|Danny Ainge: Big part of the second half involves getting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce healthy||02.28.13 at 5:24 pm ET|
In his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talked about a variety of topics, including why Boston didn’t make more deals at the trade deadline and the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Ainge was asked as to whether he was concerned at all about the fatigue level of Pierce and Garnett, the latter of whom sat out Friday’s game against the Suns.
“Yes, I always am. Paul and KG have been incredibly durable throughout their entire careers,” Ainge said. “They take good care of themselves, but I do think that they need rest. If we have any chance of winning playoff basketball games, we need those guys fresh, healthy. Paul’s neck thing I think comes and goes, but there was a stretch I think when we were in that losing streak, I actually think that might have been one of the biggest factors. Paul was not 100 percent and yet he continued to play. That’s just who Paul is.
“I think Doc is determined to cut those guys’ minutes down now that we have a little bit more depth on the bench and we get some more bodies in here. That’s a big part of the second half of the season — getting them healthy.”
Ainge also talked about the remarkable run of LeBron James, calling him the “best player in our game today, without question. When it’s all said and done, he could be one of the best players of all time.”
“He’s one of those guys, the first time I ever saw him, in the first five minutes, I questioned whether he could be one of the best basketball players who ever lived,’ recalled Ainge. “And he was 17 years old at the time and he had a similar body — he’s probably 10 or 15 pounds heavier now, but he was so gifted, because he not only could shoot, pass and dribble, but he was the smartest guy on the court. The most intense guy on the court. The most unselfish guy on the court.
“I’ve been one of those people who know that LeBron is not perfect, and he’s been under the microscope since he’s been a young man. I think he’s done a pretty good job handling all this stuff and he continues to get better. Now, people are having to have the conversation about him and Michael Jordan. I think it’s still too early, but he’s getting better. And like Michael, now he’s starting to make mid-range jump shots, 3-point shots, and he’s virtually unguardable with one person. You need two and three people to guard him. If he’s making shots, you just have to tip your cap and pray that he misses.”
Here are some more highlights of the Q&A:
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|Paul Pierce: Pinched nerve causing ‘up-and-down’ performance, will last ‘until the season’s over’||at 1:10 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Two weeks, Celtics president Danny Ainge divulged during a game broadcast that Paul Pierce had been playing through a pinched nerve in his neck for two months, and before Thursday’s practice the C’s captain admitted the pain will continue for the rest of the season, if not longer.
“I probably won’t be fully recovered from it until the season’s over, if I ever do,” said Pierce. “I’ve probably got a little bit of nerve damage in the back part of my neck, but it’s something I’ve been playing through over the last couple months, so I’m probably about as healthy as I’m probably going to be for the rest of the season right now.”
Pierce shot below 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in January, and while those numbers improved this month, he’s having his worst shooting season in nearly a decade, making just 41.9 percent of his field goals after converting better than 44 percent in each of his previous five seasons.
“I really don’t try to pay attention to it during the game,” he said. “I don’t let little injuries try to affect me. I don’t really think about it. It’s probably been the reason I’ve been up-and-down a lot. Sometimes you get a sharp pain. There are times when I have a stinger go through the same part of my neck where the pain is happening, and it’s happening a lot more than normal, whether it be in practice or a game, so it’s something I’ll deal with after the season.”
|Irish Coffee: The 41 best parts of the most revealing Rajon Rondo interview to date||02.25.13 at 10:45 am ET|
Rajon Rondo doesn’t usually trust the media, which makes the fact he told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins a reason for that — his father left home in his formative years — all the more fascinating. This Jenkins piece is the definitive Rondo feature, even if most of the reporting took place prior to the Celtics point guard’s season-ending ACL injury. It offers insights we rarely ever see into the enigmatic NBA All-Star. Here are 41 great ones.
- Rondo loves Shirley Temples. So do his Celtics teammates. “Waitresses are like, ‘What?’ I feel like I have to add a splash of Patron, and I don’t even really drink.”
- Rondo loves Connect Four. Honing his skills on the front porch of his mom’s College Court home in Louisville, Ky., he plays at charitable events, if only to avoid the awkwardness. Three days before this past Christmas, after handing out bikes, Razor scooters and iPod Touches, he lost for the first time in roughly a thousand charity games. “I can’t believe it. But did you notice I played the guy five more times and won them all? I had to show him, ‘You beat me, but I’lll beat the [expletive] out of you.” His opponent was a 12-year-old named Olisa. Talk about awkward.
