|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.
|Irish Coffee: 10 Things I Heard About Celtics||06.05.13 at 6:34 pm ET|
This is the worst. An aging Big Three stands in the way of LeBron James and a second straight NBA title — only it’s the Spurs, not the Celtics. Instead, Boston basketball fans are inundated with all sorts of ridiculous rumors. I think Kevin Garnett‘s uncle’s cousin’s brother’s sister-in-law just claimed KG’s coming back. That’s why, on another slow C’s news day in June, we’re revealing the latest edition of 10 Things I Heard About Celtics.
10. Heated rivalry: Speaking of LeBron, he went One on Two with Ahmad Rashad and Ahmad Rashad’s earring before taking on San Antonio. Asked if he considered Kobe Bryant his greatest rival, James waxed unpoetically about Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, ultimately landing on Paul Pierce as the closest thing to a rival (h/t @MrTrpleDouble10). Somewhere, a pajama clad Kevin Durant stoically cleans gutters.
“I would say that I don’t really have an individual rivalry. I think the closest would be Paul Pierce,” said the four-time NBA MVP. “I would say Boston is a rival of mine, because I’ve met them so many times in the postseason. I’ve been able to advance against them, they’ve sent me home fishing a few times, so I would say Boston and Paul Pierce would kind of be that guy if I had to name just one guy.”
9. Trading faces of franchises: “Healthy” and “Pierce” haven’t been mentioned in the same sentence too often over the last couple years, except when Boston Herald beat writer Steve Bulpett recently wrote, “there is reportedly healthy interest in Pierce out on the market.” Now, we don’t know who considers what healthy, but I’m guessing the offers are more of the Kris Humphries ilk than the Eric Gordon variety.
|Danny Ainge sees Celtics stars returning next season||05.09.13 at 5:04 pm ET|
On his final weekly appearance on Salk & Holley of the 2012-13 NBA season, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called the recent Stephen A. Smith rumors “silly,” indicated Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett will return next season, reaffirmed Rajon Rondo should be back for training camp and called Paul Pierce‘s future the first tough decision of his summer.
On Pierce: “There’s a lot that will go into it, but it hasn’t even started yet. We have until June 30 to make any decision. Listen, Paul’s been one of the greatest Celtics of all-time, and that will play a part in it. We love what he’s done for us, but ultimately we have to do what we think is the best for us from this point forward. And I think that Paul still has a lot of basketball left in him.”
On Rivers: “”Doc is always unsure. Coaching is very, very draining. Every year with Doc, he’s had to go home and sort of recharge and ask himself that question, ‘Is this something that I’m passionate about and want to continue doing?’ I understand that. And we sort of give him time to unwind and relax, and after a couple of 92′s on the golf course, he usually comes back.
“I think Doc will be coaching the Boston Celtics.”
On Garnett: “I’ll touch base with KG probably some time next week. He puts so much into the game. He invests as much as any player I’ve ever seen. He just needs time to chill and contemplate his life, and then we’ll talk at some future time, but I do anticipate that KG will play. Just like I did last year, I feel the same this year. I don’t know for sure, but we’ll know more in the next couple weeks.”
On Rondo: “So far, he looks good. Him and [Leandro] Barbosa have both been rehabbing and both have looked good from their ACL [injuries]. From everything our medical staff has told us, Rondo is doing great, and he should be ready by training camp.”
The Barbosa mention seemed strange, considering the C’s dealt him to the Wizards in the Jordan Crawford deal. Ainge said not to read too much into the veteran rehabbing in Boston (but still …). Here are more highlights from the fantastic interview by Salk & Holley — a must listen for anyone looking for a summer Celtics primer:
|Chris Mannix on Mustard & Johnson: Celtics should do ‘exactly what [Danny Ainge] has been doing’||05.04.13 at 3:09 pm ET|
With the future of the Celtics now up in the air after the six-game first-round playoff loss to the Knicks, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, in an interview on WEEI’s Mustard & Johnson show, suggested that the team should proceed in precisely the fashion in which president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has operated for some time. Mannix noted that Ainge actively explored the possibility of dealing longtime mainstays Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett leading up to this season’s trade deadline, and suggested that the Celtics should again explore the market for the duo this offseason — while remaining comfortable with the notion of bringing them back if the team is unsatisfied with the return.
“I don’t think it would be [financially] difficult to trade Pierce if you wanted to. Boston was motivated to do it the last couple years. Leading up to the trade deadline, they spoke to Brooklyn, they spoke to Atlanta, they spoke to Dallas. They were actively looking to deal Paul Pierce,” said Mannix. “They had conversations with the Clippers about Kevin Garnett and were trying to figure out a way to get a deal done for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Look, they were trying to make some moves with these two guys. Boston’s issue wasn’t financial. It was that they wanted a lot in return. I remember talking to some people in the Nets organization about how much Boston wanted in return. It was a combination of draft picks and young talent.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a financial issue for the Celtics to trade either one of those players if they’re motivated to. It’s just how much less they’re willing to take back in return.
“I would do exactly what Danny’s been doing to this point,” added Mannix. “If you can trade one of them and get a lot in return, get something that you know is going to help reboot your franchise, do it. If not, hold onto them and just play this thing out, wait for their contracts to expire and play with the flexibility then.”
Mannix noted that the avenues to upgrading the Celtics roster are limited this offseason, particularly in terms of free agents. Read the rest of this entry »
|Wednesday shootaround: Kevin Garnett not paying attention to Knicks’ ‘shenanigans’||05.01.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
NEW YORK — No one knows trash talking like Kevin Garnett.
