|Celtics might be in big trouble if their leader can’t step up||12.03.14 at 12:38 pm ET|
Last year, in the first season of the Celtics‘ post-Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett rebuild, we expected them to stumble to one of the league’s worst records. They did just that, ending up with a record of 25-57. No big deal. We all saw it coming and knew the results would be tough. But 15 games into last season the C’s held a record of 5-10 — all games in which Rajon Rondo did not play. That’s not bad.
This year was expected to be different. Rondo would be beginning the season with the team, Danny Ainge used the No. 6 pick in the draft on the promising Marcus Smart, and the rest of the youngsters had another year of experience under their belts. That young core included Brad Stevens, who arguably had as much learning to do as any player on his roster in his first go-round as an NBA head coach.
Despite all of the positive signs heading into the season, it has not been any different. In fact, it has been worse. The Celtics have a record of 4-11 after 15 games — that’s bad. Their loss to the Hawks on Tuesday night was the fifth time this season that the C’s have blown a lead of 15 or more points and lost the game. Growing an enormous first-half lead and then losing the game has become routine for these Celtics, especially on their home floor.
In ways it’s depressing that after opening up a 23-point lead in Atlanta the expectation was that they would find a way to lose, but those who saw it coming were right. The reason is their fourth-quarter execution, as they rank last in the league in fourth-quarter scoring. Stevens knows that the C’s will continue to produce disappointing results until his team does something about it.
“The game honors the more physical team,” Stevens said following the loss. “It does night in and night out. We’ve just got to improve in that area.”
He later concluded: “I’m not crazy enough to think that if [the physicality] doesn’t change, we’ll be sitting up here a lot like this.”
The fourth-quarter numbers have been well documented at this point, but it seems laughable that the Celtics haven’t even gotten lucky and been able to close out any of these games. The main problem in the fourth quarter has been the apparent disconnect between Rondo and his teammates during crunch time.
|Rajon Rondo didn’t want to miss last Saturday’s game vs. Bulls||11.11.14 at 3:40 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics held practice at their training facility in Waltham on Tuesday as they prepare for a three-game homestand, beginning Wednesday night against the Thunder.
The most noteworthy news from practice was the fact that Rajon Rondo practiced in full after missing last Saturday’s game in Chicago to have screws removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Although minor, this certainly was not a procedure that was planned far in advance — nor did Rondo seem happy about missing the game.
“Danny [Ainge] made a decision at halftime [of Friday’s victory over the Pacers], I had no idea,” said Rondo when asked when it was made official he wouldn’t be joining the team on its flight to Chicago Friday night.
After Friday’s game was when Rondo was notified he would be staying back in Boston to get the screws removed. Even without Rondo Saturday night, the Celtics defeated the Bulls, 106-101.
“[I] came in very pissed off, but, you know, the team got the win. … I just wanted to go travel with my team and play against Chicago,” Rondo said.
Rondo added he thought he would have had the surgery on Sunday — an off day.
“Well, I thought we would have the day off Sunday anyway, and I thought I could do it Sunday, but they [Ainge and team doctors] make the decisions,” Rondo said.
|Danny Ainge’s quest to hang another banner in Boston||09.23.14 at 6:36 pm ET|
“You left off the Celtics,” another media member countered.
“I did. Yes, I did. Good observation,” said Ainge, pausing, and then adding, “but I do believe the extraordinary is possible.”
Ladies and gentleman, the 2014-15 Boston Celtics, where the extraordinary is possible, but the reality is the roster looks an awful lot like the edition that won 25 games this past season.
“There were things that we wanted to do that we weren’t able to do,” said Ainge. “There were some things that were tempting that we didn’t do, that I’m very glad we didn’t do. I like that we were able to get some things accomplished, although we weren’t able to get a big, big deal accomplished that we wanted to. But I’m excited about our two young guys that we drafted, I’m very happy that we have Avery [Bradley] coming back and I really like our young core.”
It’s no secret the Celtics wanted Kevin Love, but all reports indicated their interest never amounted to much. Now, it seems, there was another trade ownership considered “a major deal” this summer that Ainge dismissed.
|Danny Ainge: We’d love to keep Rajon Rondo in Boston||09.22.14 at 2:17 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge continued to straddle the fence on The Rajon Rondo Question — to trade or not to trade his four-time NBA All-Star point guard — during a Q&A session with former WCVB-TV sportscaster Mike Dowling at Worcester’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The truthful answer is I really don’t know,” Ainge told the congregation on Sunday, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “I have no intention. I’m not trying to trade Rondo, but because he’s a free agent this summer, he assured me that he wants to stay in Boston. We’d love to keep him in Boston.”
On the other side of the fence, “The possibility of a trade is not out of the question,” Ainge added. “Nobody is untradeable, but I don’t see that happening.”
