|Danny Ainge plays the waiting game as trade deadline nears||02.23.11 at 11:58 pm ET|
As the clock ticks toward 3 p.m. and the end of the trade deadline Thursday, the Celtics are in the same position they were last week. They would like to make a move for a backup small forward, but they don’t have many assets other teams want and they don’t seem to want to give up the few that teams do want — namely Semih Erden and Avery Bradley.
Now that Kendrick Perkins will be held out of the remaining three games on the team’s West Coast trip, and Shaquille O’Neal seems no closer to a return, Erden is once again being counted on as a contributor, and not just a developmental prospect.
While the 24-year-old Erden is not ‘young’ by NBA standards, 7-footers with emerging offensive skills on cheap second-round contracts are rare. You wouldn’t package him for a stopgap like say, Utah’s Raja Bell, who has two more years left on his contract.
The problem is that the Celtics just weren’t built to make an in-season trade, which team president Danny Ainge has acknowledged time and again. All the pieces were supposed to be in place, but then Marquis Daniels bruised his spinal cord and that was the one area where they didn’t have a contingency plan.
The Celtics don’t have any contract-friendly veterans stashed at the end of their roster and the one that they would most like to part with — Nate Robinson’s — has an extra year left on his deal. Daniels has what’s known as ‘Early Bird’ rights and thus would be able to block any trade that involved him if it comes to that and Von Wafer and Luke Harangody don’t make enough money to match up with anyone on their own.
Despite their obvious need, Ainge has played his hand tightly this trade season and he doesn’t want to make a panic trade. If he can make a move he seems determined to make the price drop, which would take him right up to the deadline.
In the interim, the Celtics have been linked to players like Corey Brewer and Kirk Hinrich who wound up elsewhere, and for a brief moment to Shane Battier who has gone nowhere. As quickly as a rumor surfaces, it gets shot down just as fast. The other names haven’t changed: Anthony Parker, Dahntay Jones, Josh Howard.
While the deadline clock ticks, the secondary market for veteran free agents who are bought out of their contracts has begun to take shape. The first domino to fall is Troy Murphy who was traded to the Warriors and who is expected to be bought out of the final year of his contract. Once that process clears he will be free to sign with any team for the veterans minimum and is said to have Miami and Boston high on his list.
Murphy doesn’t address the Celtics need at small forward, but he can shoot 3’s and rebound and would offer a new wrinkle to the second unit. The Heat are in the same position as the Celtics. They also don’t have many tradeable assets, which is why they made Mike Miller available. Expect Miami and Boston to battle it out on the veteran free agent front.
Also, the Hawks acquired Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong from Washington in exchange for Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford. Hinrich isn’t the shooter that Bibby is, but he is a much better defender, which is important come playoff time.
Despite the blockbuster moves, there have been a dearth of smaller transactions and that’s the game the Celtics are playing. With less than 24 hours remaining, that market is still taking shape.
|Shaquille O’Neal’s status in doubt for West Coast trip||02.14.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
When Shaquille O’Neal injured his Achilles, the Celtics thought he would miss a few games. A few games have turned into five and now there is some doubt as to whether he will be ready to play on the team’s West Coast trip following the All-Star break.
Honestly, it’s just not healing right now,” Doc Rivers said after the team’s practice on Monday. “We’re hoping after the break at some point. When he first injured it, we all thought it would be a one or two game thing and now it’s been longer. Now it’s getting to the point where he may not play on the west coast trip at all. We’re hoping he will. We think he will. Maybe not every game. Maybe play every other game.”
Rivers was more optimistic about Semih Erden, who has missed the last three games with groin and ab injuries. Rivers said he thought Erden might be ready to go in their first game after the break next Tuesday at Golden State.
|Nate Robinson will try to play against Heat||02.12.11 at 4:15 pm ET|
Nate Robinson was at the Celtics practice facility until 11 p.m. Friday night getting treatment on his bruised knee, which he injured in a freak collision with the Lakers’ Shannon Brown. He was at the facility again Saturday, but didn’t participate in the team’s practice, other than in the walkthrough segment.
With the Celtics down to just nine other healthy players, Robinson will try to go Sunday when they play the Heat at the Garden. “The pain in there is kind of funky so we’re just trying to ice it right now,” Robinson said.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Delonte West would not play Sunday, but may try to give it a go on Wednesday when they play the Nets in their final game before the All-Star break. Shaquille O’Neal (Achilles) and Semih Erden (groin) also won’t play and their return has been delayed until after the break at the earliest.
