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Report: Celtics target Josh Smith pending Paul Pierce trade 06.25.13 at 1:52 pm ET
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The Celtics continue to be intrigued by the possibility of adding Hawks forward Josh Smith. (AP)

The Celtics continue to be intrigued by the possibility of adding Hawks forward Josh Smith. (AP)

If the Celtics can unload captain Paul Pierce to a team with enough cap space to absorb his $15.3 million contract next season — acquiring an equally hefty trade exception in return — Danny Ainge already has a sign-and-trade package prepared to offer the Hawks for unrestricted free agent Josh Smith, according to a Sporting News report.

The Bucks and Cavaliers have both been rumored among potential Pierce suitors, but the Celtics legend’s desire to play for a contender if he doesn’t stay in Boston remains an apparent hurdle for Ainge, who also reportedly wants a first-round pick back for Pierce.

Unless Ainge finds a trade destination for Pierce or both agree to extend the deadline, the C’s must decide by July 1 whether to pay Pierce his $15.3 million or cut him for $5 million against the cap.

While Sporting News reporter Sean Deveney‘s source did not divulge any details of a potential sign-and-trade deal for Smith, the Celtics would reportedly be willing to offer the athletic 27-year-old $15 million.

However, Smith could receive as much as $17.5 million on the open market from teams with the salary cap space (i.e., the Bucks, who sought Smith at the trade deadline), throwing yet another wrinkle into Ainge’s rebuilding plans this summer.

Of course, Smith and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo have been close friends since their days as roommates at Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) Academy. The mercurial Hawks forward has admitted being “a little jealous” of Rondo’s Boston experience in addition to conceding that a trade to the C’s was “a possibility” in February.

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Josh Smith: Celtics trade ‘was a possibility’ 03.09.13 at 1:27 am ET
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Josh Smith was in Boston, so naturally it was time to ask Josh Smith about the latest Josh Smith to the Celtics trade rumors. It’s like an annual rite of passage for the Hawks forward whose contract expires at season’s end.

Leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline, this season’s rumors had either Celtics captain Paul Pierce or a package of Jeff Green and Brandon Bass headed to Atlanta in exchange for Smith’s services. Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that the C’s, Hawks and Mavericks nearly pulled the trigger on a three-team deal that would have brought Smith to Boston for Pierce and a first-round pick.

Of course, Smith also almost landed on the Nets and Bucks, among other places.

“It was a possibility of me going a lot of places,” Smith said after his near triple-double (32 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds) in Boston, “but I’m here and I’m focusing on what’s at stake right now. I’m trying to get a little higher playoff position, so I am not worried about anything else but winning games for this organization and this team.”

Generally, the logic goes something like this: Smith and Rajon Rondo were amazingly entertaining high school teammates, and they’re still best friends, so the C’s are a natural fit for a guy the Hawks probably won’t re-sign.

“That’s my friend, so we talk almost every day,” Smith said of the injured Celtics point guard. “We don’t talk about surgery. We just talk about friendship stuff, off-the-court stuff. That’s the least of both of our concerns. It’s a far-fetched injury, so right now we’re just focusing on staying positive.”

(Aside: Somehow I doubt his ACL tear is the least of Rondo’s concerns, and I can assure you it’s not far-fetched.)

Perhaps they discuss the C’s surprising 14-4 record sans Rondo, including Friday’s overtime win over his Hawks?

“They’re a successful basketball team, and they know how to win,” said Smith. “They have a lot of professionals on that team. They have some players that have won championship rings on their team, so I’m not surprised.”

What about those pesky trade rumors? Surely, Smith and Rondo discuss those in their daily phone conversations.

“We don’t talk about that,” finished Smith. “We don’t talk about that.”

OK, then. Nothing to see here. Move along. Until the next time Smith rolls into Boston, I’m sure.

