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The NBA’s big problem, according to Jeremy Lin 01.14.14 at 12:38 pm ET
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As if a game involving a team riding an eight-game losing streak and trailing by 20 points couldn’t have gotten any uglier, the Celtics began fouling Dwight Howard, over and over, midway through the fourth quarter.

Once Rockets coach Kevin McHale inserted his center into the final frame against his former team, the Celtics hacked a Howard seven times in 3:27, resulting in 14 mostly terrible free throw attempts for the viewing pleasure of the fans who remained until the bitter end. It wasn’t pretty, and that’s a problem for the NBA, because it worked.

“It freezes everybody,” Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin explained after his team’s 104-92 victory at the Garden. “We just don’€™t get rhythm. We don’€™t play offense for a while. We’€™re just watching. We get cold, and then there’€™s no flow. At that point, their goal is to freeze us, so they are accomplishing that.”

It doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to figure this out. McHale and Celtics coach Brad Stevens agreed it works, too.

As Howard missed 8-of-14 from the line, the C’s slashed a 16-point deficit to seven and could’ve sliced it further had they not turned the ball over three times down the stretch. These are the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics, after all. Then, the two-minute mark hit, the C’s could no longer foul Howard off the ball and had to play real defense, which promptly resulted in a pair of Houston layups that mercifully brought their ninth straight loss to an end.

“I would probably support a change in the rule that would call it intentional or call it like it would be called int he last two minutes,” admitted Stevens. “But because it’s a rule and usually if a guy’s making one out of two, it makes you think twice. To his credit, he made one almost every time up to the foul line. But we were scoring, and so we were getting a plus-one in about 10 or 15 seconds off the clock for the better part of three or four possessions. And then we went dry, and that’s when the two-minute mark hit anyways and we really couldn’t do it anymore.”

To paraphrase: The Celtics, like most teams, Hack-a-Howard because they can, even if they don’t like it. And why should they? It’s ugly and cheap, like an inflatable doll, and nobody wants to see that. Especially fans.

So, what should the NBA do about it? Take a cue perhaps from Shaquille O’Neal himself, who once said of the Hack-a-Shaq technique, “The only thing I call cowardly is when you’re up by 10 and do it. That’s a coward move.” Adam Silver could make it his first order of business upon taking over for David Stern as commissioner: Off-the-ball whistles become intentional when a team is leading by 10 points. That way ugly basketball can’t get any uglier.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin
Kelly Olynyk posts a double-double, but Celtics fall to Rockets in summer league 07.10.13 at 5:59 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 19 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in 28 minutes, but the Celtics had their two-game win streak snapped in an 85-78 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday afternoon in NBA Summer League play in Orlando. Olynyk did commit five turnovers and seven personal fouls in the loss. Summer league rules allow players to commit an unlimited number of fouls.

The Rockets, who recently signed free agent center Dwight Howard, jumped out to a quick start, leading 24-17 after one quarter.

The Celtics responded by outscoring the Rockets 23-19 in the second period and cut Houston’s lead to 43-40 at the half. But the Celtics offense went cold again in the third as Boston scored just 16 points and trailed 67-56 entering the final quarter.

Trailing 81-73 with 1:38 left in the game, the Celtics made one final push, cutting the lead to three, 81-78, on a Lawrence Hill 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds remaining. But those would be the final points of the day for the Celtics, who finished the scheduled portion of summer league at 2-2. They will have Thursday off before a playoff game on Friday.

The Celtics, who entered the day in third place in the standings, earned two points in the loss by winning the second and fourth quarters. They have 14 points, tying them with the idle Heat for third place. The Heat play Thursday. The Celtics are likely to play in either the third-place or fifth-place game on Friday.

The Rockets are a perfect 3-0, with their final scheduled game set for Thursday. The Rockets are second in the standings now with 16 points after earning five on Wednesday. Oklahoma City leads the group with 20 points after earning six on Wednesday in a win over the 76ers.

Tim Abromaitis (14) and Courtney Fells (10) were the only other Celtics scoring in double figures. Phil Pressey got the start again at point guard for the Celtics. He had an up-and-down game, dishing out a game-high 10 assists but committing four turnovers and making just 2-of-9 field goal attempts.

At halftime, new Celtics coach Brad Stevens spoke to NBA TV. Stevens said he’s not worried about next season’s record as much as he is about the overall approach his new team takes to playing.

“I’ve been a lot less concerned about results [this summer] than playing to a standard. That’s going to be a major emphasis,” Stevens told Nick Cellini and Kendall Gill.

Stevens was also asked about Rajon Rondo and whether he’s reached out to his All-Star point guard.

“From everything I’ve been told, his rehab has been going well,” Stevens said. “Shared quite a few texts, talked on phone. Will talk to him soon.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Courtney Fells, Dwight Howard
Danny Ainge talks Dwight Howard, NBA free agency 07.01.13 at 9:56 pm ET
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While Danny Ainge told reporters in Mattapan that “free agency right now is not a priority for us,” the Celtics president of basketball operations inquired about free agent Lakers center Dwight Howard.

Ainge reportedly put a call in to gauge Howard’s interest in a sign-and-trade involving the C’s bitter rivals, but Howard’s representatives said, “No,” according to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

During a press conference introducing 7-foot rookies Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson, Ainge announced he is more interested in “cleaning up” the roster than lobbying a list of free agents that includes Howard, Josh Smith, Tyreke Evans and Monta Ellis.

