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Paul Pierce: ‘I see Kevin and Ray playing past this year’ 12.13.11 at 5:20 pm ET
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WALTHAM — While much of the discussion at Celtics Media Day focused on a closing championship window for the aging veteran core, team captain Paul Pierce left it open a crack.

“I really see Kevin [Garnett] and Ray [Allen] playing past this year, hopefully with the Boston Celtics even though their contracts are up,” Pierce said. “But if Doc [Rivers] wants to use that as motivation, then I will.”

Both Garnett and Allen are free agents after this shortened season, clearing $31 million worth of contracts from the books, and neither addressed his future beyond this season. Speculation has ranged from this being Garnett’s last season to both he and Allen signing more cap-friendly deals and making another run in diminished roles.

“At any moment, anything can change, so this year, last year, the year before, you guys have asked this same question: ‘Is this our last opportunity?’” Allen said. “Every moment we come out here is our last opportunity, because nothing is promised.”

Pierce, on the other hand, is one of only three Celtics players signed beyond this year ($16.8 million in 2012-13 and $15.3 million in 2013-14). Obviously, he’d like to see the Big Three remain intact beyond 66 more games.

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Keyon Dooling remembers brawling with Ray Allen: ‘Sometimes you know a man better when you fight’ at 3:52 pm ET
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WALTHAM — During Tuesday’s media day for the Celtics, new point guard Keyon Dooling joked about his Jan. 2006 fight with new teammate Ray Allen when Allen – then with Seattle – elbowed Dooling – then with the Magic – and a bench-clearing brawl ensued.

After both were ejected, Dooling took off down the hallway and tried to confront Allen outside the Sonics locker room but was restrained.

“The Sonics? Is that even a team anymore? Oh, that’s ancient history,” Dooling joked. “At the end of the day, when Ray and I saw each other the next time after the fight, we had a conversation and we embraced each other. At the end of the day, it was the heat of battle. I have a lot more respect for him. I know he has a lot more respect for me. Sometimes you know a man better when you fight.

“He’s been nothing but a phenomenal influence since I’ve been here. I’ve had a chance to spend some time with him over the summer, with some of the union business. I’m just looking forward to being here and being a part of the organization.”

Who won the fight?

“Nobody wins in a basketball fight,” Dooling said. “The NBA won. They got all the fine money. They always win, right?”

Other nuggets from Dooling included his feelings about backing up Rajon Rondo at point guard.

“Pushing me, I don’t need much of a push,” Dooling said. “I’m pretty self-motivated. I think I can learn some of the tricks. He’s a guy who averages a lot of assists and so I can pick up little techniques from him and maybe he can pick up some things from me as well. We’ll just try to make each other better every day.”

Dooling said he is looking forward to becoming a key part of the Celtics bench.

“I came in focused,” he said. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me so I don’t have any time to waste. I want to pick up the system as quick as I can, offensively and defensively, so I won’t be a liability when I’m on the court. If I’m a liability on the court, not only do I hurt my team, I hurt my family, so I’ve got to be ready to play.

“My experience has made me who I am. I’ve had some hardships in this league. I’ve always been able to persevere and work my way through adversity. This is another chance for me to come out and prove to the world I can play basketball. I think still a lot people don’t really know me unless you’re a true NBA fan. So, I think it’ll be a unique chance for me to prove myself to the world.”

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Irish Coffee: Imaginary 2011-12 Celtics roster 12.05.11 at 1:07 pm ET
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We’ve already discussed the Celtics reported interest in the following players: Shane BattierKwame BrownShannon BrownTyson ChandlerMarquis Daniels, Reggie EvansAaron GrayGrant HillJosh HowardChuck HayesCarl LandryRoger MasonAnthony ParkerJoel Przybilla and Michael Redd.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported the Celtics are indeed among nine teams interested in Josh “Not Dwight” Howard, and The Plain Dealer confirmed the Cavaliers will have to contend with at least the Celtics and Knicks for the services of Anthony “Not Candace” Parker. And Evans practically drooled over the possibility of playing for the Celtics, telling The Boston Globe, “I was kind of surprised when they reached out to me. It was an honor, especially with the kind of players they have on their team.”