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Front-running: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett lead the way as C’s hold on against Hawks 03.08.13 at 10:47 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and the Celtics had a step up on Josh Smith and the Hawks for most of the night. (AP)

Paul Pierce and the Celtics had a step up on Josh Smith and the Hawks for most of the night. (AP)

Jason Terry connected on a straightaway 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in overtime to lead the Celtics to a thrilling 107-102 win over the Hawks Friday night at an electrified TD Garden. The game marked a franchise-record 11th overtime game for the Celtics this season, with Boston going 7-4 in those contests.

More importantly, it extended Boston’s home-court winning streak to nine games and improved them to a season-best seven games over .500 at 34-27. They tied Atlanta (34-27) in the East. The Hawks entered the night as the No. 5 seed in the East.

Paul Pierce had 27 points while Kevin Garnett added 17 points to lead the Celtics, who won their ninth straight at home. Terry had 19 points to lead the Boston bench while Jeff Green added 12.

The Hawks, who burned the Celtics with 12 3-pointers in their double-overtime win in Atlanta on Jan. 25, came out blazing again Friday night. Devin Harris, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith connected from long range to account for Atlanta’s first three field goals on the night.

Smith finished with a game-high 32 points while Al Horford had 22 points and 13 rebounds. The Hawks finished the night 9-of-27 from long range.

The Celtics built a 10-point lead in the second quarter, 41-31, as the Celtics rode the hot shooting of Pierce and Jason Terry. Pierce was 5-for-7 from the field in the first half, including a pair of threes in the first quarter while Terry scored all 10 of his first-half points in the second quarter. Terry finished with 14 off the bench.

But the Hawks made a 13-2 run to take a very brief 44-43 lead on an Anthony Tolliver 3-pointer. The Celtics responded by finishing the half on an 8-4 run to take a 52-47 lead to the locker room.

After the Hawks closed to within seven, 86-79, Jeff Green, who was slowed by the Hawks for the first three quarters, threw down a spectacular reverse dunk with 5:14 left to put Boston up, 88-79.

But the Hawks weren’t done. Jeff Teague converted a three-point play when he was fouled on a layup and hit the free throw to help Atlanta close to within five, 90-85, with just over three minutes left. Smith then hit a layup with 2:54 left as the Hawks cut the Boston lead down to three, 90-87.

Pierce hit an 18-foot fadeaway jumper with 2:26 left to restore the lead to five before Smith came back to answer, making it 92-89 Celtics. After a Garnett missed jumper, Kyle Korver hit a three with 1:31 left to tie the game, 92-92. Pierce hit another fadeaway from 18 feet to put the Celtics up but Al Horford got free for a game-tying dunk with 55.2 seconds left.

The Hawks had a chance to take the lead with 31 seconds left but Smith committed a turnover with a bad pass and Garnett came up with the steal with 25 seconds left. Pierce ran an iso play at the top of the key before dishing to Garnett with five seconds left in regulation. Garnett missed his jumper, giving the Hawks a chance with 2.2 seconds left. Harris inbounded for the Hawks to Smith, who missed an open look over Brandon Bass.

The Hawks scored the first four points of overtime before the Celtics responded. Green’s baseline three hit the front of the rim, bounced straight up in the air and rattled home with 2:34 left in overtime, putting Boston back up, 99-98. With the shot clock about to expire, Smith drained a three with 2:14 left to put Atlanta back up, 101-99. Pierce connected for a three with 1:37 left to put the Celtics back up, 102-101. Smith connected on 1-of-2 free throws with 1:20 left to tie the game, 102-102.

Terry drilled a straightaway three with 35 seconds left to put the Celtics up, 105-102. The Celtics are off Saturday before taking on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET

For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Donny Marshall on M&M: Josh Smith has ‘no position, no shot selection’ 02.21.13 at 1:16 pm ET
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A mere hours before the NBA’s trade deadline, Donny Marshall of CSNNE joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the never-ending trade rumors involving Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Fab Melo and more.

