|Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Celtics ‘just don’t have enough offensive talent’||04.30.13 at 9:52 am ET|
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.”
|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.”
|Trade rumor: Celtics take Rajon Rondo off market||at 12:32 pm ET|
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.
|Trade rumor: Celtics, Lakers discuss Rajon Rondo for Dwight Howard||02.15.13 at 10:04 pm ET|
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.
Source who would definitely know re: reported Rondo/Howard talks: “nothing. Zero. Nada. Niente. Clear?” So, there’s that.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 16, 2013
|Paul Pierce, Celtics embarrass Kobe Bryant, Lakers||02.07.13 at 10:28 pm ET|
Paul Pierce 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter while Kevin Garnett scored 15 points and made NBA history as the Celtics embarrassed the Lakers on national TV, 116-95, Thursday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green added 19 points off the bench for the Celtics, who matched their season-best six-game winning streak while improving to 26-23 on the season.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 in the loss and Dwight Howard had little impact on the game, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds in 28 minutes in his return from three-game absence due to a right shoulder injury. He fouled out with 5:07 left in the game. It was his first game since being called out by Bryant on Wednesday. The Lakers lost for just the second time in eight games and fell to 23-27 on the season.
The Celtics overcame early foul trouble as Garnett picked up two fouls in the first two minutes and found an early spot on the bench. Jason Collins picked up three fouls in five minutes and the Lakers were in the bonus before the first three minutes were in the books as Boston was called for five fouls in the first 2:22 of the game.
The Celtics finished the first quarter with 10 personal fouls while the Lakers had only three.
But the Lakers could not take advantage, missing 7-of-12 free throws and shooting just 8-for-21 from the field. The Celtics took the lead for good on a Jeff Green three-foot hook shot with 4:03 left in the first quarter. Bryant had eight points in the opening 12 minutes but Pierce went even further, scoring 10, as the Celtics grabbed a 27-23 lead after one quarter.
With 8:08 left in the second quarter, Garnett hit an 11-foot turnaround over Earl Clark to reach the 25,000-point plateau. He made history as the only player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists and 1,500 blocks. Garnett had nine points in the second quarter as the Celtics began to pull away, outscoring Los Angeles, 31-21, to take a 58-44 halftime lead. The Celtics committed just two turnovers in the first half as they began to pull away.
In a throwback to Game 6 of the 2008 NBA finals, when the Celtics clinched their 17th title on the parquet, the Celtics blew out the listless and defenseless Lakers in the third quarter. Following a Steve Blake three that closed the gap to 81-66, the Celtics closed the quarter 14-3 spurt that featured a one-handed slam by Green and a 3-pointer from Pierce that sent the Garden into a frenzy. The Celtics led 95-69 heading into the fourth.
With chants of “Beat LA” ringing throughout the sellout crowd, the Celtics kept pouring it on, building their lead up to 32, 103-71, midway through the fourth.
Fab Melo checked into the game with just under five minutes left for Chris Wilcox and the Celtics up by 27. He scored his first NBA points on a layup with 1:22 remaining in the game.
The Celtics are off Friday and likely will not practice on Saturday either due to the blizzard forecast for Boston. The Celtics are next scheduled to play Sunday at 6 p.m. against the Nuggets at TD Garden. For more from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach at the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: Lakers ‘have more firestorms going on’||at 8:04 pm ET|
Looks like the words of Kobe Bryant worked wonders on the right shoulder of Dwight Howard.
“We don’t have time for it to heal,” Bryant told ESPN on Wednesday, a day before the Lakers’ showdown with the Celtics in Boston. “We need some urgency.”
Howard responded Thursday.
“That’s his opinion; that’s it,” Howard told ESPN. “He’s not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”
Doc Rivers, obviously aware of this dynamic, figured Bryant’s words would be enough to get Howard back in the lineup Thursday.
“He’s playing,” he said without hesitation. “We’ve only prepared for one way.”
Rivers was right as Howard returned from a three-game absence as he deals with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Just another turn in the NBA’s longest and most prestigious rivalry.
“They still wear that same color. And we wear the same color,” Rivers replied when asked about the current state of the rivalry before Thursday’s game. “Through all of it, it’s still the same thing, you enjoy the game because they are fun. Kobe [Bryant is] there; Kevin [Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] are there. It always will be fun.”
Then he threw a good-natured jab at the Lakers.
“It’s more, we’re just playing right now; we’re not dealing with anything,” Rivers said a week after losing Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger. “They have more firestorms going on. Give them credit, they’ve won six out of seven through it. In some ways, it may be helping them.”
Speaking of big men, Rivers said he’s not worried about Kevin Garnett‘s minutes after scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 32 minutes Wednesday in Toronto.
“It’s not a game-to-game thing with Kevin’s minutes, it’s more the accumulative of the year,” Rivers said. “We’ve had eight overtimes, I think, that hasn’t helped at all with him. So it’s just, we get through the year and try to keep him as fresh as possible.”
Meanwhile… Celtics players presented Rivers with the game ball from his 400th regular-season win as Celtics coach on their flight home from Toronto on Wednesday night. Garnett and Pierce were among those to honor Rivers on the flight, something Rivers acknowledged Thursday.
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|Jason Terry praises Paul Pierce, blasts LeBron James||12.20.12 at 1:10 am ET|
Two months after his 35th birthday, Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored 40 points on 16 shots in Wednesday night’s 103-91 victory against the Cavaliers. It took a superhuman effort, as his three most veteran teammates can attest. Maybe that’s why Jason Terry called him Kryptonite in the locker room afterwards.
Pierce, Terry, Kevin Garnett and Jason Collins have a combined 55 years of NBA experience between them, but this was a first. The Celtics captain became the oldest player in franchise history to eclipse 40 points in a regulation game (at 35 and three months, Larry Bird scored 49 in double overtime in 1992).
“Not a lot of guys in this league stay in one franchise,” said Terry. “You can count them on your hand right now. It’s not many that are superstars, that have been in the league longer than 12-13 years, and he’s one of them.”
Terry played his last eight seasons alongside one of those other guys in Dirk Nowitzki, who has stayed in Dallas ever since being selected one spot ahead of Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft. There’s a certain respect among veterans around the league for loyalty like that, Terry said, especially after younger superstars like LeBron James and Dwight Howard jumped ship for the Heat and Lakers early in their careers over the past several years.
As Terry elaborated, Pierce has demonstrated a “willingness to stick through the tough times and not just jump off: ‘I’m outta here.’ ‘I’m going to go join forces with Kobe [Bryant].’ Or, ‘I’m going to go play with Dwyane Wade.’ That’s a shot right there. … I think that’s what guys look at, and they respect him.”
How’s this for respect? Pierce joined Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Clyde Drexler, Alex English, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller and Walter Davis as the only players since 1985 to scored 40 points in regulation after turning 35 years old. None of the others accomplished that feat on 16 shots.
“Paul was on fire tonight, man,” added Garnett, who was traded to Boston after 12 up-and-down seasons for the Timberwolves. “Paul had a flashback to like ’03 or ’04 or something, man. It was good to see, though. As we walked in tonight, I could tell — just because it was a long day — that he felt kind of down in the dumps. After the game, I told him, ‘You need to feel more down in the dumps a little more often.’ But he had the rhythm going, and we were just trying to feed him. I thought he did a good job getting it out of the offense and letting it come to him.”