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Delonte West on fight: ‘We’re ready to move past that’ 10.31.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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Delonte West

Delonte West

WALTHAM — It’s been 48 hours since reports about the fight between Delonte West and Von Wafer first became public and the only person who had not been heard from on the incident was West. He spoke after the Celtics ran through practice Sunday and tried to downplay it.

“It’s not that serious,” he said. “We’ve moved past that. We’re competitive guys. I’m competitive, he’s competitive. As long as it’s for the betterment of the team, there’s nothing wrong with healthy competition and pushing each other to get better. Things went a little too far at the same time we’re ready to move past that. We’re professionals and we’re on to something different.”

West did say that the initial report that appeared on Hoops World was inaccurate. The story indicated that the Celtics were ready to cut West, but Danny Ainge denied that.

“I read the reports and a lot of things were taken out of context,” West said. “Facts were made up that were not true how things played out. Guys get into scuffles or whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day we’re like brothers in here. At the end of the day we’re trying to win. We’re competitive. We’ve got fiery guys in here. You got to move on and get to the next thing.”

West was not at TD Garden Friday night. Per NBA rules, suspended players have to be out of the building two hours before a game starts. West is three games into a 10-game suspension after pleading guilty to weapons charges stemming from a traffic stop last summer. He said the he’s been working out at the team’s practice facility during games and then watching them there.

“That’s a penalty you have to pay,” West said. “I’m not arguing with it. I’m still on a team and able to play basketball. It could be a lot worse. There’s no negatives here. I’m positive and I can’t wait to get out there and contribute.”

He also said that he appreciated the support of the Celtics organization. “To be on a team such as the Celtics and they have high hopes for me and asked me to contribute and help them win a championship, that’s a very high compliment, and I take it to heart,” West said. “I don’t want to let this team down.”

West said that his back, which kept him out of several preseason games, felt “100 percent.”

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Von Wafer denies incident, Doc Rivers confirms 10.29.10 at 7:30 pm ET
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[Click here to listen to Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledge the fight between Wafer and West.]

Von Wafer

Von Wafe

Before the Celtics game with the Knicks Friday, Von Wafer tried to downplay the incident that occurred between him and Delonte West earlier in the day.

“I don’t know what’s going on but you’ve got to talk to Doc [Rivers] and Danny [Ainge] about that,” Wafer said before the Celtics game with the Knicks. “What happened?” Pressed further, Wafer continued to deny that an altercation took place. “I don’t know nothing about it,” he said. “First time hearing about it.”

Both Ainge and now Rivers have confirmed that there was a fight between West and Wafer after practice Friday, the second incident between the two in the last week.

“There was a fight and that’s all you need to know,” Rivers said. “I’m going to leave it alone, but obviously I’m not real thrilled with it. We’ll handle it.” Rivers went on to say that it shouldn’t have been made public. “It should stay inside the locker room,” he said. “It didn’t and that’s OK, but we’re just going to leave it alone.”

Asked if it could have an affect on the Celtics, Rivers said, “It could. I doubt it. I hope not. You never know. I hope it does not.”

Wafer also denied posting anything to his Twitter account Friday afternoon. “I didn’t Tweet anything today,” Wafer said. “I didn’t Tweet one word today.” A post which was later deleted from Wafer’s account read: “Today was a test!…I am a professional and will continue to conduct myself as one…God has a plan for me.”

West was not in the Celtics locker room before the game. Other Celtics refused to answer questions about the incident.

“I was out of the locker room at the time,” Ray Allen said. “I just walked in and heard about it so I don’t really know anything about it. Everybody’s in here getting ready to play the game.”

“From my interpretation being here it was business as usual,” Allen continued. “We’re around each other too long. It’s 82 games and playoffs. I told you guys earlier in the year we argue to no end. A lot of times we have to agree to disagree. We are brothers. Kevin [Garnett] and I have known each other a long time. We argue with the best of them. We always have a difference of opinion. It is what it is. That’s just the nature of competition.”

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The Delonte West Timeline at 4:34 pm ET
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Cleveland Cavaliers basketball guard Delonte West talks to reporters outside Prince George's County, Md. , Circuit Court, Thursday, July 15, 2010, after pleading guilty to weapons and traffic charges.

