|Kevin Garnett’s future determines Celtics’ ability to be competitive next few seasons||05.10.13 at 10:27 am ET|
If next season’s Celtics team does not start Kevin Garnett at power forward, prepare for a long, dark stretch. Without KG patrolling the middle in green and white, feel free to reintroduce yourself to the lottery, long losing streaks and the empty promise of rebuilding.
While you miss the scowls, intensity and blocked shots after the whistle, remember that the decline of the Celtics is more complex than the team simply aging. The major problem is the Celtics actually ask Garnett to do more now than they did during the NBA finals run in 2010. Despite his age (37 on May 19) and contract (2 years, $24.3 million), Garnett still is a premier power forward and a critical piece for a team chasing a championship.
‘Back in Minnesota, Kevin used to say, ‘I want to live beyond my contract,’ ‘ new Timberwolves president (and former coach) Flip Saunders told WEEI.com. ‘That meant whatever he was getting paid, whenever someone would see him in a game or in a practice, he wanted to live up to that contract and then play beyond that.’
Garnett has done exactly that in his six seasons in Boston. His playoff averages (35 minutes, 12.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, his highest playoff average since 2004) against the Knicks also demonstrated that quality basketball remains afloat in his veins. Surrounded by the right players, Garnett still can help Boston contend for a championship. After watching Garnett for 18 seasons, Kevin McHale — who drafted Garnett in Minnesota with the No. 5 pick in 1995 — still is amazed by his former student. Garnett was the first player in 20 years to go directly to the NBA from high school, and McHale recently reminisced about Garnett’s rookie training camp in Minnesota, when the 19-year-old was only a couple of months removed from his senior prom.
‘I loved the kid the first day of practice,’ McHale said. ‘He laid on the floor after his first training camp — laying on the ground with nothing left — and I said, ‘We’ve got to go again tonight.’ He went, ‘Huh?’ I said we did two-a-days, and he was like, ‘Oh my.’
“But that night he came and he laid it on the ground, played on the line, laying on the ground, playing on the line. At the end, he was laying on the ground, and I said to him, ‘Now we do two again tomorrow.’ He looked up at me and said, ‘Man, this is going to be a job.’ He hasn’t changed since then, he’s just got better.
“His ability to compete at a high level for such a long time, his love of the game, his competitive nature,’ marveled McHale, ‘it really is fun to watch.’
Competing at a high level for an extended period of time in the National Basketball Association takes a rare talent. It is a skill that is difficult, but far from impossible. The highest standard of excellence has been set by the Spurs, a team with an aging superstar in soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan. Far from the best of friends, Garnett and the 37-year-old Duncan share very similar basketball philosophies, a fact not lost on Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
‘They can look in the mirror and realize they’re both the same in so many respects as far as how they run their lives in the NBA and how they’ve run their careers,’ Popovich said during his last trip to Boston. ‘They’re both competitive as hell, they both understand the game, they both love being on the court, and neither one of them is really that excited about the hoopla that is all around it, but they’ve also endured by taking care of their bodies and what they do in the summertime to take care of their bodies.’
|Stephen A. Smith on D&C: Some in NBA circles question ‘whether or not Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers desire to continue to coexist’||05.08.13 at 9:44 am ET|
Stephen A. Smith talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about trade rumors involving the Celtics and Clippers, and what he believes the Celtics will do in the offseason.
Smith said he thinks the Clippers, who were rumored to be interested in Kevin Garnett at the trade deadline, still would like to acquire Garnett, and that the Celtics might try to use that interest to get Blake Griffin from them. To get Griffin, though, Smith said they might have to allow Doc Rivers to go to Los Angeles.
“The Clippers, I know for a fact, were interested in Kevin Garnett,” Smith said. “[Chris Paul] isn’t necessarily happy right now. He wants to stay with the Clippers. I think he’s planning on staying with the Clippers because they can offer him close to $30 million more than anybody else. But he also looks at the Clippers and has reached the conclusion that he needs help on the front line, because neither Blake Griffin nor DeAndre Jordan has the requisite post-game skills to really make room for him to operate. They’re incapable of pulling guys away from the basket and being a threat on the perimeter and therefore giving Chris Paul space to operate.