However, it doesn’t appear the Celtics are among the potential landing destinations for Chuck Hayes, as his agent Calvin Andrews told Houston’s FOX affiliate (h/t Red’s Army) his client is focusing o the Blazers, Raptors, Rockets, Kings and Timberwolves. In other words, he’s looking for maximum dollars, not victories.

Also, an anonymous agent told the Boston Herald he doesn’t “see any way” the Celtics can’t get a deal done with Glen Davis and that Jeff Green‘s return to the Celtics “is practically done.”

Finally, according to Jason Richardson‘s hometown paper, The Saginaw News, the Bulls are considered the favorites to land him, although “rumors have also linked him with the Boston Celtics” — whatever that means.

With this knowledge (or lack thereof it), let’s take a stab at what a Celtics’ opening-day roster could look like.

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Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge show the love for Rajon Rondo 12.01.11 at 1:29 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers know full well what to expect when they next see Rajon Rondo – assuming that’s in a Celtics uniform on Dec. 9, the first day of training camp.

They admitted on Thursday in an 18-minute briefing with reporters at the team’s practice facility that trade rumors involving their point guard are part of the uncontrollable business of the new-world NBA where there’s labor peace but no ratified deal in place yet to allow general managers and coaches to have direct contact with players.

“I’ll talk to Rondo,” Ainge said. “Rondo will be fine. Rondo knows that we love him. He’s excited to come back and play basketball. He gets a lot of attention. He’s a great player. There’s a lot of people that call me and ask me about Rondo. How these rumors get out is unfortunate but we didn’t leak those rumors out and we’ll deal with it. He’ll be fine.”

“There’s a reason when whatever this thing leaked out, it was all over the news,” Rivers added. “It’s because the players they were talking about are both really good. Rondo has established that with his play. He is a great basketball player and he does so many things for our team. He should be flattered, in a way, that this is news.”

As big a deal as trading Rondo would be, Ainge has an even bigger issue at hand – filling out the roster before training camp and the season opener on Christmas.

“We have about eight players to sign, that’s not including our draft players, which we’re in the process of getting signed,” Ainge said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jackie MacMullan on M&M: Veteran teams play well in shortened seasons 11.29.11 at 1:30 pm ET
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ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan joined Mut & Merloni to give her thoughts on the Celtics and how they will fare now that the union and the owners have come to a tentative agreement to end the NBA lockout. Boston is set to face the Knicks on Christmas day in the first game of a shortened 66-game season.

MacMullan pointed to the 1999 NBA season, which was shortened to 50 games due to another lockout, and how older teams like the Spurs, the Magic and the Knicks were among the best in the league.

“You look at who came out of that shortened ’99 season, it was all veteran teams,” MacMullan said. “The Orlando Magic had one of the oldest teams in the league, the New York Knicks were dragging Patrick Ewing along and of course the San Antonio Spurs, who ended up winning the whole thing. They didn’t do well in those back-to-back-to-back games, in fact they did somewhat poorly, the older teams.

“But over the long haul, you had a bunch of veterans. Do you think anyone needs to tell Kevin Garnett how to stay in shape during the lockout? Do you think anyone needs to tell Ray Allen? And I would daresay even Paul Pierce has figured it out at this point. So the veteran teams tend to do well in these shortened seasons because they know what it takes not just to get into shape, but to stay in shape as the lockout goes along.”

While many think that the Celtics’ window to win another championship has closed, MacMullan said that the team has the ingredients to still be a contender.

