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Ian Thomsen on D&C: Celtics ‘need to trade’ Rajon Rondo following ‘fascinating’ hiring of Brad Stevens 07.04.13 at 1:09 pm ET
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Ian Thomsen

Ian Thomsen

Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen joined the Dennis & Callahan show, with guest hosts Butch Stearns and Adam Pellerin, on Thursday morning to discuss the Celtics’ hiring of Butler’s Brad Stevens to be their next coach.

Stevens, 36, reportedly was given a six-year, $22 million deal to oversee the rebuilding of the C’s.

“This was a real shocker, but it’s inspired,” Thomsen said. “They have a plan. It’s unlike any other team’s plan. I think they have a chance to make it work, so, good for them.”

Thomsen’s biggest concern is Stevens’ adjustment to an NBA that values its players far more than its coaches.

“I think the risk is you don’t know if he’s going to be any good,” Thomsen said. “It’s just a different world, a totally different world. It used to be that college coaches could make the jump to the NBA, because, as we all know, NBA players weren’t making that much money, they didn’t have that much power. When Red Auerbach was coaching, there was no free agency. He had the final say over contracts. Everything was different.

“Now the players in the NBA have more control than the coaches, except for a few situations. So, for a college coach to come in — look, these college programs are all about the coach. It’s all about the coach. And the coach every day goes out there and makes sure everybody on the team knows that it’s all about him. It’s all about Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski], it’s all about the other coaches, it was all about Jim Calhoun at UConn.

“They come to the NBA and all of a sudden they don’t have that power over the players. The players have the power over them. It’s an entirely different situation. That’s why these college coaches that in the past have been hired to coach bad teams, they’ve been fired after a couple of years, it’s been disastrous and they’ve given the whole thing a bad name.

“Why I think this can be different is because they are giving him six years. Danny [Ainge] has replaced who is arguably the best coach that isn’t about to retire in the NBA, Doc Rivers, he’s chosen to replace Doc with this guy, who has no track record. So, they’re trying to build on what Doc developed by rekindling the whole Celtics tradition, and trying to build on that by hiring this guy.

“In most circumstances you would say it’s a big mistake. I would. I’ve been saying all along that it’s impossible for a college coach to make the jump and win in the NBA. But this is a different circumstance than all the others. They’re giving him a six-year commitment, so they’re saying, ‘We’re not going to be judging you after two years, and we’re going to be rebuilding the team anyway, but we’re going to be standing by you.’ None of that has happened for any of the college coaches coming in. So, this is different. He’s trying to build a program. he’s trying to develop the old traditions and keep them relevant in this modern age. I think it’s fascinating and it’s inspiring.”

Added Thomsen: “They’re trying to indoctrinate this guy in the Celtic way. To me, the Celtic way means something. It’s an ideal. It’s hard to believe that it can work in this day and age, but they’re trying to make it work, and good for them.”

Thomsen is convinced that the Stevens hiring spells the end of Rajon Rondo’s tenure in Boston.

“It just makes sense all the way around,” Thomsen said. “If they keep Rondo, then they will not bottom out, for starters. If you want to look at it cynically, they won’t lose enough games. They’ll win just enough games to not be terrible, but they’ll never have a chance to be good. They won’t have the means to go out and get the great players that you need in the NBA.

“But then the other part of it is, I just don’t see how he can be coached by a guy that’s never been in the NBA. Doc Rivers is known in the NBA for being the coach that can confront players, can work with them, can laugh with them, can yell at them, can do all these different things. It took everything Doc had to make it work with Rondo It took all of his experience, all of his wisdom, just to keep Rondo as a constructive member of the team. And Danny and Wyc [Grousbeck], they know that. They know that. So, I just don’t see how they would make this big investment with a young coach who’s never been to an NBA practice, and then put him with one of the smartest players in the league, a great player — Rondo has a lot going for him, but Rondo’s not going to put up with somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Ian Thomsen, Rajon Rondo
Ian Thomsen on M&M: Expect more Rajon Rondo trade rumors 12.22.11 at 2:04 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated NBA writer Ian Thomsen joined Mut & Merloni Thursday to talk about the Celtics, who open the season in New York on Christmas Day.

Thomsen said the early part of the NBA season likely will be tough to watch, following a shortened preseason.

“It will be a lot like April baseball when it’s freezing cold and no one really wants to be out there, including the fans,” Thomsen said. “And then, how many empty seats are we going to see? All the fans that didn’t renew their season tickets, not knowing what the NBA was going to be, if they were going to have a season, not knowing if they wanted to support the team even if they did come back.