Delonte West reportedly threw a punch at Von Wafer during practice this afternoon. (AP)

Following HoopsWorld’s report that Delonte West and Von Wafer exchanged blows during a practice before tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game against the New York Knicks at the TD Garden, we put together a simple timeline of an offseason that explains a little why the Celtics may be considering dumping West even before he fulfills the 10-game suspension levied upon him this summer …

  • July 15: On trial for six weapons charges from a 2009 traffic stop in Maryland, West pleaded guilty to carrying an eight-inch bowie knife and transporting a handgun on his motorcycle. He was sentenced to eight months of home detention, two months of probation and 40 hours of community service. As a result, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended West for the first 10 games of the 2010-11 season.

The Washington Post reported: “Three guns were found — a 9mm Beretta in West’s waistband, a Ruger .357 Magnum strapped to his leg, and a 12-gauge shotgun in a guitar case slung over his back, authorities said. West also had additional shotgun shells in a backpack, investigators said.”

  • July 26: In the wake of “The Decision,” the Cleveland Cavaliers traded West — along with Sebastian Telfair — for Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins.
  • August 3: In order to save $4.1 million in salary, the T-Wolves released West.
  • September 1: The Celtics signed West to a non-guaranteed deal for the veteran minimum.
  • September 27: Officially donning a Celtics uniform again on Media Day, West denied rumors that sufraced during the 2010 NBA Playoffs that he and LeBron James‘ mother, Gloria, had engaged in a relationship.

“Not at all,” he told reporters. “I come from an era where you don’t say nothing bad about someone’s parent, so not at all.”

  • October 11: In an open diary to the public on ESPN.com, West praised the camaraderie of this veteran Celtics team. He also commented on his past:

“People make mistakes but that’s what life is,” West wrote. “You’ve got to learn from them and keep going. This team is here to win. The unselfishness stands out. Everyone is just submerging themselves within the team. It’s all about team here. That’s the type of player I am anyway, I’m always about the team. I put the team before my individual goals my whole career. It’s good to be on a team like this.”

  • October 13: On a preseason road trip, the Celtics sent West back to Boston from New York to undergo testing for the back spasms that had been ailing him throughout training camp.
  • October 22: Still healing from his lower back injury, West returned to practice in a limited fashion.
  • October 24: In a game of 2-on-2 (West and Semih Erden vs. Wafer and Luke Harangody), West and Wafer exchanged words after West drove hard to the basket and scored consecutive baskets against Wafer — with West telling Wafer to “do something about it.”
  • October 26: Shaquille O’Neal told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that he encouraged Celtics vice president Danny Ainge to sign West, because the two had respect for each other as teammates in Cleveland.

“I know he won’t get out of line,” O’Neal told Windhorst. “There’s five or six guys that he truly respects here. Last year I don’t think he respected anybody but me on that team. So I was able to talk to him.”

“He got out of control a lot of times and usually when people get out of control they shut their buttons off to somebody they respect,” O’Neal added. “I know he respected me because I can get out of control too. I had to yoke (sic) him up once or twice, tell him to let it go bro.”

  • October 26: In an interview with WEEI’s Big Show, Ainge admitted that the team considered the risks of re-signing West.

“I think everybody is aware that Delonte has had challenges off the court,” Ainge told The Big Show. We are trying to give him the support that he needs. The players that were with him before, our coach that was with him before and myself and ownership I think we were aware of that risk and I think we were comfortable with that risk.”

  • October 29: Following a physical game of 3-on-3 in practice, Wafer returned to the locker room as West taunted him with obscenities, according to HoopsWorld. West allegedly threw a punch at Wafer in the locker room, leading to a scuffle. Now, Ainge is reportedly considering terminating West’s deal.
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Danny Ainge on the Big Show: C’s hope Shaq is ‘not a statue’ on court 10.26.10 at 5:50 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

Danny Ainge (AP)

Celtics general manger Danny Ainge joined the Big Show Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Celtics season opener and his thoughts about the roster heading into the season.

