|Preview: Celtics at Grizzlies||11.13.10 at 10:00 am ET|
In advance of Saturday night’s game between the Celtics (7-2) and Grizzlies (4-5) in Memphis (8 p.m.), we caught up with Chip Crain at the “3 Shades of Blue” blog. He answered our six most pressing questions on a young Grizzlies team …
1. The Grizzlies took a big step forward as a team last year. Do you expect them to take another one this season?
Well, we can always hope that the maturation of the team alone will be enough to get them over the hump, but honestly that’s about all the team has.
Will it be improved? Yes, I think they will. Will it be enough? It doesn’t look like it to me.
The problem with the Grizzlies is not their starting five but the bench. They simply are too inexperienced off the bench, even with Tony Allen in the fold. Xavier Henry, Darrell Arthur and even Hasheem Thabeet have shown some promise, but they aren’t ready to contribute, which puts too much of a strain on the starters to see it lasting for 82 games.
2. What’s the general feeling on Rudy Gay in Memphis? Does his new contract affect the way fans feel about him?
People complained about Rudy Gay‘s contract when he signed it, but no one is complaining now. Rudy has always had a ton of talent, but for the first time he seems to be applying it to more than just scoring.
Rudy is somewhat popular in Memphis — more than Pau Gasol was when he was here but less than Zach Randolph is now.
3. Has the play of Marc Gasol helped fans get over the Pau Gasol trade? Or is there still bitterness?
Yes and no. Marc Gasol‘s play has won over many fans, but people still believe that the Grizzlies could have gotten more. After all, no one would trade Pau for Marc straight up. The Grizzlies got Javaris Crtittenton (out of the league), the draft pick that brought in Darrell Arthur and the draft pick that became Greivis Vasquez in the deal, so talent-wise the city is still sore about the trade.
However, that trade also allowed the Grizzlies to acquire Zach Randolph with the cap space, so Arthur, Randolph, Vasquez and Marc in return for Pau was a great trade in Memphians eyes.
Of course, it’s still a sore subject for the fans of teams that thought their team would have won the title if the Lakers hadn’t gotten Pau.
4. Chris Wallace became a bit of a punchline in Boston after his deal for Vin Baker. How do Grizzlies fans feel about him?
Chris Wallace is very fortunate. His owner has made so many blunders no one has really focused on the poor decisions Wallace has made. Everyone points at Michael Heisley making the calls and forgets who’s whispering in his ear.
Thabeet was a horrible pick that Wallace was against (if you believe the rumors) but Heisley insisted on. That got Wallace off the hook. The problem is that DeMarre Carroll was Wallace’s pick, and he didn’t get his third-year option picked up. Wallace passed on DeJuan Blair three times, and now the team is thin at power forward.
Arthur’s fast start this season has made people forget what a disappointment he’s been his first two seasons, and Conley’s fast start has helped him avoid criticism on that deal. The Kevin Love for O.J. Mayo trade has been a financial noose around the team’s neck as well, with the Grizzlies still owing Marco Jaric money while he babysits Adriana Lima‘s child. Mayo straight up for Love would be questionable now, and with the bad contracts the Grizzlies ate to acquire Mayo it looks really bad to me.
5. What’s a realistic expectation for Tony Allen this year?
I see his upside as starting shooting guard to allow Mayo to move to the bench as the designated scorer, while Allen becomes the defensive stopper in the starting rotation. The downside is he loses his playing time to Henry and Sam Young, and he joins the list of questionable Wallace moves I just mentioned.
Realistically, he should be one of the guys off the bench who contributes on some nights and never gets into games on other nights.
6. Is Hasheem Thabeet a bust, or is there still hope?
There is always hope, but the buzzards are circling just the same.
|Irish Coffee: Ta-Ta Tony Allen||10.19.10 at 10:48 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Tony Allen left for greener pastures. Green as in the color of cash; definitely not Celtics green. How can you blame him? After all, his list of injuries reads like a children’s song: ankles, knees and thumbs, so his earning potential could go at any moment — like a post-whistle dunk attempt.
He signed a three-year, $9.7 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. He wasn’t going to get that from the Celtics. And he was never going to play more than 20 minutes — maybe not even 15 — for this year’s C’s squad. So, why not sign with the Grizzlies?
“I was definitely overshadowed,” Allen told The Tulsa World. “Anybody would have been overshadowed considering those Hall of Fame prolific-type scorers that they had.”
He played 18.3 minutes per game for the 2007-08 Celtics team that won the NBA title and 16.5 minutes for last year’s team that reached the finals. He’s gotta be able to play more than that for a franchise that’s never won a playoff game, right? Wrong.
“I don’t think it’s smart,” Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins also told The Tulsa World. “What would you rather do? Win and play 15 minutes a game? Or you may not win as much and play 15 minutes a game. My thing is I would rather play on a winning team and have a chance to win championships — and get a playoff share too.”
Ouch. Getting thrown under the bus by his own coach isn’t going to help Allen’s injury woes.
