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Transcript of Kevin Garnett on D&C: Rajon Rondo the smartest, most stubborn, possibly most hated player in NBA 12.14.11 at 10:53 am ET
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Celtics forward Kevin Garnett joined Dennis & Callahan for an interview from Celtics training camp that aired Wednesday morning.

Following rumors that Rajon Rondo could get traded, Garnett was asked his opinion of the young point guard. Garnett said Rondo is the smartest player in the league, as well as “the most stubborn, the most probably hated.”

Said Garnett: “I’ve grown to understand Shorty. His greatest gift is his greatest curse. We as players try to help him to understand that. Me, more or less, I see a lot of myself in him. I’m not as cocky as he is. I like to actually set aside ego when I step on the court and let the play do the talking.

“Shorty’s very smart but he’s also very stubborn. Nonetheless, with all that said and done, talking to him, I see the maturity, I hear the maturity in him wanting to be better. That’s what you want from your young guy. You want your young guy growing. You want your guy to always be in a sense to where he’s understanding that he’s the future. I think him understanding that, him being confident in that. You hear your name in talks, that’s not what you want to be. Things like that come on for a reason. Just understanding growth and understanding being young. But I love Shorty. I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Did you think there was a chance there might not be basketball this year? Did that thought dross your mind? Did it worry you?

To be honest, yeah, I didn’t think that we were going to have basketball, and I thought for the betterment of. I thought players should have stayed solid and together on what we thought was right. I’m a fighter, man. I understood the demographics. Obviously 500-plus players, everybody’s going to have a preference. This was just my own. I understood the negotiating. I understood the whole process of it, going through it in ’99 and ’98. But times are different now. And here we are.

Do wounds need to heal?

I think everybody needs to get past mad and come here and be professional. And I think that’s what you see, guys understanding what this is. But to sit back and complain about the things that [David] Stern is doing, jamming up trades and all this other stuff, I think he’s been playing God for a while. But we need to understand that he’s also grown our league. He’s also done a lot of good things in our league.

At some point if you’re going to go forward, you’ve got to get past mad and come in here and understand that and focus on the positives. So, that’s what I think everybody’s doing. We’ve got a new team here. Basketball is back and alive here. I think all the guys here agree that we’re happy to see each other. Now, it’s just about preparing for this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Danny Ainge, David Stern, Derek Fisher, Doc Rivers
Jeff Green shoots around before Celtics Media Day 12.13.11 at 9:58 am ET
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Celtics forward Jeff Green participated in a shoot around for 10-15 minutes prior to the team’s Media Day from 10 a.m. to noon, and our own Mike Petraglia caught it on tape. Following Monday’s practice, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge indicated that something in Green’s physical raised a red flag, thus delaying both Green’s one-year, $9 million contract from being finalized and his ability to practice. While the team has not further addressed the issue, the fact Green was on the floor shooting around at the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham — especially in front of a group of about 30 media members — is a good sign.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jeff Green, NBA
Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge show the love for Rajon Rondo 12.01.11 at 1:29 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers know full well what to expect when they next see Rajon Rondo – assuming that’s in a Celtics uniform on Dec. 9, the first day of training camp.

They admitted on Thursday in an 18-minute briefing with reporters at the team’s practice facility that trade rumors involving their point guard are part of the uncontrollable business of the new-world NBA where there’s labor peace but no ratified deal in place yet to allow general managers and coaches to have direct contact with players.

“I’ll talk to Rondo,” Ainge said. “Rondo will be fine. Rondo knows that we love him. He’s excited to come back and play basketball. He gets a lot of attention. He’s a great player. There’s a lot of people that call me and ask me about Rondo. How these rumors get out is unfortunate but we didn’t leak those rumors out and we’ll deal with it. He’ll be fine.”

“There’s a reason when whatever this thing leaked out, it was all over the news,” Rivers added. “It’s because the players they were talking about are both really good. Rondo has established that with his play. He is a great basketball player and he does so many things for our team. He should be flattered, in a way, that this is news.”

As big a deal as trading Rondo would be, Ainge has an even bigger issue at hand – filling out the roster before training camp and the season opener on Christmas.

“We have about eight players to sign, that’s not including our draft players, which we’re in the process of getting signed,” Ainge said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Celtics free agent stategy comes into focus at 11:51 am ET
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Team president Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers met the media for the first time since late June and while there wasn’t much in the way of news, there was confirmation of three elements of Ainge’s free agent strategy.