“These guys know how to do it, they play the kind of defense that can get it done,” MacMullan said. “The question of course we always have with them is, can they score enough points? Because they really do get bogged down offensively.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On what moves the Celtics will make before the start of the season: “I think it will be small moves. They have a core that they can try to go out a win. Don’t laugh, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried going after Grant Hill one more time, another old guy, a veteran that Doc loves and I think would be great in their locker room. They need a big body. My guess is they’ll go for a defensive type of center, like Kendrick Perkins, who’s going to cost them less money. Maybe a Joel Przybilla, his name has been out there. Do they go after a young, athletic guy like Al Thornton? They might.

“I was intrigued with one thing. Greg Oden is a restricted free agent in Portland. We know about his terrible, terrible foot problems. Do you take a flyer on him, one that doesn’t cost you a ton of money? My guess is whatever you did Portland would match it. But I just go all the way back to when we thought the Celtics might have a No. 1 pick, they were in the Greg Oden camp. Not the Kevin Durant pick, and by the way, that’s true of 99 percent of the people in the NBA at that time. So do you take a shot at Greg Oden? I don’t know. I doubt you overpay for him. You maybe overplay a little, but I doubt you throw big, big bucks at him and my guess is Portland would match no matter what. But he’s just a guy to throw out there because if he could at all be healthy, he’d really help you.”

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Irish Coffee: Celtics hope to sign-and-trade Big Baby? 11.28.11 at 12:35 pm ET
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With half the roster still to be filled, expect a whole lot of Celtics rumors to fly around the interwebs between now and Christmas Day — and here’s the first, courtesy of Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney’s Twitter account: “From what I’m told, the Celts are happy about the whole sign-and-trade issue for tax teams, because that’s the plan with Big Baby [Glen] Davis.”

At some point during the haze that was the NBA lockout, we discussed the realistic sign-and-trade options for Davis at length. Options included old friend Tony Allen, Warriors forward Dorell Wright, Kings center Jason Thompson and Bucks swingman Carlos Delfino, among others.

In an interview with the Boston Herald, Davis said he’ll have “a pen and pad and two phones up to my ears” as he listens to offers elsewhere, preferably for a starting position. He also expressed his interest (once again) in returning to the Celtics.

“I’ve been in the playoffs every year on that team — twice in the Finals,” Davis told the Herald. “I think of the legacies that Kevin [Garnett] and Ray [Allen] have built here, and that’s the path you want to take. I’ll take a look at them first to see what we can do here, and then if I have to, I’ll look into where else I can go.”

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Irish Coffee: E’Twaun Moore or E’Twaun less? 11.07.11 at 11:12 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee.

If you just watched this highlight video and knew nothing else about E’Twaun Moore, you might think the Celtics second-round draft selection is destined to become an NBA rotation player once the lockout comes to an end — especially when the announcer for his Italian club Benetton Treviso yells: “E-Twaun Moore-ah, alley-oop-ah!”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In four games and 26 minutes a night as a starter for Benetton TV (2-2), Moore is averaging 7.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.5 blocks per contest. Sure, he’s shooting 50 percent from the field, but he’s making just 30 percent of his 3-point shots and 50 percent of his free throws.

While Moore’s production in all phases of the game (10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block and 1 assist in 25 minutes) during a 72-55 blowout win on Sunday is encouraging, let’s put his performance into perspective.

Brian Scalabrine and Von Wafer, two players who could barely crack the Celtics lineup in the Big Four era, also play in the same Italian league. In fact, Scalabrine, plays for the same team, and he’s generating 12.0 points (71.4 FG%, 66.7 3P%), 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.8 steals in 32 minutes a night. Wafer plays Moore’s position for Vanoli-Braga Cremona, averaging 19.4 points (63.6 FG%), 3.4 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 1.2 assists and 0.4 blocks in 31.4 minutes over his first five games.

Moore’s ability to make the Celtics roster might depend less on his expected contribution and more on the team’s financial situation after a new collective bargaining agreement. Read the rest of this entry »

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