|Irish Coffee: What next for Danny Ainge’s Celtics?||07.02.13 at 8:05 am ET|
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?
|Danny Ainge talks Dwight Howard, NBA free agency||07.01.13 at 9:56 pm ET|
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.”
|Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics ‘got the most they could possibly get’ for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett||06.28.13 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.’
|NBA mock draft roundup: Consensus pick for Celtics is German PG Dennis Schroeder||06.27.13 at 11:50 am ET|
Celtics fans, you might want to get used to hearing the name Dennis Schroeder.
There are just a few hours left until the 2013 NBA draft, but there is a near consensus among many of the mock drafts done by major outlets — including ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, The Washington Post, DraftExpress.com and NBAdraft.net — have the Celtics selecting the 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard from Germany.
Playing with the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig as a 19-year-old in Germany this season, Schroeder averaged 11.9 points, 3.3 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game while playing nearly 25 minutes. Some reports indicate that while his size and decision-making capabilities could stand to be improved, scouts are drawn to his 6-foot-8 wingspan ‘ a solid half-foot more than his height.
There are some dissenters, however.
NBA.com has the C’s picking Russian shooting forward Sergey Karasev, a 6-foot-7, 205-pounder. Also 19, the St. Petersburg native is considered a bit more developed than many international prospects.
The Celtics could choose Jamaal Franklin, the way Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix sees it. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard led San Diego State in points (16.6), rebounds (9.4), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6) as a junior in 2012-13.
The draft begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (ESPN; WEEI-AM 850).
|Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: ‘We’re all square’ with Doc Rivers, although ‘it was not our idea’ for him to leave||06.26.13 at 9:37 am ET|
Danny Ainge said at a Tuesday press conference that it was Rivers’ idea to leave, dismissing reports that the Celtics initiated the change. Grousbeck concurred and said he’s sorry to see Rivers go.
“I would say a little disappointment,” Grousbeck said. “I’m where Danny was, and he clearly expressed it, which is we thought we’d be here for this five-year term with Doc. He was, as Danny said, he talked to Doc about staying and having longevity. And nine years is a long time, there’s no question. But 12 years is longer. So, we were planning for the long term with Doc because we think he’s one of those foundational guys.
“It was a good run, a couple of [NBA] Finals appearances. But it was not our idea.”
Grousbeck said Rivers’ decision was not shocking, as the parties have been talking for “three or four weeks,” but it was difficult to accept.
“It’s not a bolt out of the blue, it’s an ongoing discussion,” he said. “And it finally got to the point where he said, ‘Maybe it’s time.’ And we, over a period of time, ended up agreeing with him.”
Grousbeck insisted he has no animosity toward Rivers for wanting a different challenge at this stage.
“I talked to Doc the other day. I said, ‘Look, we’re all square. You’ve given us your heart and soul for nine years; we’ve given you a lot of support. I feel great about it. And I took some of your money on the golf course, buddy. So, we’re all good.’
“But I don’t feel he owes us more. I don’t feel he owes us the next three years. I think he’s entitled to take a look at the next three years. And he left in a way and on terms that got us some benefit back. So, I don’t feel misused or that we’re not even. I think we’re even. I just would have been willing to go forward with Doc. And now that we’re not — actually, it’s energized Danny. He’s got a list of coaching candidates — which we’re not going to discuss today. But he’s got a list of guys. He’s got a new spring in his step. And it’s energized Danny to rebuild, which is what’s necessary.”
Added Grousbeck: “I think Doc and we are even. I think those nine years, if you had told me this is how the nine years were going to go when we signed him, I would have been thrilled. I’m very happy with how it went. And we’re even.”
|Stephen A. Smith on D&C: ‘A 50-50 shot’ Doc Rivers ends up with Clippers||06.17.13 at 10:24 am ET|
Basketball analyst and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, and he was unsure about whether or not a deal involving Celtics coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers would get done.
With Rivers still under contract for three more years, there are potentially a lot of moving pieces in such a trade. But fortunately for the Celtics, president Danny Ainge has a ton of leverage in the negotiations.
