|Celtics stand pat, but real work already done||03.16.12 at 10:51 am ET|
SACRAMENTO — Someone asked Danny Ainge if the Celtics were sellers or buyers at the deadline, and the answer was basically both, but the question missed the essential element of the position Ainge believes he is in with the franchise.
This has never been about this year. That was evident in December when Ainge loaded up on players with one-year contracts, and it’s been evident for the last several years when he refused to extend commitments beyond the summer of 2012. Ainge wasn’t going to deal his first-round draft picks in an attempt to put a Band-Aid on this year’s squad, and at the same time he was engaged in talks involving some of his core stars, but only if they yielded picks and players. So while he wasn’t looking to buy, he also wasn’t trying to conduct an everything-must-go fire sale.
“I was looking at both opportunities,” Ainge said. “To strengthen our team for the playoff run this year and for building up some chips and grabbing some assets for the future. We actually had a lot of conversations on both sides of that.”
The Celtics did nothing at the deadline, although they were active in talks right up until Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline. They will be active in the search for a big man to replace Chris Wilcox and possibly Jermaine O’Neal, but that will take at least a week. The deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for the postseason is March 23, and Ainge said the team will be patient while that process plays out.
This year’s team stays intact and will be allowed to take one final shot at pulling off some kind of a miracle run. You can call it misplaced optimism if you like, but the players and coaches truly believe they can be dangerous in the playoffs, as long as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and especially Kevin Garnett are healthy in May.
“We have a lot of games and not very many days. So I anticipate us looking really good some nights and looking bad some nights,” Ainge said. “I have a lot of faith in our guys. They know the time and the score and they know when the lights are on. They rise to the occasion at big moments. They have a great deal of pride and experience and know-how. I’m hoping that we can get to the playoffs healthy. And add a little bit of beef between now and the playoffs and we’ll take our chances there.”
This summer Ainge will have cap room and draft picks and a handful of young players along with Pierce and Rondo to work with. No one is ever safe on the Celtics as long as Ainge is in charge, and while that may yield an uncomfortable working environment on occasion, he will never let his team get caught in a mess like the one Orlando is going through with Dwight Howard.
At the same time, he won’t let the Celtics fall down the same path as a team like the Nets, who put all their eggs in Howard’s basket only to see him scuttle their plans by letting emotion get in the way of business.
This is only the first step in Ainge’s rebuilding plan and there are only guesses as to where he goes from here. The real effort begins this summer, but the legwork already has been done.
|Celtics search for a big man||03.15.12 at 11:57 pm ET|
SACRAMENTO — After not making a move at the trade deadline, the Celtics are going forward with the core of their roster intact, but they are by no means a finished product. After learning that Chris Wilcox will need aortic surgery and miss the rest of the season, the search is on for a big man, and possibly two.
The market is limited, but there is some hope that a few players will become available by March 23. That’s the deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for a postseason roster. It’s important to note that players can sign at any point up to the end of the regular season as long as they are not on someone’s roster after the March 23 deadline.
“We do need to add a big man,” team president Danny Ainge said. “We need to find the best big man available and we’ll be a little bit patient in that.”
Here’s a list of some of the big men who are, or may become available.
Chris Kaman — The biggest name by far, Kaman is averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Hornets who have to tried to trade the 7-footer most of the season but found no takers for his $14 million contract. Hornets GM Dell Demps told reporters on Thursday that the team plans to keep Kaman.
“Everything is always a possibility,” Demps said. “I mean there’s no reason to say I’m certain, 100 percent sure. There’s always a possibility. I never want to say never. But our intention is to keep Chris.”
If Kaman is waived, the Celtics will have competition. Yahoo! reported that the Spurs and Heat would also be interested in signing him.
Jermaine O’Neal — This may be a stretch, but his situation remains murky.
“I don’t think he’ll be back, but nothing clear,” Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “It’s not been final but I don’t see him playing.”
Still, Ainge said later that he hasn’t closed the door on O’Neal who has been working out at the team’s facility and he plans to meet with him on Friday. “I don’t know what’s going to come from that meeting,” Ainge said.
It’s an indication of how thin the big man market is that O’Neal could be a lot of team’s Plan B if Kaman isn’t available.
Turiaf is a tough interior presence and a consummate pro, but he played in only four games with the Wizards this season. He also underwent aortic heart surgery in 2005. He’s played without incident since the surgery, but this is a team that has already lost Wilcox and Jeff Green to heart surgery. Still, he’ll be in demand like Kaman and possibly O’Neal.
Chris Johnson — The one-time Celtic is expected to be waived by the Blazers, along with Greg Oden. Johnson appeared in 20 games for Portland this season and played just 93 minutes. He’s 7 feet tall and a shot blocker, and the Celtics are obviously familiar with him after signing him to a 10-day contract last season.
As for Oden, forget it. The former No. 1 overall pick is recovering from his fifth knee surgery and won’t play again this season, if at all.
Leon Powe — The popular former Celtic has been playing in Puerto Rico, but the Celtics have shown little interest in bringing him back since they cut ties with him after the 2009 season.
Earl Barron — Currently playing for the Meralco Bolts in the Philippines, Barron has played for six NBA teams over seven seasons.
Here’s a look at some of the players in the D-League. Among the names are Brian Butch, Keith Benson and NBA veteran Dan Gadzuric.
Other veterans: Jake Voskhul, D.J. Mbenga, Francisco Elson, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Brian Skinner.
