|Paul Pierce tells podcast how he nearly left Celtics for Blazers, but wanted to join Mavericks||02.03.16 at 10:14 am ET|
After Paul Pierce led the Celtics to the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, and before he led them to the 2008 title, he wanted out of Boston, and he nearly got his wish.
Speaking to Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast, Pierce explained how he helped nix a deal to the Blazers and pushed for a trade to the Mavericks that would’ve altered Celtics history.
“It was just discouraging,” Pierce told Mannix, courtesy NESN.com. “It was just like I want people to know who Paul Pierce is, what type of player he is, but the only way to do that is to be on the big stage, be in the playoffs with a shot at the championship. It was discouraging playing so well and not reaching the team success that I wanted to reach. Because at the end of the day, that’s how you’re going to be measured on how your team does more than what you do as an individual. When I didn’t see that, the results of that, it created doubts where maybe I could go somewhere else and find that.”
Trader Danny Ainge, who long lusted after point guard Chris Paul, worked on the framework of a deal that would swap the two young stars. But Pierce wanted none of it.
“It was just like, (the Blazers) weren’t going to the playoffs, they had a young team, too, players always getting in trouble, and I was just like, I’m not going to Portland,” Pierce said on the podcast. “I think I made the announcement. I think I did an article in the paper saying I wasn’t going to Portland if I got traded there. I might as well stay in Boston if I go to Portland. I know that was the one trade I knew about that was on the table that they were really close to pulling.”
Pierce had another destination in mind: Dallas, where he would join his fellow member of the draft class of 1998, Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs boasted a committed owner in Mark Cuban, and a young roster that would eventually win a title in 2011. Maybe it would’ve happened sooner with Pierce.
“If you can get me to Dallas, that’s where I wanted to go at the time,’ Pierce said. “I thought Dallas was a player like me away from winning. They were 50-game winners. Dirk was pretty much by himself. I even ran into Dirk and Mark Cuban that summer. It was like, ‘Mark, you’ve got to find a way to get me over there. I want to get over there. I think I could help you all get over the hump.'”
It never happened, and for that, the Celtics should be grateful.
|Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 4. Goodbye, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett||10.13.15 at 8:26 pm ET|
Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for preseason to play out.
- No. 25: Hello, Sebastian Telfair.
- No. 24: Goodbye, Semih Erden.
- No. 23: Hello and goodbye again, Antoine Walker.
- No. 22: Hello, Ricky Davis.
- No. 21: Goodbye, Walter McCarty.
- No. 20: Hello, Keyon Dooling.
- No. 19: Hello and goodbye, Courtney Lee.
- No. 18: Hello, Kelly Olynyk.
- No. 17: Hello, Nate Robinson.
- No. 16: Hello, Brandon Bass.
- No. 15: Hello, Wally Szczerbiak.
- No. 14: Goodbye, Jiri Welsch.
- No. 13: Hello, Leon Powe.
- No. 12: Goodbye, Jeff Green.
- No. 11: Hello and goodbye, Jordan Crawford.
- No. 10: Goodbye, Antoine Walker.
- No. 9: Hello, Kendrick Perkins.
- No. 8: Hello, Tony Allen.
- No. 7: Goodbye, Rajon Rondo.
- No. 6: Hello, Isaiah Thomas.
- No. 5: Goodbye, Kendrick Perkins.
With that out of the way, here’s No. 4 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.
|Danny Ainge tells Paul Pierce Celtics have spot for him, possibly in front office||07.23.15 at 12:01 pm ET|
Pierce said he knew he was either going back to his hometown to play for Los Angeles, or he would return to the Wizards.
Thomsen wrote that Pierce watched the Clippers’ series with the Rockets and was “horrified” as they let slip a 3-1 lead in the series and allowed Houston to score 51 of the final 71 points in Game 6.
“No way — if I was in that locker room — I would have allowed that to happen,” Pierce told Thomsen. “You picture yourself being that voice or being that guy on the court that can help in those situations. I think I fill a pretty big need for them.”
His career with the Celtics in the books, as the 37-year-old is trying to “cement [his] legacy in both” L.A. and Boston, saying that helping win the Clippers’ first championship would be “storybook.”
“It’s going to be great, the accountability of it — not only the team, but with Doc and his coaching staff,” Pierce told Thomsen. “It made this whole process a lot easier, especially the position the team was in. If the Clippers weren’t a team that was contending, or if it wasn’t home for me, then this wouldn’t have been a destination for me. It’s all working out the way I want it to.”
Pierce also said that he ran into Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge recently, who told him, “When you’re ready, we have a spot for you.”
“I think he was meaning as a player, but maybe it was in the front office …” Pierce said to Thomsen.
He added that he could see a position for himself in the Clippers organization as well with Rivers because the coach “respects [his] basketball mind,” and also noted that being in Boston as a young player was probably better for him than if he had been in his hometown.