1. Ainge won’t use the amnesty provision: This was expected, but there was at least a theoretical possibility that the team could use it on Jermaine O’Neal and get far enough under the luxury tax line to consider using the full mid-level exception.

2. The Celtics will likely use the taxpayer mid-level: There are three different free agent markets. There’s one for teams with cap space, one for teams that can use the full mid-level exception — a four-year deal starting at $5 million — and one for teams stuck with the taxpayer mid-level –  a three-year deal starting at $3 million.

They are already priced out of the market for players like Tyson Chandler and Nene and that could leave them out on high-scoring guards like Jamal Crawford and Jason Richardson. They will have to hope the market shakes out those big deals first and lets them compete with other contenders for veterans looking to sacrifice money for a chance at a championship.

3. Size is their biggest priority: No kidding, you say? Well, it’s also true that the Celtics need bench scoring just as much as they need height but with an aging O’Neal and Garnett manning the middle, Ainge has to find quality depth. Expect names like Joel Przybilla, Kwame Brown and Chuck Hayes to be mentioned prominently.

Read More: Danny Ainge,
Report: Celtics wouldn’t be able to get Chris Paul to sign long-term extension 11.30.11 at 11:37 am ET
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There are reports on the web that the Celtics have offered Rajon Rondo to the Hornets for Chris Paul, who is due to be a free agent after this season. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the C’s pursuit of Paul is futile because, he tweeted: CP will not sign a long-term [extension] with Celtics, according to source close to situation.

Broussard tweeted Tuesday that Paul wants to play out the season and became a free agent, with the Knicks his first choice as a landing spot. He wrote that Paul also would consider the Clippers, but the Clippers are more focused on Dwight Howard.

Read More: Chris Paul, Danny Ainge,
Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo rumors, fact and fiction at 9:14 am ET
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FACT: The Celtics are discussing Rajon Rondo in a trade for Hornets point guard Chris Paul.

When rumors started flying that team president Danny Ainge has included Rondo in trade discussions, there was always only one player who could possibly be on the other end of that conversation: Chris Paul.

With nobody to take over the reins in Rondo’s absence, the Celtics would have to land another point guard in return for the two-time All-Star. And considering the attractiveness of Rondo’s contract (4 years, $44 million remaining), that floor general would have to be decidedly better than Rajon Rondo.

In my mind, that list includes two names: Derrick Rose and Paul. There is no way in hell the Bulls are trading the reigning NBA MVP, so that leaves Paul, whose impending free agency puts him on the bargaining table.

Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick confirmed that notion on Tuesday, citing numerous sources in claiming Ainge “is highly motivated” to land the 2005-06 NBA Rookie of the Year. Colleague Paul Flannery explained why the exchange makes painstaking sense but may require a third team to get done. And Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported the C’s have made calls to the Pacers for just that reason.

The 26-year-old Paul has averaged 18.7 points (47.1 FG%, 35.9 3P%, 85.3 FT%), 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals in six NBA seasons, decidedly better numbers than the 25-year-old Rondo (10.7 points, 48.6 FG%, 24.2 3P%, 62.2 FT%, 7.6 assists, 1.9 steals) on a decidedly worse team.

While Rondo is one of the five best point guards in the NBA, Paul is one of the five best players in the league. That’s why Ainge is exploring the trade. And if it falls through, as ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher suggested it would, there’s nobody more stubborn than Rondo to prove Ainge, me and everybody else wrong.

FICTION: The Celtics offered Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green in a trade for Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and center Kendrick Perkins. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chris Paul, Danny Ainge, Jeff Green
How the proposed CBA affects the Celtics: Free agency 11.28.11 at 12:01 am ET
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While we wait for the players and owners to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, we’ll be taking a look at how various parts of the proposal could affect the Celtics. If you’d like to check out the full proposal, SI’s Sam Amick obtained a copy and posted it here.

First up: Free agency

I. CAP EXCEPTIONS

Let’s establish a couple of realities for the Celtics this season. 1. They will be over the cap. 2. They will be at or near the luxury tax.

This is important because there are new realities for tax teams in the proposed CBA, the biggest being the use of the mid-level exception. Under the old agreement any team could use the full MLE amount on one or more players. That’s how the Celtics were able to sign James Posey and Eddie House in 2007 and Rasheed Wallace (2009) and Jermaine O’Neal (2010) even though they were over the cap. They also used what’s known as the bi-annual exception to sign Marquis Daniels in 2009.

