|Paul Pierce doesn’t see Brittney Griner making NBA||04.09.13 at 2:59 pm ET|
While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban claimed he might select Baylor women’s basketball sensation Brittney Griner in the second round of this June’s NBA draft and Heat wing Shane Battier suggested a woman will make the league in his lifetime, Celtics captain Paul Pierce doesn’t foresee either scenario playing out anytime soon.
“I think it will be a little difficult, just because of the physicality of the sport,” said Pierce, who has watched the many highlights of Griner. “The men are much faster, much stronger and much more athletic. Will it happen one day? I don’t know. They have a women’s league, where they are the best women in the world. Honestly, I can’t tell you if I can see a woman right now playing in the NBA. Not in the next couple of years. No.”
The 6-foot-8 senior set NCAA women’s career records for dunks and blocks, won the national title as a junior and claimed her second straight Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year trophy this season.
“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” Cuban told reporters before a game last week.
Added Battier: “There’s no doubt that in our lifetime, there will be a woman NBA player.”
As usual, Celtics coach Doc Rivers did a better dancing around the issue than anyone.
“If I find a green man walking down the street and I think he can rebound, I’m going to draft him,” he told reporters prior to Friday’s loss to the Cavaliers. “So, I don’t think anyone cares. Obviously, it would make a huge story and it would be really cool. I just don’t know the answer. I don’t watch it enough to know, but it would be great.”
Perhaps Pierce and Griner should play a game of 1-on-1 to settle this NBA debate once and for all.
|Irish Coffee: LeBron, Heat ‘never count Celtics out’||04.02.12 at 2:57 pm ET|
Was Sunday’s Celtics blowout, as Chris Bosh suggested, “just a bad, sh#tty game” by his Heat, or was it a warning signal to potential playoff opponents flashed from Boston — one if by C’s, so to speak?
On their way to producing the NBA’s second-best record since the All-Star break, the Celtics have won five straight and seven of their last eight games, the most recent of which handed Miami its third loss in five contests. Over the past week, Doc Rivers & Co. have surged from the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed to within 1.5 games of Dwight Howard‘s Magic and the No. 3 slot. Count the Heat among those in the league taking notice.
“I’m going to say the same thing I said last year: We are one team and I am one guy that never counts the C’s out,” said NBA MVP favorite LeBron James. “I would never count them out. They’ve just got too many winners. They’ve got guys who have been in the moment before. Like I told you guys last year, when everyone was down on the C’s, I always said I’m not going to turn my back on those guys.”
Of course, those guys James referred to are Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, the latter of whom missed his sixth straight game on Sunday. Didn’t matter, thanks to Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass.
“It’s because we’re a great team,” said Garnett following their 91-72 win over the Heat on national television. “Our positions and personnel, it’s all about a system. You know your role in the system. You do what you’re told in the role. You carry out your role 100 percent wholeheartedly, and that’s your contribution to the team.”
|NBA Free Agency: James Jones agrees to re-sign with Heat||12.09.11 at 11:55 am ET|
Jones is known for his 3-point shooting ability. He scored 5.9 points per game for Miami last season while shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. Jones also won the 2011 NBA 3-point shootout during All-Star Weekend, beating out Celtics Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
With Jones re-signing, the Heat will be have plenty of depth at small forward, as the team also cut a deal with Shane Battier this week. Mike Miller is expected to miss up to eight weeks at the beginning of the season after undergoing hernia surgery.
The Heat also agreed to re-sign point guard Mario Chalmers on Friday morning, according to ESPN.com. Chalmers averaged 6.8 points and 2.5 assists last season but upped his points per game to 11.8 in the NBA finals.
|Irish Coffee: The return of Marquis Daniels||12.08.11 at 11:20 am ET|
Just 10 months removed from suffering a season-ending spinal cord injury and nine months removed from being traded to the Kings for a 2017 second-round pick that freed up his roster spot, Marquis Daniels is close to rejoining the Celtics, according to a Boston Globe report.
Daniels’ ability to backup Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — even spelling Rajon Rondo at the point in spots — was a safety net for Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. The swingman’s scary injury against the Magic cut short a second consecutive season in Boston and forced Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on a trade for Jeff Green.
Daniels averaged 5.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 100 games over two seasons in a Celtics uniform. He can officialy re-sign with the Celtics on Friday at 2 p.m.
TO TRADE OR NOT TO TRADE, THAT IS THE QUESTION
I was going to discuss the latest Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul trade discussions, as reported by Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, but colleague Paul Flannery’s column from Thursday on the importance of timing in this matter still holds true.
Quickly, my two cents. The Boston Herald quoted a source in saying the Celtics’ “window is just too short for him. He looks on them as having one year left to do something, and that’s it.”
That might be Paul’s opinion, but it’s far from the truth. If the C’s made a deal for Paul, they would have just $18 million worth of Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley on their books. Even if Paul signed an extension in Boston (a financial windfall for him as opposed to entering unrestricted free agency), Ainge would have plenty of cap space to sign a Dwight Howard while offering Allen and Kevin Garnett more affordable deals to stay.
