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Rajon Rondo: ‘I am not a coach-killer’ 07.12.13 at 10:24 am ET
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Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

As is his custom, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has remained quiet throughout his team’s tumultuous summer, but C’s broadcaster Cedric Maxwell shared a recent conversation between the two about new coach Brad Stevens.

“On the Fourth of July, I happened to be walking on one of the beaches of Boston, ran into Rajon Rondo’s brother, had him give Rondo a call and I spoke to Rondo personally about this,” Maxwell told Yahoo! Sports Radio. “Rondo said to me, ‘Look, I am not a coach-killer,’ so I think that he wants to get in here, he wants to work hard, he wants to get along with the coach, and he feels like he’s been put into an unfair picture of being such a hard, difficult guy to coach.”

Somewhere along the line, Rondo developed a reputation as a player no coach but Doc Rivers could handle — and even Rivers grew tired of him, or so the rumors go. We tackled how that tale got taller here.

“He is stubborn and pig-headed when it comes to doing it his way and getting it done his way,” added Maxwell. “And he wants to prove people wrong because he was drafted down in the draft — how good he is, how good he’s become. He’s become an All-Star, and he’s become one of the better point guards in the NBA, so I think he has kind of a chip on his shoulder. That kind of comes into play, but a lot of great players always have some kind of idiosyncrasy that kind of goes along with that.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Kelly Olynyk posts a double-double, but Celtics fall to Rockets in summer league 07.10.13 at 5:59 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk had a double-double on Wednesday against Houston. (AP)

Kelly Olynyk, shown here in Tuesday’s game against the Pacers, had a double-double Wednesday against the Rockets. (AP)

Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 19 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in 28 minutes, but the Celtics had their two-game win streak snapped in an 85-78 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday afternoon in NBA Summer League play in Orlando. Olynyk did commit five turnovers and seven personal fouls in the loss. Summer league rules allow players to commit an unlimited number of fouls.

The Rockets, who recently signed free agent center Dwight Howard, jumped out to a quick start, leading 24-17 after one quarter.

The Celtics responded by outscoring the Rockets 23-19 in the second period and cut Houston’s lead to 43-40 at the half. But the Celtics offense went cold again in the third as Boston scored just 16 points and trailed 67-56 entering the final quarter.

Trailing 81-73 with 1:38 left in the game, the Celtics made one final push, cutting the lead to three, 81-78, on a Lawrence Hill 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds remaining. But those would be the final points of the day for the Celtics, who finished the scheduled portion of summer league at 2-2. They will have Thursday off before a playoff game on Friday.

The Celtics, who entered the day in third place in the standings, earned two points in the loss by winning the second and fourth quarters. They have 14 points, tying them with the idle Heat for third place. The Heat play Thursday. The Celtics are likely to play in either the third-place or fifth-place game on Friday.

The Rockets are a perfect 3-0, with their final scheduled game set for Thursday. The Rockets are second in the standings now with 16 points after earning five on Wednesday. Oklahoma City leads the group with 20 points after earning six on Wednesday in a win over the 76ers.

Tim Abromaitis (14) and Courtney Fells (10) were the only other Celtics scoring in double figures. Phil Pressey got the start again at point guard for the Celtics. He had an up-and-down game, dishing out a game-high 10 assists but committing four turnovers and making just 2-of-9 field goal attempts.

At halftime, new Celtics coach Brad Stevens spoke to NBA TV. Stevens said he’s not worried about next season’s record as much as he is about the overall approach his new team takes to playing.

“I’ve been a lot less concerned about results [this summer] than playing to a standard. That’s going to be a major emphasis,” Stevens told Nick Cellini and Kendall Gill.

Stevens was also asked about Rajon Rondo and whether he’s reached out to his All-Star point guard.

“From everything I’ve been told, his rehab has been going well,” Stevens said. “Shared quite a few texts, talked on phone. Will talk to him soon.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Courtney Fells, Dwight Howard
Stephen A. Smith on D&C: ‘Damn lie’ for Danny Ainge to say he’s not tearing down Celtics for rebuild 07.08.13 at 11:53 am ET
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Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Celtics’ hiring of Brad Stevens and the team’s rebuilding process.

“I like the hire,” Smith said. “I think he’s a bright, young coach. I think Danny Ainge deserves a lot of credit, did a phenomenal job in plucking him out of the college game. I think when you consider what he brings to the table, not just in terms of his acumen as a coach but his temperament, I think that goes a long way towards helping the Boston Celtics basically resurrect themselves. Because where they are right now, obviously they’re going to be struggling for quite some time. You’ve got to remember, this is a team that’s been plucked. They’re rebuilding now. [Kevin Garnett] is gone, Paul Pierce is gone. You’ve got all of this stuff going on. In my opinion, even though they’re talking about keeping [Rajon] Rondo, I think Rondo should be gone. You’ve just got to start anew.

