|Paul Pierce bounced from World Series of Poker||07.12.11 at 9:44 am ET|
Paul Pierce had already been a world champion in his own occupation and this summer, with the NBA players locked out by the owners, he had tried to become a champion in one of his hobbies: Texas Hold ‘Em poker. The Celtics captain posted the $10,000 entry fee for the World Series of Poker’s main event and lasted 17 hours and 40 minutes on the felt before he was finally left without any chips late Monday night, according to the ESPN Poker Blog.
Pierce lasted longer than more than half of the 2,031 hopefuls who entered the popular competition in Las Vegas’s Rio casino but fell well short of finishing in the money. He went all-in with a 2-2 – interestingly enough, Pierce has averaged 22.2 points per game during his 13-year NBA career – but the C’s swingman ran into a pair of Jacks and there would be no luck of the Irish on the flop. He exited to a round of applause from the Rio crowd as well as his fellow gamblers.
|Celtics extend qualifying offer to Jeff Green, make him restricted free agent||06.30.11 at 1:56 pm ET|
The Celtics extended forward Jeff Green a one-year qualifying offer at $5.9 million, which will make the forward a restricted free agent. The move was procedural and gives the team the right to match any offer Green receives once the league opens — or rather re-opens — for business following a lockout that could start as early as midnight on July 1.
The team also announced that they have exercised the third-year option on Avery Bradley. For first round picks, the first two years of their contracts are guaranteed. The team has options on the third and fourth years before a player can become a restricted free agent like Green is now.
Green can still sign a long-term extension with the team once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules in place or he could return for the one-year offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Celtics could also let him walk if another team offers a huge deal, but that seems unlikely as they have maintained that he is a part of their long-term plans.
Yet the Celtics have also carefully planned to have as much cap space as possible after next season and it will be interesting to see how much they ultimately invest in his services. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for the franchise if Green simply came back for the one-year offer and kept the books clear for the summer of 2012. Of course all the roster speculation is premature until the new CBA rules are in place.
The question for the Celtics and Green — assuming he does return — is what kind of player will he be for them?
Green arrived from Oklahoma City in the Kendrick Perkins trade with the expectation that he would provide scoring and athleticism off the bench, as well as a solid backup for Paul Pierce. Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games for the Celtics and while his minutes were cut from 37 in OKC to 23 with the C’s, that was essentially the same production he gave the Thunder. On the plus side his field goal percentage jumped from 44 to 49 percent, but his 3-point shooting dipped under the 30-percent line.
After four years in the league, Green seems to have settled in as a good but not great player, which doesn’t exactly translate into future franchise cornerstone. But the Celtics believe that he still has room to develop, particularly with a full training camp under his belt.
“I think Jeff played excellent,” team president Danny Ainge said in an end of the season media session in May. “Maybe the expectations were too high. We knew he wasn’t going to start. We knew he wasn’t going to play 35 minutes. We needed a veteran player, an experienced player, an athletic player. We know what Jeff Green is. He’s a highly efficient offensive player who plays good defense. That’s what we need and he’s young and I think he’s just going to get better because of his character and work ethic.”
The problem — as it was last season — is finding a role for Green. Ainge floated the idea of starting Green and using Pierce off the bench, which seems like a reach considering Pierce is one of the best players in franchise history and still playing at an All-Star level.
While Pierce’s minutes are likely to go down next season that’s still only about 15 minutes of action. Green also struggled defensively as a four-man, although that had a lot to do with whoever was playing center. When he was in the lineup with Pierce and Kevin Garnett for example, he did just fine. When he teamed with Glen Davis to form an undersized frontcourt, not so much. Adding legitimate depth at center behind Jermaine O’Neal and rookie JaJuan Johnson can only help Green.
The Celtics believe that they can contend for a championship again next season with their core players in place, provided they receive some help from free agency and their young players develop into contributors. But no player needs to help more than Green.
If Ainge is right that Green’s best years are ahead of him he can give the Celtics a dimension they’ve lacked since the big three era began. If this is as good as it gets then it doesn’t seem likely that Green will be enough to get them past Miami and Chicago.
|NBA mock draft roundup: Who the experts say the Celtics will select||06.22.11 at 1:45 pm ET|
The 2011 NBA draft is scheduled for Thursday night, with the Celtics holding picks No. 25 (first round) and 55 (second round).
