|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s tankless Celtics job||10.03.13 at 2:44 pm ET|
The great Ian Thomsen elicited not one, but two of the best quotes on the tanking issue facing the Celtics this season in his latest for Sports Illustrated — both from C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
Here’s the first important phrase from Ainge, addressing what many believe is the strongest NBA draft class since the 2003 edition that produced eight All-Stars (including a guy by the name of LeBron James) — headed by potential franchise players Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Julius Randle.
“If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out there to change your franchise forever, or Tim Duncan was going to change your franchise for 15 years? That might be a different story. I don’t see that player out there.”
Interesting. If this isn’t some strange attempt at a Red Auerbach-esque bluff, then tanking doesn’t concern these C’s — not only because of the historically poor Ping Pong luck of the Irish, but because Wiggins isn’t LeBron.
Besides, even if Ainge wanted to tank, it’s not like he’s gathering his coach and players around the locker room and delivering an anti-motivational speech. (Which, by the way, would be great: “Great draft picks are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One season. If we played 82 games, they might win 41. But not this season. Not this year. This year, we tank them. This year, we lose all of them. And we shut it down because we can! This year, WE are the worst basketball team in the world.” And a slow clap, of course.) Anyhow, as for real Ainge quotes, here’s that second important one.
|VIDEO: Top 10 2013-14 Boston Celtics Media Day moments||10.01.13 at 10:40 pm ET|
Irish Coffee’s annual Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments. A comprehensive look at the day’s events, including interviews with Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee. Just about everyone, except MarShon Brooks, who flew under the radar. Along with his afro.
|Rajon Rondo isn’t shedding any tears over Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett||09.30.13 at 8:52 pm ET|
Addressing the Boston press for the first time since the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett this summer, the rehabbing Rajon Rondo didn’t seem all that bothered by their absence at Media Day.
“It wasn’t difficult at all,” said Rondo. “I didn’t feel anything. I actually landed in L.A. the night of the draft, and I got about 45 text messages coming through my phone. I thought I was traded. You never know.”
Instead, the Celtics had dealt Pierce and Garnett, the face and the soul of the franchise that drafted him. So, Rondo traded texts with his longtime teammates, even talked to them on the phone, but beyond that?
Rondo has developed quite a poker face during his interactions with the media, so it’s no surprise he didn’t show any emotion when talking about two players he called brothers for the past six seasons. However, the anticipation in Rondo’s voice over the possibility of putting his own stamp on these new C’s was palpable.
“This is a fresh start for us, a new coach and an entire new team,” he said. “I’m excited about the fresh start. I’m excited every year for each team, but for me to get back on the court I just want to compete. I haven’t competed in a while, and I’m a very competitive player and a very competitive person, so I miss being out their on the court with my teammates and helping them win.”
And what about Doc Rivers, the coach who molded Rondo into a four-time NBA All-Star point guard?
|Irish Coffee: Celtics answer questions, create more||09.25.13 at 6:53 am ET|
The Celtics hosted their annual charity golf tournament on Tuesday, signaling the unofficial start of the season. While Media Day looms Monday, the C’s front office, their coach and players addressed a few pressing questions.
As Celtics president Danny Ainge said, ‘I’m very excited about the team, because there are so many questions to be answered and so many unknowns of what’s going to happen and who’s going to step up and who’s not.’
So, without further ado, the answers to the questions you’ve all been asking. And then more questions.
When will Rajon Rondo return?
Since this is the biggest question they face, it deserved its own post. The short of it: Rondo is ‘unlikely’ to start the season, according to coach Brad Stevens, and anything to the contrary would be ‘shocking’ to Ainge & Co.
Where does Jared Sullinger’s domestic violence case stand?
Ainge: ‘The outcome is looking good, but we can’t talk about any of that yet. It’s still pending that conclusion. Jared will be in training camp. He’s in our facility working out every day. I think he’s taking care of everything in the exact right way that he should, and I think that Jared is a good kid and he’s a good Celtic and he’s a guy that we have big hopes for. And we don’t think that he’s done anything so wrong that he shouldn’t be part of our team today.’
Now, how’s that for a non-answer answer? Carry on.
Have they discussed a new contract for Avery Bradley?
‘Sure,’ said Ainge, ‘but there’s nothing imminent there. … We may talk in October, but most likely next summer.’
If the C’s and Bradley don’t agree to an extension by November, he’ll be a restricted free agent after the season.
