|Jackie MacMullan on M&M: Veteran teams play well in shortened seasons||11.29.11 at 1:30 pm ET|
ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan joined Mut & Merloni to give her thoughts on the Celtics and how they will fare now that the union and the owners have come to a tentative agreement to end the NBA lockout. Boston is set to face the Knicks on Christmas day in the first game of a shortened 66-game season.
MacMullan pointed to the 1999 NBA season, which was shortened to 50 games due to another lockout, and how older teams like the Spurs, the Magic and the Knicks were among the best in the league.
“You look at who came out of that shortened ’99 season, it was all veteran teams,” MacMullan said. “The Orlando Magic had one of the oldest teams in the league, the New York Knicks were dragging Patrick Ewing along and of course the San Antonio Spurs, who ended up winning the whole thing. They didn’t do well in those back-to-back-to-back games, in fact they did somewhat poorly, the older teams.
“But over the long haul, you had a bunch of veterans. Do you think anyone needs to tell Kevin Garnett how to stay in shape during the lockout? Do you think anyone needs to tell Ray Allen? And I would daresay even Paul Pierce has figured it out at this point. So the veteran teams tend to do well in these shortened seasons because they know what it takes not just to get into shape, but to stay in shape as the lockout goes along.”
While many think that the Celtics’ window to win another championship has closed, MacMullan said that the team has the ingredients to still be a contender.
“These guys know how to do it, they play the kind of defense that can get it done,” MacMullan said. “The question of course we always have with them is, can they score enough points? Because they really do get bogged down offensively.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
On what moves the Celtics will make before the start of the season: “I think it will be small moves. They have a core that they can try to go out a win. Don’t laugh, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried going after Grant Hill one more time, another old guy, a veteran that Doc loves and I think would be great in their locker room. They need a big body. My guess is they’ll go for a defensive type of center, like Kendrick Perkins, who’s going to cost them less money. Maybe a Joel Przybilla, his name has been out there. Do they go after a young, athletic guy like Al Thornton? They might.
“I was intrigued with one thing. Greg Oden is a restricted free agent in Portland. We know about his terrible, terrible foot problems. Do you take a flyer on him, one that doesn’t cost you a ton of money? My guess is whatever you did Portland would match it. But I just go all the way back to when we thought the Celtics might have a No. 1 pick, they were in the Greg Oden camp. Not the Kevin Durant pick, and by the way, that’s true of 99 percent of the people in the NBA at that time. So do you take a shot at Greg Oden? I don’t know. I doubt you overpay for him. You maybe overplay a little, but I doubt you throw big, big bucks at him and my guess is Portland would match no matter what. But he’s just a guy to throw out there because if he could at all be healthy, he’d really help you.”
|Irish Coffee: Celtics hope to sign-and-trade Big Baby?||11.28.11 at 12:35 pm ET|
With half the roster still to be filled, expect a whole lot of Celtics rumors to fly around the interwebs between now and Christmas Day — and here’s the first, courtesy of Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney’s Twitter account: “From what I’m told, the Celts are happy about the whole sign-and-trade issue for tax teams, because that’s the plan with Big Baby [Glen] Davis.”
At some point during the haze that was the NBA lockout, we discussed the realistic sign-and-trade options for Davis at length. Options included old friend Tony Allen, Warriors forward Dorell Wright, Kings center Jason Thompson and Bucks swingman Carlos Delfino, among others.
In an interview with the Boston Herald, Davis said he’ll have “a pen and pad and two phones up to my ears” as he listens to offers elsewhere, preferably for a starting position. He also expressed his interest (once again) in returning to the Celtics.
“I’ve been in the playoffs every year on that team — twice in the Finals,’ Davis told the Herald. “I think of the legacies that Kevin [Garnett] and Ray [Allen] have built here, and that’s the path you want to take. I’ll take a look at them first to see what we can do here, and then if I have to, I’ll look into where else I can go.”
|Irish Coffee: Boston Charity Classic leftovers (mmm … leftovers)||11.22.11 at 2:34 pm ET|
How fleeting Rajon Rondo‘s Boston Charity Classic was, providing Celtics fans a glimpse of the past, present and future for just one Saturday night before the cold reality of the NBA lockout endures into the winter. All that remains is this highlight package I put together and a few interesting quotes from the postgame interviews. It is the week of Thanksgiving after all, so here are some leftovers from what was a fun evening on the Harvard campus.
On decertifications: “A lot of players looked to me for leadership when they talk about negotiations, when they talk about options, when they talk about decertification. A lot of guys ask me, and what I did with that was just kind of give them the information. At the end of the day, as a whole, players gotta make a vote — make a choice whether to negotiate, decertify or file an antitrust lawsuit.”
On negotiations: “Right now, I want to get a deal. I want to play. I don’t have too many more years left. But we want the right deal. I think that’s the most important thing.”
On ultimatums: “We don’t feel like it’s a fair deal. If we did, we would have signed it, obviously. Maybe some players do, some players don’t, but as a majority we didn’t feel that was the right deal for us. … If I had a vote, would I make the deal now? You know what? I don’t think the deal that’s on the table is a deal that I would take.”
