|Larry Bird: ‘Believe me, Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing’||07.08.13 at 6:29 pm ET|
One of the greatest Celtics in franchise history believes the team’s intensely loyal fan base should trust in Danny Ainge.
Larry Bird, speaking to reporters Monday at the Orlando summer league games, said he understands why his former teammate and current president of basketball operations of the Celtics traded heart-and-soul pieces Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last week to the Brooklyn Nets.
“Believe me, Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing,” Bird said. “He won a championship. I never doubt Danny Ainge. Danny does a good job. You know, you do get older. You can’t beat Father Time, and I’m sure things will work out.”
Pierce will be 36 next season while Garnett will be 37 when he suits up with Brooklyn. Both, Bird said Monday can be productive with the Nets.
“I think they’ve both been pretty healthy throughout their careers,” Bird said Monday. “They haven’t had the major, major injuries that I had. I think they got plenty left. The way they will be coached and the bench that they have. Yeah — they’ll pick their spots, but when the time comes, they’ll be there.”
Bird, who serves as Ainge’s counterpart with the Pacers, acknowledged it’s disappointing to see Pierce, the second-leading scorer in Celtics franchise history, not be able to do what he did and finish his career playing only for the Celtics.
“I would have loved to see it,” Bird said. “I got a lot of respect for Paul and what he has accomplished. But who says he’s not going to play another four years? It’s a tough situation.”
Pierce, who turns 36 Oct. 13, averaged 18.6 points per game this past season and, with 24,021 points, trails only John Havlicek on Boston’s all-time scoring list.
“[Pierce] is one of the better ones to ever come through there, he really is,” Bird insisted.
ESPN/ABC basketball analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Celtics’ offseason maneuverings.
The C’s pulled off a surprise move last week when they named Butler’s Brad Stevens their new coach.
“I think he’s a great, great basketball coach,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think there will be too big an adjustment — or too big of an adjustment basketball-wise. This guy is really, really smart. I think their players will respect his confidence, his sincerity, his reliability and his trustworthiness. He’s a quality person and coach.
“Now, the difference is, you’re going to lose some, and maybe a lot, depending on the construction of the roster. That, coupled with the length of a season, is always a challenge in the NBA when you go through a rebuilding situation. But I think his demeanor and his poise, along with his contract, will serve him well through the rebuilding situation.”
Added Van Gundy: “I honestly think that this is not a risk. People say it’s a risk. I don’t think it’s a risk for anybody. When Brad Stevens is done with the Celtics in six years, 10 years, 15 years, he can always go back and get a great, great college job. And for the Celtics, it’s not a risk because this guy’s a great person and a great basketball coach. How they do record-wise over his tenure there is going to be not based on his coaching ability. His coaching ability will be fine. It’s going to be their roster. Can they get him a good enough roster to work with and win with? If they do, they’ll win there.”
Asked if he or his brother Stan were contacted about the Celtics’ opening, Van Gundy said: “I have no idea about my brother. I know I wasn’t. Hey, listen, I have such respect for the Celtics that anybody would be interested if the Celtics call. They just have a great, obviously, history, they have great ownership, they have great management. So, anybody would be interested.”
As the Celtics head into a rebuilding period, Van Gundy warned that people need to avoid becoming impatient as the long season wears on.
“There’s very few people — teams, fan bases, organizations, coaches, players — who really have the stomach for a long rebuild,” he said. “It sounds good in theory. But Boston was tiring of rebuilding until Danny Ainge pulled off the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett trades. No one likes losing 18 straight games. This is where I thought Doc Rivers took unnecessary criticism. That he didn’t want to go through a long rebuild? He’d already done that. He’d already gone through that purgatory time in Boston. So, that he wouldn’t want to redo it again in Boston? I completely understand.
“There’s got to be a stomach for this rebuilding. And it really starts with the media, the management, the ownership. Because they’re so used to winning, that this may be a period of mediocrity. It may be that 41-40 record last year, that may be the norm. Or maybe they get a few more wins or maybe they get a few less wins, or maybe a lot less wins. You can’t just believe that in theory. You’ve got to be able to live through the dreary nights that are coming to the Boston Garden. And accept that this is part of the NBA, that you can’t stay great forever.
