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Report: Lakers, Celtics among six teams to pay luxury tax 07.10.13 at 12:36 pm ET
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Neither the Celtics or the Lakers made it out of the first round of the playoffs last season, but making it that far cost Los Angeles more than it did for Boston.

The Lakers reportedly will pay a league-high $29.25 million worth of luxury tax for their payroll last season, while the Celtics will pay only $1.18 million. The Heat ($13.34 million), Nets ($12.88 million), Knicks ($9.96 million), and Bulls ($3.93 million) are the other four teams that have to pay a luxury tax for their payrolls last season.

The NBA also announced its salary cap and luxury tax threshold for the 2013-14 season, and going over the luxury tax threshold will be even more costly for teams than it was this past season. The Nets, who have a similar payroll to the Lakers this past season, are projected to have to pay around $75 million in luxury tax payments after next season if they keep the payroll they have now.

Fifty percent of the total tax paid by the six teams will fund the league’s revenue sharing for the 2012-13 season, according to the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. The rest of it will be distributed evenly among the league’s remaining 24 teams.

According to the ESPN report, the six teams will receive an invoice by Monday and have to remit their payment by July 24. The money will be distributed to the 24 teams before July 29.

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, Luxury Tax, NBA
Kevin McHale talks to Slam 05.20.11 at 2:39 pm ET
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In an interview with Slam’s Tzvi Twersky, former Celtic great Kevin McHale looked back on his career and how he learned so many ingenious post moves. McHale was an undersized high schooler in Hibbing, Minn., who developed all kinds of up and under moves simply so he could survive against bigger players.

“I grew from 5-11 as a sophomore to 6-7, 6-8, maybe close to 6-9, by the end of my senior year of high school, and I grew to be 6-10 and a quarter,” McHale said. “But I never knew that [was going to happen]. When I first became a basketball junkie, I was just a small, little skinny dude and then I became a real tall, skinny dude.”

There’s great stuff in this interview about playing with Larry Bird, taking on the role of the sixth man and the rivalry with the Lakers. This quote about playing with a broken foot seems especially poignant, considering the way the current Celtics have battled injuries late in their careers.

“I don’t know. I say now in hindsight I wouldn’t do it again, but if I was out there and we had the chance to win a championship, I’d probably do it again. I mean, how often do you get a chance to go down that road? It’s the finals; how often do you get the chance to do that? It’s one of those things where the mature side of me now that I’m older says I wouldn’t do it. But you put me back at 27, 28, and say you have a chance to win another championship? I’d say, Let’s tape it up; let’s go.”

There’s more great stuff in the interview.

Read More: Kevin McHale, Lakers, Larry Bird, Red Auerbach
Talking Hoops, Episode 4 is now online 02.01.11 at 1:16 pm ET
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On the fourth edition of Talking Hoops, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery is joined by Zach Lowe from SI.com’s Point Forward blog to talk about the Celtics big win over the Los Angeles Lakers and look ahead to the second half of the season.

In the second segment, Flannery and Michael Holley talk in depth about the enigma that is Kevin Garnett.

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Lakers, Talking Hoops
Fast Break: Celtics write new LA story 01.30.11 at 6:15 pm ET
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It had ebbs and flows, runs and counters, and even some blood spilled by Kevin Garnett after he was gashed by Pau Gasol. The Celtics and Lakers didn’t disappoint in their first game since the 2010 finals.

You can break this game down in a number if different ways, but in the end it came down to a simple proposition: Could Kobe Bryant beat the Celtics by himself? Bryant erupted for 22 points in the first half and helped the Lakers recover from an early nine-point deficit. He dueled with Paul Pierce throughout the third quarter and into the fourth, but late in the game the Celtics were finally able to contain Bryant and the Lakers had nothing else left.

They can say that this was just another game, but the Celtics proved something in their 109-96 win Sunday afternoon. They proved that this is a different team than the one that left Staples Center without a championship. The rematch is only 11 days away at the Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Paul Pierce destroyed Ron Artest: The captain destroyed his antagonist from last year’s finals, scoring 32 points on just 18 shots and sending Artest to the bench in the fourth quarter. There was nothing Artest could do to contain Pierce, who had both his long-range and in-between game working.

The Celtics were overwhelming in the second half, but Pierce kept them in position throughout the game in what might have been his best performance of the season.

Defensive Rebounding: This is very simple. When the Celtics clean up on the boards, the Lakers can’t win. The Celtics were strong out of the gate, allowing the Lakers just one offensive rebound in the first quarter. When the game sped up in the second, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were able to get on the glass.

The Celtics held the fort in the second half and Garnett was a huge factor with 12 defensive rebounds. For all the talk about what a difference a healthy Kendrick Perkins would have made in Game 7, the 2010-11 version of Garnett would have been even bigger.

The bench: Give Nate Robinson credit. The guard has been much-maligned in recent weeks for his propensity for taking long pull-up jumpers in transition. But, that’s what he does. The Celtics rely on him to come off the bench and provide instant offense and that’s what he gave the Celtics, scoring 11 points in 14 minutes. Glen Davis also had a strong game, outproducing Lamar Odom and making huge plays down the stretch.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Rajon Rondo didn’t look right (for half): Either there’s something physically wrong with the Celtics point guard, or he’s just worn down from all the minutes he’s played this season. Either way, Rajon Rondo followed up his disastrous outing against Phoenix (more turnovers than assists) with another low-impact performance in the first half.

