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Larry Bird on Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade Celtics greats, the death of Len Bias and his love for Kobe Bryant 02.07.12 at 1:31 pm ET
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Former Celtics legend Larry Bird said he would have retired in 1988 if Len Bias hadn't died as the result of cocaine use. (AP)

By now, you’ve heard Celtics president Danny Ainge‘s version of the trades Red Auerbach supposedly turned down for Larry Bird and Kevin McHale in the twilight of their careers — and how it relates to the current Big Three’s trade availability.

The story goes that the Pacers offered Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich in exchange for Bird while the Mavericks proposed a deal for McHale involving Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. According to Ainge, Auerbach refused both.

But, in an interview with Grantland’s Bill Simmons on the B.S. Report, Bird remembers it differently.

“I was there with Danny and Red and McHale the day we were talking about that,” Bird told Simmons. “The one thing that Danny threw in there was players’ names. The whole time I was in Boston I never heard Red mention any other players on other teams. I heard him talking about draft picks, but I never heard anything about, ‘Larry, I can trade you for this, this and this.’ He just never did that.”

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Blake Griffin treats Kendrick Perkins like a Kia Optima 01.31.12 at 9:36 am ET
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I bet Jeff Green couldn’t get dunked on like that. I kid. I kid. Somewhere, Danny Ainge is smiling.

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Irish Coffee: Dwight Howard ‘looks up to a team like Boston’ 01.24.12 at 2:23 pm ET
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If Magic All-NBA center Dwight Howard ever considered Boston as a free agent destination this summer, current Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat.

In the third quarter of Monday night’s Celtics victory, as Howard attempted to establish position in the paint and bumped O’Neal on the block, the latter stuck his finger in the former’s face and voiced his displeasure. The two bigs at dichotomous points in their careers were separated by teammates and each assessed technicals.

“That’s kind of crossing the line when somebody puts their hand in your face,” said Howard (18 points, 14 rebounds), who had four of his team’s NBA record low 16 field goals in the 87-56 loss. “I just put his hand out of my face. I didn’t run up on him. It’s basketball. We’re not MMA fighters. I don’t know why I got a tech, but I’m cool.”

O’Neal (6), Greg Stiemsma (5), Brandon Bass (4) and Kevin Garnett (2) combined for 17 personal fouls, sending Howard to the line 18 times (he made 10) in an attempt to minimize his sizable impact.

“You’re at his mercy to be honest,” said Garnett, who totaled 14 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and two blocks. “You have to do what we call dirty work early, which is to try to take him off his sweet spots, contest his shots. He’s strong, he’s very powerful and explosive. You’re at his mercy, man, seriously. I’m not about to sit up here in front of the cameras and give y’all defensive schemes and secrets, but different ways you play different guys.”

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Paul Pierce: ‘Of course’ I still want to retire a Celtic 01.21.12 at 12:59 am ET
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This isn’t the first time Celtics captain Paul Pierce‘s name has emerged in trade discussion. Prior to the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007, rumors consistently swirled that team president Danny Ainge would deal his star and enter full-blown rebuild mode. Flash forward five years, same story.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been down that road,” said Pierce, addressing the issue for the first time after the Celtics suffered their sixth loss in seven games, 79-71 at home to the Suns, “but I don’t think about it actually.”

In the midst of a 5-9 start and the first real signs that this might truly be the end of another Big Three era in Boston, Yahoo! Sports reported earlier this week that several contending teams made inquiries about Pierce’s potential availability before the March 15 trade deadline. Then CBSSports.com reported Friday that Ainge may be willing to wait 10 or more games before deciding to deal one of his three stars.

“It’s just obvious,” Ainge told WEEI’s Big Show on Thursday. “Of course if we get the opportunity to make a trade that will help our team, we’ll do it. I guess I was stating obvious answers and it became like a really big story. We’ve all known there’s a window for this group, so we’re constantly evaluating that and been evaluating it for the last couple of years. I don’t have anything on the books. I don’t have have anything imminent. There’s nothing out there that I’m actively doing. I’m being patient with this group of guys.”

As Pierce said, this isn’t his first rodeo. He’s seen teammates from Antoine Walker to Kendrick Perkins come and go. “I understand,” he said. “What the Celtics have done for me in my career, I’m more than happy. They’ve kept me this long, and I’ve been able to play in a lot of good situations. You’ve got to understand the business.”

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Irish Coffee: Austin Rivers ‘would be great for’ Celtics, says Doc 01.19.12 at 12:51 pm ET
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At the tail end of Doc Rivers‘ weekly interview on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show (click here to listen in full), the Celtics coach opened up about the possibility of coaching his son Austin Rivers in the NBA.

“I would love the opportunity, I guess,” said Rivers. “It would be uncomfortable. I just think that would be a strange thing to do. Having that said that, I wouldn’t mind. He can score, and I think that would be great for us.”

