|Report: Celtics-Hawks talks were ‘purely exploratory’||03.03.12 at 1:12 pm ET|
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via twitter) said that while the Hawks and Celtics had discussed the possibility of a deal, such conversations remained preliminary.
Tweeted Wojnarowski: Atlanta did express an interest to Boston about Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett, but purely exploratory conversations, sources said.
Wojnarowski’s report comes one day after another rumor suggested that the Celtics were interested in acquiring forward Josh Smith from the Hawks while dangling Kevin Garnett.
|Paul Pierce consoles Rajon Rondo: ‘I was part of trade rumors… four or five straight years’||at 9:35 am ET|
Paul Pierce didn’t want his teammate Rajon Rondo feeling singled out or disconnected from the team.
As captain, Pierce felt the time was right before Friday night’s game against the Nets to deliver a message about the persistent trade rumors involving Boston’s mercurial point guard.
“Well it’s nothing we haven’t been through before,” Pierce said after dropping 27 on the Nets in Boston’s 107-94 win that once again put the Celtics above .500 at 18-17. “Rondo’s been through it, I’ve been though it a number of times. The thing is you have to do your job, you can’t let that affect you. I kind of mentioned it to Rondo today, you know I was part of trade rumors for probably four or five straight years. I just didn’t let it affect me on how I approached each and every game. You know whatever happens, happens, it’s business. Sometimes you don’t have control of it.”
Rondo ignored the noise and went out in the first half and showed that as long as he’s in Boston, he will be the game-changer that Celtics fans have grown accustomed to. Like in the second quarter, when Rondo told everyone to get up-tempo on D and pressure the ball coming up the court.
The result: Five turnovers in a 14-0 Celtics run that – for all intents and purposes – put the game out of reach. Rondo finished with 14 points, 13 assists and five steals, with all five coming in the first half fury.
“He said before the game, ‘Let’s be aggressive. Defensively, let’s be active.’ And we followed his lead,” Kevin Garnett said of Rondo.
Rondo had help as Mickael Pietrus was a defensive force, implementing Rondo’s plan to perfection and getting nasty on whoever was trying to take the ball up the court.
“Well you know Pietrus has started some games for us before and he’s been spectacular,” Pierce said. “He is able to come off the bench or start and give us great minutes for his defensive and shooting ability.
“I think it definitely goes to another level, because he’s our energy guy that we use off the bench . You know when he’s out there to start the game he gets us off to a great start, he’s such a great rebounder for his size, and he can spread the floor with his point shooting. It was a real big lift to have him out there. We knew we were missing Ray tonight but we knew Pietrus could fill in.”
Now, the Celtics and their newfound pressure D will be tested by Jeremy Lin and the Knicks on Sunday, with Boston riding a three-game win streak.
“I think we are moving the ball a lot better and hopefully hitting our stride right here at home,” Pierce said. “We are playing better basketball. We have a huge West coast trip coming up for us in the next couple weeks, so it’s important for us to get as many wins as we can under our belt before we hit the road.”
|Trade Rumor: Celtics eye Josh Smith, possibly for Kevin Garnett||03.02.12 at 3:31 pm ET|
The New York Daily News threw out the suggestion that the Celtics would be interested in Atlanta’s Josh Smith “and other young studs,” while using the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce as bait.
“With the Big Three’s window now shut, Ainge is trying to land Atlanta’s Josh Smith and other young studs, while offering up Kevin Garnett. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen can also be had, for young players and draft picks. Rajon Rondo might be leaving, too, with the Lakers and Utah seen as possible destinations.”
The interesting part of this rumor is the suggestion of Garnett, which is the first time his name has been linked in any trade rumor since he’s come to Boston. Garnett is in the last year of a contract that pays him $21 million and Smith has another year left after this one at $13 million, so that wouldn’t work straight-up. The Hawks have other short contracts like Kirk Hinrich, who is in the last year of a deal that pays him $8 million.
