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What the Orlando moves mean for the Celtics 12.18.10 at 10:31 pm ET
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In two separate trades over the course of one day, the Orlando Magic turned over almost half of their rotation for an upgrade at the scoring guard position (Jason Richardson) and high-priced gambles on two of the league’s worst contracts (Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas). In doing so, they ditched the services of two former All-Star wing players whose production has plummeted (Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis) and two well-paid role players (Mikael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat).

There are a lot of moving parts for the Magic, who over the last two and half weeks have lost six of seven games and watched as the Celtics asserted themselves as the favorites in the East and the Heat established themselves as the best team in their division.

The Celtics have always considered the Magic their toughest conference challenger and many of their offseason moves have been done with the Magic in mind. Orlando general manager Otis Smith clearly felt that his team needed an overhaul to try and keep pace.

The particulars are as follows:

Orlando gets: Gilbert Arenas from Washington and Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkulgu and Earl Clark from Phoenix.

Orlando gives up: Rashard Lewis to Washington and Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mikael Pietrus, a 2011 No. 1 pick and $3 million to Phoenix.

Phoenix and Washington’s motivations are clear. The Suns, who are going nowhere fast, shed Turkoglu’s onerous contract, which still has two years remaining after this season and get an intriguing big man with potential in Gortat along with a serviceable player in Pietrus. The cash will help the inevitable $4 million buyout on the last year of Carter’s contract. The Wizards obviously get rid of Arenas, who still has three years, $60 million and just as much baggage next to his name.

But these trades are all about the Magic, or more specifically, Dwight Howard, who as Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer points out, can opt out after the 2012 season. If this team had reached its limit, then it does them no good to continue playing out the string until Howard becomes a free agent.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the personalities of the new players will mesh with coach Stan Van Gundy, which is the huge blinking neon light of an X-factor in this discussion, the Magic have gotten better offensively. They have shooters everywhere to put around Howard and in Arenas they have a scoring guard who can create his own shot.

That is particularly important against the Celtics, who are one of the few teams capable of playing Howard straight-up. Without the double-teams, the Magic had trouble getting their shooters open for shots against the Celtics in the playoffs until they switched to a constant pick-and-roll attack. Carter was supposed to be that player, but he wasn’t able to do it.

The Magic should also play faster, an obvious adjustment for a team with so many perimeter players, a dominant rebounder and a lack of size beyond Howard. All of this makes it even more important that Delonte West is able to return from his broken wrist because Van Gundy now has a number of different lineup combinations he can use and the Celtics could use West’s defensive versatility.

Here are five essential realities of the deal from Orlando’s perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dwight Howard, gilbert arenas, Jason Richardson, Orlando Magic
Irish Coffee: NBA conspiracy theories 10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s time for a conspiracy theory. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Lakers — one of several games former NBA ref Tim Donaghy accused the NBA of rigging in order to squeeze an extra game out of the series. Well, after yesterday’s unrelated arrest of one of the Lakers-Kings Game referees, let’s take a look at the aftermath … again.

  • On July 20, 2007, New York Post columnist Murray Weiss reported an FBI investigation into Donaghy for betting on NBA games he officiated.
  • On Feb. 11, 2008, one Kings-Lakers Game 6 referee, Bob Delaney, spoke with ESPN about his upcoming book, “Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.” The former New Jersey State Police trooper admitted to these criminal activities during his investigation: “stolen property, loan sharking, gambling, purchasing of guns.”
  • On June 11, 2008, The New York Times cited court documents in which Donaghy called out NBA executives and referees for manipulating games, including the 2002 series in question. Keep in mind, Donaghy had already pleaded guilty to conspiring with gamblers at this point.
  • On June 13, 2008, we learned from ESPN’s Chris Sheridan that the FBI questioned at least two former NBA referees about another Lakers-Kings Game 6 ref, Dick Bavetta, more than they did Donaghy. In that report, the game’s third ref, Tim Bernhardt, said: “I stand by my calls in that game. I was right on. I believe in Dick Bavetta, and I believe in Bob Delaney, and I believe in the NBA for that matter.”
  • On Dec. 8, 2009, in an interview with Dennis & Callahan, Donaghy said, “I had many conversations with Dick Bavetta and he claimed that he was the NBA’€™s go-to guy and he was put on certain games to make sure a certain team win.”
  • On Oct. 12, 2010, according to WFIE.com, Bernhardt was arrested in Indiana for violating a restraining order taken out against him by his ex-girlfriend and allegedly burglarizing her residence.