Ainge said that his biggest concern about the roster is the risk of injury at the center position and that he expects the team to rely more on their bench depth. He also emphasized how important keeping Doc Rivers on the bench was.

“I can’t say how excited I am to have Doc back,” Ainge said. “I’m not sure our roster but our team there would be a lot of differences. I think the continuity is huge.”

Ainge also talked about the  fact that the model the Miami Heat used to build their team this offseason would continue to be a possibility.

“The door is open just with free agency and I don’t know what’s going to happen as we move forward in collective bargaining,” Ainge said. “I think the door is open by us bringing in the Big Three and Miami doing a Big Three.”

Below are the highlights from the interview. To listen to the full audio visit the Big Show on demand audio page.

On his fears about this roster:

I think that I’m a little concerned with the health of our guys. But I feel I probably will be all year. But I’m excited about our team.

Is the idea to use deeper bench to get through the regular season?

Yeah, I think that is our objective to play more people. I’m not as concerned about Ray [Allen], Paul [Pierce] and KG [Kevin Garnett] and [Rajon] Rondo, the guys who are coming back. But our center position just because of [Kendrick] Perk [Perkins], Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal] and his age, and Jermaine [O’Neal] has got a lot of mileage there. That’s probably my biggest concern with the health.

On Marquis Daniels this year:

Marquis played, as you guys remember last year, played really well for us early on in the year. Then he got hurt and never really got in a rhythm. Although, in February he shot like 70% from the field. He had two or three road games out west that were spectacular. When we had Michael Finley come back and Nate Robinson come back and Tony [Allen] was coming back off an injury, there was just a logjam there. And Tony actually won that job back with his great defense. But Marquis has had a good training camp. When he’s gotten an opportunity to play and get in a rhythm off the bench and starting one of the preseason games, I think that he played really well and he’s had a good week of practice.

Ever seen anything like this opening night before?

I never have. Opening day is always a special day. Most places will sell out opening night. I think with some of the excitement that we have with our own team but obviously with Miami and maybe the most significant offseason in the history of any team. I get a kick out of those people who want to criticize Miami for doing something wrong. I think they had a pretty spectacular offseason. You can land some of the guys that they did in the free agent market, not just LeBron [James] and [Chris] Bosh who are very special players but some of the other players, they got some good guys too.

What are you expecting out of Shaquille O’Neal this year?

I hope he’s not a statue tonight. I hope he actually gets off the bench and moves a little bit and talks on defense. Shaq has been great so far, he’s been good in practice, he makes it out on the court almost every day and he’s fun in the locker room. So far he’s been good.

What was behind the decision to bring Delonte West back?

Well you know first of all I think Delonte was a favorite of a lot of people in Boston. He was a fun guy to watch, a lot of people embraced Delonte when he was here as a player. I think a lot of people, including our players, respect Delonte. Not only the guys that played with Delonte like Paul and Rajon and Perk but [they guys who] have been playing against him the last few years as an opponent, they have a great respect for him on the court. So yah I think everybody is aware that Delonte has had challenges off the court. We are trying to give him the support that he needs. The players that were with him before, our coach that was with him before and myself and ownership I think we were aware of that risk and I think we were comfortable with that risk.

On familiarity with West factoring into decision to bring him back:

Not only familiar but actually like him, find him enjoyable, at the same time troubled. What’s happened to Delonte over the past couple years is not shocking to any of us. We know that he has challenges of the court but we love what he brings to the court.

What would have been the difference in the roster if Doc Rivers had left?

It would be different. I’m not so sure if the face of our team would be different, I mean the roster. Paul really wanted to come back, he has his reasons to want to come back and Ray has his reasons to want to come back. So I’m not so sure if those things would have been different. But obviously our team would be different, the personality of the team would be different, the leadership of the team would be different. Doc is a great coach to lead these guys. I can’t say how excited I am to have Doc back. I’m not sure our roster but our team there would be a lot of differences. I think the continuity is huge.

