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Stephen A. Smith on D&C: Some in NBA circles question ‘whether or not Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers desire to continue to coexist’ 05.08.13 at 9:44 am ET
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Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about trade rumors involving the Celtics and Clippers, and what he believes the Celtics will do in the offseason.

Smith said he thinks the Clippers, who were rumored to be interested in Kevin Garnett at the trade deadline, still would like to acquire Garnett, and that the Celtics might try to use that interest to get Blake Griffin from them. To get Griffin, though, Smith said they might have to allow Doc Rivers to go to Los Angeles.

“The Clippers, I know for a fact, were interested in Kevin Garnett,” Smith said. “[Chris Paul] isn’t necessarily happy right now. He wants to stay with the Clippers. I think he’s planning on staying with the Clippers because they can offer him close to $30 million more than anybody else. But he also looks at the Clippers and has reached the conclusion that he needs help on the front line, because neither Blake Griffin nor DeAndre Jordan has the requisite post-game skills to really make room for him to operate. They’re incapable of pulling guys away from the basket and being a threat on the perimeter and therefore giving Chris Paul space to operate.

“From that standpoint, once again, the Clippers have to be willing to let go of one of those guys. They would prefer it to be DeAndre Jordan, because clearly Blake Griffin has a better upside. Plus, he’s a better player. … As a result, in an effort to keep CP3, who’s a guy that approaches free agency and they’re looking to re-sign, they are entertaining a plethora of possibilities.”

One of those possibilities, Smith said, could involve Rivers heading to Los Angeles along with Garnett and Paul Pierce.

“According to guys that I’ve spoken to in NBA circles, the Boston Celtics would look at a guy like a KG, willing to unload him, and who knows, they may be willing to market [Garnett and Pierce] as a package deal,” Smith said. “If you’re the Clippers, obviously that’s not enough to let go of somebody like a Blake Griffin. But if you combine keeping CP3 as a priority, knowing that he wants legitimate help on his front line for the immediate future, combined with the fact that even though I believe Vinny del Negro has done a good job, there are others that don’t believe so. … If somehow, some way, you could get your hands on Doc Rivers in the same breath as you’re getting KG and Paul Pierce, it could be something that could be attractive. And if that’s attractive enough, if you’re Danny Ainge, and you and Doc Rivers, as much as you respect one another, you’ve just worked with one another for a long time — who knows what the situation is, but you might be willing to let Doc Rivers out of his contract.

“You’re not going to do it for Brooklyn or probably anybody within the Eastern Conference, but to move out west to Cali? That might be an attractive enough proposition for the Clippers to sit there and say, well, you know what, OK, we would let go of Blake Griffin under those circumstances.”

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Bruce Bowen on D&C: Rumored Celtics-Clippers megadeal ‘hard to fathom’ 05.07.13 at 10:29 am ET
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Bruce Bowen

Bruce Bowen

ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to talk about the playoffs and speculation about a possible megadeal between the Celtics and Clippers.

On ESPN’s “First Take” Monday, Stephen A. Smith suggested that the Celtics and Clippers might talk about a deal that would send Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Los Angeles for Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler. Smith also indicated that Doc Rivers might follow Garnett and Pierce to LA and become coach of the Clippers.

Bowen laughed at the prospects of such a deal, saying: “I find it hilarious sometimes.”

Added Bowen: “That’s difficult to see, the LA Clippers giving up Blake Griffin, No. 1. And No. 2, they want to build around that ball club, and that’s Chris Paul and him and DeAndre Jordan, I believe. So, that one there, that’s a little hard to fathom.”

The Clippers rumor aside, there continue to be reports that Pierce and Garnett might have played their final game as Celtics. While both are under contract, they could retire or the team could package either or both in an attempt to acquire younger talent.

Bowen said he would prefer that the team keep its stars and add complementary players rather than blow it all up and start over.

“You’ve got to continue to put pieces along the side of your core. … You just keep adding pieces to it,” Bowen said. “That allows you to keep that standard that you have. And in the process, you hope to find a diamond in the rough that will be able to replace one of the key components.

“Unfortunately, we saw the huge loss of Rajon Rondo this year. And trust me, I believe that if he’s there, they beat the Knicks in that series. But it didn’t happen. You look at the bench. Boston went through a plethora of injuries this year. So, you really try to find guys that can fit into some of those roles as far as coming in, adding to what Paul was doing, adding to what KG was doing. When you have that, that’s where you’re able to make the best moves and the best decisions.”

