|Irish Coffee: Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments||12.14.11 at 1:03 pm ET|
Tuesday’s Media Day marked the official unveiling of the 2011-12 Celtics at their practice facility in Waltham. Some familiar faces. Some new ones. Here are the top 10 highlights from what was a tame afternoon compared to the Shaquille O’Neal hoopla from a year ago.
10. BACK TO SCHOOL: After finishing six courses during the fall and summer semesters at Georgetown, Celtics forward Jeff Green is just two classes away from finishing a major in English and a minor in theology. He plans on completing his degree in the summer to become the first member of his family to earn a college diploma.
“It’s something I can cross off my bucket list,” he said, adding that a diploma and an NBA championship trophy would be comparable achievements to place on his mantle.
Asked if he could avoid being seen in lectures, Green smiled and said, “I’m 6-9. I can’t hide.”
Pierce, 34, called the “42-year-old” Allen (he’s 36) an inspiration to play five more years, and then referred reporters to his website PaulPierce.net/TruthonHealth for any questions. Green wasn’t the only one learning during the lockout; Pierce is apparently now a marketing expert.
8. SUPER SIZE ME: We all remember the Shawn Kemps and Vin Bakers of the 1999 lockout — the guys who showed up to training camp so out of shape their bodies never fully recovered. Allen remembers, too.
“There were some guys back in ’99, when you saw them, it was like, ‘Holy cow, this guy was on vacation for the last three months, didn’t do a thing, didn’t pick up a basketball or a weight,'” Allen said. “And that’s not the case in this locker room. We knew it, because we have too many strong-minded individuals.”
Allen had a front-row seat for Baker’s transformation from a guy who averaged 19.2 points and 8.0 rebounds for their Sonics the season before to 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds after the last lockout-shortened season. Naturally, the Celtics traded for Baker four seasons later.
“Every day I sat around the house,” said Allen, “I was like, ‘I gotta go work out, because I don’t want to be that guy.'”
7. TOP CHEF: Celtics forward Kevin Garnett cracked one smile during Media Day, when analogizing team chemistry to the culinary arts. “Chemistry is something that you just don’t throw in the frying pan, mix it up with another something, throw something on top of that, then fry it up, put in a tortilla, put in a microwave and heat it up, and then give it to you and expect it to taste good,” he said. “For those who can cook, y’all know what I’m talking about. If y’all don’t know what I’m talking about, you can’t cook and this doesn’t concern you.”
|Transcript of Kevin Garnett on D&C: Rajon Rondo the smartest, most stubborn, possibly most hated player in NBA||at 10:53 am ET|
Following rumors that Rajon Rondo could get traded, Garnett was asked his opinion of the young point guard. Garnett said Rondo is the smartest player in the league, as well as “the most stubborn, the most probably hated.”
Said Garnett: “I’ve grown to understand Shorty. His greatest gift is his greatest curse. We as players try to help him to understand that. Me, more or less, I see a lot of myself in him. I’m not as cocky as he is. I like to actually set aside ego when I step on the court and let the play do the talking.
“Shorty’s very smart but he’s also very stubborn. Nonetheless, with all that said and done, talking to him, I see the maturity, I hear the maturity in him wanting to be better. That’s what you want from your young guy. You want your young guy growing. You want your guy to always be in a sense to where he’s understanding that he’s the future. I think him understanding that, him being confident in that. You hear your name in talks, that’s not what you want to be. Things like that come on for a reason. Just understanding growth and understanding being young. But I love Shorty. I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Did you think there was a chance there might not be basketball this year? Did that thought dross your mind? Did it worry you?
To be honest, yeah, I didn’t think that we were going to have basketball, and I thought for the betterment of. I thought players should have stayed solid and together on what we thought was right. I’m a fighter, man. I understood the demographics. Obviously 500-plus players, everybody’s going to have a preference. This was just my own. I understood the negotiating. I understood the whole process of it, going through it in ’99 and ’98. But times are different now. And here we are.
Do wounds need to heal?
I think everybody needs to get past mad and come here and be professional. And I think that’s what you see, guys understanding what this is. But to sit back and complain about the things that [David] Stern is doing, jamming up trades and all this other stuff, I think he’s been playing God for a while. But we need to understand that he’s also grown our league. He’s also done a lot of good things in our league.
At some point if you’re going to go forward, you’ve got to get past mad and come in here and understand that and focus on the positives. So, that’s what I think everybody’s doing. We’ve got a new team here. Basketball is back and alive here. I think all the guys here agree that we’re happy to see each other. Now, it’s just about preparing for this year.
|Paul Pierce: ‘I see Kevin and Ray playing past this year’||12.13.11 at 5:20 pm ET|
‘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.
|Keyon Dooling remembers brawling with Ray Allen: ‘Sometimes you know a man better when you fight’||at 3:52 pm ET|
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.”
|Irish Coffee: Imaginary 2011-12 Celtics roster||12.05.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
We’ve already discussed the Celtics reported interest in the following players: Shane Battier, Kwame Brown, Shannon Brown, Tyson Chandler, Marquis Daniels, Reggie Evans, Aaron Gray, Grant Hill, Josh Howard, Chuck Hayes, Carl Landry, Roger Mason, Anthony Parker, Joel 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.
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.
|Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge show the love for Rajon Rondo||12.01.11 at 1:29 pm ET|
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 »
|Jackie MacMullan on M&M: Veteran teams play well in shortened seasons||11.29.11 at 1:30 pm ET|
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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