|Doc Rivers’ coaching challenge||09.26.12 at 5:16 pm ET|
While the NBA continues to undergo what the writer Bethlehem Shoals once termed “the positional revolution,” the Celtics largely have stayed true to traditional lineups. There was good reason for this.
In Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett they had four players who not only fit the archetypes of their positions, they could have served as the model for how we think about point guards, off guards, small forwards and power forwards.
All that was missing was a center, and over the years they have used Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and the O’Neal brothers to varying degrees of effectiveness. Coach Doc Rivers also used Glen Davis as an undersized 5, but the one time he was truly able to display a unique look was during the championship season of 2007-08 when James Posey took the court with the other four starters.
That all began to change last season when Rivers moved Garnett to the 5 and inserted Brandon Bass into the starting lineup. The change was enormously successful, but the C’s ran into trouble during the postseason against teams like Philadelphia and Miami that could throw multiple combinations at them and create matchup advantages at various positions.
The Celtics lacked depth, which was a major problem, but they also lacked the personnel to counter some of these moves. That may have changed this offseason when they added Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green to the mix. All three players can play multiple positions. And in loading up on 7-footers (Jason Collins, Darko Milicic and Fab Melo) to go along with Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger, the Celtics should be deeper, bigger and more versatile.
At some point this winter they also will welcome back Avery Bradley, who found a home playing off the ball on offense while applying tenacious ball pressure on the defensive end of the court.
“When he comes back, I don’t know if anyone has a better guard core than us, but we’re going to have to wait for that,” Rivers said. “In the meantime we have three guys who can all play multiple positions. That’s the way I would always want to coach, and I have an opportunity to do that.”
|Irish Coffee: Did the Celtics solve rebounding woes?||09.05.12 at 11:50 am ET|
Last season, the Celtics ranked dead last in the NBA in total rebounds per game and third-to-last in both rebound differential and rebounding percentage. Not good. Not good at all. So, what did they do to improve those woes?
The short answer: Not much. The long answer? Well, that’s what we hope to explain here. First, the C’s issues.
- Rebounds per game: 38.8 (30th)
- Offensive rebounds per game: 7.7 (30th)
- Defensive rebounds per game: 31.1 (14th!)
- Rebounding percentage: 47.3 (28th)
- Offensive rebounding percentage: 19.7 (30th)
- Defensive rebounding percentage: 72.4 (20th)
- Opponents’ rebounds per game: 43.2 (21st)
- Rebound differential: -4.4 (28th)
The Celtics ranked in the top half of the NBA in just one category: Defensive rebounding, and even then they’re a middling bunch. The C’s had only two players among the league’s top 50 rebounders — Kevin Garnett (23rd) and Brandon Bass (48th) — while a team like the Lakers owned two of the NBA’s top 10 best window washers.
Things didn’t get much better in the playoffs. The C’s ranked 13th out of 16 teams in rebounds per game, 12th in opponents’ rebounds per game and 14th in rebound differential. And they ranked ninth in defensive rebounding rate, third-to-last in total rebounding rate and dead last in offensive rebounding rate. Bad, worse and terrible.
The good news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. The bad news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. While Garnett’s rebounding rate has been in fairly steady decline since he arrived in Boston, he averaged more than a rebound better once he moved to center (8.7 per game) than he did as the team’s starting power forward (7.5 per game). However, the rebounding numbers for Bass changed little during his move from the bench (6.1 in 27.9 minutes per game) to the starting lineup (6.2 in 33.6 minutes per game).
The Celtics feature the best rebounding point guard in the game (Rajon Rondo‘s average of 4.8 boards per game even surpassed 6-foot-6 Kings point Tyreke Evans), and Paul Pierce ranked among the 10 best rebounders at his position last season, but neither helped matters much last season. So, where can the C’s improve?
|The wait is over: Jeff Green signs Celtics contract||08.22.12 at 7:59 pm ET|
On Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Green tweeted, “FINALLY!!!” And the Twittersphere erupted with the assumption that after a summer of intrigue the forward put his signature on a Celtics contract. Sure enough, five hours later, the C’s officially announced his re-signing.
“We are thrilled to be able to have Jeff back with the Celtics,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said in a press release. “Jeff’s versatility on offense and ability to guard players out on the perimeter is something that we are looking forward to having on the court this season.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but previous reports indicated Green would sign for four years and $36 million. The announcement puts an end for now to a nonstop string of questions, mainly about his health following season-ending heart surgery last season. It also ensures the centerpiece from the C’s perspective in the Kendrick Perkins trade of 2011 will remain in Boston.
“I cannot wait to get back out onto the court,” said Green in a prepared statement, “and help this team towards our goal of winning another championship for Boston.”
During the 2010-11 NBA season, Green averaged 9.8 points (48.5 FG%, 29.6 3P%, 79.4 FT%) and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games for the Celtics. He also averaged 7.3 points and 2.7 rebounds over nine playoff games.