So, to recap the facts, in the last three years the refereeing trio of Kings-Lakers Game 6 has: a) admitted to gambling with the mob, albeit during an investigation as a New Jersey State Police officer (Delaney); b) been the subject of the FBI’s questioning during their investigation into NBA referees (Bavetta); and c) been arrested and charged with burglary and violating a restraining order (Bernhardt).

While none of those incidents implicates any of the three officials or directly relates to the outcome of any NBA game, including Kings-Lakers Game 6, I give you this — in Delaney’s own words — from an interview with ESPN’s Bob Ley: “I have dealt with criminals and informants, and I know full well they are capable of doing and saying anything.”

Now, I know there are more holes in this story than there were in Sonny Corleone‘s car, but that’s why it’s called a conspiracy theory, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Bernhardt, Tim Donaghy
Shaq on D&C: ‘I would have played for free’ in Boston 09.28.10 at 8:49 am ET
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In an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, new Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal, who has made no less than $10 million in his last 14 NBA seasons and at least $20 million in his last nine campaigns, said that he had no problem taking a pay cut in excess of 90 percent in order to come to the Celtics. O’Neal signed a two-year deal for approximately $3 million this summer, and he suggested that money was virtually irrelevant in making his decision to join Boston.

“I had other options where the money would have been greater. But this franchise, this team, has a tradition of winning,” O’Neal said. “I’€™ve been one of the luckiest guys in the history of the game. I’€™ve had four max deals and one lifetime of play. So money wasn’€™t an issue. Money will never be an issue. But Danny Ainge had $1 million left, which was the minimum. If I had to, to come here and play, I would have played for free. Doesn’€™t matter to me.”

O’Neal ‘€” who said that he wanted to be called The Big Shamrock while with the Celtics — also discussed whether he will be able to “blend in” in Boston both on and off the court, his bucket list, his experience of last year’s Celtics-Cavaliers playoff series from Cleveland’s perspective and his feelings on Dwight Howard and LeBron James, among several other topics.

A transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

This is Shaquille O’€™Neal. Don’€™t mess with Dennis & Callahan, weekdays from 6-10 on the WEEI Sports Radio Network.

Skip the boring basketball questions. Is Boston big enough for your personality?

I always tell people that I was raised Karate Kid style. My father took me many places as a youngster. I started off in Northern New Jersey, born and raised. Went down south to Hinesville, Ga., then to West Germany, then to San Antonio, Tex. I say that to say that I can blend in anywhere.

You probably can’€™t blend in.

I can blend in. If people are looking for me in Boston, I’€™ll be in Sudbury. If you’€™re looking for the Big Shamrock, he’€™ll be in Sudbury, in the fields of Sudbury.

You’€™ve settled on the Big Shamrock?

Yes. The Big Shamrock. Yes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Russell, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
Shaq on feuds: ‘It’s marketing’ 09.19.10 at 10:31 am ET
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It can be hard to keep track of all of Shaquille O’Neal‘s battles. One day he’s killing Mo Williams, and the next he’s saying it’s all for show. That’s Shaq  in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “I know what I’m doing when it comes to selling out games,” he told the paper sounding like Don King trying to get a good house.

Shaq went on to say that he has a good relationship with Dwight Howard off the floor, but it’s different when they’re on the court. “He’s a great young player,” Shaq said. “But on the court it’s not about making friends, it’s about doing what you’re supposed to do to win that game to win a championship.”

Read More: Dwight Howard, Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal,
Heinsohn on D&C: Howard getting away with flagrants 05.27.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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Comcast Celtics analyst Tommy Heinsohn joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to give his take on the officials from Wednesday night’€™s Game 5 loss and why Dwight Howard should be suspended.

‘€œI was up at the [Comcast] studios at Burlington and was in the conference room watching [Game 5],’€ Heinsohn said. ‘€œThere were several people and we kind of all were hit with the same thought that these [referees] are incompetent.’€

Heinsohn also touched on the similarities and differences in Rajon Rondo and Hall of Famer Bob Cousy‘€™s game.