“From that standpoint, once again, the Clippers have to be willing to let go of one of those guys. They would prefer it to be DeAndre Jordan, because clearly Blake Griffin has a better upside. Plus, he’s a better player. ‘¦ As a result, in an effort to keep CP3, who’s a guy that approaches free agency and they’re looking to re-sign, they are entertaining a plethora of possibilities.”
One of those possibilities, Smith said, could involve Rivers heading to Los Angeles along with Garnett and Paul Pierce.
“According to guys that I’ve spoken to in NBA circles, the Boston Celtics would look at a guy like a KG, willing to unload him, and who knows, they may be willing to market [Garnett and Pierce] as a package deal,” Smith said. “If you’re the Clippers, obviously that’s not enough to let go of somebody like a Blake Griffin. But if you combine keeping CP3 as a priority, knowing that he wants legitimate help on his front line for the immediate future, combined with the fact that even though I believe Vinny del Negro has done a good job, there are others that don’t believe so. ‘¦ If somehow, some way, you could get your hands on Doc Rivers in the same breath as you’re getting KG and Paul Pierce, it could be something that could be attractive. And if that’s attractive enough, if you’re Danny Ainge, and you and Doc Rivers, as much as you respect one another, you’ve just worked with one another for a long time — who knows what the situation is, but you might be willing to let Doc Rivers out of his contract.
“You’re not going to do it for Brooklyn or probably anybody within the Eastern Conference, but to move out west to Cali? That might be an attractive enough proposition for the Clippers to sit there and say, well, you know what, OK, we would let go of Blake Griffin under those circumstances.”
|Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have ‘no idea’ about their futures after Game 6||05.04.13 at 12:43 am ET|
Will they be back for another season?
“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you. I’m kind of digesting , obviously, the current, and Doc came to me, pulled Paul and I to the side and all three of us agreed to speak later — too emotional,” Garnett said. “Obviously, it was a big game, tough loss, especially at home. But more importantly in the future, it’s a different day for that conversation.”
Pierce is signed for next season but only $5 million of his $15 million for next season is guaranteed. He could be amnestied under the new NBA CBA if GM Danny Ainge wants to overhaul the roster.
“That’s a decision for the management,” Pierce said. “Who knows what the future [holds]? I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes each and every year. So I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of changes here and we’ll see what happens.”
Garnett made it very clear that his decision about next year will hinge greatly on whether Ainge brings back Pierce.
“One of the big reasons I came [to Celtics] was because of Paul,” said Garnett. “Obviously, you want to be in a situation where it’s better. I want to make sure that I’m able to always help a team. I want to be in positions to where I’m giving something. I demand a lot of myself, both physically and from a skill level. But I’d be lying to y’all if I said Paul didn’t play into that factor. Like I said, it’s too soon of a conversation for me right now.”
Pierce, who said he will play in the NBA next season, was asked if he wants to return to Boston for a 16th season.
“That’s up to Danny and them,” Pierce said. “I have no idea.”
Coach Doc Rivers is also not a sure thing to return. He signed a five-year, $35 million extension before the 2011-12 season. He has three years left on it, that is if he wants to return.
“I don’t think about any of that stuff,” Rivers said. “Danny knows me pretty well. I immerse myself; that’s the only way I can do it, probably to a fault. Pretty much unlivable during the year. So I don’t know. Danny knows he gives me at least a week to do just whatever I do — and I don’t know what I do, sit and watch cartoons or something — then we’ll talk about it. But Danny has already worked on [offseason plans]. He never shows me. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to know anything. We’ll figure it all out, and we’ll see.”
|Danny Ainge ‘not particularly thrilled’ with Knicks matchup||04.25.13 at 5:52 pm ET|
During his weekly Thursday appearance with Salk & Holley, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stopped short of saying he thought his C’s are the better team in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Knicks.