Ainge, who was in Tacoma, Wash., for Bradley’s mother’s funeral last week, said the 22-year-old ‘seems to be doing better,’ especially given the birth of his first son, Avery Bradley III, on Tuesday morning.
‘I guess we’ll call him AB III,’ said Ainge.
Why haven’t we heard from Gerald Wallace all summer?
‘I’m right there with you,’ said Ainge. ‘I’m anxious to meet Gerald. I’ve met him before when I was doing television, but I haven’t had much conversation with him. He’s really the only one, but he’ll be in town I think next week, so we’ll be watching closely and will sit down. I’ve obviously watched him play a lot of basketball.
‘It’s interesting. Gerald got a good contract in Charlotte, was their best player when they went to the playoffs and that led to a big payday for him. He was traded for two first-round picks to Portland. He played very well in Portland to the point where New Jersey wanted to give away Damian Lillard in order to get him, and then New Jersey wanted him bad enough to pay him a very lucrative contract, so it seems like everywhere he’s been he’s been well-liked and well compensated. He’s a good player.
“It wasn’t a great fit for him in New Jersey last year, but we’ll try to see if we can make it a better fit for us.’
Wait. Is it normal for an executive not to meet a guy he’s paying $10 million a year? ‘It’s a nightmare trying to get a hold of players in the summertime,’ added Ainge. ‘I was the same way when I was a player.’ Well, that explains it.
What can we expect from Jeff Green this season?
|Rajon Rondo ‘unlikely’ to return for Celtics’ season opener||09.24.13 at 1:41 pm ET|
MILTON — Over the past month, the Celtics have rapidly backed away from their projections this past spring that Rajon Rondo would be healthy for the start of the 2013-14 NBA season, and on Tuesday the organization essentially announced the four-time All-Star would not be in the lineup come Oct. 30.
“My understanding and the last time that we’ve had discussions about it is that it’s very indeterminate still, but it sounds like it would be unlikely that he would be playing at the very start of the season,” C’s coach Brad Stevens said from the team’s annual charity golf tournament. “What that means beyond that, I think that’s going to be on his doctors, the training staff and him making the call on when he’s ready. I’ve told him from Day 1, ‘Come back when you’re ready,’ because I think it’s really important that he feels really good when he’s back and ready to play.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge put it more succinctly: “I would be shocked.”
No players participated in the golf portion of the event, but Rondo was expected to arrive in Boston on Tuesday. He’s also expected to join the team when training camp begins on Oct. 1 in Newport, R.I.
‘I’ve been in constant contact with him, and so has Brad,” added Ainge. He seems to be in a really good place emotionally and mentally, and now we’re just trying to get the physical part done. And he’s got a ways to go.”
So, when exactly can we expect to see Rondo in a Celtics uniform again?
|Jared Sullinger hopes Rajon Rondo returns by December||08.26.13 at 10:59 am ET|
Appearing on Ohio’s “Good Day Columbus,” Jared Sullinger offered a different timeline for Rajon Rondo‘s return than the one Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stuck to since Rondo’s ACL injury.
“He’s back working out again and hopefully he’ll be back by December,” said Sullinger (h/t MassLive.com).
Both Ainge and new Celtics coach Brad Stevens have consistently indicated that Rondo is on target to be in the starting lineup when the 2013-14 NBA season begins in Toronto on Oct. 30. That isn’t out of the question, considering Rondo suffered a partial tear in his right knee on Jan. 25 and fellow guards Iman Shumpert and Ricky Rubio have returned in similar timeframes. Derrick Rose, obviously, is a different story.
Was this a slip of the tongue by Sullinger? Possibly. He’s told the media in recent months that he’s been in fairly close contact with Rondo ever since their season-ending injuries occurred less than a week apart.
As for Sullinger’s own recovery from season-ending back surgery, he sounded optimistic about his return, yet reluctant to reclaim the starting power forward position he assumed just prior to his injury.
“I’m doing great,” he added. “I work out every day, five days a week. I’m just trying to strengthen up my core and my back. That was the first month. After that, it was full go, back to working out again on the court.”
You’ve also got to love Sullinger’s reaction to the host’s mention of Kris Humphries. Just straight laughing.
|Irish Coffee: Does Rajon Rondo guarantee playoffs?||08.14.13 at 12:00 pm ET|
In this golden age of point guards, a handful of guys have established themselves as perennial All-Stars over the past five years: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo.
Sure, there’s the old guard (Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups), the new kids on the block (Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, John Wall) and the occasional Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris or Mo Williams in the mix, but those six are consistently at the top. “What the hell is he getting at?” you ask. Well, for starters, this.