“Semih’s out until after the break and Shaq will be too,” Rivers said. “We don’t even know if they’ll be back after the break right now. Semih’s groin is not improving and Shaq’s Achilles is not improving at all. We thought we’d have them both back by the last game, but that’s fine. We’re good.”
Asked if Shaq’s injury has become worse, Rivers said, “It just hasn’t healed. It’s no worse, but it hasn’t healed as quickly.”
“We’ve just got to find a way to win regardless of who goes down,” Robinson said. “That’s why it’s called a team.”
|Banged up Celtics grind through knowing Lakers won’t have sympathy||02.09.11 at 2:42 pm ET|
They don’t care that the Celtics had just 10 players for practice Wednesday. They don’t care that Paul Pierce was home sick instead of gearing up for the rematch with the Lakers Thursday night at TD Garden. They don’t care that 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal is nursing a sore right Achilles tendon that has forced him to miss the last three games.
They don’t care that Semih Erden is about to miss his second straight game with a right adductor strain. They don’t care that the Celtics don’t have a proven replacement for Marquis Daniels, who went down with a bruised spinal cord on Sunday afternoon.
“You come to play the game,” Rivers said. “We don’t worry about the body count. They’re not going to worry about the body count, I can guarantee you that. We’ll be read. We’ll be fine.”
All the Lakers care about is getting revenge for that 109-96 Celtics win on Jan. 30 at Staples Center.
The Celtics were reduced to 10 healthy players in practice on Wednesday.
On the bright side, Delonte West participated in his first full contact practice since his broken right wrist, suffered on Nov. 24 against New Jersey.
“We had 10,” Rivers said following Wednesday’s practice. “Paul’s is sick so he stayed at home. Semih is out, Shaq is out. Delonte practiced today but he won’t play [Thursday] or probably won’t play until after the break.”
Rivers said he does expect Pierce to play Thursday but not O’Neal or Erden. “I expect him to play,” Rivers said of Pierce. “He’s just not feeling good. We’ll see [Thursday]. I don’t expect Shaq, I don’t expect Semih. I don’t think [O'Neal] can go yet so we’re just going to wait until he gets healthy.”
Rivers said West was allowed to return but cautioned his players to try and use good judgment so that West’s right wrist wouldn’t be hit.
“We told [players] no reaching which is impossible with some of our guys but other than that, we got through it,” Rivers said.
|A sleepless Kendrick Perkins wakes up some echoes at the Garden||01.25.11 at 11:22 pm ET|
Kendrick Perkins was the happiest person in the Garden on Tuesday night as he made a successful return to game action in 16 minutes of the Celtics‘ 112-95 romp over the Cavaliers. Perkins came in with 8:02 left in the first quarter to replace Semih Erden and played his first five minutes of the season.
Perkins – who had reconstructive ACL surgery on his right knee – scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in his first game since injuring the knee in Game 6 of the NBA finals last June.
“I’ve got to play a few more games first. I surprised myself on a few plays today, just finishing, a couple rebounds, it felt real good,” he said. “I know I can do better, I could do more. I was mad at myself, I didn’t block any shots today. I was little winded and little off-key. I’ll get better.”
Perkins also admitted he was very tired after the game since he didn’t sleep on Monday night because he was so excited. He spent a good portion of the night in Waltham at the team’s practice facility.
“I didn’t sleep [Monday] night,” Perkins added. “I actually left the gym [Tuesday] morning about 1 o’clock and went to the gym [Monday] night at 10 so that’s probably why I’m tired right now.”
He certainly got the wake-up call when Doc Rivers called out “Perk!” after Semih Erden picked up two fouls in the first four minutes Tuesday.
‘I thought he was terrific,” Rivers said. “I thought as the game went on his timing got better. I thought defensively he was terrific from the start. Just communication, we were loud again defensively which was nice. You could hear him and Kevin [Garnett] barking orders defensively and that makes us really good.’
Rivers is not expecting to throw Perk back into the starting lineup just because he felt good running up and down the court – and especially not against the likes of the Trail Blazers, Suns and Lakers.
‘It’s the same, about the same amount of minutes,” Rivers said, referring to the 16 he played Tuesday. “He actually probably played one or two more minutes than we anticipated. He wanted to stay in. But I think that’ll be it for a while, between 16 and 18 minutes.’
