|First things first: Examining the Celtics roster for 2011-12||05.13.11 at 6:04 pm ET|
The first item of business for Celtics president Danny Ainge was locking up coach Doc Rivers to a long-term contract, which they agreed upon Friday for five years. With Rivers on board for more than just a last run with the big three, the Celtics will enter an offseason where they are looking at the long-term, while also trying to stay contenders for next season.
The real overhaul is likely to begin after the 2012 season when Kevin Garnett‘s contract comes off the books and a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. The 2012 free agency class in also much stronger than this summer’s crop with Dwight Howard expected to be the main prize.
Building around the core for one more shot at a championship is really the only option for Ainge unless he is willing to trade one of his aging stars. In an end of the season meeting with the media, Ainge said that he always considers all options. Still, it would be a surprise.
Assuming Ray Allen picks up his player option, which he said he intends to do, the Celtics will have over $64 million committed to six players. That would put them over the salary cap under the current rules and while they are likely to be altered under a new CBA, the cap number is not likely to go up from its current $58 million.
“I know this about the big three: they still have a lot of basketball in them,” Ainge said. “How much can they carry a team, [and be] 20-point a game scorers, I don’t know. I do know they’re still very talented but we need to add talent around them.”
It’s important to note that no one knows what the new salary cap rules will look like under a new CBA. Therefore it’s impossible to predict what kind of moves Ainge will be able to make this offseason. Under the existing rules, Ainge would be able to go over the cap to re-sign his own players and offer free agents from other teams money from the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, as well as the veterans minimum.
Before we get to a new CBA — and free agency — here’s a look at the current roster, with comments from Ainge. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Cutting Big Three’s minutes to win it||at 1:04 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Plenty of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s comments on The Big Show on Thursday incited debate, and perhaps none more than the potential of bringing team captain Paul Pierce off the bench in favor of starting Jeff Green next season.
“Maybe Paul comes off the bench to cut down on his minutes. ‘¦ That’s just hypothetical,” said Ainge. “I have no idea if that’s going to happen. If Jeff is back next year, I think his role will be expanded, and it wouldn’t shock me if the starting five is different.”
Now, whether or not Pierce becomes the team’s Sixth Man in 2011-12 (doubtful, in my eyes), Ainge’s larger point is a good one: The Celtics need to cut down on the minutes next year for Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and possibly even Rajon Rondo, and the best way to do that is to increase opportunities for young talent like Green (age 24), Avery Bradley (20) and Free Agent X.
As a result of injuries to Delonte West, Marquis Daniels and the O’Neal “brothers,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers called on the Big Four more over the course of this regular season than he did in 2009-10, when the C’s reached the NBA Finals. With three of those guys entering the autumn of their careers and the other dealing with injuries to almost every part of his body, that’s not what the Doc was looking for.
Here are the per-minute averages for the Celtics’ core for the last two regular seasons …
- Paul Pierce: 34.0 in 2009-10, and 34.7 in 2010-11
- Ray Allen: 35.2 in 2009-10, and 36.1 in 2010-11
- Kevin Garnett: 29.9 in 2009-10, and 31.3 in 2010-11
- Rajon Rondo: 36.6 in 2009-10, and 37.2 in 2010-11
Those numbers should be declining, not climbing (unless, in Rondo’s case, he’s completely healthy). It’s kind of like when people sell their grandfather’s 1988 Buick with only 97,000 miles on it: “Other than running a few errands during the week, he mostly drove it on the highway to see his grandchildren every Sunday.” In this scenario, the playoffs would be that Sunday drive out on the highway.
|Doc Rivers agrees to five-year deal to remain with C’s||at 12:32 pm ET|
“We wanted him for five years and he wanted to stay for five years,” Ainge said. “I think Doc is the best coach in the league, so I think it’s great for us.”
Rivers indicated it was likely he would return to the Celtics after Wednesday’s season-ending loss to the Heat. “I’m leaning heavily [toward] coming back,” he said. “I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will. I’ve kind of come to that over the last couple of weeks.”
Rivers has coached the Celtics for seven seasons, posting a regular-season record of 336-238 and a playoff mark of 46-34. He led the C’s to the 2008 NBA championship. If he serves out the length of the contract, Rivers will pass Tom Heinsohn for second on the list of longest-tenured coaches in franchise history behind only Red Auerbach, who coached for 16 seasons.
“He’s a great leader in the face of adversity,” Ainge said. “There’s nobody I’d rather have on my side more than Doc.”
Rivers decided after last season to come back for one more year. The two sides talked about a long-term deal, but the feeling was that it was too rushed and they agreed to resume talks in training camp. They let the issue be until mid-season when they talked some more and then essentially decided on a direction as the playoffs began. “He understood that it was important for me to know,” Ainge said.
With Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo under contract and Ray Allen likely to exercise his player-option for next season, the Celtics will return the core of the team that Rivers has coached the last four seasons. Garnett and Allen will both be free agents after next season and the Celtics will likely undergo an overhaul, but Ainge said Rivers was committed to the long haul.
“He knows the circumstances of our team as well as anyone, the players, the ages the contracts, he gets it all,” Ainge said. “He wants to be part of this franchise and he wants to be working with us. We have a great relationship with owners, management and coaching that I think is unique.”
|AP: Doc, Celtics working on a new multiyear deal||05.12.11 at 7:52 pm ET|
The AP quotes a source saying the deal would be for ‘more than two or three years.’ Celtics GM Danny Ainge did not return calls to the AP, but did acknowledge in an on-air appearance with WEEI’s ‘Big Show’ on Thursday that the sides were working on a long-term deal. After Miami eliminated Boston on Wednesday night, Rivers sounded like a man who was intent on returning to the Celtics’ bench.
‘I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will,’ he said. ‘I’m a Celtic and I love our guys. I want to win again here, and I’m competitive as hell. I have a competitive group, so we’ll see. I can tell you that is where I am at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind, but that’s where I am at today.’
To listen to Ainge’s full interview, click here.
|Danny Ainge: ‘We could be up 3-2 in this series’||at 6:00 pm ET|
Following his team’s disappointing Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Heat in five games, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his final weekly appearance of the season on The Big Show. Already working on the draft, Ainge pretty much touched on everything, so here’s a quick rundown of the hot stove topics (for audio of the complete interview, click here).
On the Heat: “I’m a little frustrated. Without taking credit away from the Heat — and they made tough shots and big plays when they needed to — we could be up 3-2 in this series. …
“They’re the team that we’re going to have to compete with for the next six or seven years — maybe longer.”
On Rajon Rondo’s injury: “That was a huge factor. We were playing without one of our key guys — if not the most important guy. I give Rondo a lot of credit for doing all he could to get ready to play, but he had some back issues as well. That made it extremely difficult for us.”
On coach Doc Rivers‘ future: “I think Doc is coming back. We talk all the time, and I got that impression a few weeks ago. I think we’ll get something done, and we could get something done very shortly on a long-term contract.”
More on the long-term possibility: “I think it’s the wrong assumption about Doc that he would just want to be here with these guys. He’s a coach at heart. He likes being in Boston. We have a great relationship. We work together as an organization, and we like each other. He’s a coach, and he’s a teacher. I think he likes the idea of being a Jerry Sloan-type, being with one team for a long time. I think we could sign him to a long-term contract.”
On the Big Three’s future: “I think there’s a lot of basketball left in them, but Father Time always loses. Their days of carrying a team night in and night out might be over, but their ability to still contribute to a championship team is still there.”
On the collective bargaining agreement: “We need to figure out the rules we’re all playing under. Once we figure that out, we can start coming up with answers.”
On potentially trading the Big Three: “I would have to look into that if a good trade came about.”
On potentially training Rondo: “Probably not. I can never say never, but that’s not our plan right now. Absolutely not.”
On the Kendrick Perkins trade: “I don’t believe that the trade was the reason we are done today. Our offense failed us in the last few games. Our defense was terrific. We were missing shots 10 feet from the pin, and they were making them from the sand trap. I think the injuries to Rajon and even Delonte West were more of a factor. … Read the rest of this entry »
|Ric Bucher on D&C: ‘Athleticism has taken over this league’||05.11.11 at 9:09 am ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Ric Bucher made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics-Heat series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked if the Celtics will claw and scrape and do whatever they can to avoid elimination in Wednesday night’s Game 5, Bucher said that might be the case, but it still likely won’t be enough.
“I would certainly expect that [effort], knowing the character and the temperament of this team. I just don’t know that it’s going to matter,” he said. “We’ve seen one thing in this postseason, it’s that the athletes and athleticism has taken over this league. It’s just a matter of sort of pushing that big boulder downhill; it begins to gain momentum.
“The Miami Heat, whatever confidence they had playing against the Celtics overall, beating them on their home floor, beating them in last-minute execution just has to do wonders for their confidence. And if there was an Achilles’ heel that the Celtics had to take advantage of with the Heat, it was the fact that the Heat seemed to have a fragile psyche. And if you could get them doubting themselves, you could get that boulder rolling in the other direction. I just don’t see that happening at this point.
