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Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: ‘I think we’ve gotten better’ despite losing Ray Allen 07.09.12 at 3:06 pm ET
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Wyc Grousbeck

Celtics managing partner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk in-depth about Ray Allen‘s departure to Miami.

Allen chose the rival Heat over the Celtics late last week for less money, surprising a majority of Celtics fans.

“I was surprised, but I wasn’t utterly shocked,” Grousbeck said. “Let’s face it, he was not necessarily going to start. As Doc put it, he felt somehow that he was slighted possibly in the recruiting process in this offseason. … If Doc’s report is correct, Ray felt he was second fiddle to first, Avery Bradley and then Kevin Garnett, so he decided to go to our arch-rival for less than half the money, so be it.”

Added Grousbeck: “I would not blame him [for his negative emotions]. I’ve said to friends of mine and people that I work with over the last few days that the trade deadline and the fact that he was almost traded, it would bother me, if I was Ray. And he has every right to go down to Miami. And we have every right to try and beat those guys.”

There have been rumors circling that Allen and Rajon Rondo did not get along.

“Let’s put it this way, if Ray had come back … he would have played fine with Rondo,” Grousbeck said. “There was a number put out and there were also emotional issues out there. There was a price tag put out there [reported to be $27 million for three years], it just wasn’t one we could get to.”

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

On Allen’s legacy: “Let’s put it this way, Red Auerbach told me personally and told players in front of me, ‘It’s the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back.’ I think Ray always put the Celtics first and it was never about himself and I think if we’re going to be successful we have to keep doing it that way. We’re going to band together, we’re not going to cut down Ray Allen in any way. We’re going to say the name on the front of your jersey just changed, but you’re always a Celtic to us.”

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Report: Ray Allen felt disrespected by Celtics, leading to move to Miami 07.07.12 at 1:46 pm ET
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Ray Allen had his reasons for not returning to the Celtics. (AP)

According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, Ray Allen’s decision to leave the Celtics and sign a three-year, $9.7 million deal with the Miami Heat was based on not only the love shown by Heat president Pat Riley, but the lingering bitterness toward the Celts.

The report had a source saying “He felt he was getting respect that he hadn’t gotten from [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and [coach] Doc [Rivers] anymore.…The presentation was incredible.”

According the author of the report, Adrian Wojnarowski, Allen still was upset that Celtics boss Danny Ainge had dangled him in trade talks, at one point telling the guard he was being shipped to Memphis only to then be told the deal was off. Allen was also reportedly upset over Doc Rivers taking away his starting job late in the season.

Then there was the fractured relationship Allen had with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. As Wojnarowski wrote:

Those were some of the conflicts that Allen had with Rondo, but the stubbornness of the point guard worked to exacerbate everything. Rondo and Allen were non-confrontational, but much of the behind-the-back sniping to teammates and those around the team took a toll. So much of it was sandbox stuff, the kind of grating, ultimately petty issues that occur in every locker room, every workplace. Rondo didn’t chase Allen out of Boston, but their relationship did become a drain in the locker room. Their cold war was something Allen discussed with associates, something that become a concern of management and the coaching staff.

“When it comes to basketball, Rondo is the smartest player on the team – one of the smartest players in the league,” one locker-room source said. “And Ray considers himself a smart guy. But at some point, it became hard for Ray to be corrected by a guy so much younger than him.”

The report states that Kevin Garnett and (to a lesser extent) Paul Pierce both joined Rivers in trying to convince Allen to stay with the Celtics in the final days leading up to his agreement with the Heat. But the recruitment by Riley — who promised the end of any trade talks, along with the prospect of championship runs — won out.

To read the entire story, click here.

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Miami TV station erroneously reports Ray Allen deal with Heat 07.06.12 at 8:21 am ET
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Miami television station WSVN reported Thursday night that Celtics free agent guard Ray Allen had agreed to a three-year contract with the Heat, claiming that the news was broken by Yahoo! Sports. The problem is, WSVN was fooled by a fake Twitter account.

It was widely reported that Allen met with the Heat Thursday, and Heat guard Dwyane Wade tweeted that it would be “a big day” for the team. However, there are no indications that Allen has made any decision about his future.

WSVN tweeted its report but later removed the tweet and apologized for the misinformation.

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Brandon Bass re-signs with Celtics 07.05.12 at 5:00 pm ET
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Brandon Bass is back with the Celtics on a three-year deal. (AP)

Brandon Bass never wanted to leave, and now he won’t have to. The veteran power forward agreed to a three-year deal with the Celtics, per a league source, filling a major hole in the team’s front line. Bass told the Herald that the deal was for $20 million total, but it’s unclear how the deal breaks down in terms of an annual salary.