Each time one of those six guys submitted an All-Star season, their respective teams qualified for the playoffs in 18 of 21 opportunities. Those three exceptions: Paul missed the second half of the season with a knee injury in 2010, Williams was traded midseason in 2011 and then he coasted through a truly awful Nets season in 2012.
Of course, four members of that Nets team that finished 22-44 with Williams at the helm (Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans) are members of this year’s edition of the Celtics with Rondo, but still …
RAJON RONDO (2010-13 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Celtics: 50-32 (NBA finals)
2010-11 Celtics: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2011-12 Celtics: 39-27 (conference finals)
2012-13 Celtics: 41-40 (first round)*
*Rondo played just 38 games due to injury
CHRIS PAUL (2008-13 NBA All-Star)
2007-08 Hornets: 56-26 (conference semifinals)
2008-09 Hornets: 49-33 (first round)
2009-10 Hornets: 37-45 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Hornets: 46-36 (first round)
2011-12 Clippers: 40-26 (conference semifinals)
2012-13 Clippers: 56-26 (first round)
*Paul played just 45 games due to injury
DERRICK ROSE (2010-12 NBA All-Star)
2009-10 Bulls: 41-41 (first round)
2010-11 Bulls: 62-20 (conference finals)
2011-12 Bulls: 50-16 (first round)*
*Rose suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
DERON WILLIAMS (2009-12 NBA All-Star)
2008-09 Jazz: 48-34 (first round)
2009-10 Jazz: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2010-11 Jazz: 39-43 (did not qualify)*
2010-11 Nets: 24-58 (did not qualify)*
2011-12 Nets: 22-44 (did not qualify)
*Williams traded midway through 2010-11 season
RUSSELL WESTBROOK (2011-13 NBA All-Star)
2010-11 Thunder: 55-27 (conference finals)
2011-12 Thunder: 47-19 (NBA finals)
2012-13 Thunder: 60-22 (conference semifinals)*
*Westbrook suffered season-ending injury in playoffs
TONY PARKER (2006-07, 2009, 2012-13 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Spurs: 63-19 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA champions)
2008-09 Spurs: 54-28 (first round)
2011-12 Spurs: 50-16 (conference finals)
2012-13 Spurs: 58-24 (NBA finals)
That .628 winning percentage (1,229-727) is hard to ignore, especially since it also applies to the old guard, whose teams owned a near identical 1,234-718 record (.632) and qualified for the playoffs in 21 of 23 chances.
JASON KIDD (1996, 1998, 2000-04, 2007-08, 2010 NBA All-Star)
1995-96 Mavericks: 26-56 (did not qualify)
1997-98 Suns: 56-26 (first round)
1999-2000 Suns: 53-29 (conference semifinals)
2000-01 Nets: 51-31 (first round)
2001-02 Nets: 52-30 (NBA finals)
2002-03 Nets: 49-33 (NBA finals)
2003-04 Nets: 47-35 (conference semifinals)
2006-07 Nets: 41-41 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Nets: 34-48 (did not qualify)*
2007-08 Mavericks: 51-31 (first round)*
2009-10 Mavericks: 55-27 (first round)
*Kidd traded midway through 2007-08 season
STEVE NASH (2002-03, 2005-08, 2010, 2012 NBA All-Star)
2001-02 Mavericks: 57-25 (conference semifinals)
2002-03 Mavericks: 60-22 (conference finals)
2004-05 Suns: 62-20 (conference finals)
2005-06 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2006-07 Suns: 61-21 (conference semifinals)
2007-08 Suns: 55-27 (first round)
2009-10 Suns: 54-28 (conference finals)
2011-12 Suns: 33-33 (did not qualify)
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS (2006-10 NBA All-Star)
2005-06 Pistons: 64-18 (conference finals)
2006-07 Pistons: 53-29 (conference finals)
2007-08 Pistons: 59-23 (conference finals)
2008-09 Nuggets: 54-28 (conference finals)*
2009-10 Nuggets: 53-29 (first round)
*Billups traded three games into 2008-09 season
Sure, plenty of other factors went into the success of their teams. For one, they often featured names like Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony. But the Hornets, Bulls and Jazz teams respectively led by Paul, Rose and Williams — or even Kidd’s Nets and Billups’ Pistons — didn’t feature another superstar talent.
Quite simply, based on recent history, if Rondo submits an All-Star caliber season, the Celtics have roughly a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs. Or they could just be the 2012 Nets 2.0.
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