|Stat man: The Jared Sullinger-Kelly Olynyk combo||10.08.13 at 10:29 am ET|
The debut of the much anticipated Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk frontcourt combination — one to which Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge even admitted his intrigue — didn’t come until midway through the second quarter of the team’s first preseason game. And even then only lasted 8:29 in spurts.
Based on the early returns, we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Sully-O clinic early and often. Actually, don’t be surprised if that duo with 45 NBA games between them ultimately takes over the starting 4 and 5 spots.
“I don’t have a plus/minus report right now, so I don’t know,” said coach Brad Stevens after his first game on the Celtics sidelines, a 97-89 loss to the Raptors, “but I thought they played pretty well together.”
When Stevens took a look at that report and watched film later Monday night — his self-imposed requirement before sleeping — he discovered this: Olynyk and Sullinger owned a plus-7 rating, combining for 10 points (4-8 FG), four assists and three rebounds in their 8:29 on the floor together. Of the nine Celtics field goals in those 509 seconds, the rookie and the sophomore either scored or assisted on seven of them.
When Stevens added Gerald Wallace to that frontcourt mix — forming a complementary trio of flair, hair and derriere that the coach has praised throughout training camp — the production was unmistakable.
|Poll: What do you think of the 2-game suspension of Rajon Rondo?||11.29.12 at 5:53 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Rajon Rondo has been suspended two games without pay (approximately $268,000) for fighting with Brooklyn’s Kris Humphries during the second quarter of the Nets‘ 95-83 victory over the Celtics at TD Garden on Wednesday. Additionally, Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace has been fined $35,000 and Boston’s Kevin Garnett has been fined $25,000 for escalating the altercation. The penalties were announced Thursday by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
Rondo will serve his suspension on Friday, Nov. 30 when the Celtics host the Portland Trail Blazers and Saturday, Dec. 1 when the Celtics play the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
|Rajon Rondo ejected as Kris Humphries starts brawl with Kevin Garnett and Celtics||11.28.12 at 9:10 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo was ejected from Wednesday night’s game with the Nets in the aftermath of a brawl with 29.5 seconds left in the first half. As a result, his streak of consecutive games with double figure assists ends at 37 games.
Kevin Garnett was fouled under the Celtics‘ basket by Kris Humphries. Pushing and shoving immediately ensued, as Garnett also got into a shoving match with Gerald Wallace. Rondo into a shoving match with Humphries and the altercation spilled into the first two rows of seats under the basket. Wallace and Humphries picked up technical fouls and second techinals on the play, resulting in automatic ejection. Rondo was the only Celtic ejected.
The first half was a frustrating one for the Celtics, who trailed by as much as 21 points. They made a late charge and cut the Nets lead down to 13, 51-38, at the half. Rondo finished with six points and three assists in 18 minutes. He finishes tied with John Stockton with the second-longest double-digit assist streak in history at 37 games, nine behind the all-time leader, Magic Johnson.
|2012-13 Celtics free agent options at small forward||06.28.12 at 11:48 am ET|
Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett to Keyon Dooling can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap (an estimated $58 million). We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Small forwards (Also see: Centers, shooting guards and power forwards).
Believe it or not, Paul Pierce‘s ailing foot and Jeff Green‘s season-ending heart problem meant the Celtics began last season with Sasha Pavlovic as the starting three and Marquis Daniels as his backup. Of course, Pierce returned, and the signing of Mickael Pietrus helped solidify the position in Green’s absence. The C’s first order of business after convincing Garnett to return should be re-signing Green. Pietrus seems intent on coming back, but Pavlovic and Daniels will likely be shown the door, so the they may still need one more player for depth.
The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Pierce, $16.8M; Rajon Rondo, $11.0M; Avery Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins, Chris Wilcox, Green, Pietrus and Dooling, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.
As a result, expect the Celtics to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at small forward, separating the current free agent players into three categories.
|NBA Free agent rumors: Jeff Green has many suitors||06.18.12 at 2:03 pm ET|
Why would the Celtics do that? For one thing it saves them the step of making a qualifying offer, which could handcuff a bit of their cap space. Even as unrestricted free agent, the Celtics still retain full Bird rights on Green, meaning they can go above and beyond the cap to sign him and have the means of competing with just about any offer.
According to Green’s agent David Falk, there will be many competing offers, or at least interested teams. In an interview with SI’s Sam Amick, Falk said he has had discussions with 12-14 teams regarding Green. Falk also told Amick that Green is 100 percent ready for next season and that he expects him to be the most sought after free agent on the market after Deron Williams, if an when Williams opts out of the last year of his contract.
