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Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘I think we’ve gotten better’ despite losing Ray Allen 07.09.12 at 3:06 pm ET
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Wyc Grousbeck

Celtics managing partner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk in-depth about Ray Allen‘s departure to Miami.

Allen chose the rival Heat over the Celtics late last week for less money, surprising a majority of Celtics fans.

“I was surprised, but I wasn’t utterly shocked,” Grousbeck said. “Let’s face it, he was not necessarily going to start. As Doc put it, he felt somehow that he was slighted possibly in the recruiting process in this offseason. … If Doc’s report is correct, Ray felt he was second fiddle to first, Avery Bradley and then Kevin Garnett, so he decided to go to our arch-rival for less than half the money, so be it.”

Added Grousbeck: “I would not blame him [for his negative emotions]. I’ve said to friends of mine and people that I work with over the last few days that the trade deadline and the fact that he was almost traded, it would bother me, if I was Ray. And he has every right to go down to Miami. And we have every right to try and beat those guys.”

There have been rumors circling that Allen and Rajon Rondo did not get along.

“Let’s put it this way, if Ray had come back … he would have played fine with Rondo,” Grousbeck said. “There was a number put out and there were also emotional issues out there. There was a price tag put out there [reported to be $27 million for three years], it just wasn’t one we could get to.”

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

On Allen’s legacy: “Let’s put it this way, Red Auerbach told me personally and told players in front of me, ‘It’s the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back.’ I think Ray always put the Celtics first and it was never about himself and I think if we’re going to be successful we have to keep doing it that way. We’re going to band together, we’re not going to cut down Ray Allen in any way. We’re going to say the name on the front of your jersey just changed, but you’re always a Celtic to us.”

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Read More: Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Wyc Grousbeck
Ric Bucher on M&M: Tyler Hansbrough is ‘best-case scenario for Jared Sullinger’ 07.02.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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Ric Bucher

ESPN’s Ric Bucher joined Mut & Merloni Monday morning to discuss Kevin Garnett’s contract, what the future holds for Ray Allen, what the Celtics’ expectations should be for Jared Sullinger, and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While he didn’t think it was a surprise that Garnett would return to Boston, Bucher said Garnett’s reported three-year, $34 million contract offer was far more than expected.

The deal was “pretty surprising considering the length and the size of it,” Bucher said. “We all know that KG has been battling through a number of things the last few years, and while I thought that [the Celtics] might make him a healthy offer, I never expected that it would be that long.”

Bucher said he felt that Garnett’s effectiveness away from the basket, with his height and shooting ability, was a major factor in the Celtics’ decision to offer the 36-year-old a three-year deal.

“KG has demonstrated with his length and with that silky jumper that he can still be effective,” Bucher said. “And with that size and ability to space the floor, it doesn’t really come down to athleticism. He can probably make that shot over guys when he is 40 years old, and now we may get the chance to see him prove it.”

As for his prediction regarding the Ray Allen sweepstakes, Bucher said he’s come full circle since Garnett agreed to come back, at first believing Allen would definitely return, then wondering whether the Suns would lure him away with a huge contract. However, Bucher said he ultimately he made up his mind when he heard Celtics coach Doc Rivers’ comments.

“Doc coming out and saying, ‘Hey, I feel like Ray’s going to be here,’ and knowing Doc usually doesn’t talk empty-handed in those sorts of tones, and knowing just the general relationship between KG, Ray, Doc and Paul [Pierce], I’m back around to finding it hard to believe that with KG in the fold for that period of time that they’re going to let Ray Allen walk.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Kevin Garnett, Mut & Merloni
What Kevin Garnett’s return means for Celtics 06.30.12 at 12:18 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett is coming back to the Celtics. (AP)

Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston five years ago with the promise of rebirth for a franchise that had grown stale. He was a savior then — plucked from Minnesota for almost half a roster’s worth of young players and draft picks – and he was treated as such.

On a team of prideful individuals, Garnett’s persona stood out as the defining one. Dedicated to the point of insanity and private to the point of aloofness, Garnett kept close watch over his basketball family and kept everyone else at bay. Something changed over the course of those five years, culminating last season in a Garnett that was slightly more accessible and endearingly human.

No one could have predicted five years ago that Garnett would ultimately become an institution, but here we are. He’s become one of us: a Bostonian in more than just an address and a Celtic in more than just a uniform. When his contract expired, there was never a question of going anywhere else, it was only a matter of whether he’d come back for more.

We have our answer, as Garnett will sign a new deal, reportedly for three years and $34 million, roughly half the monetary value of his last contract, and assuring he will be in a Celtics uniform for almost a decade.

Garnett’s new deal sets in motion an offseason that now takes on a defined shape. The Celtics are still contenders, and team president Danny Ainge has flexibility to build the rest of the roster. Salary cap economics being what they are, Ainge is limited to a degree, but he has a host of options at his disposal that weren’t as obvious 24 hours ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
Danny Ainge on Kevin Garnett: ‘Don’t really have any conclusions’ 06.29.12 at 7:06 am ET
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Kevin Garnett

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that, with free agency set to commence on Sunday, the Celtics remain uncertain about the future of Kevin Garnett. The Celtics have an exclusive negotiating window with Garnett through the end of June; free agents can start negotiating with other teams on July 1, with a moratorium on signings from July 1-10.