“We don’t think that we’ve played like we are capable of playing,” said Ainge. “It’s one thing to lose to a team who deserves to beat you and is a better team, but I feel like we’ve come out ready to play and I have no idea why the beginning of the third quarter in the last two games has not been good.”
Asked to clarify his comments, Ainge showered praise on the Knicks, who lead the series 2-0 and have held the Celtics to 48 combined second-half points.
“They’re very good. I have a great deal of respect for the Knicks, and Carmelo [Anthony] is a great player — maybe the toughest matchup in the entire league,” he said. “He’s right there in the same category as difficult a matchup as the Lebron [James]es and the Kevin Durants and the Kobe Bryants. He’s one of those types of players that can score against certain defense. So, no, I’m not particularly thrilled with the matchup.”
Still, Ainge placed the blame on his players. The Celtics simply haven’t lived up to their ability.
“We just need to play with more mental and physical toughness,” he said. “This isn’t the team I’ve seen play all year. The first halves have been, but not the second half. I wish I had an explanation, but we just need to be tougher, instigating the physical play. I think that they are getting into us, and we’re not responding. I’d like to see us instigate and initiate contact and be aggressive and not let their pressure affect us as much as it has.”
And the blame doesn’t rest with just one or two Celtics. They’ve pretty much all been been underwhelming.
“It’s everybody,” said Ainge. “It’s gotta be everybody. Avery [Bradley] embodies toughness. Paul Pierce is toughness to us, and Jeff Green — when he’s playing the way that we need him to play — he’s asserting himself and tough. And we know how tough Jason Terry is. And right on down the line. It takes everybody. Brandon Bass. It takes every one of the guys. We don’t have a team where we can rely on one or two guys. We have to get good performances out of the whole team.”
“We’ve got to have contributions from the whole team,” he added. “You can’t do it with one or two guys like New York has done. We don’t have that kind of scoring power. We don’t have the league’s leading scorer on our team right now, so we have to get contributions out of a lot of people.”
Got it? Good. Now here are the remaining highlights of Ainge’s interview, which can be heard in full on the Salk & Holley audio on demand page:
|Danny Ainge: Walking boot for KG ‘just precautionary’||04.11.13 at 5:23 pm ET|
Making his weekly appearance on ‘Salk & Holley’ Thursday afternoon, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge discussed a number of topics, including the sight of Kevin Garnett in a walking boot at the end of Wednesday’s night’s loss to the Nets. Ainge was asked if Garnett was indeed at 100 percent, what would the logic be behind him wearing a walking boot:
“Well, you know, so first of all, there’s no such thing as 100 percent for anybody, right now,” Ainge said. “But KG, you can see how well he’s moving on the court. Last night, he didn’t have one of his better games on the court, but he was moving very well. You could see him defense laterally and he was rebounding and he was very active. The walking boot is just precautionary. It’s just … some guys keep ice on their legs after every game — sometimes, their legs are sore, sometimes, they’re not. They do it as a precautionary thing.
“The walking boot … he has some inflammation in his foot, so every time he stops playing, he has the walking boot on. He doesn’t wear it all the time, but he just wears it after games to make sure his foot isn’t moving any more than it needs to. So it’s just precautionary right now.”
Ainge also expressed confidence that based in part what the 2010 team was able to accomplish in the postseason, he feels good about where this team is as the 2013 playoffs loom.
“I know what our guys are made of. I know how they’ve stepped up in the past,” he said. “There’s been year’s where we …. what was in 2010, when we finished the season 27-27 in the last 54 games? I was not real confidence going in, but I was in awe of watching our team play its best basketball it’s played in the KG era in that stretch — against Cleveland who had the leading record in the league and against Orlando who had the second-best record in the East. I was in awe of what they were able to step up and do.