Added Bowen: “When you start breaking up teams it’s an immediate rebuild. But I think there’s a way of rebuilding where you’re still competitive, where you’re still able to put a great product on the floor. And that’s what it boils down to right now, is bringing out a great product. What are we going to be able to do. Can we put out something that is nice out there, where our fans can be proud of. Even if we’re not winning like we used to, especially in Boston, they just want to see somebody playing hard and giving their best effort. If you can have something like that that is competitive, that’s the way you continue to — and from the business side, keep the fans in the seats and continue to keep the support of the white and green.”

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Chris Mannix on Mustard & Johnson: Celtics should do ‘exactly what [Danny Ainge] has been doing’ 05.04.13 at 3:09 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce face uncertain futures with the Celtics (AP)

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce face uncertain futures with the Celtics. (AP)

With the future of the Celtics now up in the air after the six-game first-round playoff loss to the Knicks, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, in an interview on WEEI’s Mustard & Johnson show, suggested that the team should proceed in precisely the fashion in which president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has operated for some time. Mannix noted that Ainge actively explored the possibility of dealing longtime mainstays Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett leading up to this season’s trade deadline, and suggested that the Celtics should again explore the market for the duo this offseason — while remaining comfortable with the notion of bringing them back if the team is unsatisfied with the return.

“I don’t think it would be [financially] difficult to trade Pierce if you wanted to. Boston was motivated to do it the last couple years. Leading up to the trade deadline, they spoke to Brooklyn, they spoke to Atlanta, they spoke to Dallas. They were actively looking to deal Paul Pierce,” said Mannix. “They had conversations with the Clippers about Kevin Garnett and were trying to figure out a way to get a deal done for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Look, they were trying to make some moves with these two guys. Boston’s issue wasn’t financial. It was that they wanted a lot in return. I remember talking to some people in the Nets organization about how much Boston wanted in return. It was a combination of draft picks and young talent.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a financial issue for the Celtics to trade either one of those players if they’re motivated to. It’s just how much less they’re willing to take back in return.

“I would do exactly what Danny’s been doing to this point,” added Mannix. “If you can trade one of them and get a lot in return, get something that you know is going to help reboot your franchise, do it. If not, hold onto them and just play this thing out, wait for their contracts to expire and play with the flexibility then.”

Mannix noted that the avenues to upgrading the Celtics roster are limited this offseason, particularly in terms of free agents. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Celtics are dead, long live the Celtics at 2:31 am ET
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The Celtics are dead, long live the Celtics.

The Knicks hosted their funeral on Wednesday, and the zombie C’s crawled out of their graves to live one more game. Then, they buried themselves alive in the first three quarters of Game 6, and nearly lived to tell about it. Grit and balls. Heart of a champion. #BostonStrong. All of it was on display amid a 20-0 run over four fourth-quarter minutes that nobody would’ve believed if the 18,624 fans filling the Garden hadn’t watched it unfold.

As Knicks guard Iman Shumpert said after an 88-80 win that finally laid these C’s to rest, “It felt like it wasn’t real.”

Only this time the ghosts of Celtics past weren’t good enough. Not without Rajon Rondo. Not on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett alone. Not anymore. So, what now? Where do these old, tired, stubborn Celtics go from here?

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Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have ‘no idea’ about their futures after Game 6 at 12:43 am ET
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Doc Rivers bids farewell to Kevin Garnett in Game 6 but will it be the last time they're together? (AP)

Doc Rivers bids farewell to Kevin Garnett in Game 6 but will it be the last time they’re together? (AP)

It was the obvious question to ask Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the moments after their season came to an end with a Game 6 loss to the Knicks.

Will they be back for another season?

“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you. I’m kind of digesting , obviously, the current, and Doc came to me, pulled Paul and I to the side and all three of us agreed to speak later — too emotional,” Garnett said. “Obviously, it was a big game, tough loss, especially at home. But more importantly in the future, it’s a different day for that conversation.”

Pierce is signed for next season but only $5 million of his $15 million for next season is guaranteed. He could be amnestied under the new NBA CBA if GM Danny Ainge wants to overhaul the roster.

“That’s a decision for the management,” Pierce said. “Who knows what the future [holds]? I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes each and every year. So I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of changes here and we’ll see what happens.”

Garnett made it very clear that his decision about next year will hinge greatly on whether Ainge brings back Pierce.

“One of the big reasons I came [to Celtics] was because of Paul,” said Garnett. “Obviously, you want to be in a situation where it’s better. I want to make sure that I’m able to always help a team. I want to be in positions to where I’m giving something. I demand a lot of myself, both physically and from a skill level. But I’d be lying to y’all if I said Paul didn’t play into that factor. Like I said, it’s too soon of a conversation for me right now.”

Pierce, who said he will play in the NBA next season, was asked if he wants to return to Boston for a 16th season.

“That’s up to Danny and them,” Pierce said. “I have no idea.”

