|Irish Coffee: What’s the bigs deal with the Celtics?||07.18.12 at 3:00 pm ET|
Thank God for Kevin Garnett. Again.
If not for his transition to center last season and the assumption that he’ll now man a position he admittedly hates for three more years, who would have earned minutes at the five other than Chris Wilcox? Fab Melo? JaJuan Johnson? Sean Williams? Might as well punch the Celtics faithful in the stomach thrice.
The bad news: As currently constituted, one among that trio will get minutes to begin the 2012-13 NBA season.
|Even with $20 million in the bank, Brandon Bass still has big dreams||07.14.12 at 5:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brandon Bass was rewarded for his career year, collecting a reported free agent prize of $20 million in a three-year deal to come back to Boston.
Now, he focused on proving the Celtics spent their money wisely.
“I had other offers out, but I knew where I wanted to be and that’s back in a green jersey playing for the Celtics,” Bass said. “It’s a great organization, a great group of guys who are all about winning. I’m excited to be back.”
Danny Ainge, the club’s president of basketball operations, certainly saw enough of Bass to feel the investment is a wise one, especially with so many moving parts on the roster since the end of the season. There is a certain intangible value in familiarity, both for Bass and the team.
“Bringing Brandon back to the team was a top priority of ours after the season had ended,” Ainge said. “Brandon has improved as a player every year that he has been in the NBA and we believe that the best is yet to come from him.”
Last season, Bass had the best season of his career, averaging a 12.5 points. He became invaluable to Ainge and Doc Rivers when Jermaine O’Neal went down for the season with a bad wrist. With Kevin Garnett moving to the center position, Bass started nearly every game down the stretch, playing in 59 games, including 39 starts.
“I think I still have a long ways to go,” Bass said. “I’m ready to get back in the gym, and come back a little bit better, [actually] a lot better.”
The funny part of bringing Bass back – presumably to start next season at the big forward spot between Garnett and Paul Pierce – is he might have to win over his family more than he has to convince the Celtics.
“I’ve got big dreams,” he said. “I’m 27 now. Some of my cousins say I’m getting old, but I think I’m still young and I still got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on the organization, on a team. I think this is the perfect team.”
|After a major scare, Brandon Bass is ‘more and more comfortable’ and it shows||04.12.12 at 11:28 am ET|
The irony of the situation was just too much for Brandon Bass to fully appreciate.
With just over a minute left in overtime Wednesday night, he had just tried to box out the Hawks for a rebound on one of the best rebounding nights of the season for the Celtics.
Bass went up under the basket and landed awkwardly, laying on the ground as the Celtics came rushing over to see how he was. Doc Rivers rolled his eyes to the heavens, pleading for good fortune. He and Bass got it as it was only a temporary injury to his right knee, and not the same knee that forced him to miss two weeks in February.
“I just hyperextended my knee but I’m alright,” Bass said after an 88-86 overtime win over the Hawks. “I was blocking out and I guess I tried to jump. I don’t know what I did to be honest with you.
“I felt like a little kid. I was just scared. I didn’t know what had happened. It was hurting so bad but I think it was because I was so tensed up. Once I breathed and relaxed, everything started calming down.”
“They said a bunch of things. Some said I was tired. Some said I was acting and had gone Hollywood. But man, I was scared and it was hurting, too. I wasn’t going to let the team down.”
Rivers was scared, too, as he had flashbacks to his own career-changing knee injury.
‘Well I thought he was hurt,” Rivers said. “I’ve had that injury,” Rivers said of the dreaded ACL. “I don’t even like saying the word. And where he was grabbing. I didn’t think it was going to be a good thing, so that was great.
‘The guys were laughing that he was exhausted and he needed some rest. I’m not sure what it was, actually. I’m not sure.’
Bass didn’t even miss a beat – or a play for that matter. He stayed in the game and finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in 42 massive minutes for the Celtics, who outrebounded the younger, more rested Hawks, 56-39.
“We needed a night like that to build on,” Bass said. “We had been struggling on the boards, and that’s an area we want to improve on, and we have been improving on and I just want to keep it going.”
Bass was a big reason the Celtics, playing 24 hours after an emotional battle in Miami, were able to overcome Atlanta in overtime.
“Doc just came in and laid it out and let us know, ‘No excuses tonight.’ It’s a back-to-back and everybody’s tired. He just told us to go out and fight and do what we do every night, and that’s grind,” Bass said.
Grinding is something that the Celtics loved about Bass when they traded Glen Davis to Orlando and got him in return over the summer. After 58 games this season, the Celtics are reaping the benefits of the man who has helped fill the void left by the injury to Jermaine O’Neal.
