|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.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett will be ‘great when the playoffs start’||at 11:26 am ET|
“I think they’ll be great when the playoffs start,” Rivers said. “I think they’ll be better because there’s more rest, and our key is to get them there fresh.
“I thought that it may have had something to do with Danny [Ainge] not making a trade or doing a trade. I just don’t think anything was out there that appealed to him.”
Curry, Golden State’s sharpshooting guard, dropped 54 points against the Knicks on Wednesday night, albeit in a 109-105 Warriors loss. The 54 points are a season-high for the NBA this season.
“That was special to watch,” Rivers said, adding: “Some of the shots he was making were spectacular. ‘¦ The way he shot the ball and the shots he got — he’s just a great shooter. He’s the best shooter in our league.”
Added Rivers: “When a guy gets in a zone like that, it’s just hard. It’s so easy to say, ‘Deny him,’ but he’s a point guard, so he always has the ball in his hands for the most part. That’s what makes it so difficult. Everyone else who are off the ball, you have a better chance. But a guy with the ball, in that zone, that’s hard.”
|Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘We need some help’||02.26.13 at 2:08 pm ET|
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck stopped in for a visit with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss how close Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were to being traded last week, the prospect of being a better team without Rajon Rondo, and more Celtics topics.
Pierce and Garnett were the subjects of many trade rumors leading up to last week’s trade deadline.
“For the last two or three days before the deadline, their names came up more than anybody else,” Grousbeck said. “They were the topic of conversations of calls coming into us because people thought maybe we weren’t going to keep it together this spring.
“The assumption going into any February, as long as I’m around, is going to be: Make the team better for this year. Don’t blow it up in the middle of February if you’re in a playoff position.”
The Celtics are 30-27 and hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They are 2½ games behind the Bulls for the sixth seed, and 2½ games ahead of the eighth-seeded Bucks.
“If we were 5-50 or whatever, we’d be pretty likely to do almost anything to make that better,” Grousbeck said. “But I like the way this team has been playing. We need some help, though. We need some more guys. … The icing on the cake was losing [Leandro] Barbosa. [He] was really playing well, lot of energy, defensive intensity, some length, some offense.”
After this season, Pierce will have one more year left on his contract with the Celtics. Grousbeck talked about the likelihood of the captain retiring in a Celtics uniform.
“We’re going to retire his number, whatever happens,” Grousbeck said. “Paul is an all-time great. Just watching him last night, he looked like he was 25 again. … People can’t say ‘Big deal, they’re playing for two hours. What’s the big hardship?’ It’s a grind and that was a grind last night in overtime and everything else. They could have folded up the tent and they didn’t.”
The Celtics bounced back from a loss in Portland on Sunday night to close out a challenging five-game Western Conference swing with a victory in Utah, claiming a 110-107 win in overtime against the Jazz. Paul Pierce broke a 99-99 tie with a 3-pointer, the first of his three consecutive baskets in overtime that put the Celtics in control of the game’s final minutes. Kevin Garnett added four points in overtime, and Courtney Lee helped to ice the game with a pair of free throws with one second left on the clock. Randy Foye‘s attempt to tie the game with a last-second 3-pointer missed the mark, permitting the Celtics to close out their road trip with a 2-3 mark to start the second half.
The strong overtime period continued a roller-coaster second half in which the Celtics outscored the Jazz 32-19 in the third quarter, only to see the Jazz go on a 13-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter that gave Utah an 85-82 lead. However, the Celtics recovered in time to send the game into overtime in a 97-97 deadlock. Pierce missed a chance to give Boston the win when he could not convert a turnaround jumper at the end of regulation, but he made up for the miss by taking over in overtime.
Pierce led the Celtics with 26 points while adding seven rebounds and eight assists. Garnett added 13 points and 10 boards, while Avery Bradley tallied 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 26 points.
For more Celtics coverage, visit weei.com/celtics.
|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):
|Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: If Celtics wanted Kevin Garnett to waive no-trade clause, ‘they would have just traded Paul Pierce out from under him’||at 2:33 pm ET|
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about what the Celtics did at the trade deadline and whether or not they missed an opportunity to trade Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett and get something of value in return.
“I don’t know what opportunity really was there,” Wojnarowski said of potential Pierce and Garnett trades. “You could trade them and you could get something for them, but I think the deal Boston really would have liked to have done was with the Clippers. To get Eric Bledsoe, 22-year-old point guard, and DeAndre Jordan, who’s a 23-year-old center who’s developing. That’s a deal I believe Boston would have went to ownership with and said, ‘We’d like to do this, let’s see if we can get KG to lift his no-trade clause.’
“The Clippers coaching staff wanted to do it, and a lot of executives and coaches among the elite in the Western Conference, and some of the elite in the East, they were terrified of KG going to the Clippers. They thought that made the Clippers the team to beat out there. But ownership was reluctant to this deal, and ‘¦ they never agreed in principle to that package. I think that’s one [Boston] may have pulled the trigger on.”
Reports of another proposed Celtics deal, which would have sent Pierce to Brooklyn for Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and the Nets‘ first-round draft pick, also surfaced. That didn’t happen, and Wojnarowski said he doesn’t think it was urgent for the Celtics to make a deal like that.
“I think that Boston can revisit it in deals around draft time,” he said. “Brooklyn’s draft pick is not going to have a great value. They’re a playoff team, you’re getting a pick that’s not going to be really high, in a pretty bad draft. And you’ve got to try and get one good player back. Humphries and Brooks, you’re not really getting either. Humphries is fine, he has a purpose, but not if you’re trying to get younger and rebuild. I have no problem with the Celtics not doing that Brooklyn deal.”
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