Considering their financial commitment, the C’s are surely hoping those numbers will approach or exceed his career averages of 13.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 315 games, including three-plus seasons for the Thunder and Sonics franchise.
UPDATE: Just two additional items of note from Steve Bulpett’s story in the Boston Herald on why the contract took so long to finalize: a) Green’s agent, David Falk, said complications from the collective bargaining agreement and other “side issues were more complicated than expected once they agreed on the basic parameters”; and b) insurance complicated matters (what’s new?), according to his player source.
|Chris Wilcox: ‘I want to get better than where I was’||08.20.12 at 1:02 pm ET|
In somewhat of a lost interview, Celtics big Chris Wilcox joined “Go4it” sports radio talk show host Paul Gant recently to discuss his recovery from an enlarged aorta, his camaraderie with fellow heart surgery patient Jeff Green, returning to Boston and the team’s title hopes for this coming season. Here are some highlights.
|What we know about Jeff Green’s Celtics contract||at 12:04 pm ET|
Welcome to the biggest mystery of the Celtics offseason: Jeff Green‘s contract situation. Does he have a deal? Is it really for that much? Has he signed it yet? What’s the holdup? Is he healthy? All fair questions. All unanswered.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JEFF GREEN’S CONTRACT
- In mid-December, the C’s announced Green required season-ending heart surgery that “should completely repair” his aortic aneurysm.
- In early January, we learned the Celtics pulled Green’s qualifying offer, preventing the possibility of any sign-and-trade deal.
- In early July, he and the C’s agreed to a four-year, $36 million contact.
- On Aug. 3, Green said, “I feel awesome. I actually feel a lot better than I did prior to the surgery. It was a blessing, and I’m doing better now.”
- On Friday, The Globe’s Gary Washburn tweeted, Green’s agent David Falk said the “deal with #celtics is close and should be official next week.”
- At present, Green’s contract remains the team’s only unsigned deal of the summer.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT JEFF GREEN’S CONTRACT
- Why it’s been six weeks and counting since Green agreed to a contract and the deal becoming official.
- How the Celtics will protect themselves against the possibility of a reoccurring heart ailment.
- Whether Green’s contract will be front-loaded, back-loaded or simply $9 million per season.
- How close his contract will push the Celtics to the salary cap apron of $74 million this year.
- What to make of unfounded internet rumors like this one.
|Irish Coffee: 10 things I Heard About Celtics||08.03.12 at 2:28 pm ET|
If watching Celtics strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo attempt to defend three-time NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo (see video above, h/t ballislife.com) isn’t enough enjoyment for one Friday afternoon in the NBA’s dog days of August, here is the latest edition of 10 Things I Heard About Celtics, where despite another slow news day we gather all the information we can about Boston’s green men.
10. Green peace: Well, I guess this one falls more under “things I haven’t heard about Celtics,” since inquiries about Green to the team and his agent David Falk have so far gone unanswered, so in all likelihood his reported four-year, $36 million deal remains unsigned.
Obviously, since he cannot be signed-and-traded as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement, the first reason that comes to mind for such a delay is Green’s health following heart surgery this past winter, but I can think of two other possibilities: 1) The two sides are ironing out clauses that would protect the team against the possibility of a recurring heart ailment, and/or 2) The CBA is so complicated, and the Celtics are so close to the salary cap, Danny Ainge & Co. are waiting to see if they’ll use the bi-annual exception.
If the Celtics begin the season with a minimum salary player rather than using their exception this season, they can frontload Green’s deal for an extra million dollars, so they could potentially free up some cap space — however small it may be — in Year 2, 3 or 4 of the deal. Then again, the delay might involve an entirely different scenario altogether. With both sides remaining mum on the issue, it’s all speculation at this point.
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s masterful Celtics summer||07.20.12 at 3:48 pm ET|
How do you think David West is feeling right about now? If you’ll recall, when he snubbed the Celtics for the Pacers in free agency last summer, he said, “In Boston, everybody is kinda realistic about the window that the Celtics have. Me looking at where I’m at, I think my window is a little bit wider.”
Since then, after watching the Celtics take the Heat to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals, West has seen his Pacers match Roy Hibbert‘s max contract (4 years, $58 million) — dedicating roughly $36 million annually to a “Big Three” of Hibbert, Danny Granger and George Hill — trade Darren Collison for Ian Mahinmi, and sign Gerald Green (3 years, $10 million) and D.J. Augustin (1 year, $3.5 million) as their biggest free agent splashes.
Meanwhile, Celtics president Danny Ainge painted his best masterpiece since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007 for Al Jefferson, the No. 5 overall NBA draft pick and a bunch of garbage. Not willing to call Ainge’s offseason a masterpiece? Take a look at what he had to work with this summer.