|10 questions post-NBA lockout Celtics must answer||11.26.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
Now that the NBA lockout is all but over, we can talk actual basketball again. No more exhibition games. No more Paul Pierce sightings at the World Series of Poker. No more overseas discussions. Should lawyers on both sides approve the tentative agreement as expected in the next three days to a week, both training camp and free agency are scheduled to begin on Dec. 9, leading up to a Celtics at Knicks season opener on Christmas Day.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, head coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the C’s brass face a ton of questions over the next month. Here are 10 of the biggest ones they’ll have to answer.
10. How will the Celtics fill out the remainder of the roster?
The C’s currently have just six players under contract: The Big Four of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen as well as center Jermaine O’Neal and second-year guard Avery Bradley. That leaves nine open spots on the 15-man roster.
Jeff Green has received a $5.9 million qualifying offer that makes him a restricted free agent, and the remaining eight players from the team that lost a five-game Eastern Conference semifinal series to the Heat are free agents. Only Nenad Krstic, who signed a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow that did not include an NBA out clause for this season, is off limits.
First-round draft pick JaJuan Johnson is a lock to land one of those nine open slots, while second-round selection E’Twaun Moore is a strong candidate to make the roster. Johnson has been working out in his hometown of Indianapolis during the offseason, and Moore has averaged 9.5 points in six appearances for Italy’s Benetton Treviso over the past two months.
Prior to the lockout, undrafted Pitt swingman Gilbert Brown was on the team’s radar, so he has a chance to join the Purdue pair on the bench as well.
Assuming Green remains in Boston, Ainge will at the very least have to find veteran players capable of playing significant backup minutes at center, power forward and the two guard positions. Re-signing combo guard Delonte West would go a long way in cementing the latter, and we’ll be examining the free-agent options at each position throughout this week.
9. Is the annual mid-level exception still available to the Celtics? Read the rest of this entry »
|They’re back! Players, owners end NBA lockout||at 10:56 am ET|
As first reported by CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, the NBA lockout is over, pending the approval of lawyers on both sides (and lawyers never ruin anything, right?). A 66-game season will reportedly debut with a rematch of the first-round playoff matchup between the Celtics and Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day (ESPN, noon) — followed by Heat-Mavericks and Bulls-Lakers. Good times.
|Irish Coffee: Boston Charity Classic leftovers (mmm … leftovers)||11.22.11 at 2:34 pm ET|
How fleeting Rajon Rondo‘s Boston Charity Classic was, providing Celtics fans a glimpse of the past, present and future for just one Saturday night before the cold reality of the NBA lockout endures into the winter. All that remains is this highlight package I put together and a few interesting quotes from the postgame interviews. It is the week of Thanksgiving after all, so here are some leftovers from what was a fun evening on the Harvard campus.
CELTICS CAPTAIN PAUL PIERCE
On decertifications: “A lot of players looked to me for leadership when they talk about negotiations, when they talk about options, when they talk about decertification. A lot of guys ask me, and what I did with that was just kind of give them the information. At the end of the day, as a whole, players gotta make a vote — make a choice whether to negotiate, decertify or file an antitrust lawsuit.”
On negotiations: “Right now, I want to get a deal. I want to play. I don’t have too many more years left. But we want the right deal. I think that’s the most important thing.”
On ultimatums: “We don’t feel like it’s a fair deal. If we did, we would have signed it, obviously. Maybe some players do, some players don’t, but as a majority we didn’t feel that was the right deal for us. … If I had a vote, would I make the deal now? You know what? I don’t think the deal that’s on the table is a deal that I would take.”
On meetings: “I wasn’t at the last couple meetings, so it kind of took me by surprise that last day when they broke up the union. So, a lot of that really took me by surprise, but I don’t think it was mentioned to bring it to the whole body, the whole union for a vote. The player representatives get a vote, and we’re at where we’re at.”
On veterans: “A lot of the older guys are kind of different players in this, because it’s for the older guys to say, ‘Take the deal, we already have contracts, we’re on our last two or three years and finish out.’ But it’s something bigger than everybody’s individual legacy. It’s about the future of the league, and that’s what we talked about when we get together. Me, Ray [Allen], Kobe [Bryant], guys who are veterans in the league — we feel like that’s the most important thing moving forward with the NBA.”
|Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo consider overseas options||11.20.11 at 11:57 am ET|
In the past, Paul Pierce has stated his desire to play in either Italy or Greece after his Celtics career is finished and before his retirement begins. For better or worse, the NBA lockout might offer that opportunity prematurely.
“I’ve been thinking about it, truthfully,” Pierce said at the Boston Charity Classic on Saturday night, addressing Italy specifically. “I love the game of basketball. It’s a shame I’m sitting at home not playing, so it’s definitely crossed my mind. Maybe I’ll think about it around mid-December. If I can see that there is no future of the league starting this year, then that’s definitely a strong possibility.”