“I would say I’m getting comfortable,” Bass said. “Being with the guys, they talk to talk to me. Rondo’s out there to shoot the ball, telling me to be ready. Doc is calling plays and I feel like it’s for me. Every game I’m feeling better and more comfortable in the system. I just want to keep it going and build on it.”
|Celtics’ big man search: Ryan Hollins||03.20.12 at 1:48 pm ET|
For the last three seasons, Ryan Hollins has been an NBA rotation player. First with Minnesota in 2009 and then with the Cavaliers, Hollins has averaged about five points and three rebounds per game as a 16-minute backup center. He’s 7 feet tall, but there’s really nothing that stands out about his game.
He doesn’t create his own shot and while he has a decent touch around the basket and can make a long-distance jumper on occasion, he’s a career 66 percent free throw shooter. He’s the worst defensive rebounding center among players with 20 or more games who play 10-plus minutes per Hoop Data, and he isn’t much of a shot blocker for a 7-footer.
But Hollins is now available after the Cavaliers waived him, and once he clears waivers he’ll undoubtedly be on the Celtics‘ list. Despite his overall mediocrity, Hollins has some value to a team like the Celtics. He is athletic and can run the floor, two areas that are in major need of an upgrade.
He’s a center, and with Greg Stiemsma laboring with a sore right foot, the C’s need some protection behind Kevin Garnett, who has played a lot of minutes –about 34 a night — on this road trip. Hollins isn’t a fun name like J.J. Hickson, or as proven as Ronny Turiaf, but he is healthy and had been regularly up until the trade deadline.
As with the other candidates, the Celtics will have to make room on their roster with 15 players under contract. An obvious choices to be waived is Jermaine O’Neal who elected to have season-ending wrist surgery.
|The inevitable end for Jermaine O’Neal with the Celtics||at 12:17 am ET|
In his year and a half with the Celtics, Jermaine O’Neal played just 49 games and was on the court for only 1,001 minutes. He missed most of the 2010-11 season with a knee injury and on Monday, the team announced that he was going to have surgery to take care of a chronic degenerative wrist condition. O’Neal had wrist issues for years and they became worse after he took a fall in Dallas while trying to take a charge.
“Jermaine worked hard to get himself in condition to play this season despite his ongoing wrist issues,” said Danny Ainge in a statement. “He played through pain the entire year and gave us all he could, but unfortunately after the fall against Dallas there simply wasn’t anything else he could do. We appreciate his contributions to our team over the last two years.”
Make no mistake, O’Neal did play in pain and he played well during the 2011 playoffs, which almost made up for his lack of action during the regular season. The Celtics were hoping for a similar result this season, but they weren’t counting on it.
Ainge tried to trade him for David West during training camp and while he did provide some interior defense in his 20 minutes a night, there always seemed to be an internal battle between the player the team wanted him to be and the player he thought he still was. O’Neal responded to his critics in a fairly epic soliloquy back in December, although it was never really clear who those critics actually were.
“There’s a lot of misconception, a lot of debate, people that supposedly analyze the game,” he said. “When you analyze the game, you’ve got to know what position a team has players in. It’s easy to sit behind tables and say what you think, the fact of the matter with me here, Doc [Rivers] has given a role. All the debate about whether I score, I probably won’t answer that anymore.
“That’s not my role. My role has been given to me and my role has been said, to be a defender, not offensively. The people out there that’s saying I’m struggling offensively. That’s not my concern. I think I’m in the top 10 in blocks. I’m probably leading the NBA in charges as a center. I’m starting to get my legs back as far as rebounding and getting my timing. If you want to judge me, judge me on that. Judge me on how I get out on the pick and roll and help the guards.
“If I’m not rebounding, I’m not blocking shots, I’m not taking charges, I’m not getting on the perimeter and helping the guards, then we have a conversation to have.”
O’Neal was right. The Celtics never asked him to score, and they were almost five points better defensively when he was on the court than when he was off, but it’s still unclear if he actually believed that being a defensive specialist was the best use of his time. Unfortunately for both him and the team, his days as a 20 and 10 guy were long over by the time he came to Boston.With the Celtics he was barely a 5 and 5 man.
His decision to have surgery ends his season and potentially ends his career. Still just 33 years old, O’Neal has spent almost half his life in the NBA, with 16 seasons under his belt.
In his prime he was one of the best players in the league, but his time with the Celtics was mostly one of frustration. Ainge spent $12 million ‘ double that once the luxury tax was collected ‘ and one can make the argument that Rasheed Wallace was actually a better signing. Ainge has taken a lot or criticism over the last few years and his misuse of the mid-level exception is a glaring example.