He also knows how to tune it out like no one else, or at least not feed into publicly.
J.R. Smith said there wouldn’t be a Game 5 Wednesday night in New York if he had not been suspended for Game 4, while Kenyon Martin is suggesting black formal wear at Madison Square Garden for the Celtics‘ funeral.
“I have not paid attention to none of the shenanigans,” Garnett said before Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.
Garnett says he knows what it will take to be successful in Game 5 — taking one possession at a time and not getting overwhelmed by New York’s tenacious defense.
“It’s not that hard, to be honest,” Garnett said of the approach. “Taking one possession at a time is something you have to be conscious of, not individually but as a group. Understanding each possession and what it means, the importance of that possession. Small things are what’s going to make this a do-or-die type of game.
“I think it’s more, not for us to [instill] doubt, but it’s important to show some type of barrier, if not willingness, in this whole game. We know we’re playing on the road and we know they play really well here. I think the important thing is not to get down, to come out with some fire and play throughout with that fire.”
Garnett appreciates some of the fire on the Celtics bench in the form of Rajon Rondo. Garnett said he’s been huge in helping Avery Bradley and Terrence Williams while being an extra pair of eyes for him and Paul Pierce in the post.
“More importantly, he’s talking to Avery, T-Will, the guys who play the point guard position, Paul and I about opportunity and being aggressive, giving the coaching staff a perspective. Doe is a very smart guy, very high IQ when it comes to a lot of different things. He’s giving his take on what he sees out there as far as where he’s at. But more importantly being a safety net for Avery right now. Avery goes through periods where it’s difficult. It’s going to happen. We’ve all been young before. Just being like a security blanket for Avery and anyone else who needs it.”
Garnett has 34 rebounds in the last two games. What has been the secret to his success?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t really [put] thought into it, to be honest. A lot of rebounding is timing. Tyson [Chandler] and I, Kenyon and I are down there battling for the ball. It’s not one or two things that go into it, nor would I like to share, but the things that I have been doing are working for me and I’m going to stick with it.
“You don’t have a choice whether you like it or not. It’s whether you adapt or not. If you don’t adapt, you know what end you end up on, and I don’t want to end up on that end.”
|Adrian Wojnarowski on D&C: ‘No easy path back’ to contention for Celtics||04.29.13 at 9:04 am ET|
The league’s two most successful franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, have become also-rans, and the future is not promising for either team.
“There’s no question there’s been a changing of the guard in the league,” Wojnarowski said. “You look at both teams, the Lakers and Boston, it’s going to be a while before either is in contention again. It’s hard to rebuild in this league, and it doesn’t happen quickly unless you draft LeBron [James] or Kevin Durant. It’s going to take a while, and I think both organizations have to face that reality, because we aren’t going to see these two in the finals again in the foreseeable future, that’s for sure.”
Wojnarowski said the the Celtics have a better front office than the Lakers and a more appealing coach in Doc Rivers, but the Lakers are more likely to return to prominence first because of the appeal of Los Angeles.
“If the Lakers have cap space, they’re always a team that’s going to attract the best player on the market,” Wojnarowski said. “I think Boston, as long as Doc is there and Doc is coaching, I think Boston is very attractive to players, more so to the elite players. But even then, Chris Paul didn’t want to come when they talked deals. It’s not LA.”
Wojnarowski said he thinks the Celtics will attempt to rebuild around Rajon Rondo, but they need some fortuitous moves to get out of the middle.
“That’s the worst place to be in the NBA — stuck in the middle,” Wojnarowski said. “You want to be really good or really bad. That’s the fear is you don’t want to get stuck in that middle place, because you can’t get out of it. You become Milwaukee, fighting for the eighth seed. You don’t want that.
“But I do think, though, the emergence of Jeff Green this year, you’ve seen that they can lean on him to do more and be a different kind of player. Listen, a year ago you didn’t know what his career was going to look like, with the heart ailment. And then this year you saw him become a much more explosive and reliable player. I think that’s a bonus for them. You look back at the Kendrick Perkins deal, and certainly it looks a lot better in hindsight than it did to people initially. But there’s no easy path back for them.”
|Kevin Garnett: ‘I’m going to play until it’s over’||04.27.13 at 2:05 am ET|
It’s not that they didn’t want to win Game 3 against the Knicks. They desperately wanted it. Not just to avoid a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 hole in the first round of these NBA Playoffs, but to mend their city’s broken heart. To give Bostonians something to believe in. The Celtics just couldn’t will anything better than a 90-76 defeat.
“Obviously, the result is not what we wanted,” said Garnett, “but looking in the stands, seeing people drunk, having fun and high-fiving for the most part was good. It was a good two-and-a-half hour diversion if you will.”
If the C’s want anything beyond another short-lived diversion on Sunday, they need more than Garnett’s ever-beating heart, which manufactured 12 points and 17 rebounds on a tough shooting night (5-13 FG).
“I’m going to play until it’s over,” said Garnett, who contributed 35 minutes in the loss. “I’m not usually broken. It’s always been my mentality. It always probably will. That’s what it is. I’ve been to the bottom before. I know what it is. I’m a fighter at the end of the day, but it takes more than one person.”
Actually, it’ll take every person to avoid a sweep. Three Knicks again did the damage — Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith combining for 56 points — and the C’s lacked the firepower to respond. Jeff Green and Paul Pierce committed 10 turnovers, and everyone else was worse. Garnett’s guts only get them so far.