Smith was high school teammates with Rajon Rondo at Oak Hill Academy and the two have remained close. He’s still just 26 years old and many felt that he deserved a spot on the All-Star team. He’d be the kind of player the Celtics would be looking to acquire if they move forward with Rondo.
|Irish Coffee: Rating ridiculous Celtics rumors||at 2:59 pm ET|
So many trade rumors, so little time.
On Thursday, NBA teams could officially deal players signed this past offseason, and March 15 is the deadline, so Celtics president Danny Ainge‘s phone bill is probably higher than Lindsay Lohan‘s attorney fees at this point.
While Ainge denied actively shopping Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo in an interview on WEEI’s Big Show, he’s made it clear Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and everybody else — including captain Paul Pierce — are available for the right package. So far, the price hasn’t been right.
We’d be remiss not to mention the current rumors, but let’s be serious about the possibilities. Here goes.
Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss the trade rumors surrounding the Celtics, specifically concerning point guard Rajon Rondo. Wojnarowski said not to expect a big deal from Celtics president Danny Ainge before the trade deadline.
“I just don’t know what large thing is out there for them to do,” he said. “I think Danny’s going to try, and he’s ready with any of the Big Three to make a move if they can get them maybe some picks down the line, a good young player for down the line. But right now, whatever that is, I don’t think it’s shown itself. And as for Rondo, I don’t see that happening.”
Wojnarowski said Ainge might be asking teams what they would offer for Rondo in an attempt to determine the guard’s trade value going forward, but that’s different than actively “shopping” him. “Boston’s not doing that with Rondo,” he said, noting that it’s unlikely the guard will be moved this month. Read the rest of this entry »
|Poll: Should Celtics trade Rajon Rondo?||at 1:43 pm ET|
Should the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo?
- Maybe, but only for a superstar or top-10 draft pick (50.0%, 151 Votes)
- No, they need to keep him for the future (35.0%, 106 Votes)
- Yes, for whatever they can get for him because he's a distraction (14.0%, 43 Votes)
Total Voters: 300
|What if the Celtics don’t make a move?||02.22.12 at 2:16 am ET|
Let’s say for the sake of argument that the NBA trade deadline passes on March 15 without the Celtics making a major move. Under that very plausible scenario, they would move forward with their aging core for presumably one last playoff stand. Who knows? Maybe they channel both the 1999 lockout Knicks and their own not-so-distant history by blazing an unexpected path to redemption through the postseason.
That last part may be unlikely, but the chances of team president Danny Ainge standing pat at the deadline rank at least even with pulling off a major move. What then?
As everyone knows, the Celtics will have enough salary cap space to pursue a max free agent with money left over. As everyone also knows, the chances of landing Dwight Howard fall somewhere between slim and none, which leaves Ainge in a quandary.
Does he use that new-found space to pursue lesser free agents or trades and try to stay competitive, or does he hold tight and wait for bigger names to become available down the line? The answer lies somewhere in between. In both his public comments and his actions, Ainge understands that the fastest way to irrelevancy is blowing through cap space on middling free agents. That doesn’t mean, however, that he will just wait for a savior to become available.
The Celtics’ rebuilding process is likely to take several years and will require patience and planning. Here is a highly speculative look at how it would look:
WHAT WOULD BE LEFT
The Celtics have four players under contract for next season: Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson. Brandon Bass has a player option for $4.25 million, which is a bargain for a player of his caliber, meaning he’ll likely opt out.
They also have an option on E’Twaun Moore and can make a qualifying offer for Greg Stiemsma, who have both flashed NBA ability and have the advantage of being extremely affordable. Assuming they retain both players, their cap situation looks like this:
Committed salaries with Bass: $35.52 million
Without Bass: $31.27 million
Expected salary cap for 2012-13 season: $58 million (Note: The cap is set after the season, but for the purposes of this exercise, the $58 million figure will do.)
