|Courtney Lee: Joining Celtics ‘a no-brainer for me’||08.09.12 at 9:34 pm ET|
Here’s all you need to know about Celtics sign-and-trade acquisition Courtney Lee before this NBA season begins: He took less money to play in Boston, and he doesn’t care whether he starts or comes off the bench.
“I had a lot of different offers from a lot of different teams, but the one I really wanted to come to was Boston,” Lee said Thursday from the Boston Children’s Museum, where the Celtics held their Summer Soiree to benefit the Shamrock Foundation. “So, I spoke to my agent and I spoke to my family. It was a decision that I had to take less money to come here, but in that I’ll be winning, I’ll have a chance to play on TV. That’s what everybody wants to do. They want to win big and a chance to win a ring, so it was a no-brainer for me.”
In town for his first public appearance as a member of the Celtics and to find a place to live for at least part of his four-year, $21.5 million contract, Lee joins a shooting guard logjam along with Avery Bradley and Jason Terry after being signed-and-traded from the Rockets in a complicated deal that involved the Celtics shipping JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, Sasha Pavlovic and three second-round draft picks out of Boston.
Still, when asked if he preferred starting to backing up Bradley upon his return from surgery on both shoulders, Lee said all the right things while not giving up too much outside of the fact he and Celtics coach Doc Rivers have already discussed his role “in details” over dinner multiple times.
|Agent: Mickael Pietrus ‘not a veteran minimum player’||07.24.12 at 1:30 pm ET|
Mickael Pietrus‘ days in a Celtics uniform may be numbered.
Pietrus is “still open to a return,” according to his agent Bill McCandless, but the 30-year-old free agent swingman will not play for the NBA’s veteran minimum salary — which, after his nine years in the league, is $1.23 million.
“MP will not play for the veteran’s minimum. Period,” said McCandless. “It’s not happening. That’s the beginning, middle and end of that. … He is not a veteran’s minimum player. There’s no chance he’ll ever sign for that.”
That leaves the $1.96 million bi-annual exception as the C’s only option, but that may not be enough. While Pietrus signed for the $1.22 million minimum after being waived by the Suns in December, the French-speaking Guadeloupean has “a standing offer triple that overseas,” his agent said. They’ve also engaged in serious talks with several NBA teams, including one Monday, “and the money was much more than the veteran minimum.”
|Irish Coffee: Examining the 2012-13 Celtics depth chart||07.23.12 at 12:39 pm ET|
The NBA draft is over. Summer League is over. And for the Celtics, free agency is essentially over. So, with the addition of former Hawks center Jason Collins and the training camp invites to Summer League stars Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith over the weekend, the C’s could field a 15-man roster as currently constituted.
The depth chart is beginning to take shape. While Danny Ainge could still welcome Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling or another player into the fold for the veteran minimum, the hard part is done. None of the four recently re-signed players or eight new additions could even be traded until December 15, and Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley don’t appear to be on the block, so any changes to this group would be a minor tweak at best.
That being said, let’s take a look at how this season’s depth chart stacks up to the one that finished the playoffs.
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s masterful Celtics summer||07.20.12 at 3:48 pm ET|
How do you think David West is feeling right about now? If you’ll recall, when he snubbed the Celtics for the Pacers in free agency last summer, he said, “In Boston, everybody is kinda realistic about the window that the Celtics have. Me looking at where I’m at, I think my window is a little bit wider.”
Since then, after watching the Celtics take the Heat to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals, West has seen his Pacers match Roy Hibbert‘s max contract (4 years, $58 million) — dedicating roughly $36 million annually to a “Big Three” of Hibbert, Danny Granger and George Hill — trade Darren Collison for Ian Mahinmi, and sign Gerald Green (3 years, $10 million) and D.J. Augustin (1 year, $3.5 million) as their biggest free agent splashes.
Meanwhile, Celtics president Danny Ainge painted his best masterpiece since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007 for Al Jefferson, the No. 5 overall NBA draft pick and a bunch of garbage. Not willing to call Ainge’s offseason a masterpiece? Take a look at what he had to work with this summer.
|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 — 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.
|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?