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Report: Celtics in running for Greg Oden 07.02.13 at 6:22 am ET
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Greg Oden

Greg Oden

According to an ESPN report, free agent center Greg Oden, who is looking to make a return to the league after sitting out since 2009 with knee problems, is likely to choose from a list of five teams that includes the Celtics. The Spurs, Heat, Cavaliers and Grizzlies are the other top candidates, with the Cavaliers and Spurs the favorites, the report indicates.

Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Ohio State, has not played since Dec. 5, 2009. He had his third microfracture knee surgery in February 2012.

Oden has averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 82 career games with the Trail Blazers.

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Doc Rivers on possibly adding Greg Oden: ‘He’ll come with a long list of scenarios’ 02.03.13 at 1:11 pm ET
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Coach Doc Rivers, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics may very well be interested in adding Greg Oden to their roster but they’re doing a job of not going overboard in expressing their enthusiasm after meeting with him on Saturday while the rest of the team had the day off.

“I got the Clippers tonight,” Rivers said before Sunday’s game with the Clippers. “I said hi to him, reminisced about high school days when I watched some AAU, but other than that, I can tell you I thought far more about the guys we are playing tonight than next year.

“We really haven’t talked about [additions]. Honestly. We obviously can, because we need a body. But we really haven’t talked about it much at all. Nothing really. What I think Danny is doing is probably doing all the work right now and I’m sure this week maybe, or who knows in two weeks, he’ll come with a long list of scenarios.”

The Celtics are in the market for a big man after losing Jared Sullinger for the season to back surgery on Friday. Rivers said he has only heard from Sullinger via text since the surgery and expects him out of New England Baptist Hospital this weekend.

Other Sunday pregame notes: Eric Bledsoe started for Chris Paul (knee), who missed his seventh game in nine contests Sunday. “In some ways, they are harder to guard and some ways they are not. Obviously, Chris Paul is fantastic. But when he plays, at least you know where the ball is at a lot, because it’s in his hands and that helps you somewhat defensively. When he doesn’t play, the ball is going all over the place, and they are in some ways difficult to guard.”

As for Doc Rivers’ Super Bowl prediction: “Oh, San Fran; it’s not even really close. It won’t be close, it’ll be a blowout,” he said, before hinging his bet bigtime. “Three points. No I do think San Fran, but who knows? I think they are the better team, but clearly I don’t know enough about football. That’s why I’m here.”

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Reports: Celtics meet with center Greg Oden 02.02.13 at 8:09 pm ET
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Greg Oden

According to multiple reports, the Celtics met with Greg Oden in Boston on Saturday as part of an informational exchange with the free agent center. However, with Oden having stated that he is targeting a return to the NBA in 2013-14, the meeting was described as an opportunity for the two sides to talk without any expectation of a deal being imminent.

“We wanted to talk to Greg to see where he is physically,” Ainge said.

The 7-footer was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007, but he played just 82 games for Portland after sitting out his rookie year with the first of multiple knee injuries. He last played on December 5th of 2009.

The fact Oden is still drawing strong interest from teams despite his medical history is a testament to his talent. He had five double-doubles — including a 13-point, 20-rebound night — in the 21 games he played before being injured in his last year.

“We’re just finding out as much as we can and letting Greg know what we have here,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Boston Herald. “He’s not ready to play now, but he’s someone who’s very interesting.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics ‘monitoring’ Greg Oden’s comeback attempt 01.17.13 at 3:17 pm ET
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Greg Oden

In their everlasting search for frontcourt depth, “the Celtics are among the team’s monitoring” 2007 NBA draft No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden‘s comeback attempt, according to CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger.

Plagued by a series of knee injuries, the 7-foot, 250-pound Oden played just 82 games in a Blazers uniform, the last of which was played on Dec. 5, 2009. Portland waived him in March 2012 after his third surgery in five years.

Last week, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein reported several teams, including the Heat, have already shown interest in signing Oden this winter with the hope of bringing him to training camp this fall. The Spurs and Cavaliers also appear to be in the mix for the former Ohio State star, CBSSports.com said.