The best prep guard in the country as a high school senior last winter, Austin Rivers averages a team-leading 13.8 points per game for No. 4 ranked Duke this season, shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. Once projected as a surefire lottery pick, his stock has slipped to No. 21 on ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford‘s Top 100 NBA prospects list. So, what must improve for him to have an impact at the next level?

“Just his whole game,” said the elder Rivers, who despite running practices for their teams once or twice has never coached his four kids. “I think he can score in this league right now. I don’t think he could have any problem with that. I think defensively — just the knowledge on the weak side of the ball — is where he would have to improve.”

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Doc Rivers sees Kevin Garnett in the ‘half’ Kendrick Perkins 01.17.12 at 9:36 am ET
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When he was in Boston, Kendrick Perkins was known as the lumbering shot blocking man in the middle with a scowl.

When his former coach Doc Rivers looked out on the court Monday night, he saw a much different Perk.

“He’s half Perk but he’s quicker,” Rivers said of Perkins, who lost 30 pounds in the offseason. “He had a move today — even though he traveled — where he caught it, took two dribbles, went quick and gathered himself.”

This is the man that Celtics GM and team president Danny Ainge traded to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green at the trade deadline last February.

Perkins has matured — and that was clear for Rivers to see on Monday. Yes, he still got in foul trouble, limiting him to seven points and five rebounds in 28 minutes. But what was very clear — and audible — to Rivers from the Celtics sideline is what he’s done in terms of making the Thunder a tough team, a team battle-tested and ready to make a run at a title.

“You can see, he’s put work in his game,” Rivers said. “He has every year I’ve known him. His influence on that team is dramatic to me. You can see it, you can feel it. You can see it with the bigs, with [Serge Ibaka], they’re all defensive players now. Perk has completely changed the culture of that team, you can just see it on the floor. That’s terrific for him.”

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What can Mickael Pietrus really give the Celtics? 01.10.12 at 8:51 am ET
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WALTHAM — It’s a calculated gamble but one Celtics team President Danny Ainge knew he had to take.

When the Celtics got the news that Jeff Green would need season-ending surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm – surgery that was successfully performed on Monday at the Cleveland Clinic – Ainge was down a key man on his bench.

The Phoenix Suns provided the opportunity when they waived Mickael Pietrus on Dec. 22. Two days later, Ainge signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million.

The veteran forward – who turns 30 on Feb. 7 – guaranteed that he’ll make his Boston debut this Wednesday when the Celtics host the defending champion Mavericks at TD Garden. Pietrus, who has averaged 8.1 points and 3.1 rebounds a game in his eight NBA seasons, missed the first two weeks with the team after rehabbing from arthroscopic right knee surgery.

What can he give the Celtics?

“Obviously, I haven’t played for eight months so I’m going to be Mickael Pietrus from the first game,” Pietrus said. “But, defensively, you can always help your team do the littlest of things to make them be a great team. So if I can get in the game Wednesday, even five minutes or 10 minutes, whatever, I’m willing to help my team.”

Pietrus is one of the most genuinely enthusiastic and likable players in the NBA. Combine that will his defensive skills, and he can bring a lot of intangibles to the Green.

“That’s why I was excited,” Pietrus said with a wide smile. “That’s why I wanted to be a Celtic because I think – on the floor – me and KG and all the guys can bring the toughness that Boston had when we played them. They were so tough. It was hard for us to get a shot so I’m trying to get the same mindset. Get in the game, play hard and make sure we work hard, and at the end of the day, make sure we get the ‘W’.

“It was a good two weeks. I got to see downtown Boston a little bit, read the newspaper so obviously, there’s no snow yet so good thing – summertime in Boston. I’ve been watching my teammates and watching a lot of film so on Wednesday, I’ll be ready… Wednesday is going to be a great day for me!”

Pietrus tested his knee in practice last Thursday then worked with the second unit on Sunday before going full bore on Monday, not coming out to rest at all.

“Today I went through my first practice,” said Pietrus. “It feels good to be a Celtic. I had fun so hopefully, I’ll be back on the court Wednesday.”

Asked how close he was to 100 percent after knee surgery, Pietrus pointed to the watch of a reporter.

“You have a watch? Probably 48 hours,” Pietrus said. “I think I’ll be able to help my team. I went through practice with no pain. I told you guys I’d be ready to go in two weeks and two weeks came. I’m very happy I could go through practice with my teammates and get stuff done.”

Pietrus, who battled against the Celtics in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 with the Orlando Magic, said he’s happy to be wearing the green.

“It feels good,” he said. “Look around, there’s 17 banners so I’m in a great spot. I just want to work hard and be available for my team on Wednesday.”

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