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s dreams of Celtics future||03.12.12 at 12:10 pm ET|
We’re three days from the NBA trade deadline, and still no serious sign of a blockbuster deal involving the Celtics. Then again, the same could’ve been said last season, when Danny Ainge shipped Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and the Clippers’ 2012 first-round draft pick.
All that remains from that deal is the top-10 protected No. 1 pick, which currently slots into the low-to-mid 20s. That’s still not a bad haul for a center who is currently averaging 4.4 points (45.1 FG%) and 4.6 rebounds in 26.7 minutes, but considering the negative hype surrounding that trade it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Ainge gets cold feet on dealing any of the Old Three or Rajon Rondo.
Do I believe Ainge would ever let public perception stop him from making a deal that improves the Celtics moving forward? Not really, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it made him think twice about pulling the trigger on a deal that only marginally improves his team.
Over the next three days, teams will likely call about Rondo, which is probably the case in the latest Pau Gasol rumor in the Los Angeles Times after the Lakers beat the Celtics 97-94 (Rondo: 24 points, 10 assists; Gasol: 13 points, 13 rebounds). The same speculation was floated a couple weeks ago by HoopsWorld’s Eric Pincus.
According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, the Celtics and Lakers talked about a trade for Rajon Rondo. The discussions didn’t get anywhere, according to the story, with the Lakers evidently unwilling to include Pau Gasol in any deal. Rondo had 24 points and 10 assists in the Celtics’ 97-94 loss to the Lakers Sunday.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told The Big Show in his March 1 appearance that he was not actively attempting to trade Rondo.
|Trade Rumor: Celtics asked for Tyler Hansbrough, pick for Ray Allen||03.09.12 at 3:19 pm ET|
“Here’s the thing,” Bird said. “When Danny and I talked about trading for Ray, he wanted Tyler Hansbrough and a first-round pick. If that’s the value he’s putting on Ray Allen, he ain’t getting it. That tells me he’s in no hurry to trade him.”
That jives with other talk around the league that Ainge’s price is high for one of his four All-Stars. On The Big Show on Thursday, Ainge said that he wouldn’t deal future assets to fix his bench’s problems now. He’s not desperate to make a trade, in other words.
|Rajon Rondo makes his point and joins Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson in rare air||03.04.12 at 7:41 pm ET|
It’s almost as if Rajon Rondo wanted to make one final grand gesture to Danny Ainge that he’d be making a big mistake by trading him.
Rondo went out Sunday and posted the most impressive triple double in the NBA since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968, scoring 18 points, dishing out 20 assists and hauling down 17 rebounds in Boston’s 115-111 overtime win over the Knicks at TD Garden.
Chamberlain was the last player in the NBA to match all of those numbers when he had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists in a 131-121 Philly win over the Pistons on Feb. 2, 1968. Why is that comparison so significant?
Many NBA historians recall that as the best statistical game in league history, the only double triple-double ever recorded. Rondo was just two points and three rebounds shy of joining Chamberlain as the second ever with 20 in three different categories.
All the while the numbers were piling up, Rondo said he had no idea.
‘No, I didn’t, honestly,” Rondo said. “Just tried to make some great play calling and just worked out that my numbers showed up like they did.’
One thing Rondo has been more than aware of lately are the trade rumors involving his name that don’t show any indication of quieting. If anything, Sunday’s game might just perk up the eyes and ears of a GM or two.
“[Rondo] was more than above average,” Kevin Garnett said afterward. “Trade talks are a really, really big motivator for him.”
Another hall of fame name was thrown around after the game Rondo had. Magic Johnson was the last NBA player with at least 17 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists in a game before Sunday. Johnson had 24 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists on April 18, 1989.
‘I’m just playing,” Rondo said. “The biggest thing is we got the win. You know, [Paul Pierce] made that shot to send us into overtime, and that was big for us. You know, if you get those type of numbers and you lose, it’s kind of irrelevant.’
Of all the great numbers he had, the 47 minutes and 47 seconds of playing time might have been the most impressive of all.
‘I’m tired now. I wasn’t tired during the game. I had no time and no room to get tired.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: When will Celtics develop a scorer?||02.29.12 at 12:17 pm ET|
Whether it’s Gerald Green‘s glorious return to the NBA, the sight of Semih Erden facing them as a starting center or the team’s woeful offensive production, a number of factors led me to this question: When is the last time Celtics president Danny Ainge or coach Doc Rivers has either drafted or developed a scorer?
Clearly, Rajon Rondo is the best player cultivated under the Ainge-Rivers regime, but I don’t think anybody would argue Rondo has markedly improved in the scoring department. His scoring averages per 36 minutes in his rookie season (9.9 points) and last season (10.3) are nearly identical, and we all know about that jump shot.
The best scorer drafted by Ainge has to be Al Jefferson, but even his 36-minute averages didn’t improve much under Rivers, crawling from 16.3 as a rookie to 17.2 in his final Celtics season. Not until he was traded to the Timberwolves did those averages climb into the 20s. Of course Ainge and Rivers deserve credit for molding Big Al into bait to land Kevin Garnett, but the fact remains Jefferson made a leap offensively once he left the Celtics.
The same goes for Tony Allen, Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe and Bill Walker, all of whose 36-minute scoring averages barely budged in either direction on the Celtics, and then saw those numbers rise once they left Boston.
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