According to the T&G’s Bill Doyle, Ainge told the several hundred gathered that the Celtics approached Rondo’s agent about a contract extension to no avail each of the past two summers. Of course, Rondo’s value the last two offseasons isn’t close to what he could command as an unrestricted free agent next year should he submit another All-Star caliber season. In the meantime, Ainge will keep on straddling that fence.
|Celtics president Danny Ainge uses first tweet to accept ice bucket challenge||08.20.14 at 9:34 pm ET|
‘ Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) August 21, 2014
Using his first tweet on a Twitter account that had fewer than 150 followers, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge accepted an ice bucket challenge with the help of his grandchildren, and then asked the same of Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, former C’s teammate Kevin McHale and “all 80,000 missionaries serving in the Mormon mission.” Now go follow @danielrainge (h/t @C_Ball2).
|Where 2014-15 Celtics roster stands||07.16.14 at 10:52 am ET|
As the clock struck midnight, Phil Pressey joined a list of 14 Celtics under guaranteed contract, leaving only one roster spot for summer league standouts Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, Colton Iverson and Mike Moser.
Obviously, Danny Ainge could have a trade or 10 coming down the pike, but the Celtics president of basketball operations currently has more than enough players available to fill out another hodgepodge of a roster in 2014-15.
Barring another deal, here’s the current salary structure for the coming season.
Rajon Rondo: $12.9 million
Gerald Wallace: $10.1M
Jeff Green: $9.2M
Marcus Thornton: $8.6M
Avery Bradley: $7.2M
Brandon Bass: $6.9M
Keith Bogans: $5.3M (non-guaranteed)
Joel Anthony: $3.8M
Marcus Smart: $3.2M
Vitor Faverani: $2.1M
Kelly Olynyk: $2.1M
Tyler Zeller: $1.7M
James Young: $1.7M
Jared Sullinger: $1.4M
Chris Johnson: $0.9M (non-guaranteed)
Chris Babb: $0.8M (non-guaranteed)
Phil Pressey: $0.8M
TOTAL: $78.7M ($71.7M guaranteed)
While Ainge will do his darnedest to pair Kevin Love or another franchise-altering player with Rondo before conversely considering deals for his All-Star point guard, it becomes more likely with each passing week that the Celtics will enter the season with 15 of these 17 players under contract.
Even without the trio of Bogans, Johnson and Babb, the Celtics are $8.6 million over the salary cap and $5.1 million under the luxury tax level. (Ainge would love to deal Bogans’ attractive $5.3 million non-guaranteed contract before cutting ties with the veteran waste of cap space.) Unless the C’s somehow become playoff contenders, they’re not paying that tax, leaving only the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum contracts to add free agents.
Unless Ainge can work his magic on a sign-and-trade for Greg Monroe, the Celtics will whiff on the NBA’s impressive 2014 free agent class. That’s strike two after the lottery pick came up sixth in the equally remarkable 2014 draft class, by the way. The trade market is all that’s left before the C’s strike out looking this summer.
|Report: Phil Pressey contract guaranteed for 2014-15||07.15.14 at 10:43 pm ET|
The Celtics have seen enough to believe little Phil Pressey can be a big part of their immediate future.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Pressey’s contract will be guaranteed next season after passing the midnight Tuesday deadline.
Barring late trade offer that forces Celts to use Pressey – and nothing’s in the works – his contract for next yr will be guaranteed.
‘ Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) July 15, 2014
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge last year signed the 5-foot-11 Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb to separate four-year non-guaranteed contracts. Under terms of the contracts, Pressey, Johnson and Babb will be paid under a million dollars annually through 2016-17. Pressey made approximately $490,000 last season, the rookie minimum.
After going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, Pressey signed with the Celtics to play in the 2013 Orlando Summer League. He was no stranger to the Celtics. Pressey’s AAU team had practiced at the team facility in Waltham where the Celtics first had eyes on him. His performance in the Summer League led to Pressey signing a deal on July 22, 2013.
Pressey became valuable as the Celtics began the season without four-time All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who was still rehabbing his ACL, torn in Jan. 2013. Pressey made his regular season debut in the 2013-14 Celtics season opener Oct. 30 at the Air Canada Centre against the Toronto. He did not play in the next three games, but after the Celtics got off to an 0-4 start, head coach Brad Stevens shuffled the lineup.
On Nov. 6, at home against the Utah Jazz, Pressey recorded the first three assists, first steal and first field goal of his career. On Jan. 22, with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless all sitting out and Pressey making his second career start, Pressey scored a career-high 20 points against Washington before fouling out.
He posted a double-double on April 5 against the Detroit Pistons with 12 points and a career-high 11 assists. On April 11, he had another career high with 13 assists as part of a 10-point double double against the Charlotte Bobcats. He matched the 13 assists the following night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished the season averaging 2.8 points and 3.2 assists in 15.1 minutes in 75 games for the Celtics.
This month, Pressey traveled with the Celtics to Orlando for the 2014 NBA Summer League, where he averaged 10.6 points, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game in five games.
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