Still, Ainge reiterated his stance on Rajon Rondo: The three-time All-Star point guard is a centerpiece worth building around, and the Celtics aren’t actively seeking a trade for him. That’s not to say they won’t pick up the phone when other teams inquire about Rondo, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and everybody else, including Olynyk — just as Howard’s agents answered Ainge’s call.

“Maybe the assumption is that we’ll give away any of our players,” Ainge told reporters from the Boston Center for Youth & Families Mildred Avenue Community Center. “There has been calls for all those guys, and maybe the assumption is we’re just changing everybody, but we’re not. We’re starting to get younger.”

Considering the departure of coach Doc Rivers and the pending trade of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets on July 12, the Celtics appear to be sinking deeper and deeper toward the 2014 NBA draft lottery, but Ainge assured Washburn, “We are not tanking. That’s ridiculous. This is the Boston Celtics.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard, NBA
Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Celtics ‘just don’t have enough offensive talent’ 04.30.13 at 9:52 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to talk about Jason Collins, the Celtics and the playoffs.

Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran who started the season with the Celtics and was traded to the Wizards in February, revealed Monday that he is gay. The support from people in and around the league was immediate and impressive.

“I expected every player to publicly support him, certainly the league to support him,” Van Gundy said. “I think the question that remains is privately, when you get behind the locker room doors, or they’re in their rooms in the hotels, what do they say then? Because everyone’s aware player-wise that to do like what [Dolphins wide receiver] Mike Wallace said yesterday, there’s going to be major repercussions. But to think that some players don’t have those similar thoughts but just won’t publicly express them is a bit naive. I think if Collins is on a roster next year, I think the public support will always be there. Privately, I think there will still be some ignorance to his situation.”

Collins is being heralded as the first active player in major team sports to come out. However, Van Gundy isn’t so sure Collins, a free agent, will be playing next season.

“The big issue whether Collins gets signed next year or if he’s not signed is going to have nothing to do with his sexual orientation and everything to do with his diminishing skills and athleticism,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a marginal NBA player right now, at best.”

The Celtics head back to New York for Wednesday’s Game 5 as heavy underdogs as they look to extend the series.

“I just think that the Celtics, are they going to be able to find enough offense over the next three games to legitimately put pressure on New York,” Van Gundy said. “Certainly if they win Game 5, anything becomes possible then because then you just have to win one home game to get to the ultimate Game 7. But when I see them, their guard struggles are so dramatic without [Rajon] Rondo that it’s difficult to create quality opportunities in the halfcourt. I think it will be even more so on the road.

“The thing that’s been overlooked is the first two halves of the games in New York, Boston was great. So many people have been focusing on what was wrong in the second halves, and I think it’s a talent issue, they just don’t have enough offensive talent with the loss of Rondo and Ray Allen from last year. But if they can stay in a faster-paced game, like they can get that ball and advance it and attack before the Knick defense gets set, then we’ve seen how effective Jeff Green can be in that type of game, [Paul] Pierce can hit some trail 3’s. I just think they have to play with pace and offensive energy. And if they can do that, their defense should be able to limit New York. They’re still an excellent defensive team.”

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Read More: Dwight Howard, Jason Collins, Jeff Green, Jeff Van Gundy
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
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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.”

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Read More: Danny Ainge, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Eric Bledsoe
Trade rumor: Celtics take Rajon Rondo off market at 12:32 pm ET
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Despite ESPN.com senior writer Chris Broussard‘s insistence that Celtics president Danny Ainge has made injured point guard Rajon Rondo available on the trade market, Rondo’s agent Bill Duffy told USA Today’s Sam Amick that Ainge “assured him” on Wednesday that the four-time All-Star will not be dealt.

Meanwhile, CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger reports Rondo would only be dealt for Dwight Howard, Chris Paul “or a massive haul of assets” similar to what the Nuggets received for Carmelo Anthony. As you might remember, Melo, Chauncey Billups and three low-level NBA talents returned Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a first-round draft pick, two second-round picks and $3 million in cash from the Knicks in 2011.

Those scenarios are a pipe dream for Ainge, considering Rondo’s season-ending ACL surgery that leaves him rehabbing for training camp next season.

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Read More: 2013 NBA Trade Deadline, Boston Celtics, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard
Trade rumor: Celtics, Lakers discuss Rajon Rondo for Dwight Howard 02.15.13 at 10:04 pm ET
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The Celtics and Lakers “have engaged in preliminary trade discussions” about a deal that would send Rajon Rondo to Los Angeles and bring Dwight Howard to Boston, according to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger.

Since Rondo makes $11 million in salary and Howard makes $19.5 million, the Celtics would have to include more pieces to make such a blockbuster deal work. Still, the Lakers are hesitant to deal the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and the Celtics would need assurance that Howard would re-sign in Boston this summer, according to the report. Those obstacles — and so many more — make the trade a long shot.

Still, the C’s and Lakers could table what little discussion has actually taken place until the offseason, when Rondo’s recovery from ACL surgery has progressed and Howard becomes a sign-and-trade possibility, Berger said.

Just imagine how Rondo would perform on national TV against the Celtics.

UPDATE: The Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy confirmed Berger’s report, citing that the “unlikely” trade talks occurred prior to Rondo’s injury. That piece of information seems fairly significant. And then there’s this.

Read More: 2013 NBA Trade Deadline, Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
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