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Celtics stand pat, but real work already done 03.16.12 at 10:51 am ET
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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.

Read More: Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard,
Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s dreams of Celtics future 03.12.12 at 12:10 pm ET
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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.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith
Trade Rumor: Celtics asked for Tyler Hansbrough, pick for Ray Allen 03.09.12 at 3:19 pm ET
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At the end of Jackie MacMullan’s excellent piece on the end of The Big Three, she quotes Pacers president Larry Bird regarding Danny Ainge’s asking price for Ray Allen.

“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.

The deadline is March 15 so there’s no rush to cave, especially when deals around the league are hung up on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.

Read More: Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard, Larry Bird, NBA Trade Deadline
Trade Rumor: Six to eight teams pursuing Dwight Howard 03.06.12 at 9:22 am ET
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With less than 10 days to go until the March 15 trade deadline, the future of Magic center Dwight Howard is still cloudy.

It’s been known for some time that there are three teams on his list of preferred trade destinations: New Jersey, Dallas and the Lakers. It has also been known that Golden State would be willing to trade for Howard without assurances that he would sign an extension with them.

Magic GM told Otis Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that “six to eight” teams were still calling. Orlando is still hoping to convince Howard to stay long-term.

In other Howard-related news, the Nets announced that center Brook Lopez will be out three weeks with a sprained right ankle. Lopez has been mentioned prominently in trade talks.

Read More: Brook Lopez, Dwight Howard, NBA Trade Deadline,
Adrian Wojnarowski on D&C: ‘Don’t see [Rondo deal] happening’ 03.02.12 at 1:54 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss the trade rumors surrounding the Celtics, specifically concerning point guard Rajon Rondo. Wojnarowski said not to expect a big deal from Celtics president Danny Ainge before the trade deadline.

“I just don’t know what large thing is out there for them to do,” he said. “I think Danny’s going to try, and he’s ready with any of the Big Three to make a move if they can get them maybe some picks down the line, a good young player for down the line. But right now, whatever that is, I don’t think it’s shown itself. And as for Rondo, I don’t see that happening.”

Wojnarowski said Ainge might be asking teams what they would offer for Rondo in an attempt to determine the guard’s trade value going forward, but that’s different than actively “shopping” him. “Boston’s not doing that with Rondo,” he said, noting that it’s unlikely the guard will be moved this month. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, NBA Trade Deadline
Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett’s ‘goddamn bar fight’ 01.27.12 at 12:23 pm ET
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Three nights after holding the Magic to a record low 16 field goals in an 87-56 victory at the Garden, the Celtics dealt Dwight Howard & Co. another embarrassing blow in Orlando — storming back from 27 points to steal a 91-83 win in one of the 10 greatest comebacks in NBA history. And one of the great postgame interviews in history.

“It was a goddamn bar fight,” Celtics forward Kevin Garnett told TNT’s Craig Sager after the game. “A goddamn bar fight, man. It was a bar fight, Craig. Tonight was a bar fight, man. We knew they were going to come in with a lot of energy. Tonight was a bar fight. You ever been in a bar fight? Ask Charles [Barkley], he’s been in a bar fight. This is what it was tonight. We won in the second half. We came out with a lot of energy.”

At some point, KG remembered Sager was conducting an interview, so he allowed him to ask a couple questions.

We heard Doc Rivers say late in that third quarter, “This is not over yet.” Did you believe him?

“Since I’ve been here in Boston, Doc has never told me nothing that wasn’t true. We were in the Finals one time, we were down whatever it was, and he told us we could come back. And I believed him. And we did. So, tonight was no different.”

Does this victory mean even more than holding the Magic to 56 points on Monday?

“When you’re down and you fight back, you’ve got reason to be proud of yourself. That’s what this was. This was a Celtics win right here, man.”

Of course, Garnett proved a big part of that win, notching his second straight double-double and fifth of the season. More importantly, he helped hold All-NBA center Dwight Howard to fewer than 20 points.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: Dwight Howard ‘looks up to a team like Boston’ 01.24.12 at 2:23 pm ET
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If Magic All-NBA center Dwight Howard ever considered Boston as a free agent destination this summer, current Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat.

In the third quarter of Monday night’s Celtics victory, as Howard attempted to establish position in the paint and bumped O’Neal on the block, the latter stuck his finger in the former’s face and voiced his displeasure. The two bigs at dichotomous points in their careers were separated by teammates and each assessed technicals.

“That’€™s kind of crossing the line when somebody puts their hand in your face,” said Howard (18 points, 14 rebounds), who had four of his team’s NBA record low 16 field goals in the 87-56 loss. “I just put his hand out of my face. I didn’€™t run up on him. It’€™s basketball. We’€™re not MMA fighters. I don’€™t know why I got a tech, but I’€™m cool.”

O’Neal (6), Greg Stiemsma (5), Brandon Bass (4) and Kevin Garnett (2) combined for 17 personal fouls, sending Howard to the line 18 times (he made 10) in an attempt to minimize his sizable impact.

‘€œYou’€™re at his mercy to be honest,” said Garnett, who totaled 14 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and two blocks. “You have to do what we call dirty work early, which is to try to take him off his sweet spots, contest his shots. He’€™s strong, he’€™s very powerful and explosive. You’€™re at his mercy, man, seriously. I’€™m not about to sit up here in front of the cameras and give y’€™all defensive schemes and secrets, but different ways you play different guys.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett
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