But the best compliment Rivers paid Perk was about his work ethic, the one trait that explains his remarkable return – like Wes Welker – just seven months after blowing out his ACL.
“That was awesome,” Rivers said of the 20-second standing ovation as Perkins made his way to the scorer’s table for the first time. “Listen, there’s people in the crowd that work hard every day, blue collar, and Perk identifies with all those people. If you are a guy that works 9-5, you’ve got to love Perk because that’s who he is.’
And no, there were no references to feet by Perk in his post-game address to reporters. Well, at least he’s off on the right foot.
|Welcome back, Kendrick Perkins||at 8:06 pm ET|
After missing the first 43 games of the season rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee, Kendrick Perkins took the court for the first time with his Celtics teammates on Tuesday night as they played the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Perkins injured the knee in the first half of Game 6 of the 2010 NBA finals in Los Angeles as the Celtics – without their starting center and defensive, shot-blocking presence in the low post – lost Games 6 and 7, falling just short of a record-18th NBA title.
Three different players – Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden – have started at center this season and while Perkins is coming off the bench, his return Tuesday certainly bolsters the depth at that position.
Shaq had started 17 straight and 33 overall before injuring his right hip on Friday against the Jazz. Erden has started the last two and now six overall. Jermaine O’Neal has started the remaining five times in the low post.
Doc Rivers would not commit to when Perk will eventually return to the starting lineup and until then, it’s likely to be Erden getting most of the minutes.
Perkins returned to game action with 8:02 left in the first quarter when Erden picked up two quick fouls. He lasted until 2:37 left, giving him five minutes, 25 seconds of continuous action. He collected a lay-up, missed a free throw, grabbed a rebound, dished out two assists and picked up a foul.
|No passing fancy: C’s determined to show NBA ‘what basketball is like’||01.22.11 at 11:35 am ET|
In a stat sheet filled with superlatives, the thing that shone for the Celtics like a neon sign could be found several columns over and several rows deep.
The Celtics had 31 assists on 37 baskets in Friday’s 110-86 dismantling of the Jazz at TD Garden to improve to an Eastern Conference-best 33-9. The most impressive part of the performance was that it wasn’t all Rajon Rondo. Yes, the Celtics point guard led the way with 12 dimes, but Marquis Daniels had six, Ray Allen had four and Kevin Garnett had three. Of the 11 players who dressed, only Paul Pierce and Semih Erden failed to register at least one helper.
From the opening tip, the Celtics were determined to spread the wealth. Shaquille O’Neal drew people to him in the paint as he usually does then found Pierce to his left on a cut to the basket for a lay-up 35 seconds in. The Celtics were off to the races.
That would be the first of 31 times one Celtic teammate found another for a field goal.
“It’s just a product of our work,” Pierce said. “Everyday we come in here and that’s what we work on. We work on making the passes, running our offense. Believing in one another, not caring who gets the credit. When you have a selfless group like this, that’s what happens.’
The Jazz did their best early to keep up but as a team built on strength and power, the Celtics seemed determined to take advantage of that. Let KG explain:
“Typical stuff. We know a lot of the offense goes through their bigs,” Garnett began. “They lay a lot of high post, lot of movement. Everybody knows Jerry Sloan‘s system, he has been here for 30 years, 25-plus years. They are a physical team. We knew that we had to come out and not only meet their bigs’ physicality, but to be aggressive ourselves.
“I thought for the most part, we moved the ball. The things we worked on in practice the other day definitely showed and good showing by us. I liked the way we were forceful, physical. I thought we were firm. Again we moved the ball, everything we worked on and everything we have practiced up until this point was exemplified tonight.’
Utah Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan pushed every button he could but the Celtics were too much for his team, which came in tied for first with Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division.
‘Well they showed us what basketball is like tonight,” Sloan said. “They came out and they played a terrific game, they took us out of our offense, we couldn’t do anything of what we were trying to do. I thought they were terrific passing the ball, and they made us turn the ball over way too many times, 21 turnovers for 26 points, it’s tough to beat anybody when you have that happen.
“But give them credit for how they came out and got after us. They were good in their offense getting the kind of shots they wanted and the kind that they can make. Doc was pretty generous not keeping his players out there, letting us breathe a little bit I guess.’