|Kevin Garnett’s future determines Celtics’ ability to be competitive next few seasons||05.10.13 at 10:27 am ET|
If next season’s Celtics team does not start Kevin Garnett at power forward, prepare for a long, dark stretch. Without KG patrolling the middle in green and white, feel free to reintroduce yourself to the lottery, long losing streaks and the empty promise of rebuilding.
While you miss the scowls, intensity and blocked shots after the whistle, remember that the decline of the Celtics is more complex than the team simply aging. The major problem is the Celtics actually ask Garnett to do more now than they did during the NBA finals run in 2010. Despite his age (37 on May 19) and contract (2 years, $24.3 million), Garnett still is a premier power forward and a critical piece for a team chasing a championship.
“Back in Minnesota, Kevin used to say, ‘I want to live beyond my contract,’ ” new Timberwolves president (and former coach) Flip Saunders told WEEI.com. “That meant whatever he was getting paid, whenever someone would see him in a game or in a practice, he wanted to live up to that contract and then play beyond that.”
Garnett has done exactly that in his six seasons in Boston. His playoff averages (35 minutes, 12.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, his highest playoff average since 2004) against the Knicks also demonstrated that quality basketball remains afloat in his veins. Surrounded by the right players, Garnett still can help Boston contend for a championship. After watching Garnett for 18 seasons, Kevin McHale — who drafted Garnett in Minnesota with the No. 5 pick in 1995 — still is amazed by his former student. Garnett was the first player in 20 years to go directly to the NBA from high school, and McHale recently reminisced about Garnett’s rookie training camp in Minnesota, when the 19-year-old was only a couple of months removed from his senior prom.
“I loved the kid the first day of practice,” McHale said. “He laid on the floor after his first training camp — laying on the ground with nothing left — and I said, ‘We’ve got to go again tonight.’ He went, ‘Huh?’ I said we did two-a-days, and he was like, ‘Oh my.’
“But that night he came and he laid it on the ground, played on the line, laying on the ground, playing on the line. At the end, he was laying on the ground, and I said to him, ‘Now we do two again tomorrow.’ He looked up at me and said, ‘Man, this is going to be a job.’ He hasn’t changed since then, he’s just got better.
“His ability to compete at a high level for such a long time, his love of the game, his competitive nature,” marveled McHale, “it really is fun to watch.”
Competing at a high level for an extended period of time in the National Basketball Association takes a rare talent. It is a skill that is difficult, but far from impossible. The highest standard of excellence has been set by the Spurs, a team with an aging superstar in soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan. Far from the best of friends, Garnett and the 37-year-old Duncan share very similar basketball philosophies, a fact not lost on Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
“They can look in the mirror and realize they’re both the same in so many respects as far as how they run their lives in the NBA and how they’ve run their careers,” Popovich said during his last trip to Boston. “They’re both competitive as hell, they both understand the game, they both love being on the court, and neither one of them is really that excited about the hoopla that is all around it, but they’ve also endured by taking care of their bodies and what they do in the summertime to take care of their bodies.”
|Flip Saunders on D&C: Celtics unlikely to make major trade after Rajon Rondo injury||01.28.13 at 8:52 am ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Flip Saunders joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Celtics following the news that Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Saunders, a former NBA coach who served as an adviser to the Celtics for part of last season, said Doc Rivers faces a “challenging” situation.
“Doc, he’s an extremely positive individual,” Saunders said. ” I’m sure that there’s disappointment. But he looks at this as an opportunity and a challenge. Him and his staff, of course, they’ll change how they play a little bit, because you can’t play the same when you’re missing a guy like Rondo that generates 40 percent of their offense, basically, from what he does either scoring-wise or setting people up.
“They’ll change a little bit, but Doc’s not going to let this be any excuse either to himself, to his team, the organization or the players that they can’t go out and compete and win.”
Saunders said he expects some basic changes, including Rivers becoming more controlling of the offense and the team’s two veteran stars playing a bigger role.
“They’ll change a little bit,” Saunders said. “They’ll probably become more defensive-oriented, even more so now. I really believe that Doc will probably have to do more play-calling, where when he had Rondo, he was kind of an extension of him on the floor — he let Rondo pretty much run the show, call the plays. I think now he’s probably going to be a little bit more calling plays from the sidelines.
“And I think you’ll see more of the offense facilitated through Paul Pierce. You saw yesterday Paul getting a triple-double. And probably putting the ball into [Kevin Garnett] in the post more and letting people play off of him in the post.”
There has been speculation that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will attempt to make a major trade to start the rebuilding process. Saunders isn’t so sure.
“I don’t think so, no. I think they’re going to hold tight. They’re going to give this one more go of it,” Saunders said. “I think the idea that they feel is that we can see where this takes us, let’s give these guys an opportunity to play together and still know that in the offseason if they had to do something they could probably still do something in the offseason if the season didn’t go as they liked.”
Saunders, who coached Garnett in Minnesota, said he doesn’t think the veteran would accept a trade.
“I really believe right now that he’s very much set. He loves Boston. I don’t think he wants to leave Boston,” Saunders said. “KG is a creature of habit. He doesn’t like change. He always was bothered when players were either traded or released. That’s just kind of his innate nature. I believe that he believes he’s a Boston Celtic. I believe that when they sat down and they talked [about a new contract in the offseason] they talked about him finishing his career in Boston. Otherwise he probably would have just rode into the sunset.”
|Flip: ‘We choked’ against Celtics||03.08.10 at 2:04 am ET|
Flip Saunders knows Kevin Garnett well enough. For 10 seasons, Saunders coached the perennial All-Star with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With all apologizes to Jim Croce, Saunders, now the head coach of the Wizards, knows you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind and you don’t tick off the Big Ticket.
The last part of that equation was especially troublesome in Saunders’ eyes as he watched his Wizards blow a 79-66 lead with just over six minutes to go Sunday night.
“Well, we choked,” Saunders began. “Six minutes to go, we’re up 13. We’ve got young guys, they don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation. We start talking to Garnett, start talking trash and everything else. Got Garnett and those guys juiced up and we just pissed down our leg the last six minutes.
“You have a veteran team that knows how to close out games against a young team that hasn’t been there, and instead of just letting a sleeping dog lie, we juiced up their energies. We had plays coming off timeouts and we had guys going to the wrong side of the floor, we were so discombobulated.”
|Report: Teams interested in Marbury||07.04.09 at 2:19 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics may not have Stephon Marbury in their long-term plans, but other teams around the league are reportedly expressing interest. According to the Boston Globe, Marbury was disappointed by the Celtics’ one-year, $1.3 million offer and effectively announced his departure in an email: “Thank you Boston for allowing the world to see me play again after all that went on in N.Y. The fans treated me with open arms and that’s all anyone can ask for.”
The New York Post has reported the Washington Wizards are the favorite to land Marbury while the Sacramento Kings have also inquired about the veteran guard. Marbury played for Wizards head coach Flip Saunders when Saunders coached the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Talks of Marbury reuniting with Saunders began in May when the New York Daily News reported Marbury reached out to his former coach nearly every day during the Celtics playoff run.
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