“I’ve been talking with Kevin and his people and don’t really have any conclusions yet,” Ainge said after Thursday night’s NBA draft. “That’s our No. 1 option. One reason is because he’s such a valuable player, and one reason is because he’s the only guy we can talk to.”

The 36-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 60 games during the 2011-12 season.

Read More: Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett,
2012-13 Celtics free agent options at power forward 06.27.12 at 6:17 pm ET
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Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett to Keyon Dooling can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap, expected to approach the 2011-12 number of $58 million. We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Power forwards (Also see: Centers and shooting guards).

The Celtics began last season with Kevin Garnett as the starting four, but his move to center bumped backup Brandon Bass into the starting position and transformed the team. Both Chris Wilcox (heart surgery) and rookie JaJuan Johnson showed flashes of athletic brilliance as running mates to Rajon Rondo off the bench.

Given his effectiveness down the stretch, Garnett seems the logical solution to the C’s center position, and barring an Avery Bradley-esque leap Johnson appears locked into the back end of the depth chart. That means the Celtics will need two players capable of playing power forward, ideally one who can defend both bigs and another athletic option who can provide an energy boost for the reserve unit. Perhaps Bass and Wilcox are the answers.

The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Paul Pierce, $16.8M; Rondo, $11.0M; Bradley, $1.6M; Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Bass, Wilcox, Ray Allen, Jeff Green, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins and Dooling, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.

As a result, expect the C’s to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at power forward, separating the current free agent players into four categories.

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Read More: 2012 NBA Free Agent Rumors, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Kris Humphries
2012-13 Celtics free agent options at center 06.25.12 at 5:21 pm ET
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Eleven of the 15 players on the roster against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals can begin negotiating with the Celtics or any other team as NBA free agents on July 1. More importantly, they can sign anywhere on July 11 once an audit determines the salary cap. That figure is expected to be close to the 2011-12 number of $58 million, and a large chunk of that will be dedicated to one of the C’s biggest needs: Centers.

The Celtics started last season with two true centers (Jermaine O’Neal, Greg Stiemsma), mixed in a little Chris Wilcox early and settled on Kevin Garnett, who finished the year as the best remaining center in the playoffs. Now, a year later, nobody remains from that list. While Garnett, Stiemsma and Wilcox are all options depending on their mindset, health and value, respectively, the C’s may need anywhere from 0-3 guys who can play the five.

The Celtics have four players under contract in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Paul Pierce, $16.8M; Rajon Rondo, $11.0M; Avery Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Ray Allen, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling and Stiemsma, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.

As a result, expect the C’s to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is 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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Read More: 2012 NBA Free Agents Rumors, Boston Celtics, Brook Lopez, Chris Kaman
Irish Coffee: Celtics or bust for Kevin Garnett 06.11.12 at 1:30 pm ET
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Let’s get this out of the way: Every NBA team would like to sign Kevin Garnett away from the Celtics.

While the Miami Herald would have you believe “Garnett fades away in the biggest moment” — without mention of his Game 7 first-half foul trouble — the fact is he changed the culture of the C’s organization and carried them within a game of the 2012 NBA finals at the age of 36, and any team would welcome that presence into their locker room. Celtics coach Doc Rivers reminds us of this every time somebody calls Garnett a dirty player.

“He’s been everything for my career, just his locker room presence, his desire, his determination, his leadership,” C’s captain Paul Pierce told reporters on Saturday night. “I’ve said before, when Kevin first got here, he really changed the culture of everything we did around here, from the practice habits to the on-court discipline. He made everybody accountable, from the ballboys to the chefs to the guy who flew the plane. Everybody was accountable. It was just tremendous to have him around, just the culture he brought.

“It would be great for me to end my career with Kevin,” he added. “I have a couple of years left, and who knows what his future is going to bring. Hopefully, management can do something to bring him back, maybe add some pieces to this team that we need to get us over the top. If not, it’s been a tremendous ride.”

No wonder recent reports name the Spurs and Nets as suitors. No kidding. You don’t need to tell us Rosie O’Donnell is interested in Ben & Jerry’s free cone day. Let’s throw the other 28 teams in the mix while we’re at it.

Eliminate 14 teams off the bat. Does anyone really think Garnett is leaving Boston to finish his career rebuilding a lottery team? Cross off another eight playoff teams that — barring a significant increase of the $58.0444 million salary cap — enter the summer over the limit (Bulls, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Thunder), regardless of their amnesty options. He’s not going elsewhere for the $3 or $5 million mid-level exception.

In addition to the Celtics, that leaves the Clippers, Jazz, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pacers, 76ers and Spurs as potential destinations. Quickly, let’s run through the salary cap situation for those seven teams.
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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
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