“You’ve got to know yourself,” he told Thomsen. “I know how difficult it would have been for me, being from here — a young immature kid playing at home. I wouldn’t want that. That would be a whole other monster, with all of the distractions and that. Things happen for a reason. This is all destiny, I believe.”
|Paul Pierce on Lakers: ‘There’s no way I could go there’||07.20.15 at 1:12 pm ET|
“It’s a dream come true to be able to come home, finally,” Pierce told The Boston Globe from Sunday night’s NBA Players Association awards show in Las Vegas. “I grew up a Laker fan, but playing on all the Boston Celtic teams … there’s no way I could go there — so this was the next best choice. And it’s always been a dream to play in front of my family and friends.”
After spending 15 years in Boston and adding a 17th banner to the rafters of TD Garden in 2008, Pierce left with co-star Kevin Garnett to the Nets. Following one full season in Brooklyn, Pierce signed with the Wizards, which took him back to the playoffs, where he thrived. Despite rave reviews from his teammates, Pierce opted out of his contract and reunited with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.
Pierce already has had a big impact on his new organization as he was part of the group that holed up with DeAndre Jordan in the center’s Houston home to keep him from honoring his verbal commitment to the Mavericks. Of his experience with the team so far, Pierce admits that it’s not what he expected.
“It’s been pretty wild,” Pierce said of convincing Jordan to remain with the Clippers. “I think that whole saga took a form and shade of its own. It got a lot bigger than it was supposed to be.
“I made my decision to be a Clipper. DeAndre changed his mind to be a Clipper.”
Pierce will fill the void at small forward left by Matt Barnes, who recently was traded to the Grizzlies. Last year Pierce averaged 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists as he helped lead the Wizards to a berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
|Hawks represent a “machine” Brad Stevens is familiar with: Could Boston model Atlanta’s success?||01.15.15 at 3:23 pm ET|
Back in 2007 the Celtics inspired the NBA when they put together what became known as the Big Three. Since then, the Heat accumulated their own successful trio, which LeBron James is now trying to replicate in Cleveland. Teams around the league are all scrambling to put together their own Big Three, but superstars are not easy to come by. Danny Ainge has found that out since trading away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Meanwhile, after collecting an impressive victory in Boston without two of their top players, the Hawks are far from scrambling in search of stars. Sitting at 31-8, they’ve lost just two games since Thanksgiving. The first-place team in the Eastern Conference? It’s not the Bulls, the Wizards and certainly not LeBron’s struggling Cavs. That would be the Atlanta Hawks.
One key is balance. All five of the Hawks’ starters average at least 11.9 points, but it’s not just about scoring. They can all rebound the ball, starting with the front court duo of Al Horford and Paul Millsap. They can all distribute the ball, but the head of the monster is the crazy-quick Jeff Teague. Kyle Korver is “the most challenging player in the league that averages less than 13 points to prepare for,” according to Stevens. That can be attributed not only to Korver’s lights-out shooting from downtown, but the fact that if he’s doubled he knows how to pass out of it and if his man leaves him it’s an automatic 3-pointer. Then there’s Demarre Carroll, a do-it-all type player with the ability to drop 22 points like he did on the C’s when other starters sat out, despite being the least heralded of the five.
Bottom line is that it’s a tough group of players, but even tougher when you see how fantastic they all gel together. On top of that, Atlanta has seven players coming off the bench that all average over four points, so depth isn’t an issue. Depth is also something the superstar-less Celtics seem to have, but with such a young team they have been unable to find the same type of cohesiveness that the Hawks have.
“I think you have to look and redefine who the superstars are with our own eyes everyday, right?” Stevens said following the game when asked about how Atlanta wins without superstars. “And so I would argue that they’ve got a couple guys on their way. And I don’t know what qualifies a superstar, but I know this: Nobody in the league can keep Jeff Teague in front of them. Nobody. And [Dennis] Schroder — I’m not saying he’s a superstar yet, he’s a young kid –but nobody can keep him in front of them. And then they space it with shooters, so now it’s a basketball team, right? And Millsap’s been and All-Star, Horford didn’t play tonight, he’s been an All-Star, Korver didn’t play tonight, he’s a really good player. So they’ve got a great group and it fits well, and you might have a budding superstar in that group, right?
“The other thing that I’d say about them that stands out, jumps off the page, jumps on the page when you’re coaching against them, jumps off the page when you’re watching film: Big-time savy,” the coach continued to gush. “The game comes really easy to them. It’s slow on defense. They can see things coming. They play well together. They know the biggest threats. They react to the biggest threats. And offense, they stay spaced to make the right basketball play time and again. And I agree with you that the superstar thing and factor is a big part of this, but there’s something to be said about a group that just — it’s like a machine. They’re a machine. They’ve really got a good thing going already.”
Another thing that makes the Hawks so good is their coaching. With Mike Budenholzer at the helm, the team has taken on a new identity since his arrival in 2013, and this may be a machine that Stevens recognizes. Budenholzer coached under Gregg Popovich from 1996-2013, winning four championships in the process. The Spurs have been an organization that Stevens has practically been obsessed with since he’s been on an NBA sideline, now the Hawks might be joining that same elite class.