On shelf life of this Celtics’ roster:

I think that none of us have the answer to that. I think that these guys based on how they played last year, they put together a seven to eight game streak in the Orlando [and] Cleveland series last year that was as good of seven or eight games stretch that any Celtic team has ever played, including the ‘08 team, that was two years younger and went on to win a championship. Last year’s team in the middle of that stretch was better than that 2008 team. I think that this team kind of earned the right to try it again.

How important is this game to you?

I think it’s important in that it gives you a real test of where you are, you will be able to tell that. I think that you both teams will show signs of greatness and teams will show signs of it being the first game, who makes the fewest mistakes. This is a team that you don’t want to make mistakes on because LeBron and Dwyane Wade are arguably two of the greatest open court players I’ve ever seen. Turnovers turn into automatic baskets in the other direction, so we have to take care of the ball.

What does this game really mean?

It is good theater. It is a real test. These are two of the top teams, not a lot of people talk about Orlando, Orlando is legit. Orlando is a really good basketball team. So they [Orlando] belong in the same conversation in my opinion. I guess they are getting away from getting all the hype on opening night. I think Miami and Boston are sure aware of Orlando as well.

On whether there is a different view on this season after last year’s results:

I don’t think so. Going into last season before the season started, our motto was win playoff games. With KG’s health starting the year last year and things that happened to Paul during the course of last season, we weren’t right. I do take a little offense to this turning on and turning off thing, I don’t think it works, I don’t think it worked last year. What people fail to realize is that we had number one or number two in the league in blowing fourth quarter, double-figure leads last year. To get a double-figure lead in L.A. against the Lakers at home, against Orlando, you got to show up to play, your just not finishing games for whatever reason. I don’t think that we had the resolve last year but we saw what the team is capable of in the playoffs. I hope this year we don’t have the health issues, or as many and I think we’ll be a better team because we’re deeper.

On whether other teams and players will emulate what Miami did in franchise:

The door is open just with free agency and I don’t know what’s going to happen as we move forward in collective bargaining. I think the door is open by us bringing in the Big Three and Miami doing a big three. New York for three years we heard about how they were creating space and nobody really talked about Miami till last year and Chicago. Teams can create space and opportunities fairly quickly, by trading away players and getting rid of assets to try to free up cap space. But there was only one Miami this year that came away with what everyone was seeking, it couldn’t be New Jersey, New York and Chicago.

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Sunday is no day of rest for Celtics 10.24.10 at 4:51 pm ET
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WALTHAM — You could tell immediately after practice on Sunday that this was no ordinary weekend practice. It’s not often the Celtics practice both days on the weekend but Doc Rivers is giving his team every chance to get prepared for the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

“We didn’t do much today,” Rivers said. “I really went back and forth with giving them the day off or getting them to run through some stuff. A lot of skeleton today and very little contact and going over our defensive schemes.”

Then, on their own, new players like Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden worked on the offensive sets. The intensity was certainly there.

Tempers flared between Delonte West and Wafer during a post-practice drill, the Celtics continued preparations for the Miami Heat on Sunday at their practice facility.

Wafer, who won the last 15th and final roster spot after the final preseason game last Wednesday, played with Harangody against West and Erden in a 2-on-2 drill as extra time is being spent at the end of practice for new players trying to learn the Celtics offensive sets before they open the season Tuesday night at home. Wafer and West exchanged words after West drove to the basket and beat Wafer for a couple of buckets.

“Listen it’s game one, even if it wasn’t Miami, everybody is going to be excited,” Rivers said. “This is a special situation. Let’s just be honest. Everybody is excited about it. Our guys try to downplay it until you walk through the locker room and hear them talking about it. The film is on all day, watching Miami. Let’s just go out and have fun and see what we have the next night. We’d like to win them both.

The Celtics play in Cleveland on Wednesday, the night after their season opener against the Heat at TD Garden.

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Fast Break: Celtics tame Raptors 10.10.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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Led by Nate Robinson‘s 13 points and the rest of the bench (again), the Celtics held off the Raptors, 91-87, to improve to 3-0 this preseason. Delonte West and Marquis Daniels also contributed 11 points apiece off the bench.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

1. Gutsy second-unit minutes: Playing the majority of minutes in the second half of a close game, the Celtics bench responded each time the Raptors starters tried to make a run. A monster dunk by Stephane Lasme, a corner 3-pointer from Daniels and a nifty double-clutch layup over a defender by Robinson all proved key moments down the stretch. If you’re Doc Rivers, you love knowing the bench guys can contribute important minutes if necessary.