“It’s going to be a lot of interesting things to watch for, and almost none of them are positive over the first month, I would say. By the end of the year, I would think the NBA’s hoping everybody forgets all about all of this. Right now, it’s just really interesting to see how it plays out.”

However, Thomsen said he can’t fault the owners for pushing to start the season on Christmas.

“I think this was the right thing to do,” he said. “People are complaining about it, for sure. … This was all part of trying to save as much of the season as they could. To me, the greater good was served by that.”

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

On the Celtics’ near acquisition of David West and why West chose instead to go the Pacers: “They thought they were going to get him. And it would have been a huge get. Now, would he have been lost a little bit here? What was his role going to be alongside Garnett? The talk was Kevin Garnett would shift over to center and then David West would be the power forward. But everyone knows that Kevin doesn’t like to play around the basket. And even now, when Doc [Rivers] says he wants Kevin to be more of a scorer, he’s not saying he has to go inside.

“Maybe from David West’s point of view, where was he going to play? Because this was Kevin Garnett’s team. David West isn’t going to come in and take over for Kevin Garnett this year. So, what were their roles going to be? They sort of play on the same areas on the floor. Maybe that was a big part of it. Whereas if he goes to Indiana, he can take a team that’s on the rise, make them better. They barely made the playoffs last year. They should be much better this year. They have a great coaching staff. It’s not the Celtics. It’s not nearly as close as that. But maybe he can establish himself again coming off knee surgery. After his two-year deal’s up, he can go get another big contract. But they thought they had him, for sure.”

On Rajon Rondo trade rumors: “At times there may be complaints from Danny Ainge that he’s not generating it. But I think he wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t generating it. He should be generating it. He should be trying to figure out what can be done to make the team better. And really, the only thing he has going for him right now is cap space, the chance to play with Paul Pierce, who isn’t going to be traded, and then the ability to trade Rondo. What else does he have? What other assets does he have? So, I think we’re going to be hearing more of it. There’s just no way around it.”

On the C’s improved depth: “It’s really not a bad bench. It compares pretty well to the other second units they’ve had. And if Jeff Green was there, it would be even better. It’s not a bunch of old guys. Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox, Marquis [Daniels], Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, E’Twaun Moore, who looks like he’s going to be able to play a little bit — all these guys, they can come in and do some things to help them.

“What they don’t have is size. It’s the weakest group of big men they’ve had since they brought in Garnett and Ray Allen to go with Pierce. Jermaine O’Neal has a long history of not being able to stay healthy. And Chris Wilcox is an athletic big man but doesn’t have the low-post skills you’d like to have coming off the bench. That might be an issue. Brandon Bass is height deficient like Big Baby [Glen Davis] was. That’s really going to be a problem for them. Really, the bench is OK. The problem is the age of the players that are going to define the team.”

Read More: Danny Ainge, David West, Ian Thomsen, Kevin Garnett
Ian Thomsen: After C’s moves, ‘not sure who they are now’ 02.25.11 at 1:56 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated senior writer Ian Thomsen joined the midday show Friday with guest hosts John Rooke and Kirk Minihane to talk about the Celtics’ moves this week, mainly the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

Thomsen said the Celtics forged an identity this season as a big physical team, following their NBA finals loss to the Lakers last June. Now, the identity has changed.

“First of all, I was just wondering who the Celtics are now?” Thomsen said of his initial reaction to the trade. “Before they signed [Shaquille O'Neal] last summer, I was wondering who they were. Because they were outrebounded in the finals, the Lakers front line looked too big for them, even when Perkins was playing. But then when they got Shaq, and you thought about Shaq and Perkins as the front line, now you thought that they were going to have an edge to them, they were going to be able to play down low, they’d always have a big man in there, for 48 minutes, potentially.

“And now again, I’m just not sure who they are now, what the edge is. There are things that they can no longer take for granted: that they can guard Dwight Howard one on one, that they’re going to throw a lot of size at the Lakers — like a big offensive line that creates room for [Rajon] Rondo and all the other guys.

“So, it’s just now going to be interesting to see what’s going to be the new identity of the team. Because no matter what they do, if they get Troy Murphy or anybody else, it won’t be able to replicate what they had in Perkins. And Shaq just won’t be able to give them enough minutes, even if he’s healthy — 25, 28, 30 minutes, maybe.”

Looking at matchups against the C’s main competition, such as LeBron James‘ Heat, Thomsen said you can evaluate it a couple of ways.

