on something that no one, including themselves, is sure is even there. You’re talking about bringing back [Shaquille O’Neal] and Jermaine [O’Neal].
“Imagine before the season if we thought getting into late March, early April, ‘If only Shaq and Jermaine can come back, we’ll be OK for the postseason.’ To me, that’s a horrible attitude to have, if that’s what this team is thinking, that one of those guys can come back and be a difference-maker. Once Shaq comes back, he’ll only play for about two months, and who knows what kind of physical shape he’s in at this stage. And Jermaine has given you nothing all season long, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going to add anything to the equation.”
Mannix said not getting the top seed could be a death knell for the Celtics. “I honestly think that not getting the No. 1 seed for Boston this year could be disastrous and could be the reason that they don’t come out of the Eastern Conference for two reasons,” he said.
“Number one, the difference between playing the 8 seed and the 7 seed this year is like playing the 16 seed in the NCAA tournament vs. a 2 or 3 seed. Whoever winds up in that 8 spot, be it Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte, I think they’re going to be a relative pushover in the first round. Maybe they take a team to five games. Most likely they get swept in four.
“That 7 seed, whether it’s New York or Philadelphia, those aren’t going to be easy games,” Mannix continued. “They’re going to be kind of knock-down, drag-out games. They might push you to six, maybe even seven games. I think that’s something Boston really has to start to consider going into the postseason.”
The hosts added that not only have the Celtics fallen behind the Bulls, but they’re also on the verge of getting passed by the Heat and dropping to third. “Yeah, and that’s going to kill them, too,” Mannix said. “You get into those second-round series that are inevitably going to go six games, probably seven games. You lose that homecourt advantage and that hurts, even against a team like Miami, whom, by the way, Boston hasn’t beaten yet with this new group. Same thing with Chicago.”
Speaking of that new group, Mannix said the Kendrick Perkins trade has everything to do with this slump. “I 100 percent attribute it to the trade,” Mannix said. “I said as soon as this deal went down that it was the worst trade they could’ve possibly made. And I say that knowing exactly why it was made. … This was a one-sided trade, I thought. That’s taking nothing away from the obvious skill of Jeff Green. But Jeff Green, as much as you needed a backup swingman for this roster, you needed a powerful big up front more.
“You need a guy that brings the intensity every single night,” Mannix continued. “You just mentioned that lackadaisical attitude. I think some of that would’ve been eliminated with Perkins in the lineup because he never takes plays off. The guy is aggressive all the time. With him in the lineup bringing that intensity, I think a lot of it would’ve rubbed off on some of his teammates. So I think they lost a physical presence and I think they lost a mental intense presence.”
|Chris Mannix on D&H: C’s deal for Rip Hamilton unlikely anytime soon||01.26.11 at 11:55 am ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics and the NBA.
There’s a rumor going around that the Celtics are interested in Pistons shooting guard Richard Hamilton, but Mannix downplayed it.
“That’s just a rumor,” he said. “The only way they acquire him is by buyout. Right now, the ownership situation in Detroit is in such flux that that buyout, it ain’t coming anytime soon. And I’d be really surprised if it came before March 1st.”
Mannix acknowledged that “Hamilton would be a great asset in Boston” and “something has to happen” because Hamilton and coach John Kuester are at odds. However, Mannix said, “I just don’t see him getting bought out right now. He’s owed $25 million over the next two years. If he’s not willing to take a significant pay cut from that — and I’m talking in the $16 [million], 17 million range — he’s just not going anywhere. Now as long as the ownership situation is so up in the air out here.”
On Tuesday night, Kendrick Perkins made his first appearance since suffering an ACL injury in Game 6 of the NBA finals. Mannix said he was amazed at how quickly Perkins returned.
“To see him come back this early from what can only be described as a devastating knee injury, is unbelievable,” Mannix said. “Certainly, he’s got a long way to go. From watching that game, he has no lift on his legs right now. That’s going to take time to come back, to re-develop that explosiveness that he once had right around the rim. But it’s an amazing story, getting him back this quickly.”
Added Mannix: “I expect over the next two months for him to kind of be a work in progress. But that fact that he’s back now, that bodes well for Boston. Because it seems like if you give him a couple of months to get his legs back under him, come late March, early April, he should be back to close to the form he once was.”
|Mannix on D&C: ‘Not a unanimous decison’ for C’s on Shaq||08.04.10 at 10:09 am ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss the Celtics’ impending signing of Shaquille O’Neal. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Mannix said it’s a one-year deal for the veteran minimum — approximately $1.4 million — with a second-year player option. “This was not an easy decision for either side,” Mannix said, adding, “Shaq is obviously taking a monster pay cut. … It’s a huge, huge pay cut for this guy to play for this team and to accept a reserve role, coming off the bench.
“And for the Celtics, I can tell you this much, it was not a unanimous decision. This is not something that the entire front office and coaching staff entirely agreed upon. But it is a Danny Ainge type of move. He’s taken risks like this in the past, whether it’s Gary Payton or Stephon Marbury or Nate Robinson this past year. He’s taken chances on guys he thinks can help put them over the top. Danny obviously is convinced that Shaq is what this team needs right now.”
Asked if it was Shaq’s off-court distractions or on-court issues that made the Celtics hesitate, Mannix said: “It’s a little bit of a blend of both, but I think you’d have to start with the on-the-court problems. He is the worst pick-and-roll defender of all-time. He really is. He’s just a horrible, horrible guy when you’re coming off blitzing those screens. And Kendrick Perkins was one of the better pick-and-roll defenders on this Celtics team. This whole defense that Tom Thibodeau put together, and Kevin Garnett glued together, was based on effective pick-and-roll defense.
“It’s going to be incumbent now on Doc Rivers, and to a certain degree Lawrence Frank, who is essentially taking over that Tom Thibodeau role, to redesign the defense. They’re going to have to come up with something almost entirely new when Shaq’s on the floor. Because think about it: The two teams standing in Boston’s path are really Orlando and Miami, and those teams are going to run pick and roll all day long.”
Mannix also noted how Shaq often was in the way of Steve Nash when they were teammates in Phoenix. “Rajon Rondo is going to have similar problems,” Mannix said. “Shaq is not a guy who is even remotely comfortable playing anywhere but six or seven feet away from the basket. So, that’s going to be a challenge for Doc Rivers and his coaching staff to figure that out as well.”
All that said, Mannix said he thinks the signing is a good one for the Celtics. “He instantly becomes the best rebounder you have out there,” Mannix said. “And I’m not worried about him bogging down the fast break. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Kendrick Perkins wasn’t exactly Brad Daugherty running the floor out there for the Celtics. I just think overall, he’s a solid fit.”
Added Mannix: ”While I understand the risks — and I think it’s a huge risk to a certain degree — you’re not going to get by Miami, you’re not going to get by Orlando unless you make an upgrade. And Shaq, to me, was the best available upgrade out there.”
Asked about controversial guard Delonte West, Mannix said it makes sense for the Celtics to bring him in. West was waived by the Timberwolves this week following a trade from Cleveland. “I think they should [sign him],” Mannix said. “Delonte obviously is familiar with the system, familiar with Boston, familiar with some of the pieces that are in place there. And he’s a proven combo guard. Obviously, the personal problems he’s had off the floor have been well-documented. … But again, you’re talking about adding guys for the minimum salary. If Delonte doesn’t work out — and I guess to a certain degree if Shaq doesn’t work out — you can just waive these guys.”
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