It’s important to remember that the Celtics’ cap space is theoretical. The eight free agents, plus assorted other blasts from the past represent over $95 million in “cap holds.” (See Sham Sports salary page for details).
In order to use that space one of two things have to happen. Either the free agent player signs with another team, or the player’s rights are renounced.
It’s possible that say, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen could be re-signed for significantly less money. It’s also likely that some players such as Mickael Pietrus or Chris Wilcox may be re-signed. Either way, it would be a surprise if all eight pending free agents had different addresses next season.
(The others: Jermaine O’Neal, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic and Keyon Dooling).
Barring a complete collapse from the Clippers, the Celtics will have two first round draft picks: Their own and one from the Clips via the Kendrick Perkins trade. While that Clippers pick may not carry the promise of a lottery windfall like it once did, having two picks in what should be a loaded draft is a definite help in the rebuilding process.
The Celtics would have the 15th and 23rd picks in the draft at the moment. Per Draft Express, the 15th-rated prospect is none other than Duke freshman guard Austin Rivers and the 23rd rated prospect is North Carolina freshman forward James McAdoo. Obviously a lot will change between now and the draft, but even picking in the middle and latter part of the first round should yield quality options.
WHAT THE ROSTER MIGHT LOOK LIKE
PG: Rondo, Bradley, Moore
SF: Pierce, Jeff Green*
PF: Wilcox/Bass*, Johnson
* Anticipated signing
We’ve gone ahead and slotted Pietrus, a returning Jeff Green and either Wilcox or Bass with the two first rounders on a theoretical roster, giving the Celtics 11 players for about $45 million. (Again, that’s very rough estimate).
That’s not enough for a max player, but if Howard goes elsewhere, as expected, there’s no one else besides Nets guard Deron Williams who is worth that kind of money. That’s still plenty of space to add players who can be part of the rebuilding project. The key is not breaking the bank and keeping their options open beyond next summer.
THE FREE AGENT MARKET
The obvious needs are at center and the shooting guard position. The free agent market may be thin in unrestricted free agents but there will be a larger-than normal influx of restricted free agents and they offer some intriguing possibilities.
Centers: Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Omer Asik
Forwards: Ryan Anderson, Nic Batum, Mareese Speights, Michael Beasley, J.J. Hickson, Jason Thompson
Guards: O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, George Hill, Rudy Fernandez
Garnett and Allen are the key figures here. It’s not out of the question that one or both could return at a reduced salary, but if they decide to go elsewhere, the Celtics could use them in sign-and-trade scenarios that could yield either players or trade exceptions for future use.
Remember, they used the sign-and-trade route to acquire Bass and turned a trade exception for Daniels into Dooling. Everything is an asset in the NBA, including expiring contracts.
One of the benefits to having cap space is it allows you to absorb contracts without having to match salary in return. That opens the door to limitless possibilities for Ainge to wheel and deal. Teams below the luxury tax line can also take back 150 percent of player contracts in trades as opposed to 125 for taxpaying teams.
Additionally, Bradley, Johnson and Moore are getting important playing time. All three were unknowns before the season started, and while none of them may be cornerstone players that have more value now than they did when the season began. Add in two more first rounders and Ainge is in a position to begin stockpiling assets for a future move.
LUXURY TAX ADVANTAGES
It’s also worth pointing out that teams below the luxury tax threshold (about $70 million in salaries) have certain advantages, such as access to the bi-annual free agent exception (worth just under $2 million) and either the room exception ($2.5 million) or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception worth $5 million. In December, the Celtics could only offer the taxpayer mid-level worth $3 million.
It gets complicated in a hurry, but the larger point is that the Celtics would go from a tax-strapped, over-the-cap team to one with several new options and possibilities virtually overnight. All of that is why retaining flexibility is so important for the Celtics as they look to rebuild and why Ainge won’t trade his core players just to make a move.