Oden’s appeal is obvious. He’s a 7-footer who averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game in his limited NBA action. The Celtics can’t offer more money than either the Heat or Spurs, but Jared Sullinger apparently has a relationship despite playing for the Buckeyes five years apart.

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Jackie MacMullan on M&M: Veteran teams play well in shortened seasons 11.29.11 at 1:30 pm ET
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ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan joined Mut & Merloni to give her thoughts on the Celtics and how they will fare now that the union and the owners have come to a tentative agreement to end the NBA lockout. Boston is set to face the Knicks on Christmas day in the first game of a shortened 66-game season.

MacMullan pointed to the 1999 NBA season, which was shortened to 50 games due to another lockout, and how older teams like the Spurs, the Magic and the Knicks were among the best in the league.

“You look at who came out of that shortened ’99 season, it was all veteran teams,” MacMullan said. “The Orlando Magic had one of the oldest teams in the league, the New York Knicks were dragging Patrick Ewing along and of course the San Antonio Spurs, who ended up winning the whole thing. They didn’t do well in those back-to-back-to-back games, in fact they did somewhat poorly, the older teams.

“But over the long haul, you had a bunch of veterans. Do you think anyone needs to tell Kevin Garnett how to stay in shape during the lockout? Do you think anyone needs to tell Ray Allen? And I would daresay even Paul Pierce has figured it out at this point. So the veteran teams tend to do well in these shortened seasons because they know what it takes not just to get into shape, but to stay in shape as the lockout goes along.”

While many think that the Celtics’ window to win another championship has closed, MacMullan said that the team has the ingredients to still be a contender.

“These guys know how to do it, they play the kind of defense that can get it done,” MacMullan said. “The question of course we always have with them is, can they score enough points? Because they really do get bogged down offensively.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On what moves the Celtics will make before the start of the season: “I think it will be small moves. They have a core that they can try to go out a win. Don’t laugh, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried going after Grant Hill one more time, another old guy, a veteran that Doc loves and I think would be great in their locker room. They need a big body. My guess is they’ll go for a defensive type of center, like Kendrick Perkins, who’s going to cost them less money. Maybe a Joel Przybilla, his name has been out there. Do they go after a young, athletic guy like Al Thornton? They might.

“I was intrigued with one thing. Greg Oden is a restricted free agent in Portland. We know about his terrible, terrible foot problems. Do you take a flyer on him, one that doesn’t cost you a ton of money? My guess is whatever you did Portland would match it. But I just go all the way back to when we thought the Celtics might have a No. 1 pick, they were in the Greg Oden camp. Not the Kevin Durant pick, and by the way, that’s true of 99 percent of the people in the NBA at that time. So do you take a shot at Greg Oden? I don’t know. I doubt you overpay for him. You maybe overplay a little, but I doubt you throw big, big bucks at him and my guess is Portland would match no matter what. But he’s just a guy to throw out there because if he could at all be healthy, he’d really help you.”

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Celtics free-agent options at center 06.27.11 at 6:46 pm ET
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Sure, the NBA is on the precipice of a July 1 lockout, but we can still examine what options will be available to the Celtics at each position once the salary cap landscape is determined (God knows when). We’ll start with the C’s biggest need: Centers.

The Celtics started the 2010-11 season with four centers on the roster (Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden) along with sometimes center Glen Davis. Now, a year later, only JO remains from that list. While Big Baby remains an option depending on his value on the open market, the C’s still need at least one if not two more guys who can play the five.

The Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2; Paul Pierce, $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo, $10; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley, $1.53), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason. That leaves little wiggle room for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, no matter how the collective bargaining agreement shakes out.