What I’m trying to say is this: The window wouldn’t be closing if the Celtics acquired Paul, because he actually is the window. His presence alone would make Boston an attractive destination to free agents for years to come, not to mention the fact that Ainge isn’t handcuffed by any bad contracts so the C’s will have the money, too.
|NBA Free Agency: Shane Battier to sign with Heat||at 11:10 am ET|
Yet another free agent will be taking his talents to Miami, as Shane Battier confirmed on Twitter Thursday morning that he will play for the Heat in the abbreviated 2011-12 season.
Battier wrote, “The Lockout gave me a lots of time to consider what was important to me at this stage of my life and career. Over the last week, I’ve played out every scenario in my head over and over. It always came back to one thing for me: a winning role. … This was a exciting process and after much deliberation, I would like to quote the great poet Jimmy Buffett and take my chances “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season” Let’s Go #Heat!!!!!”
The 33-year-old Battier is strongest defensively, but he can put up points from the perimeter should Heat stars Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James need help from the outside. Battier has split time in his 10-year career between the Grizzlies and the Rockets. The 6-foot-8 forward shoots 38 percent from the three-point range and averages 9.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Battier had tweeted throughout the lockout that he was interested in Houston, Memphis, Miami and Oklahoma City.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics on Grant Hill’s short list and other NBA free agent rumors||12.06.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
Because NBA teams can contact free agents but cannot sign them until Friday, you’ll hear plenty about players truncating lists of potential destinations — mini versions of LeBron James‘ ill-conceived Decision, if you will.
Battier would require the $3 million mini mid-level exception, and that might still not be enough for Danny Ainge to lure The No Stats All-Star. Hill might cost the C’s $3 million as well, unless by some miracle coach Doc Rivers can leverage his relationship to convince his fellow former Orlandoan to sign for the 10-year veteran minimum ($1.4 million). Both free agent’s list include seven teams, according to SI.com.
- Battier’s list: Heat, Spurs, Pacers, Raptors, Grizzlies, Celtics, Thunder
- Hill’s list: Suns, Knicks, Bulls, Spurs, Warriors, Celtics, Clippers
While Sports Illustrated cited the Suns as the heavy favorite to retain the 39-year-old Hill, a New York Post report confirmed Hill’s interest in the Celtics, Bulls and Knicks, making the point that Phoenix is a rebuilding team that can’t offer the chance for a title like the Celtics, Bulls or even Knicks.
With the possible exception of the Spurs, the Celtics will be in the unfortunate position of offering the lowest contract to either player, as those other teams as currently constituted will have the full $5 million exception.
The Post report also linked the Celtics, Heat and Bulls to another 39-year-old in Thomas. While all three teams would be offering the 10-year veteran minimum, the Bulls can offer slightly more to retain Thomas, but the Celtics and Heat would probably have more minutes available for him.
Finally, ESPN Los Angeles reporter Dave McMenamin talked to a familiar face, tweeting: “Leon Powe said the Grizzlies and Celtics are the teams he’s looking at.” The injury-plagued Powe chose Memphis over a return to Boston after being waived by the Cavaliers late last season. He averaged 5.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.8 minutes over his final 16 games, and then played only 3.5 minutes a night during the Grizzlies’ playoff run.
To recap, the Celtics can offer the worst contract among seven teams vying for the best player on this list (Battier) and would be lucky to land a pair of 39-year-olds (Hill and Thomas) or a guy who has played a combined 50 games over his last two seasons due to serious knee injuries (Powe). And I’m on board with any and all of these moves. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2011-12 Celtics free agency period!
|Celtics free agent options at small forward redux||12.01.11 at 5:39 pm ET|
Welcome to Part 4 of this week’s daily post-NBA lockout position-by-position breakdown of free agent options available to the Celtics. We’ve profiled the C’s biggest needs — at center and shooting guard — as well as another critical position (backup point guards), so we move to what coach Doc Rivers called a pressing concern during the 2010-11 season: Backup Small Forwards.
The Celtics began last season with starter Paul Pierce and only swingman Marquis Daniels to spare the nine-time All-Star from playing heavy minutes at the 3. Once Daniels went down in February with a season-ending spinal injury, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was forced to make a deal for depth behind Pierce. Enter Jeff Green, who remains a restricted free agent after the Celtics extended a $5.91 million offer in June.
As we’ve noted before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million) and should match any offer Green receives.
The Celtics would be wise to pick up another player capable of spelling Pierce to ensure they aren’t handcuffed by the lack of depth at the position again, even if they re-sign Green. Obviously the C’s won’t be dedicating much more money beyond those two to small forwards, but they need to find as many inexpensive versatile options (2-3 or 3-4 guys) as possible to eat up minutes for their three aging stars.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at backup small forward (barring overseas exports), separating the current free agent players into four categories.