The Celtics have used the draft for players that have played a significant role in the team’s growth. They selected Paul Pierce in the first round back in 1998. They also selected Jeff Green in the first round of the 2007 draft before trading him to the SuperSonics in a deal that got the Celtics Ray Allen. Other notable Celtics draft picks of late include Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody last year, Ryan Gomes in 2005 and Al Jefferson, Delonte West and Tony Allen in 2004.
Many draft experts have weighed in with their thoughts about how this draft will play out, with no consensus on which direction the Celtics will go.
ESPN’s Chad Ford writes that the Celtics will take enigmatic center Jeremy Tyler. Tyler decided to try playing professional basketball in Israel after his junior year of high school in San Diego. It didn’t work out for him, so he took his talents to Japan to play in that country’s professional basketball league.
Noted Ford: “The Celtics are going to start rebuilding soon, and they need to hit a home run again the same way they did with Rajon Rondo. Tyler could be that guy. If he had played in college, he might have had a chance to be a top-10 pick with his talent.”
In the second round, Ford has the Celtics taking Jamine Peterson, a forward who played two seasons at Providence before jumping to the NBDL last year.
Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick has the Celtics staying local and selecting Boston College guard Reggie Jackson. “Apparently, the Celtics aren’t concerned about Jackson’s minor knee surgery in mid-May, as a source insists he won’t get past Boston,” Amick wrote. “He would need some grooming, but the lengthy, two-way player could eventually be a dynamic option behind Rajon Rondo.”
Fox Sports’ mock draft has the Celtics taking forward Trey Thompkins out of Georgia at No. 25, noting that Thompkins has some solid offensive skills. “Thompkins is a highly skilled offensive player with a pretty jump shot and range out to the college 3. He doesn’t wow you with athleticism, but his skill level is that of an NBA vet. He has struggled some this year without a playmaker setting him up, but remains a refined big man with solid potential.”
|Transcript of Shaquille O’Neal on D&C: ‘I didn’t want to let the people of Boston down two years in a row’||06.03.11 at 11:06 am ET|
Future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, the day of his scheduled press conference at his Orlando house to formally announce his retirement after one injury-plagued season with the Celtics and 19 years in the NBA.
Asked if this is a happy or sad day, O’Neal said: “A little bit of both. Business-wise, I felt that the Boston organization and the people of Boston treated me very, very well. I could have gotten a little minor surgery and then been out for nine months, but then we would have been in the same situation again, everybody sitting around waiting for me. So, I thought it was great business to let Danny [Ainge] go out and get some younger talent.”
Added O’Neal: “I didn’t want to let the people of Boston down two years in a row.”
Asked if he’s 100 percent certain that he will stay retired, Shaq coyly replied: “For now, yes.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The big question is where does Shaq appear on the Mount Rushmore of big men in the NBA. Is that a question you want to deal with?
I never really deal with it. For me, coming from where I come from, how I was taught to play the game — my father used to mention all those great names to me. Like, “Son, when you block a shot, don’t show off and knock it out of bounds. Keep in inbounds, like the great Bill Russell. Son, I need you to dominate. I need them to change the rules for you like they with Wilt Chamberlain. You know what, son, the jump hook is nice. I need you to shoot the little hook like Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar].”
So, for me to have my name mentioned next to those guys — and you can’t forget Chief, Robert Parish. He was great. too. So, for me to have my name mentioned up there, it’s a blessing.
|Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: ‘I want Miami to lose so badly’||05.25.11 at 9:56 am ET|
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning during a charity benefit for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
After the Celtics lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Grousbeck was asked if he is still watching the playoffs. “I am watching this year because I want Miami to lose so badly,” he said, adding “I’m rooting hard against the Heat.”
Grousbeck said he will be rooting for the Mavericks the rest of the way because of his relationship with Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Said Grousbeck: “I love the guy. … He’s just a good guy. He genuinely roots for us against other teams. He is a Celtics fan when he’s not a Mavs fan. And we’re going to return the favor.”