Below is a transcript. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to hear the interview.

I want a mental picture of you during last night’€™s game. Where were you watching it and with whom were you watching it?

I was up at the studios at Burlington and was in the conference room watching the game. There were several people and we kind of all were hit with the same thought that these [referees] are incompetent.

What was Ed Rush thinking on the technical foul calls?

Well this guy goes way back. I got in hot water some years ago when I said ‘€œEddie F. Rush. F for fool.’€ I used that because in a game against the Knicks on the very last play, they tried to get [Patrick] Ewing the ball. The man passed it five feet away from Ewing, it went out of bounds, the Celtics are going to win the game, and he calls a foul on [Robert] Parish like he was holding him or hitting him or something and they end up winning the game. This guy has had no common sense, I don’€™t know why he’€™s still around. He has a history, I’€™ve been watching the game all these years, I just marvel at how they let him keep refereeing. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Dwight Howard, Ed F. Rush, Kendrick Perkins
NBA rescinds Perkins technical at 1:04 pm ET
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The Celtics and Kendrick Perkins received a reprieve from the NBA Thursday when the league rescinded one of the two technical fouls Perkins received in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, clearing Perkins to play in Game 6 on Friday.

Perkins and Marcin Gortat earned double-technicals early in the game and then Perkins was hit with a second one by official Eddie F. Rush with 36 seconds left in the half. Perkins was ejected after the second T, his seventh of the postseason, which triggered an automatic one-game suspension.

The league does review every technical foul that is called and they decided to rescind the second technical foul. Perkins still has six technicals against his name and would still be in danger of a suspension if he is hit with another one during the postseason.

In an eerie bit of foreshadowing, Doc Rivers spoke about the problems his team had with getting technicals, particularly Perkins, some two hours before it happened on the court.

‘€œI actually don’€™t like the rule, the suspension,” Rivers said. “I just don’€™t like it. I think the longer you are in the playoffs the more likely it’€™s going to affect your team. I think the fans want to see the best players on the floor. I just don’€™t agree with the whole suspension thing.’€

Part of the problem, Rivers believes, lies in the process of issuing double technical fouls to players, a tactic used by officials to try to calm things down.

‘€œIt’€™s the double tech thing that has to be resolved,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œSometimes the officials are just trying to clean the game up and an easy way to do it is give both guys techs and calm the game down. To me, those are the ones that we have to figure out a better way.’€

The league also upgraded a personal foul on Paul Pierce to a Flagrant 1 after Pierce shoved J.J. Redick in the back in the fourth quarter. The NBA announced before Game 5 that they had upgraded fouls from Game 4 on Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Matt Barnes to Flagrant 1 status as well.

Players are assessed points for flagrant fouls (one point for a Flagrant 1 and two points for a Flagrant 2). If they hit three points, they are also subject to an automatic one-game suspension. Howard has two Flagrant Foul points.

Read More: Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins, Matt Barnes, Paul Pierce
The trouble with Dwight at 2:31 am ET
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ORLANDO — Dwight Howard has been causing the Celtics major problems throughout the series and not just with his defense and rebounding. His elbows have also become cause for concern, specifically the elbow the knocked out Glen Davis in the third quarter of Game 5.

“Yeah, I didn’t know that was legal, but anyway, he did,” Doc Rivers said. “But listen, he’s a physical guy. We know that and he should be. That is his gift. Honestly, that is his gift. So he’s doing what he should do and we’ve just got to do a better job of taking the hits, I guess.”

A foul by Howard against Kevin Garnett in Game 4 was upgraded to a Flagrant 1, the league announced prior to the start of Game 5. In the aftermath, Garmett was hit with a technical foul in a game the Celtics lost in overtime.

Earlier in Game 5, Howard shoved Garnett in the back but there was no call. Rivers was seen having an animated conversation with official Joey Crawford during the next timeout and there is no question that Howard’s physical play has been a source of frustration for the Celtics throughout the series.

“We’re just trying to win,” Howard said. “Our intent is not hurt anybody out there, but basketball is a very physical sport. You’re playing against a very physical and tough team in the Boston Celtics.”

Read More: Dwight Howard,
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