Josh Smith reportedly is not happy in Atlanta. (AP)

The Celtics reportedly have interest in making a deal for Hawks forward Josh Smith. (AP)

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, reported Wednesday that the Nets had offered Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a draft pick to the Celtics for Pierce.

“I love MarShon Brooks,” Marshall said. “I think that he is one of my favorite, if not my favorite first couple of years players. He’s a terrific scorer. … It comes to an end at some point and then you have to start rebuilding. Paul Pierce is the Bob Cousy, the John Havlicek of the Celtics today. He really is. You have a guy on your team that has played for you his entire career and has played through all the ups and downs. … If you can get a guy like MarShon Brooks, if you can get a guy like Kris Humphries; you know what, personality off the court aside, it helps you on the court.”

Another hot topic for the trade deadline has continued to be the possible availability of Hawks forward Josh Smith.

“I don’t know if Doc Rivers wants to coach a guy like Josh Smith,” Marshall said. “The guy has no position, I’m talking basketball alone. He has no position. He has no shot selection. Sometimes you’ll see him shooting 3′s. He’ll shoot air balls, then he’ll make two or three. Then you’ll see him shooting mid-range jumpshots, then you’ll see him in the post. He really has no position. … He hasn’t proven himself as a winner, one. He doesn’t really understand the concepts of what they’re running. Maybe that’s the coach and the system that you can play in Atlanta, but I’m not so sure that he’s a Doc Rivers-type guy.”

While Smith’s athleticism is obvious, his personality and attitude has come into question in the past.

“Everyone across the board [says] ‘We don’t know, we stay away from Josh Smith,’ ” Marshall said. “Because his personality, he will blow up at you. He will walk out of practices. These are reports from guys who are on that team; coaches and players. Obviously you have to have a guy come and experience it for yourself, but guys in the NBA talk. It’s a small fraternity and that bad news can derail, it will stay with you for a long time, and I think a lot of people know that about Josh Smith, apart from his talent on the floor.

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Chris Mannix on M&M: ‘More likely than not, the core of this [Celtics] team stays together’ 02.20.13 at 1:48 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, one day before the NBA trade deadline, to discuss rumors surrounding the Celtics. Mannix said the Celtics would be wise to do the deal reportedly discussed with the Clippers, but he’s not expecting it to happen.

Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe

“Boston was making a lot of those calls about [Kevin] Garnett to the Clippers,” Mannix said. “And the interest in the Clippers, I can tell you, it’s divided out there among the organization. The coaching staff, they want Kevin Garnett, because they want to win now. … Whereas the front office, I can tell you this, they’re not all that inclined to give up Eric Bledsoe, who is a potential 10-year starter in this league, and DeAndre Jordan, a sure-fire starter right now, for Kevin Garnett, who could potentially only be giving you a couple more months. Who knows what Kevin Garnett’s future is going to hold? To me, he’s always been on a series of one-year contracts.

“I think at the end of the day, when you throw in the no-trade clause that Kevin has, and you consider the fact that I have not heard a heck of a lot of significant interest surrounding Paul Pierce, I think more likely than not, the core of this team stays together.”

A report Tuesday night had the Clippers pulling out of trade talks. Mannix said he expects Celtics boss Danny Ainge would follow through if the deal is resuscitated.

“I think if the deal is there, he makes it,” Mannix said. “If he can get Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett, you jump at it. I’ve heard some criticisms of this deal from the Boston side; I don’t get it. Has anyone not been watching Eric Bledsoe? As really the fourth guard on this Clippers team — third, I guess, when [Chauncey] Billups is injured — but really, he’s done a lot of things.”

Added Mannix: “You’re dealing with potential right now, because he hasn’t gotten the consistent minutes at the point guard spot because Chris Paul has been there for a couple of years now. But Eric Bledsoe is a guy that could potentially take over as a starting point guard for a team right away, and be an effective guy, be a guy that can score 15 points per game and give you seven, eight assists. Look at the way he’s played this year: He’s up to about 10 points per game. But more importantly, his field goal percentage is in the mid-40s right now, his 3-point percentage is in the low 30s. This is a guy that’s been improving every single year. So I think he’s a guy you would want to get.