“In order to do that, you have to have guys playing on all cylinders. I think the good news is that our team is getting healthier. Unfortunately, Rondo and Barbosa and Sully aren’t coming back. But I feel like KG is moving well and I think Paul is getting better and moving well. By the time the playoffs roll around, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Here are some of the other highlights of his Q&A:
“Well, I don’t want to get much into that. It’s old news — boring. Nobody cares.”
Were you surprised he responded at all?
“Yeah, I think so. Just because I don’t think that … we live in a world in the media where sound bytes are used. I think that … you can blow things out of proportion. But yeah. I was a little surprised. But I don’t really care.”
Is the Lakers-Celtics thing still a thing with Pat Riley? The Boston Garden stories, the lack of air conditioning and all that stuff? Is that the reason for the anger?
“I have no idea. I have no idea. It was only speculation.”
Do you still think of the rivalry today?
“Absolutely not. Never. Never once crosses my mind. They were great times and great rivalries with great players. I never had any hatred toward those players. I had a great deal of respect for those teams. I thought the 80s Celtics and the 80s Lakers were two of the best teams in the history of the game. It was a fun time.”
|Rajon Rondo returns to the parquet||04.03.13 at 7:30 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo surprised some by returning to Celtics shootaround just a month and a half after ACL surgery on his right knee in February. Rondo did some light shooting and tested the right knee and a light shootaround before the Celtics game with the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden. Rondo is still expected to miss the rest of the season.
“It was great just having him around [at Wednesday's shootaround],” coach Doc Rivers said. “He put his brace on and he just watched shootaround, but then he walked out — or limped out — on the floor and did whatever he did. But it’s just good just having him around. It’s good for him, too, probably.”
Rivers was asked – jokingly – if Rondo can dunk yet.
“Not yet. It’s coming. That’s next,” Rivers said.
Rondo tore his ACL on Jan. 25 in Atlanta and then had surgery in February and spent the the first part of his rehab with Dr. James Andrews in the Jacksonville area. Rondo returned to his Boston area home last week and has been spending time with the team ever since, attending a Celtics-Hawks game last Friday for the first time since the surgery. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he and the team are hopeful to have Rondo ready for the start of training camp in September.
Rondo also had some fun with two members of the Harlem Globetrotters in town for an exhibition. Thanks to the folks at CLNS Radio, here’s a sample of that.
|Keyon Dooling signs with Memphis Grizzlies for playoff run||04.01.13 at 12:50 pm ET|
The 32-year-old veteran guard has agreed to terms with the Memphis Grizzlies to help them in their playoff push in the Western Conference. Entering Monday, the Grizzlies are 49-24 and in a tight three-way race with Denver and the Clippers for third place in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Dooling made the announcement Monday on his Twitter page: “I am so honored to announce that I AM BACK! I am heading to officially sign w/ @MemGrizz and am looking forward to being back on the court!”
Dooling had been serving as a player development coordinator for the Celtics before accepting the offer to play with the Grizzlies on Monday. Dooling will be playing for his seventh NBA team since entering the NBA with the Clippers at the age of 20 in 2000. Dooling has averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists in 721 career games. He averaged 4.0 points and 1.1 assists in 46 games for the Celtics during the 66-game schedule in the 2011-12 season.
On Dec. 9, 2011, Dooling and a 2012 second-round pick were traded to Celtics in exchange for the draft rights to Albert Miralles. Then at the end of last season, Dooling re-signed with the Celtics.
But after being waived by the Celtics on Sept. 20, he decided to retire from the Celtics and accept a front office/coaching position with the team. Dooling thanked GM Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers on Monday after announcing his return.
— Keyon Dooling (@AmbassadorKD) April 1, 2013
Dooling is also a former Vice President for the NBA Players Association.
Dooling will join former Celtics guard Tony Allen, who also welcomed him back to the NBA via his Twitter page.
@ambassadorkd. Welcome My Guy!!!
— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) April 1, 2013