Using reported figures for Bass, Kevin Garnett and free agent guard Jason Terry while adding in rookie contracts for first-round picks Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, the Celtics have committed an estimated $56 million to nine players.

The key word there is estimated. It’s important to note that new contracts can’t be officially signed and finalized until July 11 when the league completes its internal audit and arrives at a salary cap number as well as a luxury tax threshold.

By using the full mid-level exception to sign Terry, the Celtics would commit themselves to staying under the salary tax apron, which is expected to be a little more than $74 million. Once a team goes over the apron, it can’t use the full mid-level or the bi-annual exception and the cap becomes a hard cap.

Yes, this all gets confusing, but as it stands the Celtics have somewhere in the vicinity of $18 million to complete their roster with Jeff Green and Ray Allen still unsigned, as well as other internal free agents like Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma. It’s also worth noting that the Celtics have E’Twaun Moore and Sean Williams signed to non-guaranteed minimum contracts.

Allen met with the Heat on Thursday and the Associated Press reported that he would spend the night in Miami after a planned meeting with the Clippers on Friday was canceled in the wake of the Clippers agreeing to terms with Jamal Crawford. With Los Angeles out of the picture it appears to be a two-team race for Allen, although the Grizzlies have also expressed interest.

Miami is limited to offering Allen the taxpayer mid-level, which starts around $3.1 million per year. The Celtics have offered a two-year, $12 million deal. The Boston Herald reported that they could include a no-trade or a trade kicker in the deal.

As for Green, his agent David Falk said that he was optimistic a deal would get done, although it might not happen until next week. Falk reiterated that Green’s goal was to return to Boston. The Celtics had Green signed to a one-year deal for $9 million last season before an aortic aneurysm was detected, so it’s not out of line to expect a new deal to be constructed along similar parameters.

In other words, it’s still possible for the Celtics to bring back Allen and Green and still have enough left to complete the roster, but it will be tight. The deal for Bass is another strong step in that direction. Locking up a starting power forward for less than $7 million a year is an exceptionally savvy signing.

Bass averaged a career-high 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Celtics this past season after he was acquired from the Magic in a sign-and-trade involving Glen Davis. After beginning the season as the team’s sixth man, Bass joined the starting lineup for good after the All-Star break and helped the Celtics surge back into contention.

One of the game’s top mid-range-shooting big men, Bass made 48 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet, a percentage that put him on par with big man All-Stars like Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett. The Celtics love his ability to make shots because that helps open up the court for Rajon Rondo‘s slashing game.

With Bass back in place, Garnett will presumably stay at the center position although their frontline still needs work before it can be completed. Still, the Celtics’ lineup is beginning to take shape.

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What a Jason Terry signing would mean for Celtics 07.03.12 at 4:01 pm ET
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Jason Terry could be coming to Boston. (AP)

Jason Terry is instant offense. He’s a scoring threat who can knock down shots and create off the dribble. Terry has a championship pedigree and is fearless in the same kind of way Sam Cassell was fearless with the game on the line. He’s also versatile enough to play the point as a backup.

Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that the Celtics have reached an agreement on a three-year deal for the 13-year veteran for the full mid-level exception, which would pay him a little more than $15 million over the life of the contract. Players can’t officially sign contracts until July 11 when the league completes its audit.

With the Celtics, Terry would solve two pressing issues for the Celtics as a scoring guard off the bench and a backup for Rajon Rondo at point guard. The downside is that Terry will be 35 years old when the season begins and he shot 43 percent from the floor last season, his lowest mark since the 2003-04 season.

Signing him for three years is a calculated gamble, but it may have been the cost of doing business in a scoring guard market that includes Jamal Crawford, O.J. Mayo, Lou Williams and Ray Allen.

Working in Terry’s favor is the fact that he has never played fewer than 74 games in a full season during his career and he’s missed only 16 games the past five seasons. He averaged 15.1 points per game with the Mavs last season and was the NBA’s top Sixth Man in 2009.

As for Allen, this doesn’t immediately close the door on a return. The Celtics have insisted that they wanted to bring Allen back and use the full mid-level on a player like Terry. Their reasoning is that second-year guard Avery Bradley is coming off shoulder surgery and they need depth to survive the 82-game season. Allen is scheduled to meet with Miami on Thursday and the Clippers on Friday and it’s been reported that he will take his time making a decision.

Deals can’t be official until July 11 when the league completes its internal audit, but as it stands the Celtics would have roughly $50 million committed to eight players including Kevin Garnett, Terry and their first round draft picks. With Jeff Green and Brandon Bass still unsigned, they have work to do to complete the roster.

The magic number is $74 million, as explained here. The Celtics can’t go over that mark and use the full mid-level.