“In the end, what it comes down to is that this man knows basketball He’s a bright young mind. He’s not the kind of guy like Rick Pitino — as great as Rick Pitino is as a coach, we all know that he’s the kind of individual that really pushes the envelope to some degree and was screaming and pacing around like a bat out of hell. Trying to do it for 82 games, that kind of stuff wears on professional athletes getting paid millions of dollars. The kind of temperament that Brad Stevens brings to the table I think is incredibly beneficial to the Boston Celtics. And I think they deserve a lot of credit for picking him as their guy to succeed Doc Rivers. I think it’s a tremendous hire.”

Ainge has insisted the team is not tanking, but Smith puts little faith in that statement.

“I think that’s kind of a lie, to be quite honest with you,” Smith said. “Listen, I’m not trying to denigrate Danny Ainge in any way. But the fact of the matter is, you lose KG, you lose Paul Pierce, you go in a different direction even though Rondo is here. You’re clearly in rebuilding mode. There’s no way around this.

“And if you didn’t think you were in rebuilding mode, Brad Stevens would not have gotten a six-year deal. This is a guy you plucked out of college, you gave him a six-year deal worth about $22 million. He’s getting pair nearly 4 million a year. There’s plenty of coaches in this league who have coached in this league, who have a modicum of success, that are not getting paid the salary that Brad Stevens is getting paid. You know why you had to pay him those dollars? It wasn’t just to pluck him away from a mid-major like Butler. It was to ask him to stay the course, because you know this is going to be a long way back to prominence. That’s what this is.

“So, Danny Ainge can tell you what he wants to. I respect the man, I respect what he’s accomplished. And I certainly am not trying to denigrate him in any way. But that’s a damn lie, what he just said right there. I’m sorry.”

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo, Stephen A. Smith
Brad Stevens on M&M: ‘If anybody’s going to be impatient, it’s going to be me’ 07.05.13 at 1:48 pm ET
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Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

New Celtics coach Brad Stevens joined Mut & Merloni guest hosts John Ryder and Steve DeOssie on Friday afternoon, shortly after he was introduced at a press conference in Waltham.

Stevens joins the Celtics after 13 years at Butler, the last six as head coach of the Indiana school. He received a six-year contract from the Celtics and said he’s eager to put his stamp on the program.

“If anybody’s going to be impatient, it’s going to be me,” Stevens said. “I love to compete. I love to prepare. And I can’t wait for the first practice. I’m a big believer in the day-by-day process, I’m really excited about it.

“The only way I would have considered leaving Butler was for the greatest situation. And it’s all about people. When I got a chance to sit down with the people in the room, it reminded me of the people that I was leaving. It’s been emotional, because it’s hard to leave a place that you’ve been for 13 years. But it’s also very exciting.”

Stevens said he wants “outside-the-box thinkers” on his coaching staff as he makes the transition to the pro game.

“The things I’ve written down for a great staff are humble, hard-working and searching for answers,” he said. “I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I love being around people searching for them. It’s kind of motivating for me.”

Stevens’ Butler teams were noted for their intelligence and toughness, and he said that’s the same type of team he wants in Boston.

“I hope we play hard and play together,” he said. “And then I hope as time goes on, as we learn the people on our team and we learn whatever system we choose to put in that we are a very detail-oriented, tough-minded group. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed about coaching, is when you get people to all play not only to their strengths and enhance themselves individually but collectively go after it and achieve something, you can see that sense of purpose together.”

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Rajon Rondo,
Ian Thomsen on D&C: Celtics ‘need to trade’ Rajon Rondo following ‘fascinating’ hiring of Brad Stevens 07.04.13 at 1:09 pm ET
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Ian Thomsen

Ian Thomsen

Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen joined the Dennis & Callahan show, with guest hosts Butch Stearns and Adam Pellerin, on Thursday morning to discuss the Celtics’ hiring of Butler’s Brad Stevens to be their next coach.

Stevens, 36, reportedly was given a six-year, $22 million deal to oversee the rebuilding of the C’s.

“This was a real shocker, but it’s inspired,” Thomsen said. “They have a plan. It’s unlike any other team’s plan. I think they have a chance to make it work, so, good for them.”

Thomsen’s biggest concern is Stevens’ adjustment to an NBA that values its players far more than its coaches.

“I think the risk is you don’t know if he’s going to be any good,” Thomsen said. “It’s just a different world, a totally different world. It used to be that college coaches could make the jump to the NBA, because, as we all know, NBA players weren’t making that much money, they didn’t have that much power. When Red Auerbach was coaching, there was no free agency. He had the final say over contracts. Everything was different.

“Now the players in the NBA have more control than the coaches, except for a few situations. So, for a college coach to come in — look, these college programs are all about the coach. It’s all about the coach. And the coach every day goes out there and makes sure everybody on the team knows that it’s all about him. It’s all about Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski], it’s all about the other coaches, it was all about Jim Calhoun at UConn.

“They come to the NBA and all of a sudden they don’t have that power over the players. The players have the power over them. It’s an entirely different situation. That’s why these college coaches that in the past have been hired to coach bad teams, they’ve been fired after a couple of years, it’s been disastrous and they’ve given the whole thing a bad name.