2. Quick transition: The Celtics hauled down 36 defensive rebounds — as Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden each grabbed at least five — and did a good job of looking for Rajon Rondo, West or Robinson running the floor. Some nice outlet passes (by Shaquille O’Neal in particular) led to a number of easy baskets offensively. The C’s did a nice job of passing all the way around, amassing 23 assists as a group (led by Rondo’s 7).

3. Setting the defensive tone early: In two of the Celtics three preseason games, they’ve held opponents to fewer than 20 points in the first quarter and 40 points in the half — building an early lead and dictating the tone from the tip. I’m sure Doc enjoyed Jermaine O’Neal fitting quickly in the team’s defensive mindset, blocking three shots in his first six minutes in a Celtics uniform.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

2. Shaq’s foul trouble: In just 16:37 on the floor, Shaq picked up five fouls. While he has whistled for one of them for standing still as Jarrett Jack charged into him (kinda like a fly smacking into a windshield), that still spells trouble. With Kendrick Perkins sidelined, the C’s can’t afford to have one of the O’Neals consistently in foul trouble.

3. Too many turnovers: After committing 20 and 18 turnovers, respectively, against the 76ers and Nets in their first two preseason games, the Celtics again got careless with the ball, committing 22 turnovers. Rondo led the way with five giveaways, but the bigger crime was the nine turnovers from post players (Semih Erden 4, KG 3, J. O’Neal 2).

1. Guard the 3-pointer: The Raptors knocked down 5-of-11 3-pointers on the night, led by Leandro Barbosa, who knocked down a pair on fairly open looks as the Raptors took a brief second-half lead. While it may not have hurt them against the Raptors, giving open looks to teams like the Magic is only gonna hurt their chances. Guys rotating defensively need to push that extra mile to get out to the wings on those looks.

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Camp report: Fighting through the injuries 10.04.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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Jermaine O'Neal has been limited by a hamstring injury. (AP Image)

Jermaine O'Neal has been limited by a hamstring injury. (AP Image)

As always with the Celtics, injuries and their effects will be a constant theme this season. It’s fitting then that only a week into camp, the team is already dealing with a couple of minor ailments.

Jermaine O’Neal injured his left hamstring at the end of Friday’s practice and will likely be held out for the rest of the week. Delonte West left practice Monday after suffering back spasms. Doc Rivers is a little more optimistic on West, saying that West could be day to day. One thing is certain: the Celtics are playing it safe.

“We cannot take a chance with that,” Rivers said.

The injuries, however minor, do allow for Rivers to begin tinkering with lineups. When practice opened to the media, Shaquille O’Neal was with the first team and Von Wafer and Semih Erden were working with the second unit.

“When you look at Shaq and Jermaine and think that they’re going to play 82 games healthy, that would be nice, but we have to be ready for them to miss a couple of games,” Rivers said. “That’s why like Luke [Harangody] and Semih are so important. They’re going to have to play.”

Jermaine O’Neal’s hamstring injury, which he does not believe is serious, comes at a difficult time because he was just getting comfortable with the new system.

“I’m not really concerned about it,” O’Neal said. “It’s the timing, being here with the guys getting that chemistry. I was just starting to get comfortable with the philosophies, what Doc wanted. That’s the most frustrating part about it. But I don’t have any doubt in my mind that I’ll be back fairly soon. There’s no substitution for it. You can study and look all you want. I felt like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I was really starting to get comfortable and everything was starting to slow down.”

Rivers termed O’Neal’s play “up and down,” through the first part of camp, which is understandable since he’s just beginning to process all the changes. “When you’re playing with a new team, you’re not playing, you’re thinking,” Rivers said. “But other than that I love what he was doing. He’s starting to make shots from the outside.”

The Celtics open their exhibition schedule Wednesday in Manchester, New Hampshire against the Sixers. O’Neal is almost certainly out for that game, while West is day to day.

Read the rest of this entry »

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