“I think that’s going to be the toughest adjustment for everybody. They’re coming off such a great period of winning, where they had the ultimate competitors in Garnett and [Paul] Pierce. So, to see them go, to see them go into the Eastern Conference. The whole thing is going to be difficult. And that’s where I think Brad’s demeanor will really help him. He’ll focus on trying to get better every day, incremental improvement. And if he can do that, I think he will have fulfilled his obligation to the Celtics very, very well.”
|National reaction to Celtics trade: Inevitable end of an era||06.28.13 at 2:03 pm ET|
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett reportedly will be shipped to the Nets in exchange for three first-round picks, as well as a five-player package highlighted by 2005 Celtics first-round draft pick MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.
The reaction from media around the country is, well, about as one would expect. Many of them used one common phrase in particular in their pseudo-obituaries:
“An inglorious end to a glorious era.” — Paul Flannery, SBNation
“This era of the Boston Celtics was finally destroyed.” — Zach Harper, CBS Sports
“[Celtics fans] were experiencing the other end of the era.” — Ian Thomsen, Sports Illustrated
“An era ended in Boston as the deep-pocketed Nets loaded up for next year’s run.” — Chris Forsberg, ESPN
Indeed, the official end of the Big Three Era — a period that lasted twice as long as many expected it to — has come, and with it a new one dawning in Brooklyn.
Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York assesses the trade from the Nets’ point of view, and held nothing back about the Celtics’ rebuilding
“So make no mistake,” O’Connor writes. “This is a great night for the Brooklyn Nets, even if it doesn’t lead to the title Garnett and Pierce won for the Celtics, who are busy becoming a D-League team in the hope of winning banner No. 18 in a resurgent season to be named (much) later.
“[Nets owner Mikhail] Prokhorov and his industrious GM, Billy King, saw an opening and pounced. The Nets got older and slower in the process, but they also got a lot better, especially in a playoff context.”
|Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘got the most they could possibly get’ for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett||at 10:28 am ET|
NBA insider Chris Mannix checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, and the Sports Illustrated senior writer commended Danny Ainge and the Celtics for pulling off a blockbuster trade Thursday, agreeing to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in exchange for a package headlined by the expiring contract of Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and three future first-round picks.
The trade stings a bit at first, sure, Mannix said, but the Celtics got great return for a pair of older players with big contracts.
“Boston got the most they could possibly get for both these players,” Mannix said. “I’m going to be honest guys, I’m not sure they could’ve gotten a better haul for them. I’m not sure there is another team out there that would have absorbed one or both of those players and given the Celtics more in return.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow because in the short term you don’t get a whole heck of a lot in the players they get back. … Regardless, they get immeasurably worse in the short term, but I don’t know if they could have gotten more for those players.”
Mannix said Thursday’s deal is a very, very risky one for Brooklyn. The organization has in effect given itself a one-year window to win, and it could very well “backfire in their faces.”
“The Nets are throwing all of their eggs into this one season and hoping they can find a way to get the chemistry to come together and challenge for a championship,” Mannix said. “Throw in the fact that I have no idea how Jason Kidd is going to be able to coach these guys. I say this half in jest, but I’m almost expecting Kidd to resign in midseason and activate himself and hand over coaching responsibilities to Lawrence Frank so he can get one more ring as a player as a backup. It’s just a bizarre situation out there.”
The Celtics, meanwhile, could flip Humphries to the Bobcats for guard Ben Gordon, a deal Mannix said Brooklyn and Charlotte may have explored earlier.
Mannix also expects the Celtics to center their rebuilding around Rajon Rondo. That fact that the team didn’t take a point guard in the first round of the Thursday’s draft when there were several available speaks volumes about the Celtics’ plans.