The Lakers defensive scheme against Rondo is well-known at this point. They drop Kobe Bryant off into the paint where he forces Rondo to shoot jumpers, while also using his length to disrupt his passing and driving lanes. Too often Rondo simply takes himself out the action.

In the second half Rondo completely changed course. He had six assists in the third quarter and became far more aggressive in the fourth when matched up against Steve Blake. Rondo had 15 of his 16 assists in the second half and played (finally) like Rondo.

Kobe did work: The Celtics generally don’t mind when a superstar opponent tries to take a game over on their own. Their feeling — whether it’s LeBron James, Dwight Howard or Bryant — is that if one player is trying to beat them, that makes them much easier to defend. But when Bryant makes 8-of-11 shots and scores 22 points as he did in the first half, that’s simply too much. Bryant managed to keep it close, but even he can’t beat the Celtics by himself.

Foul trouble: The whistles started early as both Ray Allen and Bryant had to check out in the first few minutes with two fouls. Not surprisingly, foul problems also plagued Shaquille O’Neal who got his fifth early in the third quarter. That led Kendrick Perkins to play 25 minutes, his longest outing since returning from knee surgery.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Lakers,
NBA Power Rankings, 10/21 10.21.10 at 4:50 pm ET
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Los Angeles Lakers1. LA Lakers: So, Ron Artest was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. I knew he was crazy, but I guess I didn’t know he was that crazy. How long can he go without creating a distraction? It worked last year, but there’s a shelf life for these things. Still, they’re the two-time defending NBA champions, and they have ”length,” which doesn’t sound right, but size matters in this league.

Boston Celtics2. Boston: The Celtics finished the preseason with a 7-1 record, proving they can turn on the “all systems go” button, even when the games don’t matter. That’s a scary thought when wins and losses start to mean something. I’m a little skeptical about how the C’s will integrate Shaquille O’Neal on both ends of the court, but the depth on this team is the league’s best.

Miami Heat3. Miami: Injuries continue to pile up for the Heat: Dwyane Wade (hamstring), LeBron James (hamstring), Mike Miller (thumb), Mario Chalmers (ankle) and Eddie House (shoulder). The 2007-08 Celtics used the preseason to jell; this team will have to do it in the regular season. I’m being careful not to be a “hater” here, so Eddie House doesn’t flip me the bird.

Oklahoma City Thunder4. Oklahoma City: There are some interesting stories coming out about Jeff Green. He has a “special relationship” with his head coach, whatever that means. According to Etan Thomas, he’s an underappreciated player in the league. Just another one of the Thunder’s young guns.

Orlando Magic5. Orlando: Wait a second, it’s a contract year for Vince Carter? So, that’s why he’s trying again — and knocking down 61 percent of his shots (59 percent from 3-point range) this preseason. Combine a motivated Vince, a healthy Jameer Nelson and a Hakeem Olajuwon-inspired Dwight Howard, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

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Read More: Celtics, Heat, Lakers, NBA
Talking hoops podcast: Episode 1 10.13.10 at 9:51 pm ET
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Introducing the newest weei.com podcast: Talking Hoops.

In the debut episode, I talked with AOL/Fanhouse senior NBA writer Sam Amick about a number of topics including whether the Celtics have the attention of the Western Conference, and whether anyone can challenge the Lakers in the West. Amick also talked about Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins (check out his story on Cousins here) and gave his prediction for the finals and MVP.

In the second segment, Michael Holley and I talked Celtics and gave our thoughts on the Heat.

Listen to the podcast here.

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, Talking Hoops,
NBA Power Rankings, 10/7 10.07.10 at 12:48 pm ET
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Los Angeles Lakers1. LA Lakers: As the long as the Lakers avoid terrorist threats in Europe and manage to stay healthy, they’ll hang on to this spot throughout the preseason. I’m not too worried about a loss to the T-Wolves or Kobe’s knee being 60 percent. And they’re pretty used to surviving without Bynum at this point.

Boston Celtics2. Boston: When your biggest question mark is whether Von Wafer or Mario West will fill the final spot on the roster, I’d say your team is in pretty good shape … as long as Nate Robinson doesn’t hurt Shaq with one of his pranks. Oh, and Semih Erden looks like he’ll actually contribute.

Miami Heat3. Miami: Don’t let D-Wade’s hamstring injury alarm you. Those things happen in the preseason, and he’s played through far worse. The Heat looked good. No surprise there. And if Udonis Haslem keeps contributing like he has, they just might slide up to No. 2 on opening night.

Oklahoma City Thunder4. Oklahoma City: The Thunder recently invited the greatest name in the NBA to their training camp: Longar Longar. If he makes the team, watch out league. What better complement to Durant, Westbrook and Green?

Dallas Mavericks5. Dallas: The Mavericks are a bunch of 30-somethings who have a limited window left to challenge for an NBA title. Sound familiar? Yup, they’re like the Celtics, only they don’t rebound much and play porous defense. Still, they’ll be tough out West.

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Read More: Celtics, Heat, Lakers, NBA
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