On meetings: “I wasn’t at the last couple meetings, so it kind of took me by surprise that last day when they broke up the union. So, a lot of that really took me by surprise, but I don’t think it was mentioned to bring it to the whole body, the whole union for a vote. The player representatives get a vote, and we’re at where we’re at.”
On veterans: “A lot of the older guys are kind of different players in this, because it’s for the older guys to say, ‘Take the deal, we already have contracts, we’re on our last two or three years and finish out.’ But it’s something bigger than everybody’s individual legacy. It’s about the future of the league, and that’s what we talked about when we get together. Me, Ray [Allen], Kobe [Bryant], guys who are veterans in the league — we feel like that’s the most important thing moving forward with the NBA.”
|Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo consider overseas options||11.20.11 at 11:57 am ET|
In the past, Paul Pierce has stated his desire to play in either Italy or Greece after his Celtics career is finished and before his retirement begins. For better or worse, the NBA lockout might offer that opportunity prematurely.
“I’ve been thinking about it, truthfully,” Pierce said at the Boston Charity Classic on Saturday night, addressing Italy specifically. “I love the game of basketball. It’s a shame I’m sitting at home not playing, so it’s definitely crossed my mind. Maybe I’ll think about it around mid-December. If I can see that there is no future of the league starting this year, then that’s definitely a strong possibility.”
Likewise, Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo and good friend Kendrick Perkins have discussed playing abroad as a package deal. Yahoo! Sports first reported that their representatives have put out feelers to foreign teams.
“You never know,” said Rondo. “I’m still here being a family man and just trying to do the right thing and staying in shape. I probably won’t make that decision until January. Me and Perk have talked about doing package deals, but right now we’re just enjoying our time. For me, it’s a gift and a curse. I’m trying to get as healthy as possible with all my injuries. But I’m ready to play.”
Rondo, who said his injured left elbow felt “good” after the game, has no offers currently on the table. In recent months, with players such as Kobe Bryant, the difference between the money foreign teams can offer and the insurance premiums for a star player has been too minimal to make economic sense. Since both Perkins and Rondo both finished this past NBA season battling serious injuries, they’ll likely face the same issue.
|Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce faces unwarranted criticism||11.15.11 at 3:00 pm ET|
I understand why role players would just want to accept the most recent NBA owners’ proposal, regardless of whether or not it benefits them or others just like them beyond the 2011-12 season.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
As longtime NBA assistant coach Herb Brown told The Jersey Journal, ‘I think it’s terrible, it’s awful. [Someone like] Kevin Garnett doesn’t get hurt by this situation, but the 10th, 11th and 12th man does.’ Still, there’s a reason you’re not supposed to shop for groceries when you’re hungry.
Take 22-year-old Cavaliers forward Samardo Samuels, for example. He’s among the rank-and-file NBA players who would have accepted the owners’ final proposal — if the NBPA ever gave him the chance to vote — and does not support Celtics captain Paul Pierce‘s charge to decertify the union.
|Irish Coffee: JaJuan Johnson ‘working out on his body’||11.10.11 at 2:33 pm ET|
Any time the Celtics‘ first-round draft pick gets awkwardly interviewed by a hot chick, it’s Irish Coffee’s duty and honor to relay the conversation. That’s precisely what happened when BallersBlock.net’s Zuri Hall conducted a locker room interview with JaJuan Johnson.
Zuri Hall: What does it feel like with the NBA lockout kind of looming? You haven’t even be able to experience that rookie season yet. Are you getting advice from vets, like how are you feeling right now?
JaJuan Johnson: You have a lot of uncertainties, really, just because you really don’t know too much about what’s going on. I’ve never been through it yet, but all I can really do is work out and listen to the older guys. All they’re doing is just working out, too, so I’m just following their steps.
ZH: Now, have you entertained the idea of going overseas? What are your thoughts on guys who are thinking about that?
JJ: I think it’s just on that person. Me, personally, I really want to work out on my body and just get bigger and stronger. So, my focus is just in the weight room and on my game, but I can see why obviously people want to play overseas — for financial reasons or whatever it can be — but that’s just my focus.
ZH: Ok, I’ve got a few fun questions for you. I’m not going to ask all the hard questions. All right, here’s one: Hypothetically — it doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, babies, none — it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals, your wife goes into early labor with her first-born, where do you go — the game or the hospital?
JJ: You gotta go to the hospital. You’ve got to. I might try to leave real soon. As soon as it’s delivered, we gotta head out to the game.
ZH: Good answer. It was a trick question. You had to say the hospital. Ok, I have a few either/ors: love or money?
JJ: Oooh [rubs his chin]. Oh, God [smiles]. Naw, love, I’m just playing [laughs].
|Paul Pierce gets Taiwanese animation treatment||11.08.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
It may not be as good as the Taiwanese animated portrayal of the Red Sox meltdown, but the latest NMA.TV effort involves none other than Celtics captain Paul Pierce and his leadership in the National Basketball Players Association’s decertification discussion. From what I can gather in this video, Pierce and a few Celtics teammates who look like Pierce literally smashed the union to smithereens with axes, causing one player with a nose ring to seduce a woman on a couch and leading to Michael Jordan getting shot in the head. Ok, then.
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