|Danny Ainge: Jeff Green ‘deserves to be on the court most minutes’||03.21.13 at 6:05 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Salk & Holley in his weekly Thursday afternoon appearance to face questions about his team’s tough losses to the Hornets and Heat, Jeff Green‘s (lack of) playing time and the NCAA tournament.
C’s coach Doc Rivers, who ripped his team’s performance in New Orleans, only played Green 26 minutes and resorted to another off-balanced Paul Pierce isolation jumper in the 87-86 loss. Even Ainge seemed to have questions about those decisions.
“I think Jeff is starting to prove and has proven to Doc that he deserves to be on the court most minutes of the game,” Ainge said. “Doc needs something off the bench, and I think he’s trying to figure all that out.
“And he will. He’s played Jeff at the 2 and the 3 and the 4 this year, and so I think that last night might’ve been a good opportunity for Jeff to play more at the 2. They had two big guys in there. They were killing us on the glass in the second half. I think in one stretch it was 27-9, and that just shows you lack of effort.”
Ainge stopped himself before including Green’s second-half performance as part of that lack of effort, but he did cite Brandon Bass‘ improved play in defense of Rivers’ decision and eventually blamed the loss on the backcourt.
“I think that last night maybe [we needed] some Jeff at the 2 guard,” said Ainge, who watched Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee combine for eight points in 39 combined minutes, “because our guard play was not good last night.’
While Ainge commended Anthony Davis‘ effort in what he termed “a bad loss” — calling the Hornets rookie “a Spiderman” and “a young, athletic KG” — he also expressed disappointment in his team’s late-game execution.
|Doc Rivers on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett: ‘They’re old as hell’||03.15.13 at 5:38 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers knows the Bobcats have had the number of the last two times they’ve met, including a 26-point blowout on Tuesday night in Charlotte.
So don’t expect the Celtics to look beyond the lowly Bobcats on Saturday night in advance of their showdown with the Heat Monday night at TD Garden.
“No matter what our excuses are, they beat us two games,” Rivers said. “One game they beat us soundly and one game we kinda sputtered down the stretch. And no matter what you say to them, they’ve beat us twice. They are going to have great confidence against us. When you beat a team, they don’t care about the excuses, they know they beat you and that makes them a better team the next time they play you. When they beat you again, that makes them even a better team the next time you play them. So [Saturday] they are going to play great, and we have to expect that and we have to try to beat them playing great.”
The two players expected to lead the Celtics Saturday night in their revenge match are Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who have been the talk of the town this week after both reached scoring milestones on Wednesday and Garnett explained afterward how close the two were growing up.
Why is this story so special?
“That’s only because they’re old as hell,” Rivers answered with hearty laugh. “The only way you can reach those milestones together is you have to hang around a lonnnnng time. It is cool. I was joking but it does seem like every night one of those two does pass some kind of record. I think now we create some sort of new record to pass but it is awesome. They have that picture together, it’s a neat picture when they were 15.”
Meanwhile, Rivers was asked about how Rajon Rondo might fit into Celtics plans down the road and if he’s thought of changing his offense when Rondo is ready to return at the start of next season. Rivers said he’ll let Celtics GM Danny Ainge worry about most of that.
“I don’t think about it much,” Rivers said. “Again, you know how I am, when guys go down, there’s nothing we can do about it. I have given next year zero thought, I’m hoping Danny will do a better job of that than me — that’s his job. But I don’t think about that much at all.”
|Danny Ainge: Wednesday victory over Pacers ‘was a good win’||03.07.13 at 8:10 pm ET|
Making his weekly appearance on ‘The Big Show’ Thursday afternoon, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge discussed a number of topics, including that fact that Wednesday night’s dramatic win over the Pacers in Indiana was one of the best of the season for the Celtics. (To hear the entire interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.)
“Last night was a good win for us — obviously, to hang in there and score the last 11 points of the game …. I don’t think we played particularly well throughout the course of the game, but they really [ground] it out. It look like when we came all the way back and tied it up, and then they went out and hit those three straight 3’s to go up nine, that was not looking promising, but you’ve got to credit Doc. He called a quick time out, got the guys reorganized, went on a couple of runs ourselves in that last fourth quarter stretch and executed perfectly on that last play.”
On the last play–did you know what was coming? “No, I actually thought it was going to be with Avery holding the ball, I thought it was going to be a KG and Paul pindown for Paul to catch and curl and make a play in the free-throw line area. Or, for Paul to catch and then set a quick pick-and-roll — a step-up pick-and-roll with KG … most likely leading to a KG jumpshot at the elbow. That’s what it looked like the formation was set up to be when Avery was holding the ball.”
