|Trade Rumor: Jermaine O’Neal wants buyout, C’s looking for deal||03.15.12 at 1:08 pm ET|
Jermaine O’Neal has been away from the team since the All-Star break and don’t look for him back any time soon. The Celtics have been trying to trade his 6.2 million contract, but have found no takers. O’Neal would like a buyout, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, but the Celtics are still trying to deal him before the 3 p.m. deadline.
It would make sense if the Celtics waived him to clear him a roster space in order to try and save a big man, but Woj adds that the team doesn’t want to let him return to Miami.
According to multiple reports out of the Midwest, the Celtics have had conversations with the Kings about J.J. Hickson. The 6-foot-9 forward, who is an unrestricted free agent after this season, has averaged 4.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season. He is coming off a 2010-11 season in which he averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
The reports come via tweets from Sam Amico (“Celtics having conversations with Kings about JJ Hickson, source says”) and Vincent Goodwill (“Wilcox being out for the year means the Celtics will be on the serious hunt for a big before tomorrow … JJ Hickson is right in front of me”)
|Trade Rumor: Celtics offered Paul Pierce to Blazers||03.14.12 at 11:01 pm ET|
What exactly team president Danny Ainge wanted in return for Pierce and the $32 million remaining on his contract is unclear, as LaMarcus Aldridge ($12.9 million) is essentially untouchable, Marcus Camby ($11.2 million) is a week from his 38th birthday and Raymond Felton ($7.6 million) would be an expensive backup.
That would leave some combination of Gerald Wallace ($9.5 million), Wesley Matthews ($6.1 million), Jamal Crawford ($5 million) and Nicolas Batum ($2.2 million). Of that group, Crawford is the only one rumored on the market, and regardless Portland shot down Ainge’s offer, if the report is more than rumor.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears, Ainge & Co. also reportedly joined the Lakers, Spurs and Knicks in expressing interest in Josh Howard as a boost to their wing depth, but the Jazz aren’t willing to part with 31-year-old ($3 million) with a history of issues, on and off the court.
Finally, Fox Sports writer Sam Amico tweeted that the Celtics have engaged the Kings in discussions about acquiring J.J. Hickson, a 23-year-old big making just $2.4 million. After averaging 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Cavaliers a season ago, Hickson is struggling mightily in Sacramento. Then again, who isn’t struggling mightily in Sacramento?
Whether or not any of these rumors come to fruition, one thing is clear: Ainge is ringing up quite the phone bill.
|Trade Deadline: Making the Chris Kaman cap math work||at 5:18 pm ET|
The problem is that Kaman makes $14 million and fitting that contract under the cap is difficult, especially for a team like the Celtics who are not only over the cap, they’re also over the luxury tax line. Recent reports indicate that New Orleans is willing to accept second round picks for Kaman, but not willing to take on any more salary.
With a number of players in the final years of their contracts, there are a handful of scenarios where the Celtics could satisfy that demand, starting with the expiring deals for Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox. Adding Keyon Dooling‘s expiring deal would make the math work, but adding a young player like JaJuan Johnson would make it more difficult.
Further complicating matters is the fact that the Hornets are owned by the NBA. Would the league be willing to sign-off on a deal that yielded only second round picks and expiring deals? Celtics team president Danny Ainge has said that he wasn’t going to trade future assets to help this year’s team and it’s not likely he’d be willing to part with one of his two first round picks for a short-term rental.
If the price for Kaman goes beyond those bare-bones parameters, the Celtics could wait and see if the Hornets buy him out. They’d have to make room on the roster, which is at the 15-player limit.
|Trade deadline: C’s may benefit from Warriors move||at 12:56 pm ET|
SAN FRANCISCO — The Celtics may or may not make a deal before Thursday’s trade deadline, but they have already benefited from the process. While they were en route to the Bay Area, the Warriors pulled off a five-player trade that cost them Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh to Mliwaukee for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.