“It’s like a chicken-or-egg thing,” he said. “Do you respond to matchups of other teams or do you create matchups of your own that they can’t deal with? So now, against Miami, was one reason Boston had an edge over Miami this year because of guys like Kendrick Perkins and the physical edge that they clearly have over Miami? So, you can say, OK, you don’t need to worry about Miami’s big men, so you can afford to get rid of Kendrick Perkins. But in letting go of him, are you letting go of your inherent advantage over them. And now are you sort of playing their game as opposed to making them play your game. They’re less of an imposing team without Perkins. They’re playing more to Miami’s style.

“On the other hand, Jeff Green is huge against LeBron. Because the Celtics knew they couldn’t win without a real backup 3 to help [Paul] Pierce against LeBron, to help against Kobe [Bryant], some of these other big guys on the wings. And now they have that. Jeff Green is going to come off the bench, and LeBron is going to know that for the 43 or 44 minutes he’s playing every playoff game this spring, he’s going to have somebody decent guarding him.”

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Read More: Glen Davis, Ian Thomsen, Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins
Thomsen on D&H: ‘Celtics got a better version of Eddie House’ 06.25.10 at 3:17 pm ET
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A day after the NBA draft, Sports Illustrated NBA insider Ian Thomsen talked to the Dale & Holley show to discuss what the Celtics picked up in the draft, what the future holds in store for the C’s and where LeBron James will end up next year.

“The Celtics got a better version of Eddie House,” Thomsen said about Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ first-round pick. “They got a guy who’s a terrific shooter; he’s got great range, but he’s a very good defender.”

“The one thing he doesn’t do [is] he doesn’t drive the ball great. He’s a much better shooter than he is a driver. …They’re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed.”

Highlights of the interview are below. To listen to the interview in full, click on The Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On the possibility of Paul Pierce signing a smaller contract to bring in a big name free agent:

You know, they renounce him and then they give up their Bird rights to him, so now when he signs a new contract, he gets none of the value of re-signing with his own team. It’s like he signed with another team. It’s a risky thing; I can’t remember the last time that happened. I’m sure it has, but would it happen?

I would say it won’t, because when you look at it now with these other teams trying to clear so much space, there’s more cap space out there than there are star players. There’s going to be a lot of money that goes unspent or it’s going to be spent badly because there’s nobody to sign. It’s one of those things you think about, it’s like a loophole kind of deal. It’s like when they drafted Larry Bird the year before they signed him. I just don’t see that happening.

On Avery Bradley:

The Celtics got a better version of Eddie House. They got a guy who’s a terrific shooter; he’s got great range, but he’s a very good defender. The one thing he doesn’t do [is] he doesn’t drive the ball great. He’s a much better shooter than he is a driver. And is he a true point guard? They’re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Avery Bradley, Ian Thomsen, LeBron James, NBA Draft
Ian Thomsen on D&H: Celtics will prevail 05.26.10 at 9:48 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo Sports Illustrated Cover

Rajon Rondo graces the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.

Sports Illustrated columnist Ian Thomsen appeared on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday afternoon to discuss Rajon Rondo, the Celtics-Magic series, and the future for LeBron James.

When asked about any rift that may have existed between Rondo and his teammates, Thomsen said, “I think they like him now because he’s so darn good. They appreciate now the stubbornness and the pride he has, because he backs it up. I have a feeling a lot of whatever tension was there, it was all about basketball. And look, you don’t get to act like you’re this good until you show us you’re this good, and now he’s shown it and he’s getting paid the way they’re getting paid.”

Below is a transcript. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Do you think you jinxed the Celtics after putting Rajon Rondo on the cover?

When I told Doc last week that they looked like they were going to be on the cover he replied with a grimace, let’s put it that way. And then originally the story was supposed to be Jameer Nelson and [Rajon] Rondo, it was supposed to be about the matchup, but, you know, the Magic were stinking up the joint, so you couldn’t write about them.

It was all about Rondo, and I went up to Joel Glass [the PR guy for the Magic] after the last game in their locker room after they won, and I said, “Sorry, I obviously couldn’t get Jameer into the story.” He said, “That’s OK, just put Rondo on the cover,” and I said, “Well we are putting him on the cover,” and the guy was rejoiced and he was shouting to everybody in the locker room, “Hey they’re putting Rondo on the cover, they killed Shaq [O'Neal] two weeks ago and now we’re going to kill Rondo.” It’s supposed to be one of the great honors in sports, and it’s kind of like a double-edged sword. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Ian Thomsen, Magic, Rajon Rondo
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