Still, Smith pegged the chances of a trade actually going through at just 50 percent.
‘Ultimately, all the cards are being held by Danny Ainge,’ Smith said. ‘It’s a 50-50 shot either a deal gets done or Doc Rivers stays in Boston. I don’t think Doc Rivers will sit out for the year, then do television and all this other stuff. I think he’s going to stay and coach in Boston this year, or he’ll move on because Danny Ainge will see an opportunity to get young and to get a box-office attraction to some degree, if not Blake Griffin, then some quality young guys you can build around.
‘Clearly, you have to go in that direction [getting younger]. If you’re Danny Ainge, it’s going to be a deal you want to make because you’re an older squad now, and it’s time to move in a different direction. Doc is the one hot commodity that he has. [Kevin Garnett] is 37. Paul Pierce is an aging 35. They’re not what they used to be, even though they can still contribute to a championship situation.
‘They’re not the guys to build around anymore, and if you’re Danny Ainge you know this better than anybody. As a result, it will behoove him to get a deal done. And Doc Rivers is the one piece you have that’s an ace. You have to maximize it.”
|Rajon Rondo: ‘I still am’ hard to coach||06.11.13 at 10:02 am ET|
Long silent since tearing his right ACL in February, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has begun popping up across the country as he is wont to do in the summertime. Prior to Game 2 of the NBA finals on Sunday, we saw him along with several other stars reading mean tweets from their Twitter timelines.
Rondo’s line: “Is it me or does Rajon Rondo look like that turtle named Franklin on Nick Jr.?”
Then, Rondo discussed everything from Celtics coach Doc Rivers to Connect Four and algebra with Red Bull Signature Series host Sal Masekela and Sheridan Hoops contributor Brian Kamenetzky on a series of videos promoting the energy drink (h/t NBC Sports). Before we get into Rondo’s dominance of Milton Bradley products and mathematics, let’s deal with the basketball-related discussion centered around Rondo’s coachability.
Rajon Rondo: “I always try to be on the same page as Doc, so I’m always looking at him and reading his mouth, but I pretty much know what he’s going to say. I’ve been playing for him for seven years, and we’ve always pretty much been on the same page, especially now. Each year, we’re growing and communicating better and learning each other more and more.”
Sal Masekela: “A lot of times, you see people who are potentially great players come in the league, and the main problem is coachability. How much of that is on the coach? And how much is it on the player?”
RR: “As a young player, you always think the coach is pretty hard on you, which he should be. If he’s not, that means he doesn’t care. They always say, ‘When I stop talking to you, then you should worry.’
“My first year was pretty rough, but I had great mentors in my life that I could call, and they’d be like, ‘You know what? Just hang in there. You’ve got to listen to your coach.’ So, I was able to make it through that.
“It wasn’t a big deal. We were struggling the first year. We lost 18 in a row that year, so I felt like I could help the team, and you’ve got to look at it a different way. I look at Doc differently now. You don’t look at your coach as trying to hurt you. Obviously, we all want the same thing — to win — so whatever he’s telling me or telling the team, it’s for the betterment of the team, and you have to take yourself out of it and look at it from a team aspect.”
Brian Kamenetzky: “Do you think you were hard to coach earlier in your career?”
RR: “I still am. It’s not that I’m hard to coach; it’s just that I may challenge what you say. I know the game myself. I’m out there playing, so I may have seen something different versus what you saw from the sidelines. I’m going to be respectable. I’m going to let the coach talk. Me and Doc talk all the time; it’s just different dialogue. We’ve built to that relationship, and I’ve been fortunate to play for Doc for seven years. If I have any questions, he’s pretty much got all the answers. And if he doesn’t, he’s always honest with me. I wouldn’t rather play for any other coach.”
There you have it. Rondo isn’t the easiest player to coach, and yet he and Rivers have built a working relationship. All the more reason the Celtics must be weary of Doc’s strange comments about his future in Boston.
Enough about basketball. Let’s get to Rondo’s true passion: Connect Four. In a “Bobby Fischer style” game between Rondo and his two interviewers, we’re treated to this amazing exchange with the four-time NBA All-Star.