The move subtracts Golden State’s leading scorer in Ellis and a plus-minus monster in Udoh. It didn’t stop the Warriors from hammering the Kings by 26 points on Tuesday night but with Ellis gone and Steph Curry out with a sprained ankle, they started old friend Nate Robinson and rookie Klay Thompson in the backcourt. Golden State also started David Lee and Andris Biedrinis, but without Udoh their frontcourt depth is even thinner than the Celtics.
Bogut is out with a sprained ankle, but when healthy he could become the kind of interior defensive presence the Warriors have sought for years. As SI’s Zach Lowe points out, they made a run at Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan this past offseason before settling on Brown. Jackson is a complete wild card in more ways that one, but regardless, neither player should be on the floor for Golden State on Wednesday. (In a nice twist, the Bucks visit Golden State on Friday).
The move impacts the Celtics in another way as they will be in Milwaukee on Thursday. The Bucks have moved into a tie with the Knicks for the 8th playoff spot in the East and it will be interesting to see how the Brandon Jennings-Ellis backcourt meshes.
|Warriors send Monta Ellis to Bucks for Andrew Bogut, Stephen Jackson||03.13.12 at 9:24 pm ET|
Golden State has agreed to a deal that would send guard Monta Ellis and two players to Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson, according to Yahoo! Sports. According to multiple reports, the Bucks also will receive forward Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown.
The 27-year-old Bogut, who was the first overall pick of Milwaukee in the 2005 draft, has been dogged by injury over the course of his career. He’s averaged 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in his seven years in the NBA. The 33-year-old Jackson — a fan favorite in the Bay Area when he played with the Warriors from January 2007 until November 2009 — also brings a jolt of offense to Golden State, as he’s averaged 16.1 points per game since he arrived in the league in 2000.
Ellis, in his seventh year in the league, has career averages of 19.6 points and 4.4 assists.
The Celtics will get their opportunity to see the new-look Warriors right out of the gate — Boston will face Golden State Wednesday in the Bay Area.
|Sizing up the D-League prospects||03.12.12 at 2:11 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — The Celtics need help. Specifically, they need tall people. The problem with that, of course, is that there just aren’t that many of them to go around and there are even fewer of them available. But with Jermaine O’Neal injured and away from the team and Chris Wilcox awaiting further tests on a possible heart condition, the Celtics need to find someone, somewhere to help fill the void in the middle.
They have four players on the roster who qualify as big: Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson. (Stiemsma was wearing a walking boot after playing 13 minutes on Sunday. He said it’s precautionary, but that’s not a good sign for a team that can’t afford any more injuries).
Coach Doc Rivers made it clear on Sunday that the team is looking for help, but they are hampered by two realities. First, they are at the maximum 15 players on the roster and if they decide to add someone, then a veteran has to be waived. Second, they are reluctant to do anything to damage their future rebuilding plans.
“You don’t want to do anything silly,” Rivers said. “We’re building for this year and the future so we’re not going to do anything that’s going to hurt either one of those. Obviously we’re looking to grab a big from somewhere, hopefully not by giving away a player, by doing it another route.”
The most obvious place to look is the D-League, but while the development league is full of guards and wings it has a noticeable shortage of qualified big men.
“Usually there’s not a lot of bigs floating around the D-League,” Rivers said. “We’re going to look everywhere. Wherever we can.”
Here’s a snapshot of some of the better prospects, with a hat tip to Scott Schroeder at Ridiculous Upside.
Mikki Moore: The most qualified by far, but he didn’t mess at all with Rivers in a brief run at the end of the 2009 season. There is a better chance of seeing Shaquille O’Neal back with the Celtics than Moore.
Keith Benson: A second round pick by the Hawks, the 6-foot-11 Benson is averaging 14.3 points and 7.7. rebounds for the Sioux Falls Sky Force.
Brian Butch: Stiemsma’s one-time teammate at Wisconson, Butch is averaging 18.2 points and 11.1 rebounds for the Bakersfield Jam. He has good range, making 42 percent of his 3-pointers.
Dan Gadzuric: The nine-year NBA vet has been off the radar for most of the season, but he made his debut with Texas on Sunday and scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Earl Barron: Currently playing in the Philippines, Barron has appeared in 112 games over six NBA seasons.