There will be several teams with cap space this summer who could decide to take a run at Green. As it stands, a little more than half the teams in the league have the ability to clear space and a handful could be well under the cap including Cleveland, Brooklyn and Phoenix. Green may not be the second-best unrestricted free agent in a class that includes Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan (admittedly special cases), Ersan Ilyasova and Steve Nash, but he’s in the discussion.
Green is now three years removed from his best season when he made 39 percent of his 3-pointers and averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Thunder, but he will be 26 in August and should be entering his prime. Compared to other wing forwards on the market — Gerald Wallace, Grant Hill — youth is very much on his side. Restricted free agents Ryan Anderson and Nic Batum may have more upside, but signing them away from their teams won’t be as easy.
The Celtics stand an excellent chance to bring Green back, but they will also have competition.
|Trade deadline fallout: How the deals affect the Celtics||03.19.12 at 12:41 pm ET|
The Celtics didn’t do anything about the trade deadline, but a handful of deals have direct, or indirect ramifications for their longterm rebuilding plans.
1. Dwight Howard stays in Orlando
Skip past the drama of the past week and understand that Howard’s decision to not exercise his early termination option is huge for the Celtics. First, it keeps him away from New Jersey who planned to build a team around Howard and Deron Williams. Second, it keeps him with a Magic team that will likely remain capped out for 2012-13. Third, it removes Howard from this summer’s free agent list.
Short of Howard moving to the Western Conference, this is a positive end result for the Celtics, who can now shift their attention elsewhere.
2. New Jersey makes a panic move
After not getting Howard, the Nets traded a top-3 protected pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace in an apparent effort to keep Williams happy. Wallace is a good player and the Nets spin is that the upcoming draft lacks game-changers at the top of the draft. However, what the draft lacks in quality it more than makes up for in quantity and the Nets gave away a coveted future asset for potentially half a season of Wallace.
Williams and Wallace have ETO’s and the Nets run the risk of losing both players at the end of the season. The Nets stay the Nets, in other words. This is good for the Celtics and possibly great for the Mavericks, who will no doubt zero in on Williams this summer.
3. Portland blows it up
Now this was a demolition. The Blazers not only traded Wallace, they also dealt Macus Camby to Houston for Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet. How does this affect the Celtics? The Blazers cleared a direct path to re-sign Nic Batum, who will be a coveted restricted free agent. Batum would have been perfect alongside Rajon Rondo.
4. Denver acquires JaVale McGee
Interesting move by the Nuggets, who dealt center Nene and his 5-year, $65 million contract. While this seems curious on its face, there is a method the madness. As Mark Deeks wrote, the Nuggets likely never had any intention of keeping Nene through to the end of his deal. He was signed to be traded, which is how a proactive organization goes about its business. (New Jersey, take note).
The principal return was McGee, an athletic shot-blocking freak, known more for his LOL-worthy stunts. However, he’s also an athletic shot-blocking freak and the basketball world is beyond curious to see what happens to McGee now that he is in a structured situation on a good team with a strong-willed coach.
He’ll command huge money as a restricted free agent — again, shot-blocking freaks are rare — and Denver has the upper hand on retaining him. McGee would have been an intriguing possibility for the Celtics, but like Batum he’ll now likely be out of their reach.
|Trade Rumor: Celtics offered Paul Pierce to Blazers||03.14.12 at 11:01 pm ET|
What exactly team president Danny Ainge wanted in return for Pierce and the $32 million remaining on his contract is unclear, as LaMarcus Aldridge ($12.9 million) is essentially untouchable, Marcus Camby ($11.2 million) is a week from his 38th birthday and Raymond Felton ($7.6 million) would be an expensive backup.
That would leave some combination of Gerald Wallace ($9.5 million), Wesley Matthews ($6.1 million), Jamal Crawford ($5 million) and Nicolas Batum ($2.2 million). Of that group, Crawford is the only one rumored on the market, and regardless Portland shot down Ainge’s offer, if the report is more than rumor.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears, Ainge & Co. also reportedly joined the Lakers, Spurs and Knicks in expressing interest in Josh Howard as a boost to their wing depth, but the Jazz aren’t willing to part with 31-year-old ($3 million) with a history of issues, on and off the court.
Finally, Fox Sports writer Sam Amico tweeted that the Celtics have engaged the Kings in discussions about acquiring J.J. Hickson, a 23-year-old big making just $2.4 million. After averaging 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Cavaliers a season ago, Hickson is struggling mightily in Sacramento. Then again, who isn’t struggling mightily in Sacramento?
Whether or not any of these rumors come to fruition, one thing is clear: Ainge is ringing up quite the phone bill.