“Why I think this can be different is because they are giving him six years. Danny [Ainge] has replaced who is arguably the best coach that isn’t about to retire in the NBA, Doc Rivers, he’s chosen to replace Doc with this guy, who has no track record. So, they’re trying to build on what Doc developed by rekindling the whole Celtics tradition, and trying to build on that by hiring this guy.

“In most circumstances you would say it’s a big mistake. I would. I’ve been saying all along that it’s impossible for a college coach to make the jump and win in the NBA. But this is a different circumstance than all the others. They’re giving him a six-year commitment, so they’re saying, ‘We’re not going to be judging you after two years, and we’re going to be rebuilding the team anyway, but we’re going to be standing by you.’ None of that has happened for any of the college coaches coming in. So, this is different. He’s trying to build a program. he’s trying to develop the old traditions and keep them relevant in this modern age. I think it’s fascinating and it’s inspiring.”

Added Thomsen: “They’re trying to indoctrinate this guy in the Celtic way. To me, the Celtic way means something. It’s an ideal. It’s hard to believe that it can work in this day and age, but they’re trying to make it work, and good for them.”

Thomsen is convinced that the Stevens hiring spells the end of Rajon Rondo’s tenure in Boston.

“It just makes sense all the way around,” Thomsen said. “If they keep Rondo, then they will not bottom out, for starters. If you want to look at it cynically, they won’t lose enough games. They’ll win just enough games to not be terrible, but they’ll never have a chance to be good. They won’t have the means to go out and get the great players that you need in the NBA.

“But then the other part of it is, I just don’t see how he can be coached by a guy that’s never been in the NBA. Doc Rivers is known in the NBA for being the coach that can confront players, can work with them, can laugh with them, can yell at them, can do all these different things. It took everything Doc had to make it work with Rondo It took all of his experience, all of his wisdom, just to keep Rondo as a constructive member of the team. And Danny and Wyc [Grousbeck], they know that. They know that. So, I just don’t see how they would make this big investment with a young coach who’s never been to an NBA practice, and then put him with one of the smartest players in the league, a great player — Rondo has a lot going for him, but Rondo’s not going to put up with somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Ian Thomsen, Rajon Rondo
Irish Coffee: What next for Danny Ainge’s Celtics? 07.02.13 at 8:05 am ET
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Doc Rivers is gone. Come July 12, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry aren’t walking through that door. Even Terrence Williams got the boot. And so begins the next chapter in Celtics lore.

Strap in, because this may take a while. The previous rebuilding phase lasted 22 years, and Kris Humphries is involved this time around. A locker room shared by the former Mr. Kardashian and Rajon Rondo might just ignite enough toxicity to blow these Celtics up from the inside out. That’s one option, I guess.

At least C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acquired a handful of building blocks, adding an additional first-round draft pick in four of the next five seasons and clearing cap space in 2014. Whatever else he accomplishes over the next couple months, it will all be done with an eye toward next summer.

As a result, don’t expect a Josh Smith to join the Celtics during the NBA’s free-agency period that began on Monday. Ainge admitted as much when introducing “not star” rookie 7-footers Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson.

Sure, the Celtics could chase a sign-and-trade deal for Smith, ink Rondo’s high school roommate to double-digit millions and let a handful of wildly entertaining sixth-seeded seasons commence, but that wouldn’t get them much closer to the only thing that matters around here: An 18th banner. As Ainge said, “This is the Boston Celtics.”

Of course, Ainge also said, “We are not tanking. That’s ridiculous.” So, what exactly is he doing?

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Danny Ainge talks Dwight Howard, NBA free agency 07.01.13 at 9:56 pm ET
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Paul PIerce and the Celtics ran circles around the Lakers Thursday night. (AP)

Paul PIerce and the Celtics ran circles around the Lakers Thursday night. (AP)

While Danny Ainge told reporters in Mattapan that “free agency right now is not a priority for us,” the Celtics president of basketball operations inquired about free agent Lakers center Dwight Howard.

Ainge reportedly put a call in to gauge Howard’s interest in a sign-and-trade involving the C’s bitter rivals, but Howard’s representatives said, “No,” according to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

During a press conference introducing 7-foot rookies Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson, Ainge announced he is more interested in “cleaning up” the roster than lobbying a list of free agents that includes Howard, Josh Smith, Tyreke Evans and Monta Ellis.

Still, Ainge reiterated his stance on Rajon Rondo: The three-time All-Star point guard is a centerpiece worth building around, and the Celtics aren’t actively seeking a trade for him. That’s not to say they won’t pick up the phone when other teams inquire about Rondo, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and everybody else, including Olynyk — just as Howard’s agents answered Ainge’s call.

“Maybe the assumption is that we’ll give away any of our players,” Ainge told reporters from the Boston Center for Youth & Families Mildred Avenue Community Center. “There has been calls for all those guys, and maybe the assumption is we’re just changing everybody, but we’re not. We’re starting to get younger.”

Considering the departure of coach Doc Rivers and the pending trade of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets on July 12, the Celtics appear to be sinking deeper and deeper toward the 2014 NBA draft lottery, but Ainge assured Washburn, “We are not tanking. That’s ridiculous. This is the Boston Celtics.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard, NBA
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