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Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: ‘Good chance’ Celtics retain Ray Allen, Dwight Howard ‘not going to Brooklyn’ at 12:14 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski appeared on the Mut & Merloni show Tuesday to discuss all things NBA, including trade rumors involving Dwight Howard and the future of Ray Allen. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Wojnarowski said that if the Celtics are indeed offering Allen a two-year deal worth $12 million, that it puts them in a favorable position to get him back, but he didn’t cross off other potential suitors. One team Wojnarowski doesn’t think will land Allen, however, are the Grizzlies, who were reportedly asking about Allen during the trade deadline.

“When Boston and Memphis talked about a deal at the trade deadline that fell apart, I know that Ray was not excited about being sent to Memphis,” Wojnarowski said. “Even though they’re a playoff team, he didn’t see it as a very desirable location at that time. … I think geography is important to Ray and his family being geographically being closer, that’s why I thought the Knicks could be a possibility because of that, and obviously Miami’s intriguing because he knows he has a chance to be on the big stage to win, Mike Miller’s future is very much in doubt there.

“The fact that Boston has shown, if they are at two years, $6 million per, which I think is comparable to what I’ve been hearing of what Jason Terry is being offered by teams around the league, then I think that gives Boston a good chance to be able to retain him.”

Wojnarowski doesn’t think a rumored poor relationship with Rajon Rondo will deter him from signing with the Celtics, but he thinks it is a factor in the decision.

“The thing with Ray and Rajon which I think has been there, the one thing people have always said to me, in that locker room and in the organization is, whatever issue they may have had with each other, with personalities, they never carried it on the court,” Wojnarowski said. “It never was an issue on the court, which at the end of the day is all that really matters. So only Ray knows how much of a factor it is. I think it is a factor, but I don’t think it’s enough of a factor that it’s driving him away or would drive him away. … Ray Allen is not going to leave Boston because he doesn’t get along with Rajon Rondo.”

Wojnarowski also touched on the Howard saga. The unsatisfied All-Star center is reportedly being shopped in a potential trade with the Nets, but Wojnarowski doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

“He’s not going to Brooklyn. It’s very unlikely. Orlando’s not interested in accommodating what Dwight wants,” Wojnarowski said. “They’re willing to make the deal that they think gives them the best return. Last year, when teams wanted to take Dwight as a rental, he had the real threat of, ‘Hey, if you trade for me at the trade deadline or before the season or whatever it would be, I’m just going to go to Brooklyn as a free agent because they have cap space.’ He doesn’t have that threat anymore. The Nets are loading up all their cap space as we speak.”

Added Wojnarowski: “What team out there has cap space next year that would be appealing to him? Now Atlanta has been talked about a lot the last couple of days because of all the money they’re getting off, but listen, a big part of what Dwight has been doing here in wanting to get to a big market, specifically New York or LA, is his Adidas deal is worth two, I’ve been told even three times more by being in New York or LA. So going from Orlando to Atlanta, while it’s his hometown and Josh Smith is a close friend, and maybe it’s appealing on some levels, it’s not going to give him the pay day that he’s been looking for here.”

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Ric Bucher on M&M: Tyler Hansbrough is ‘best-case scenario for Jared Sullinger’ 07.02.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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Ric Bucher

ESPN’s Ric Bucher joined Mut & Merloni Monday morning to discuss Kevin Garnett’s contract, what the future holds for Ray Allen, what the Celtics’ expectations should be for Jared Sullinger, and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While he didn’t think it was a surprise that Garnett would return to Boston, Bucher said Garnett’s reported three-year, $34 million contract offer was far more than expected.

The deal was “pretty surprising considering the length and the size of it,” Bucher said. “We all know that KG has been battling through a number of things the last few years, and while I thought that [the Celtics] might make him a healthy offer, I never expected that it would be that long.”

Bucher said he felt that Garnett’s effectiveness away from the basket, with his height and shooting ability, was a major factor in the Celtics’ decision to offer the 36-year-old a three-year deal.

“KG has demonstrated with his length and with that silky jumper that he can still be effective,” Bucher said. “And with that size and ability to space the floor, it doesn’t really come down to athleticism. He can probably make that shot over guys when he is 40 years old, and now we may get the chance to see him prove it.”

As for his prediction regarding the Ray Allen sweepstakes, Bucher said he’s come full circle since Garnett agreed to come back, at first believing Allen would definitely return, then wondering whether the Suns would lure him away with a huge contract. However, Bucher said he ultimately he made up his mind when he heard Celtics coach Doc Rivers’ comments.

“Doc coming out and saying, ‘Hey, I feel like Ray’s going to be here,’ and knowing Doc usually doesn’t talk empty-handed in those sorts of tones, and knowing just the general relationship between KG, Ray, Doc and Paul [Pierce], I’m back around to finding it hard to believe that with KG in the fold for that period of time that they’re going to let Ray Allen walk.”

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