Coach Doc Rivers is also not a sure thing to return. He signed a five-year, $35 million extension before the 2011-12 season. He has three years left on it, that is if he wants to return.

“I don’t think about any of that stuff,” Rivers said. “Danny knows me pretty well. I immerse myself; that’s the only way I can do it, probably to a fault. Pretty much unlivable during the year. So I don’t know. Danny knows he gives me at least a week to do just whatever I do — and I don’t know what I do, sit and watch cartoons or something — then we’ll talk about it. But Danny has already worked on [offseason plans]. He never shows me. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to know anything. We’ll figure it all out, and we’ll see.”

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Fast Break: Knicks survive furious Celtics comeback 05.03.13 at 10:03 pm ET
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A montage of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the first half with the tagline “heart of a champion” left the Garden crowd in awe. Then, a Knicks barrage left those same fans in shock. Finally, the Celtics showed that heart, rattling off a 20-point run midway through the fourth quarter and making a game of it, but it proved too little, too late.

Garnett came to play, and Pierce finally showed up in the fourth quarter, but an 88-80 loss in Game 6 ended their season, opening up a Pandora’s Box of questions nobody in the Celtics organization wants to answer. That’s another story for a different day. Here’s what went wrong in their final game of the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Worst first: The Celtics were lucky to get out of the first quarter only trailing by 14 points. They shot 25 percent from the field. Garnett made his first three shots, and his teammates finished 1-of-13 in the opening quarter. Pierce went 1-for-8. While the Celtics settled for jump shots, the Knicks scored from everywhere. Seven minutes into the game, New York had as many points off turnovers as the C’s had total points. No other word to describe it but ugly.

3 falling: The Celtics missed their first nine 3-pointers, including five bricks from Pierce, and the Knicks’ defense held the Celtics to 14 points through the game’s first 18 minutes. Meanwhile, Pablo Prigioni made three of his first four attempts from beyond the arc, scoring as many points in the first quarter as he had in any game in the series.

Everything: The Celtics looked gassed. Through three quarters, they had 15 field goals and 17 turnovers. C’s not named KG made 8-of-37 shots entering the fourth quarter. It seemed as though they left everything they had on the Madison Square Garden floor in Game 5, when Garnett, Pierce, Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass combined for 201 minutes. Then, the fourth quarter happened, and the Celtics scored more points than they did in all of the first half. It was ridiculous and unsustainable all at the same time.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Green light: Nobody on the Celtics could get within 10 feet of the basket, so Jeff Green gave it a shot. And another. And another. He started just 1-of-6 but led the C’s with nine points at the break — thanks to 6-of-8 shooting from the free throw line. If anybody else could’ve beat his man off the dribble, the Celtics wouldn’t have been in such dire straits at halftime. But Pierce settled for contested jumpers when he should’ve been deferring to Green, who finished with 21 points on 12 shots. Pierce scored 14 on 18 attempts.

The runs: Any sign of life was a positive. That’s how bad the C’s offense was. Back-to-back Green and Terry 3′s with four minutes left until halftime capped an 8-0 run that left the Garden wondering, “Wait, they’re only down 10?” With four minutes remaining in the third quarter, a Terry triple punctuated a 9-2 run that did the same. And, of course, the miraculous 20-0 run in 4:05 that slashed a 75-49 game to a six-point deficit, breathing life back into the building in the fourth quarter.

Melo J.R.: The only thing that kept the Celtics from completely getting their doors blown off was another poor shooting performance by both Carmelo Anthony (7-23 FG) and J.R. Smith (5-13 FG). If only Raymond Felton (11 points, 7 assists) — who killed the Celtics all series — forgot to show up, too, the Celtics might have had a shot.

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Classic Kevin Garnett: ‘We out here scrapping’ 05.02.13 at 10:21 am ET
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Following the local broadcast of Game 5 between the Celtics and Knicks, Kevin Garnett provided another classic postgame interview — this time with C’s sideline reporter Greg Dickerson rather than Craig Sager.

“We’re scrapping,” said Garnett, who totaled 16 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in the 92-86 victory. “All that you about to say ain’t got nothing to do with it. We out here scrapping. This is survival. This is like a Game 7. Every game from here on out is like a Game 7, and we’re scrapping. Easier said than done right there.

“No shenanigans. No nothing. We know what they’re running; they know what we’re running. It’s just all out. Who wants this? That’s what it is. That’s all we’ve been doing these last couple games, man. They came out, they talked. We did no talking. We know we down. We put ourselves in this position, and we’re scrapping.”

He wasn’t done. And neither are the Celtics, who come home to Boston for Friday night’s Game 6.

“Put your hard hat on,” KG added. “Throw your hammer and your nails on there. It’s time to work. Let’s do it.”

Here’s the video: Read the rest of this entry »

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