As a result, don’t expect any big-name free agents. So, let’s start by crossing Nene (early termination option), Marc Gasol ($4.5 million qualifying offer) and Tyson Chandler (unrestricted) off the list of potential targets. While any of those three would be a fantastic fit on the 2011-12 Celtics (assuming, of course, there’s a 2011-12 season in the NBA), they’re all out of their league.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at center, separating the current free-agent players into four categories …

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Irish Coffee: Is Greg Oden pick Sam Bowie 2.0 or worse? 12.01.10 at 11:18 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Amid countless comparisons of Greg Oden to Sam Bowie that surfaced after another season-ending Oden injury, I got to thinking: Is Oden’s draft selection over Kevin Durant worse than the biggest “what if” in NBA history – picking Bowie over Michael Jordan?

As the Celtics welcome the Trail Blazers to Boston on Wednesday night, it’s as good a time as any to determine — through three seasons — which Portland pick was more unfortunate.

First, let’s take a look at Oden and Bowie’s averages through their first three seasons:

Greg Oden vs. Sam Bowie
82 ….. GAMES ….. 119
9.4 ….. POINTS ….. 10.8
7.3 … REBOUNDS … 8.5
1.4 ….. BLOCKS ….. 2.6
0.6 …. ASSISTS …. 2.7
0.4 ….. STEALS ….. 0.7

Bowie played one more partial season (20 games) for the Blazers before playing at least 60 games per season in six of the next seven year for the Nets and Lakers. He actually averaged a double-double (14.7 points, 10.1 boards) during his first season in New Jersey.

There’s serious doubt whether Oden will ever suit up for the Blazers again, as he hasn’t played since December 2009 and becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

And now let’s examine Durant and Jordan’s averages through their first three seasons:

Kevin Durant vs. Michael Jordan
236 ….. GAMES ….. 182
25.3 ….. POINTS ….. 31.7
6.2 … REBOUNDS … 5.7
2.7 …. ASSISTS …. 5.0
1.2 ….. STEALS ….. 2.6
09 ….. BLOCKS ….. 1.2

The only solace Portland fans can take from all of this is that, while Oden may be a bigger bust (medically) than Bowie, Durant also isn’t as good as Jordan. Have you looked back lately at Jordan’s statistics in just his third season? He averaged a ridiculous 37.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.9 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

On one hand, there’s no doubt the Blazers would’ve won the NBA title in 1992 had they drafted Jordan, since they lost to his Bulls in the Finals, 4-2. And they might’ve hung a couple more banners around that one. On the other hand, the present-day Blazers would be championship contenders for the next 10 years with Durant.

Either way you slice it, the knife still cuts deep through the heart of Portland.

FILE - This Oct. 9, 2010, file photo shows Miami Heat's LeBron James throwing powder into the air prior to the team's NBA preseason basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs,  in San Antonio. Shaquille O'Neal plans to watch James' return to Cleveland on Thursday night _ for one reason. "I'm anxious to see if he's going to do that powder thing," O'Neal said before a shootaround Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010,  as his Boston Celtics prepared to face the Cavaliers.

Will LeBron James do his powder puff routine in his return to Cleveleland? (AP)

CELTICS ROCK CLEVELAND

Well, for one final week for what will likely be a fairly long time, Cleveland is the center of the NBA universe. The discussion ranged from the Cavaliers’ rematch against the Celtics on Tuesday night to the return of LeBron James on Thursday night.

Let’s start with the rematch, which turned into a 106-87 Celtics vengeance victory against the Cavaliers (after we explained why the C’s would cover the seven-point spread, please send 25 percent of your winnings to the WEEI offices in Brighton).

Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott, who called the Celtics “a great basketball team,” explained how his disdain for Boston has evolved since Doc Rivers took over the helm:

”No matter what team I’m coaching, we match up against Boston and there’s a little extra incentive for me,” Scott told the Akron Beacon Journal. ”All of that is because of the ’80s. It was fun, but it’s a little different now because Doc is over there. You have a good friend on the other side, it kind of waters it down a little bit. But anytime I see that green and white, I want to beat them.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston compared the Heat’s Three Amigos to the Celtics’ Big Three, and the contrast was none too kind:

For his part, James could have stayed here and been beloved, or he could have gone to New York, the nation’s media capital, or Chicago, the best basketball fit. Instead, he went to Miami, where he would not have to be a leader anymore.