When is last time time this team set up a play for a last-second shot for someone like Jeff Green? That shows me that they’re trusting and starting to grow with Jeff. “Yeah, I think — by the way that wasn’t a great pass by KG. But it was a great catch. So there was … we had run a play in Utah that we had we sort of botched that turned into a Paul Pierce stepback jumper that we normally see. But that wasn’t what the play was called, and it was poorly executed. There are going to be times where … like the play that was called there was for Jeff. That was sort of the first option on the play. But had it not worked — good defense will sniff that out. What happened was David West, who was guarding Jeff, reached for the ball, tried to pike it away from KG as he ran by, and was completely blindsided by the screen that Paul set. And of course, Paul’s man is not going to come off the body and that allowed the play to happen too. So it was great execution, it was poor defense. We’ll take it.”
On the importance of getting home court and a home seed down the stretch: “I think that it’s secondary to health and rest and freshness. Nothing is more important than fresh bodies. We see what happened with KG when he has a few days off and how he’s responded. It’s not a perfect science; you can’t predict it. The temptation is to continue to grind and push and fight for every win. I personally — I’ll let Doc make these decisions — but between Doc, KG and I, we’ll try to figure it out. We have to trust KG to talk to us, and I think that he is more willing to do that than he ever has in his career. I think he’s wiser and sort of gets it. So I think we need to figure out what’s best for him. And not just for him but for Paul. Paul has been playing with a sore neck — when we went in a really bad stretch after winning six in a row and I saw every day during that stretch just really in pain. And as we started, I don’t think it was a coincidence that Paul started feeling a lot better. So I think those are two guys — and Jason Terry. I think with the addition of Jordan Crawford, Doc doesn’t have to ride him as much, and we can really save him for when he’s big, like he was last night. Last night, he was big at both ends of the court down the stretch. He’s a guy who is experienced and completely unafraid of any moment.”
|Danny Ainge: Big part of the second half involves getting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce healthy||02.28.13 at 5:24 pm ET|
In his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talked about a variety of topics, including why Boston didn’t make more deals at the trade deadline and the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Ainge was asked as to whether he was concerned at all about the fatigue level of Pierce and Garnett, the latter of whom sat out Friday’s game against the Suns.
“Yes, I always am. Paul and KG have been incredibly durable throughout their entire careers,” Ainge said. “They take good care of themselves, but I do think that they need rest. If we have any chance of winning playoff basketball games, we need those guys fresh, healthy. Paul’s neck thing I think comes and goes, but there was a stretch I think when we were in that losing streak, I actually think that might have been one of the biggest factors. Paul was not 100 percent and yet he continued to play. That’s just who Paul is.
“I think Doc is determined to cut those guys’ minutes down now that we have a little bit more depth on the bench and we get some more bodies in here. That’s a big part of the second half of the season — getting them healthy.”
Ainge also talked about the remarkable run of LeBron James, calling him the “best player in our game today, without question. When it’s all said and done, he could be one of the best players of all time.”
“He’s one of those guys, the first time I ever saw him, in the first five minutes, I questioned whether he could be one of the best basketball players who ever lived,’ recalled Ainge. “And he was 17 years old at the time and he had a similar body — he’s probably 10 or 15 pounds heavier now, but he was so gifted, because he not only could shoot, pass and dribble, but he was the smartest guy on the court. The most intense guy on the court. The most unselfish guy on the court.
“I’ve been one of those people who know that LeBron is not perfect, and he’s been under the microscope since he’s been a young man. I think he’s done a pretty good job handling all this stuff and he continues to get better. Now, people are having to have the conversation about him and Michael Jordan. I think it’s still too early, but he’s getting better. And like Michael, now he’s starting to make mid-range jump shots, 3-point shots, and he’s virtually unguardable with one person. You need two and three people to guard him. If he’s making shots, you just have to tip your cap and pray that he misses.”
Here are some more highlights of the Q&A:
Read the rest of this entry »
|Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: If Celtics wanted Kevin Garnett to waive no-trade clause, ‘they would have just traded Paul Pierce out from under him’||02.22.13 at 2:33 pm ET|
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about what the Celtics did at the trade deadline and whether or not they missed an opportunity to trade Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett and get something of value in return.
“I don’t know what opportunity really was there,” Wojnarowski said of potential Pierce and Garnett trades. “You could trade them and you could get something for them, but I think the deal Boston really would have liked to have done was with the Clippers. To get Eric Bledsoe, 22-year-old point guard, and DeAndre Jordan, who’s a 23-year-old center who’s developing. That’s a deal I believe Boston would have went to ownership with and said, ‘We’d like to do this, let’s see if we can get KG to lift his no-trade clause.’
“The Clippers coaching staff wanted to do it, and a lot of executives and coaches among the elite in the Western Conference, and some of the elite in the East, they were terrified of KG going to the Clippers. They thought that made the Clippers the team to beat out there. But ownership was reluctant to this deal, and ‘¦ they never agreed in principle to that package. I think that’s one [Boston] may have pulled the trigger on.”