It seems like the Spurs/Hawks’ style is the type of play that Stevens is most interested in coaching, it’s ultimate team basketball, which might be played best in a superstar-less system. In other words, the Celtics greatest success may come from Danny Ainge searching for the perfect fits in Boston while his youngsters develop, rather than waiting for the next KG trade to fall into his lap. Ainge has been actively working the trade market of late, so he certainly isn’t waiting around, but he may want to take a look at the Hawks blueprint if he wants to taste the champagne again soon.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow
|Jared Sullinger: ‘We can’t play hero ball [because] we don’t have heroes’||01.06.15 at 8:58 am ET|
Jared Sullinger played one season with Paul Pierce. But that one season was enough to learn a very valuable lesson from the former captain.
One man can’t win a game. He can make a shot or haul in a rebound or make a big defensive play. But Paul Pierce learned from Doc Rivers at an early age that “hero ball” – the act of putting your team on your shoulders and trying to do it all yourself.
Monday night was yet another example of that for the 11-21 Celtics as they fell behind 50-36 at the half and by 22 in the second half before making a meaningless run in a 104-95 loss to the lowly Hornets at TD Garden.
Down 22, Stevens took most of his regulars out and turned to his bench, led by 13 points apiece from rookie James Young and Jae Crowder. But it wasn’t enough. The lesson?
“It’s a natural habit from a ton of great players,” Sullinger said. “These are all great players. We didn’t get to the league by accident. We’re great players and our natural ability comes out and we try to make that home run play. But as a team, that hurts you. As a team, that hurts you. It’s not just one individual, it’s everybody. Sometimes, I do it. We just have to step outside of ourselves and put he team first and then the home run plays will naturally spit themselves out in our system.
“We have to understand that one play is not going to make up an 18-point deficit,” Sullinger said. “That’s definitely what it’s called. It’s called hero ball. We can’t play hero ball. We don’t have heroes.
“Being a hero makes you a failure, makes you a failure. You can’t play one on five at all. As a team, the system is going to spit out who’s going to score, who’s night it is. You just have to play basketball and do better.”
Brad Stevens tried to make the same point.
“That’s the type of coach he is but as a team, we just have to do better,” Sullinger said.
Sullinger made a point after Monday’s 104-95 loss shows the weaknesses a fragile, young team has.
“No, not at all. Not at all,” Belichick said. “It’s natural. If you look around at everybody in this room was a big impact in college basketball or a big impact at wherever they played. And, their ability of us as individuals automatically says, ‘let me put the team on my back.’ As a team, you can’t do that. It’s not just one person, it’s everybody.
Look at Evan. He was a national player of the year. Tyler was an 18-10 guy at North Carolina. Marcus Smart was the man at Oklahoma State. James Young was the man at Kentucky. Jeff Green at Georgetown. I could go on and on and on. Everybody at one point was a focal point.”
Re: James Young back in: ‘Yea all his hard work he’s been putting in. Going back and forth from Maine to Boston and all the hard work he’s been putting in throughout the couple weeks is finally showing. I’m so proud and happy for him and the best is yet to come.’
|5 things we learned in Celtics’ crazy 2OT loss to Wizards||12.08.14 at 10:58 pm ET|
Where to even start with this game?
After collecting their best win of the season on Sunday, the Celtics almost did the same on Monday on the tail end of a back-to-back with the Wizards. Paul Pierce and company were looking for revenge against Boston, a team they felt they shouldn’t have lost to on Sunday, but Washington was in for more than it expected before finally coming out on top, 133-132, in a wild double-overtime affair in Washington. (Click here for the full box score)
The Wizards came out hot and opened up a lead as large as 23 points. This didn’t phase the Celtics, as their bench completely turned the game around (much, much more on this later) along with Jeff Green. Boston cut the lead down and needed an Evan Turner 3-pointer with just 0.6 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 110.
The C’s dominated the early part of the overtime, led by Green, Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart. But, the Wizards came back from down seven points to tie it at 121 with under a minute left thanks to a huge 3-pointer, by who else but Pierce. After Brandon Bass missed a potential game-winner on a breakaway, the game went into double-overtime.
The second overtime was almost identical. It started with a 3-pointer by Smart, like the first one did, and Boston continued to open up another seven-point lead. The Wizards fought back again, though. John Wall gave them a one-point lead with 44 seconds left on a 3-point play that put his athleticism and speed on display. It ended up being the final score of the game, as Turner was unable to connect on an isolation play and Smart couldn’t convert on a put-back attempt at the buzzer.
Pierce was huge in the win scoring 28 points on 9-for-12 shooting, while Wall was able to score 26 to go with 17 assists and seven rebounds (although he did have nine turnovers). Green led the Celtics with 28 points, but the rest of the damage in the near upset was done by the bench.
Here’s five things we learned in the epic loss:
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