The Boston Big Three, however, stood squarely in the shadows of the Larry Bird-Kevin McHale-Robert Parish triumvirate of the 1980s. They played beneath 16 championship banners hanging from the rafters. And they promptly won a 17th.

They were old and tired of losing. The Heat’s newcomers are young and used to babying.

In hopes of capturing similar remarks from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — especially after his emotional letter following LeBron’s “Decision” — the Cleveland media sought comment:

”You don’t want to see anything stupid happen,” Gilbert told the Akron Beacon Journal. ”I’m sure a lot of them will make their feelings known, but as long as everybody plays by the rules and doesn’t go over the top, I think everything will be fine. I really believe that Cleveland people will do the right thing.”

Meanwhile, even while LeBron is trying to say all the right things, he still manages to sound pretty disingenuous (note the “showcase my talent” line):

“I think it’s going to be very emotional for myself,” James said. “I’ve got a lot of great memories in that city. So many times, from ups and downs, and a lot of things that I’ve done in my life, I give a lot of thanks to that city, lot of thanks to those fans for giving me the opportunity to not only showcase my talent but grow from a young boy to a man.”

Considering Shaquille O’Neal played with LeBron in Cleveland and has had plenty of homecomings himself — in Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Cleveland — reporters asked him if he’d be watching on Thursday night:

”My situation in Orlando was a six, my situation in LA was a seven,” O’Neal told the Akron Beacon Journal. ”This is like a 12.”

“I’m a silly fan,” O’Neal told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’m anxious to see if he’s going to do that powder thing,” referring to when James fills his hands with powdered white rosin and tosses it in the air before the game.

Great point by Shaq. There’s no way he does “that powder thing” before the game, right?

DELONTE WEST’S TIMETABLE

I read about 87 stories about Delonte West‘s successful wrist surgery yesterday, and all of them said the team had no timetable for his return, which is why I was surprised to read this in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Wednesday morning:

“We don’t know his timetable [to return] yet,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “I’ve heard anywhere from two to three months or longer.

“That’s a tough one for us. That hurt us. My plan going into the year was to literally have two units — a starting unit and a second unit — because of the age of our team. But now we have to scrap those plans and some of our starters are going to have to play different minutes.

“It’s not what we wanted, but the season takes its own turns and you just have to adjust to them.”

Two months? That would mean a Feb. 1 return date — leaving plenty of time for West to rehab his way to health heading into the playoffs. That’s not nearly as bad as I thought.

TYSON CHANDLER BACKS KEVIN GARNETT

Count Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler among the NBA players on Kevin Garnett‘s side in the whole Charlie Villanueva “cancer patient” saga. He explained how easy it is to get caught up in trash talking to Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thompsen:

“I love [Garnett], I love what he does. I look at it this way: He gives you his heart and soul every single night out there, and if it takes him to pump himself up and do whatever he has to do, I’ll take that rather than him collecting a check and not giving you a great effort. That’s the other side of it — the guys you feel like are not giving you as much as they can. So I’ll take him screaming and talking and pumping his chest and doing whatever it takes you to do to give what you got. I’ve admired him and looked up to him before my career started.”

You wonder how many NBA players feel the way Chandler does about Kevin Garnett and how many players feel the way Joakim Noah does about him.

WILL BRANDON ROY PLAY?

Celtics fans have already missed Durant and John Wall at the Garden this season. Will they also miss another NBA star when Brandon Roy‘s Blazers come to town Wednesday night?

According to the Oregonian, even after playing 33 minutes in a loss to the 76ers on Tuesday night, Roy expects to suit up for the Trail Blazers agains the Celtics:

Roy said he expects to play Wednesday against Boston. It would be his first back-to-back games since returning to play with a sore left knee.

However, Celtics fans might be robbed of the only opportunity to see Joel Przybilla. A tragedy, I know.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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