The end for O’Neal has a touch of symbolism to it. The Celtics are going to get younger and the era of signing aging former stars to be role players is mercifully coming to a close. It’s likely that whoever they wind up signing won’t be nearly as good as O’Neal, but at least they’ll be able to get on the court.
|Celtics search for a big man||03.15.12 at 11:57 pm ET|
SACRAMENTO — After not making a move at the trade deadline, the Celtics are going forward with the core of their roster intact, but they are by no means a finished product. After learning that Chris Wilcox will need aortic surgery and miss the rest of the season, the search is on for a big man, and possibly two.
The market is limited, but there is some hope that a few players will become available by March 23. That’s the deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for a postseason roster. It’s important to note that players can sign at any point up to the end of the regular season as long as they are not on someone’s roster after the March 23 deadline.
“We do need to add a big man,” team president Danny Ainge said. “We need to find the best big man available and we’ll be a little bit patient in that.”
Here’s a list of some of the big men who are, or may become available.
Chris Kaman — The biggest name by far, Kaman is averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Hornets who have to tried to trade the 7-footer most of the season but found no takers for his $14 million contract. Hornets GM Dell Demps told reporters on Thursday that the team plans to keep Kaman.
“Everything is always a possibility,” Demps said. “I mean there’s no reason to say I’m certain, 100 percent sure. There’s always a possibility. I never want to say never. But our intention is to keep Chris.”
If Kaman is waived, the Celtics will have competition. Yahoo! reported that the Spurs and Heat would also be interested in signing him.
Jermaine O’Neal — This may be a stretch, but his situation remains murky.
“I don’t think he’ll be back, but nothing clear,” Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “It’s not been final but I don’t see him playing.”
Still, Ainge said later that he hasn’t closed the door on O’Neal who has been working out at the team’s facility and he plans to meet with him on Friday. “I don’t know what’s going to come from that meeting,” Ainge said.
It’s an indication of how thin the big man market is that O’Neal could be a lot of team’s Plan B if Kaman isn’t available.
Turiaf is a tough interior presence and a consummate pro, but he played in only four games with the Wizards this season. He also underwent aortic heart surgery in 2005. He’s played without incident since the surgery, but this is a team that has already lost Wilcox and Jeff Green to heart surgery. Still, he’ll be in demand like Kaman and possibly O’Neal.
Chris Johnson — The one-time Celtic is expected to be waived by the Blazers, along with Greg Oden. Johnson appeared in 20 games for Portland this season and played just 93 minutes. He’s 7 feet tall and a shot blocker, and the Celtics are obviously familiar with him after signing him to a 10-day contract last season.
As for Oden, forget it. The former No. 1 overall pick is recovering from his fifth knee surgery and won’t play again this season, if at all.
Leon Powe — The popular former Celtic has been playing in Puerto Rico, but the Celtics have shown little interest in bringing him back since they cut ties with him after the 2009 season.
Earl Barron — Currently playing for the Meralco Bolts in the Philippines, Barron has played for six NBA teams over seven seasons.
Here’s a look at some of the players in the D-League. Among the names are Brian Butch, Keith Benson and NBA veteran Dan Gadzuric.
Other veterans: Jake Voskhul, D.J. Mbenga, Francisco Elson, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Brian Skinner.
|The wait for Chris Kaman||at 3:19 pm ET|
OAKLAND — With no deadline deals to be had, the Celtics will now turn their attention to the veteran free agent market in their quest to fill the big-man void left by Chris Wilcox who will have heart surgery on March 29. The Celtics will have to clear a roster spot to add a player as they are at the 15-man roster limit. A prime candidate for a buyout is center Jermaine O’Neal who has not played since the All-Star break.
The deadline for players to be waived and be eligible for the postseason on another team’s roster is Mach 23rd.
If the Celtics are able to make room, they will surely have their eyes on Hornets center Chris Kaman who is in the final year of his contract worth $14 million. New Orleans wasn’t able to make a deal for Kaman at the deadline and under normal circumstances, he’d also be a likely buyout candidate. However, the Hornets are owned by the NBA and that might complicate matters. Would the league sign off on a buyout knowing that Kaman will be in high demand for teams that are trying to win a championship?
They will have competition. Yahoo! reported that San Antonio and Miami would also be interested in Kaman if he is bought out.
The Celtics have gone to the buyout route in the past. They were able to coax PJ Brown out of retirement and add Sam Cassell in 2008. Both players helped them win a championship. They weren’t as fortunate in 2009 — Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury — or last season when they aacquired Troy Murphy, Carlos Arroyo and Sasha Pavlovic.
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