Grousbeck did give the Heat credit. “I thought they outplayed us in the series,” he said. “They had more juice. They had more pop. I can’t really deny that. I would have loved to take that Monday night game in Boston and make it 2-2 and see what happened. I think we might have won the thing. But I don’t really regret with like a huge missed chance. I’m just annoyed we didn’t beat them.”
When asked about the trade of Kendrick Perkins, Grousbeck said he felt Perkins was not the difference in losing to the Heat. “I love Perk, but I don’t think our issue was guarding their 5 spot,” he said. “Our issue was guarding their 2, 3 and 4. So, not only did we need Jeff Green, we needed about three more of him.”
Grousbeck played down the chemistry factor. “We had gotten that far in the season without Perk. He hadn’t played essentially the entire season,” Grousbeck said. “So, we were starting the games with [Shaquille O'Neal] and finishing the games with [Glen Davis]. And that would have continued in the playoffs if Perk was there. So, Perk wouldn’t have been starting if Shaq had been healthy.
“Where the plan fell short is Shaq not being able to come back; we thought he could.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I just thought it was time to show’ loyalty||05.16.11 at 10:37 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, three days after agreeing to a five-year contract extension to remain with the team.
Rivers said that rumors he was contemplating whether to take a sabbatical from coaching so that he could spend more time with his family weren’t accurate — at least not this year.
“Last year, they were probably more right,” he said. “Last year I was absolutely leaning that way. This year I really never was. After last year’s summer and going through the decision that we went through, I was pretty sure I was coming back and I was pretty sure I wanted to come back here.
“This is a special place. And I’ve said that before. You can’t get a lot of these jobs where you coach teams like the Celtics, or the Red Sox, or the Yankees, and I have one of them. I work with a great GM in Danny Ainge and I have good ownership. So, why change?”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Doc, if you don’t mind revealing this, whose idea was it for the longterm contract? Was it you that wanted the extra years, or did Danny want to lock you up for the extra years? Whose idea was it?
Danny brought it up to me. When he first brought it up, I was surprised by it. This was a while ago that he brought it up. I think actually he brought up even more years to start.
I never thought of it in those terms. Because we kept doing these one-year or two-year deals, and I never thought of it. Danny walked in my office and said, “Listen, I want you to be here with me for a long time. And I want to make this something where we’re together for a long time.” And so he brought up the number of years.
You’ve got to process that when you commit to something for that long. We did, and we thought it was the right thing to do.
|Irish Coffee: Cutting Big Three’s minutes to win it||05.13.11 at 1:04 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Plenty of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s comments on The Big Show on Thursday incited debate, and perhaps none more than the potential of bringing team captain Paul Pierce off the bench in favor of starting Jeff Green next season.
“Maybe Paul comes off the bench to cut down on his minutes. … That’s just hypothetical,” said Ainge. “I have no idea if that’s going to happen. If Jeff is back next year, I think his role will be expanded, and it wouldn’t shock me if the starting five is different.”
Now, whether or not Pierce becomes the team’s Sixth Man in 2011-12 (doubtful, in my eyes), Ainge’s larger point is a good one: The Celtics need to cut down on the minutes next year for Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and possibly even Rajon Rondo, and the best way to do that is to increase opportunities for young talent like Green (age 24), Avery Bradley (20) and Free Agent X.
As a result of injuries to Delonte West, Marquis Daniels and the O’Neal “brothers,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers called on the Big Four more over the course of this regular season than he did in 2009-10, when the C’s reached the NBA Finals. With three of those guys entering the autumn of their careers and the other dealing with injuries to almost every part of his body, that’s not what the Doc was looking for.
Here are the per-minute averages for the Celtics’ core for the last two regular seasons …
- Paul Pierce: 34.0 in 2009-10, and 34.7 in 2010-11
- Ray Allen: 35.2 in 2009-10, and 36.1 in 2010-11
- Kevin Garnett: 29.9 in 2009-10, and 31.3 in 2010-11
- Rajon Rondo: 36.6 in 2009-10, and 37.2 in 2010-11
Those numbers should be declining, not climbing (unless, in Rondo’s case, he’s completely healthy). It’s kind of like when people sell their grandfather’s 1988 Buick with only 97,000 miles on it: “Other than running a few errands during the week, he mostly drove it on the highway to see his grandchildren every Sunday.” In this scenario, the playoffs would be that Sunday drive out on the highway.