“Same thing with DeAndre Jordan, who admittedly is a little bit overpaid, because Golden State threw that massive contract at him last year. But he’s someone that can be a starting center on your team for the next decade.

“And when you make a deal like that, all of a sudden there can be a domino effect. Now you can think about dealing Rajon Rondo next year, when he becomes healthy, because you have Eric Bledsoe already at the starter’s spot. You can trade Rondo for some starting quality pieces or some draft picks, and all of a sudden an old, aging team could suddenly be a fast, rebuilding team on the fly. I think that’s the way it would turn out.”

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Report: Clippers put Kevin Garnett trade talks with Celtics on hold 02.19.13 at 10:46 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

According to Yahoo! Sports, the Clippers have halted talks with the Celtics regarding a deal that would send Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles and DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe to Boston.

The report states that the Celtics are “eager to continue the conversation on the deal,” but it is unclear if the Clippers will move forward with any trade unless star point guard Chris Paul pushes Los Angeles to complete such a transaction.

The Celtics also reportedly won’t consider any other combination of players for Garnett, focusing solely on Jordan and Bledsoe.

Sources told Yahoo! Sports that if the Celtics do trade Garnett, they would also move Paul Pierce, with the report suggesting the Celts captain might be included in a deal for Atlanta’s Josh Smith.

For more Celtics news, go to the team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Marc Spears on D&C: ‘I know the Clippers want to do this’ trade for Kevin Garnett at 11:33 am ET
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Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the rumors of a trade between the Celtics and Clippers, and the Celtics’ interest in Hawks forward Josh Smith.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

With Thursday’s trade deadline fast approaching, rumors continue to swirl that the Celtics and Clippers are discussing a deal that would send Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.

“I think the Clippers want it done more so than Boston,” Spears said. “This is the first time we’ve ever talked about the Clippers having a championship shot. I think they realize that they’re missing just a little something to get them over that hump with Oklahoma City and with San Antonio. And who better to get them there than Kevin Garnett?

“I was there [at All-Star Weekend] when Kevin said no, no circumstance, nothing. But I really believe if Danny [Ainge] came up to him and said, ‘Hey, this is something we would like to do; this is better for our future,’ knowing Garnett’s pride, I think he would probably change his mind. I know he doesn’t want to be somewhere where they’d rather have something else.”

Jordan is having a solid fourth season (9.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Bledsoe, while not a starter, also is having a good year (9.6 ppg, 3.3 apg).

“DeAndre Jordan I think is a better center than [he's] getting credit for,” Spears said. “He’s really really retooled his offensive game, gotten better in the post, but the problem is everybody on the Clippers likes to shoot. … I think he could be one of the NBA’s elite centers, he’s just not given a chance.

“Bledsoe is very very talented, very athletic. I don’t know that acquiring him certainly means that [Rajon] Rondo is gone. He and Chris Paul play a lot together, so I can’t see why him and Rondo can’t play a lot together. But I know Bledsoe is at a point in his career, too, where he wants to start, so that’s where I think it gets kind of tricky.”

It appears that the trade could benefit both clubs. It would give the Celtics a quality starting center and a young point guard, while the Clippers would get a player with championship experience who still is playing good basketball at the age of 36. KG has stated numerous times, though, that he wants to finish his career with the Celtics.

“I know the Clippers want to do this, I know they want to,” Spears said, adding: “This is an opportunity for the Clippers to finally get something. The window with Garnett obviously is about two years, but they’ve never been here and I think their owner might be in the mentality now of just ‘Let’s go for it. I’ve saved money for all these years with these bad teams, I might as well do something for once.’ So I think they’re open to doing something big.”

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