- Rondo doesn’t like game-time decisions. “They just want an excuse if they don’t play well.”
- Rondo doesn’t like playing grab-ass. “I’m not trying to make friends. We can talk in the summer.”
- Kevin Garnett: “With Rajon, there ain’t no [expletive]ing around.”
- Rondo admits, “A lot of times I’ll be shooting and think, Maybe I should pass.”
|Ainge on Big Show: ‘I didn’t want to move’ Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett||02.22.13 at 6:09 pm ET|
‘We really like those guys,’ said Ainge on Friday evening. ‘I like Kevin and I like Paul a lot, and I didn’t want to move them.’
Ainge wouldn’t discuss how close he ever came to trading Garnett to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan — other than to say, ‘I never talked to Kevin’ — or dealing Pierce to the Nets for Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick.
“You don’t just give them away,’ he said. ‘There is great value in those guys.’
So, Ainge apparently wasn’t offered a deal that matched the value he places on either Garnett or Pierce, so he never had the opportunity that Red Auerbach had. For some background, here’s what Ainge told The Boston Globe two years ago (h/t @trubygreen):
|Straight out of China: D.J. White in Celtics’ sights||at 11:22 am ET|
The Celtics are interested in the services of former Bobcats big D.J. White, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
Playing alongside Gilbert Arenas on the Shanghai Sharks, White averaged 21.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 assists in 33.0 minutes a night over 32 games in the Chinese Basketball Association this season. The Sharks finished their season on Sunday. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward averaged 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per 36 minutes in 124 games over four NBA seasons with the Thunder and Bobcats. He’s 26 years old.
Hearing that Celtics have former Charlotte big man D.J. White in their sights for 10-day deal now that White’s season in China is over
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 22, 2013
|Irish Coffee: The day Kevin Garnett both slapped Jordan Crawford, barked at Ricky Rubio||at 10:45 am ET|
Remember the NBA lockout? Fun times. All those Rajon Rondo corn hole tosses, Ray Allen golf foursomes and Jeff Green exhibition games (thankfully not just corn hole, foursomes and exhibition). We cared about workouts, too, like those involving Kevin Garnett in Los Angeles. Newest Celtics guard Jordan Crawford was there as well, and they apparently didn’t get along so well.
On this day, everyone was still buzzing over Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford’s mistake of talking too much to Garnett a day earlier. When Boston Celtics teammate Paul Pierce tried to do Crawford a favor and push him away, Crawford urged Pierce to let K.G. go.
‘I thought they were just kidding,’ Rubio says, and maybe Crawford did too.
There are hard lessons to be learned in this league, lockout or not lockout. Eventually, Garnett reminded Crawford about that with a smack upside his head, a reminder to Crawford, Rubio and the rest of them: Elders will be respected.
Garnett has a history of initiating European players in the NBA, and one witness in the gym had recently watched him respond to a Rubio move with the ball by barking, ‘That’s a traveling here. We don’t do that [expletive] here.’ And on and on.
|What Jordan Crawford means to Celtics||02.21.13 at 2:54 pm ET|
Celtics president Danny Ainge could’ve gone two ways at the NBA trade deadline — completely rebuilding or fortifying the current roster with precious few pieces to deal in return — and he appears to have chosen the latter.
In trading Jason Collins, his 8.1 personal fouls per 36 minutes and the injured Leandro Barbosa‘s expiring veteran minimum contract to the Wizards in exchange for Jordan Crawford, Ainge got the backcourt support he was looking for, partly at the expense of the team’s frontcourt depth.
In acquiring Crawford, the Celtics save a few hundred thousand dollars in salary and open another roster spot this season. They owe the 24-year-old shooting guard $2.1 million next year before he becomes a restricted free agent in 2014-15 — nothing too steep for a fourth guard option behind Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry. Meanwhile, they hold on to The Fab Melo Project and inch closer to getting under the luxury tax line.
Considered a below average defender with poor shot selection, decent ball-handling skills and a knack for scoring in transition, Crawford is a poor man’s Barbosa, and since Ainge recently admitted players of Barbosa’s caliber aren’t available, he appears to be the best available option. The C’s weren’t going to get J.J. Redick at this price.
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