“It’s a big risk, because nobody has any idea what Rondo’s reaction is to all this, how he’s going to handle being the focal point of a team that’s probably going to be really bad next year,” Mannix said. “There’s no reason to believe they can’t try to build around Rondo these next couple of years and see what happens. If it turns out he’s not capable of doing it, if it turns out it’s not working out, you can always flip him at the trade deadline or at the start of the following season for something better in return.”
|Reports: Celtics, Nets agree on multiplayer swap that would send Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce to Brooklyn||06.27.13 at 11:01 pm ET|
A blockbuster trade that would send Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Celtics to the Nets in exchange for a multitude of draft picks and several players has been agreed upon by both teams, according to multiple reports late Thursday night.
Multiple outlets are reporting that the Nets would get Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry, while Brooklyn will send three first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018) to the Celtics, along with Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans (via sign-and-trade).
The move caps off an eventful week for the Celtics, who also saw longtime coach Doc Rivers depart for the Clippers.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the final piece of the puzzle came when Garnett waived his no-trade clause after Brooklyn agreed to guarantee the $12 million owed him for the 2014-15 season, the final year of a three-year deal. (The Nets could have bought out Garnett for $6 million.) Yahoo! also reports that the trade can’t be made official by the NBA until July 10.
Reportedly, the Celtics also discussed potential Garnett and Pierce trades with the Warriors and Mavericks.
The deal officially ends the Big Three era in Boston. Garnett and Ray Allen (who left last offseason for Miami as a free agent) were brought to Boston in the summer of 2007 to join with Pierce, a longtime Celtic who was drafted by Boston in 1998. Alongside guard Rajon Rondo, the nucleus of the team delivered the 17th championship in franchise history the following June, defeating the Lakers for the NBA title.
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The Celtics and Nets have agreed to a deal that will send Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, pending Garnett waiving his no-trade clause, according to Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski.
While both sides are pressing to finalize the trade, Garnett “doesn’t want to be pressured into a quick decision,” a source told Wojnarowski, and the NBA’s moratorium prevents any deal from becoming official until July 10.
Jason Terry would reportedly join the two future Hall of Famers in going to Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the Celtics would receive three first-round picks — in non-successive seasons from 2014-18 by rule, the report said, giving the C’s nine first-rounders over the next five seasons.
The Celtics would also assume the following salaries in order to make the deal work: Gerald Wallace (3 years, $30.3 million), Kris Humphries (1 year, $12 million), Reggie Evans (2 year, $3.5 million), Keith Bogans (sign-and-trade) and one more NBA minimum-wage player.
The Celtics also discussed potential Garnett and Pierce trades with the Warriors and Mavericks, according to Wojnarowski.
|Report: Celtics target Josh Smith pending Paul Pierce trade||06.25.13 at 1:52 pm ET|
If the Celtics can unload captain Paul Pierce to a team with enough cap space to absorb his $15.3 million contract next season — acquiring an equally hefty trade exception in return — Danny Ainge already has a sign-and-trade package prepared to offer the Hawks for unrestricted free agent Josh Smith, according to a Sporting News report.
The Bucks and Cavaliers have both been rumored among potential Pierce suitors, but the Celtics legend’s desire to play for a contender if he doesn’t stay in Boston remains an apparent hurdle for Ainge, who also reportedly wants a first-round pick back for Pierce.
Unless Ainge finds a trade destination for Pierce or both agree to extend the deadline, the C’s must decide by July 1 whether to pay Pierce his $15.3 million or cut him for $5 million against the cap.
While Sporting News reporter Sean Deveney‘s source did not divulge any details of a potential sign-and-trade deal for Smith, the Celtics would reportedly be willing to offer the athletic 27-year-old $15 million.
However, Smith could receive as much as $17.5 million on the open market from teams with the salary cap space (i.e., the Bucks, who sought Smith at the trade deadline), throwing yet another wrinkle into Ainge’s rebuilding plans this summer.
Of course, Smith and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo have been close friends since their days as roommates at Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) Academy. The mercurial Hawks forward has admitted being “a little jealous” of Rondo’s Boston experience in addition to conceding that a trade to the C’s was “a possibility” in February.
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