“Going home, I just feel like the Heat are going to come out hard, they’re going to play fast. I just don’t know that the Celtics at this point have the requisite physical ability to slow down that freight train.”
Added Bucher: “It’s hard for me, when I look at the width and breadth of this series, to make case for why the Celtics are going to get it to a Game 6, much less get it to a Game 7 and make a great comeback.”
Bucher said the lack of production from the Celtics’ bench players is something the team could not afford. “The big disappointment ‘ and maybe it shouldn’t be disappointment, maybe my expectations were too great ‘ Big Baby Davis, Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic, who didn’t even play in the last game, Delonte West ‘ when those guys gave them something, as they did in Game 3, this was a different team,” he said. “Expecting those role players to give them something, to give them transcendent performances on the road just flies against history and tradition. ‘¦ At this point, I don’t see any reason for that to change.”
|Danny Ainge on Big Show: ‘I believe Shaq’s playing’ in Game 3||05.06.11 at 4:29 pm ET|
It’s becoming clearer that Shaquille O’Neal is finally ready to return to the court. Celtics president Danny Ainge was a guest on The Big Show Friday afternoon and he said that yes, he believes O’Neal will be ready to play Saturday when the Celtics resume their series with Miami. “I think Shaq is going to give it a go tomorrow,” Ainge said. “We’ll see. I believe Shaq’s playing tomorrow.”
Asked about expectations for him, Ainge said it was impossible to predict. “I don’t know the answer to that yet,” Ainge said. “It will be determined by how well he plays and how effective he is and how he feels.”
Reminded that there was skepticism that Shaq would play after so many false starts, Ainge said, “I think all those times there was some hope because he was making progress but I see more in him right now than any of those times. I understand. I can’t sit here and say 100 percent either. I’m not skeptical of what I’m saying but there’s no certainty until you see him out there.”
Here are more highlights from a wide-ranging interview:
On what concerns him the most: “My biggest concern is that I have a great deal of respect for our opponents. I think they’re playing very well. The second biggest thing is were not playing at a high enough level. We’re having too many breakdowns. We’re not playing our best basketball. We need to. There’s not a lot of room for error when you’re playing this team.”
On Paul Pierce’s ejection in Game 1: “I still don’t agree with the ejection. I’ve argued my case to the league. They disagreed with me obviously but I don’t agree with the ejection.”
On the play that led to Pierce and Dwyane Wade getting double technicals and an automatic ejection for Pierce: There’s a screen. There was a guy that hit the screen hard and there’s some taunting, both sides sort of chirping at each other I think you can justify the play from an official’s standpoint. When you look at how Dwyane Wade goes through screens throughout the course of the game and you look at that particular play, you see that he did not try to fight through the screen, he was intentionally running through the screen. I think that was much more of flagrant foul than Jermaine O’Neal’s who bumped a cutter going through the lane, which you’re sort of taught to do in practice. The league rescinded that but those were two huge calls.
On what Pierce said to Dwyane Wade: “He said, ‘That’s not going to bother me.’ With a little bit more colorful language. The bottom line is Paul was not taunting. Paul was not starting a confrontation. He knew what Wade was doing. Wade ran right through them and he was basically like you’re going to get me to that way. There’s trash talking that goes on throughout the game. You can make a case that you can call a technical overtime down the court if you’re going to base it on what [Pierce] did.”
On what Ainge told Pierce: “What I told was this, ‘Paul I think it was ridiculous that you were ejected from the game. I did not think that warranted a technical foul. But the first technical in your little nose-rubbing with James Jones, you can’t do that because it takes away any room for error.’ You just never know what’s going to happen. I thought that one was uncalled for and he should have avoided that one. He was flagrantly fouled by James Jones, but so what? Get up and make the free throws, take the ball out of bounds and stay away from that confrontation. I think Paul’s emotions were in control. I think Paul was playing the game the way he always plays the game.”
Ainge added that the officials weren’t the reason the Celtics lost in Miami. “I will just say this: As frustrating as it at times for me, we do have the best officials in any league,” Ainge said. “We have the best of the best. It’s frustrating that they’re not perfect. It’s frustrating that they don’t see it the way I see it all the time. The officials are not the reason that we’re down 0-2.”
On Jeff Green: “I think he has provided us a lot. I’m not down on Jeff Green in any way. I think Jeff is a good player who’s trying to find his way. The other night you saw he was capable.”
On Nenad Krstic: “What happened with Krstic, he got off to a great start and then he went into a little bit of a funk. I thought he was going through a phase where he was just thinking too much. Then he bruised his knee. Then he bruised his knee a second time. I would say right now he’s just back healthy. Right now. He’s been able to play. He’s not been 100 percent.”
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