Likewise, Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo and good friend Kendrick Perkins have discussed playing abroad as a package deal. Yahoo! Sports first reported that their representatives have put out feelers to foreign teams.
“You never know,” said Rondo. “I’m still here being a family man and just trying to do the right thing and staying in shape. I probably won’t make that decision until January. Me and Perk have talked about doing package deals, but right now we’re just enjoying our time. For me, it’s a gift and a curse. I’m trying to get as healthy as possible with all my injuries. But I’m ready to play.”
Rondo, who said his injured left elbow felt “good” after the game, has no offers currently on the table. In recent months, with players such as Kobe Bryant, the difference between the money foreign teams can offer and the insurance premiums for a star player has been too minimal to make economic sense. Since both Perkins and Rondo both finished this past NBA season battling serious injuries, they’ll likely face the same issue.
|Rajon Rondo’s ridiculous forehead alley-oop||11.19.11 at 7:25 pm ET|
The Boston Charity Classic is fairly ridiculous. Literally no defense, which seems to suit Josh Smith just fine. It also gives fans at Harvard’s Lavietes Pavilion the chance to see ridiculous plays like this forehead alley-oop from Rajon Rondo to Rudy Gay. Rondo’s Green Team (coached by Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch) led Paul Pierce‘s White Team (coached by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino) 73-50 at halftime.
|Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce faces unwarranted criticism||11.15.11 at 3:00 pm ET|
I understand why role players would just want to accept the most recent NBA owners’ proposal, regardless of whether or not it benefits them or others just like them beyond the 2011-12 season.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
As longtime NBA assistant coach Herb Brown told The Jersey Journal, “I think it’s terrible, it’s awful. [Someone like] Kevin Garnett doesn’t get hurt by this situation, but the 10th, 11th and 12th man does.” Still, there’s a reason you’re not supposed to shop for groceries when you’re hungry.
Take 22-year-old Cavaliers forward Samardo Samuels, for example. He’s among the rank-and-file NBA players who would have accepted the owners’ final proposal — if the NBPA ever gave him the chance to vote — and does not support Celtics captain Paul Pierce‘s charge to decertify the union.
|NBA union disbands and chaos reigns||at 12:01 am ET|
As of Monday, Nov. 14 there is no more National Basketball Players Association, no more late-night negotiations and quite possibly no more NBA for a long time.
How we got here will be debated for years, but the long and the short of it is the NBA offered a proposal that offered either a 50-50 split of basketball related income or a 49-51 percent band, along with several contentious system issues and gave the players a chance to either accept it or face a far more restrictive proposal. The players chose option C: The nuclear option.
The players sent a letter to commissioner David Stern declaiming interest, which effectively dissolves the union and makes it a trade association. They can no longer negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the league. They chose this option over the more formal process of decertification, which involves taking a petition to the National Labor Relations Board before a full vote can take place, a procedure that generally lasts between 45-60 days and allows for continuing negotiation during the period.
The players had previously authorized the union to take this step and no vote was needed, although Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter said the 40-plus players present, including Rajon Rondo and Kobe Bryant, were unanimous in supporting the move. No formal vote on the NBA offer was held.
This is now in the hands of union attorney Jeffrey Kessler and David Boies, a renowned attorney who has taken on Microsoft and George W. Bush and who was also on the side of the NFL in their antitrust suit with the players. It’s presumed that they will file an antitrust suit against the NBA, although Boies threw some caution on that talk in a brief chat with reporters in New York.
Stern, as you might expect, was not happy with this development. He went on ESPN to call the move a negotiating tactic, which is the basis of an earlier suit the league filed with the NLRB in August. In a statement issued by the league, Stern claimed this was part of Kessler’s plan since February of 2010. “The players have been badly misled,” Stern said on ESPN. “We were very close, and the players decided to blow it up.”
How close they actually were is open for debate as it was Stern who repeatedly told the union that they were done negotiating and this was their final offer. Nevertheless, he added ominously, “We’re about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA.”
If a season is lost, that would likely mean the end of the Celtics as we know them. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal would all become free agents and the last run of that era would have already taken place.
However, and it’s a big however, no one really knows for sure how this will play out. Stern himself stopped short of saying the season is over and as SI’s Zach Lowe pointed out, a lawsuit could be settled in weeks or even days and the union could reform to negotiate a new deal. The absolute drop-dead period for the 2011-12 season is probably January and that’s still a long way away. The last NBA lockout ended on Jan. 6, 1999.
But for now, chaos is the order of the day. In a letter sent to the players that was posted on USA Today’s website, Hunter wrote:
“With no labor union in place, it is our sincere hope that the NBA will immediately end its now illegal boycott and finally open the 2011-12 season. Individual teams are free to negotiate with free agents for your services. If the owners choose to continue their present course of action, it is our view that they subject themselves to significant antitrust liability.”
The repercussions are many, but again: No one really knows what will happen now.