Reports of another proposed Celtics deal, which would have sent Pierce to Brooklyn for Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and the Nets‘ first-round draft pick, also surfaced. That didn’t happen, and Wojnarowski said he doesn’t think it was urgent for the Celtics to make a deal like that.
“I think that Boston can revisit it in deals around draft time,” he said. “Brooklyn’s draft pick is not going to have a great value. They’re a playoff team, you’re getting a pick that’s not going to be really high, in a pretty bad draft. And you’ve got to try and get one good player back. Humphries and Brooks, you’re not really getting either. Humphries is fine, he has a purpose, but not if you’re trying to get younger and rebuild. I have no problem with the Celtics not doing that Brooklyn deal.”
|Chris Mannix on M&M: ‘More likely than not, the core of this [Celtics] team stays together’||02.20.13 at 1:48 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, one day before the NBA trade deadline, to discuss rumors surrounding the Celtics. Mannix said the Celtics would be wise to do the deal reportedly discussed with the Clippers, but he’s not expecting it to happen.
“Boston was making a lot of those calls about [Kevin] Garnett to the Clippers,” Mannix said. “And the interest in the Clippers, I can tell you, it’s divided out there among the organization. The coaching staff, they want Kevin Garnett, because they want to win now. ‘¦ Whereas the front office, I can tell you this, they’re not all that inclined to give up Eric Bledsoe, who is a potential 10-year starter in this league, and DeAndre Jordan, a sure-fire starter right now, for Kevin Garnett, who could potentially only be giving you a couple more months. Who knows what Kevin Garnett’s future is going to hold? To me, he’s always been on a series of one-year contracts.
“I think at the end of the day, when you throw in the no-trade clause that Kevin has, and you consider the fact that I have not heard a heck of a lot of significant interest surrounding Paul Pierce, I think more likely than not, the core of this team stays together.”
A report Tuesday night had the Clippers pulling out of trade talks. Mannix said he expects Celtics boss Danny Ainge would follow through if the deal is resuscitated.
“I think if the deal is there, he makes it,” Mannix said. “If he can get Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett, you jump at it. I’ve heard some criticisms of this deal from the Boston side; I don’t get it. Has anyone not been watching Eric Bledsoe? As really the fourth guard on this Clippers team — third, I guess, when [Chauncey] Billups is injured — but really, he’s done a lot of things.”
Added Mannix: “You’re dealing with potential right now, because he hasn’t gotten the consistent minutes at the point guard spot because Chris Paul has been there for a couple of years now. But Eric Bledsoe is a guy that could potentially take over as a starting point guard for a team right away, and be an effective guy, be a guy that can score 15 points per game and give you seven, eight assists. Look at the way he’s played this year: He’s up to about 10 points per game. But more importantly, his field goal percentage is in the mid-40s right now, his 3-point percentage is in the low 30s. This is a guy that’s been improving every single year. So I think he’s a guy you would want to get.
“Same thing with DeAndre Jordan, who admittedly is a little bit overpaid, because Golden State threw that massive contract at him last year. But he’s someone that can be a starting center on your team for the next decade.
“And when you make a deal like that, all of a sudden there can be a domino effect. Now you can think about dealing Rajon Rondo next year, when he becomes healthy, because you have Eric Bledsoe already at the starter’s spot. You can trade Rondo for some starting quality pieces or some draft picks, and all of a sudden an old, aging team could suddenly be a fast, rebuilding team on the fly. I think that’s the way it would turn out.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We need players’||02.15.13 at 10:24 am ET|
“Danny [Ainge] and I, we thought about it and we all have been thinking about it since all the injuries,” Rivers said. “With the last one with Barbosa, now we can’t look at one position anymore. That’s what we were looking at — looking at size first, then a guard. Now we’re looking at players. We need players. We need to pick up a couple of players as soon as we can get them. That’s what basically we’re doing.
“But we don’t want to do anything so quick that somebody else comes available and then we don’t have room because we’re at the cap threshold. We have to be very careful in what we do.”
Asked what kind of player would help most right away, Rivers said: “I would say a ball-handling guard. It’s no longer a point guard, it’s just a guard. If I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard that can play multiple positions and that can shoot, that has some toughness.
“And then you need a big. You’re not going to find a center, so a 4. Obviously a 5 would be great, but a 4 that can stretch the floor. Or a 4 that can rebound, just a great rebounding 4 that has skills.
“That’s the list. There’s so many places to look. The China league ends in a week. So now some of the American players that are playing over there will begin coming back over to our league. The D-League. And then obviously through a trade. We don’t have a lot of assets to trade, so we have to be very careful there.”
Added Rivers: “We’re just looking for the best available player now. Obviously it would be great to have a shooter, one more shooter for us. Then we need a big that can rebound and defend.”
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