Here’s what’s different (quoted directly from the proposal).

  • Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception: Set at $5M in years 1 and 2, growing 3% annually thereafter; maximum contract length of 4 years; can be used every year.
  • Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception: Set at $3M in year 1, growing 3% annually thereafter; maximum contract length of 3 years; can be used every year.
  • Bi-Annual Exception can only be used by non-taxpayers. Amount set at $1.9M in year 1, growing 3% annually thereafter. Exception cannot be used in 2 consecutive years and has maximum contract length of 2 years (same as under 2005 CBA).

Assuming the Celtics will be a tax team, they would have to use the smaller MLE and would lose the ability to use the bi-annual exception. There’s another wrinkle here as reported by SI’s Zach Lowe:

“Every team can use the full mid-level exception, provided doing so does not take the team more than $4 million over the tax line. If you use the full mid-level to get to or approach that barrier looming $4 million over the tax line, you cannot cross it by re-signing your own free agents via Larry Bird Rights.”

This gets a little complicated but the takeaway is the Celtics probably couldn’t use the full MLE and re-sign Jeff Green and/or Glen Davis.

So, it seems likely that team president Danny Ainge will be looking for free agent help armed with only the $3 million exception and the veterans minimum to attract free agents. That’s not the worst thing in the world because Ainge would like to keep the books clean for next summer and the last thing he needs is a $5 million contract hanging out on their balance sheet. There will also be lots of veteran players looking for contracts on Dec. 9 who might be willing to sign on for one year with a contender.

II. CONTRACT LENGTHS AND BIRD RIGHTS

  • Maximum contract length of 5 years for Bird players and 4 years for other free agents.
  • Maximum annual increases of 7.5% for Bird and Early Bird players, and 4.5% for other players.
  • Period for a player’€™s prior team to match an Offer Sheet that a Restricted Free Agent receives from a new team shortened from 7 to 3 days. (NOTE: The last bullet point affects Green as a restricted free agent.)

As before, players can get the best return by re-signing with their teams when they hit free agency. Of the Celtics’ free agents, three have the most value: Green, Davis and Delonte West.

The question for Ainge is how much value do they represent to the Celtics, not just for this year but beyond? One of the late tweaks to the proposal was keeping the sign-and-trade option. Beyond that, teams can use the sign-and-trade mechanism for the next two years regardless of their cap and tax situation. Here’s the language:

  • Except during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, teams are prohibited from acquiring a free agent in a sign-and-trade if their team salary post-transaction would exceed the tax level by more than $4 million. The maximum contract length for a sign-and-trade is 4 years, and maximum annual increases are 4.5%.

Davis, in particular, could have value in a sign-and-trade.

III. AMNESTY CUTS

This is a big one to watch because there could be a handful of players hitting the open market who might be willing to go to a team like the Celtics — or the Lakers, Heat, etc.

Here’s the rule:

  • Each team permitted to waive 1 player prior to any season of the CBA (only for contracts in place at the inception of the CBA) and have 100% of the player’€™s salary removed from team salary for Cap and Tax purposes.

The only Celtic who could potentially fit in this scenario would be Jermaine O’Neal who has one year and $6.2 million left on his deal. That could potentially allow them to use the full MLE, but seems unlikely considering the short time he has left under contract and the reality that cutting the only legitimate center on a team that needs at least one, if not two more centers would be a major risk.

Here’s the potentially crazy part:

  • A modified waiver process will be utilized for players waived pursuant to the Amnesty rule, under which teams with Room under the Cap can submit competing offers to assume some but not all of the player’€™s remaining contract. If a player’€™s contract is claimed in this manner, the remaining portion of the player’€™s salary will continue to be paid by the team that waived him.

In other words, teams that are under the cap would get first crack at Amnesty players via waivers. That adds a whole other layer of intrigue to the process, but if the player passes through waivers he’d become an unrestricted free agent and you can bet the Celtics will be watching this list intently for unexpected bargains.

Free agency is tentatively scheduled to begin on Dec. 9, the same date as training camps will open. It will make for a hectic period of player movement and with so many roster spots available, the Celtics will be scrambling to fill those vacancies. If form holds, it seems likely Ainge will be looking to fill the roster gaps with a mix of veterans on short-term contracts.

Read More: CBA proposal, Danny Ainge, Delonte West, Glen Davis
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