THE GREAT POINT GUARD DEBATE
There’s a recent theory going around the blogosphere: Should you build your team around a point guard? That’s a big question for Celtics fans, considering two years from now that’s exactly what Danny Ainge will be challenged to do. Other than what will be a 35-year-old Paul Pierce, the only current player guaranteed to play for the 2012-13 Celtics is Rajon Rondo.
|Tony Allen: I felt ‘overshadowed’ while with C’s||07.24.10 at 11:40 am ET|
Former Celtics guard Tony Allen, who recently signed a free agent deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, said Friday he felt “kind of overshadowed” by Paul Pierce and Ray Allen while he was with Boston.
The 6-foot-4 Allen, who spent six seasons with the Celtics and averaged 7.2 points per game and 1.04 steals per game in his career, developed a reputation as a defensive stopper with the defending Eastern Conference champions. Along the way, he was part of a team that made two appearances in the NBA finals, and won a title in 2008.
But he sounded like someone who was anxious to get a new start and make his own name with a young ballclub in Memphis.
“Being in Boston I was kind of overshadowed by those guys, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen,” he told reporters on Friday. “Here’s a ballclub who’s on the rise and a lot of guys can make names for themselves. It’s a coming-out party for a lot of guys on this team.
“I’m definitely going to try to start early defining a role, try to bring some sort of toughness to the ballclub,” Allen said. “It’s obvious I have experience, and I’m just looking forward to just letting that marinate amongst the players that’s in this locker room.”
Allen hinted that while he enjoyed his role in Boston as a stopper, it may have caused people to forget he had more to offer than just an ability to defend.
“I don’t mind embracing the role, but there is more to my game. Let’s not get that twisted,” Allen said. “Whatever I could do to win ballgames. If that’s just passing out Gatorades or flashing towels or giving somebody a high five, I’m willing to do that.”
|Report: Daniels re-signs with Celtics||07.22.10 at 10:10 pm ET|
According to multiple reports, Marquis Daniels has agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million with the Celtics.
On Thursday night Daniels (@marquis_daniels) tweeted, “Let’s try this again #celticnation I’m happy to be back.”
Daniels averaged 5.6 points and 1.9 rebounds last season. He was sidelined for 27 games by a thumb injury and appeared in just 51 games during the regular season. Daniels also suffered a concussion during the Eastern Conference finals.
A healthy Daniels fills the Celtics need for a perimeter defender. The C’s were left with a hole in their second unit after Tony Allen signed with the Grizzlies and Daniels was still on the market.
In spite of his limited role on the Celtics, Daniels had expressed an interest in returning to Boston last season.
“The locker room is great, it’s a great atmosphere, the coaching staff, everything is good,” he previously told WEEI.com. “So it’s something that I’d like to be part of. Hopefully it will work out. If not, then I have to deal with everything that happens.”
Click here to read what else Daniels does during the offseason when he’s not playing basketball.
|Pierce says ‘work cut out’ for Celtics||07.15.10 at 4:16 pm ET|
Paul Pierce is thrilled to stay a Celtic, but thinks there is still some work to do to fill out the defending Eastern Conference champs.
In a media conference call Thursday, Pierce said he will likely retire in the Green he’s worn his whole career, but had to take less money to do so.
Pierce said he was disappointed the Celtics lost Tony Allen to Memphis, and that the Celtics has “a lot of work to do” to build another championship-caliber team.
“We got a lot [to do] right now,” Pierce said during the conference call. “We lost [Tony Allen], we don’t have Nate [Robinson], we might not have Rasheed [Wallace]. We’ve got to add a bench. We’ve got our work cut out. We need perimeter defense and we need to add a backup point guard to help out [Rajon] Rondo, if Nate doesn’t come back. And we need another big.”
But Pierce was happy with the acquisition of Jermaine O’Neal.
“I thought it was a great move picking up Jermaine [O'Neal], giving us an inside presence in case Rasheed retires, but sometimes I’m looking at all the players signing and wish we would get on the ball a little bit. I trust in Danny to put a good team around us, but I’m sitting here watching all these good players fall to other teams.”
As far as the changes to the lastest Eastern Conference favorites, the Heat, Pierce had positive things to say about LeBron James‘ televised “Decision,” and the power threesome leading the team on South Beach.
“It’s a new day and time, man,” Pierce said when asked if James took his revelation too far. “Everything has become a production. You see people living in their homes on reality TV, man. It’s a new day and time.”
On James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Pierce said, “The beginning of a new era … I think you’ll see more of this. Superstars are going to get together now to form teams. You’re hearing now about Chris Paul and [Carmelo Anthony] getting together to join Amar’e (Stoudemire) in New York next year. I think this is the way things are going to happen now.”
|Ainge: Tony Allen leaving ‘not a financial decision’||07.14.10 at 10:10 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had plenty to talk about on Wednesday as he introduced center Jermaine O’Neal to the Boston media, but perhaps the most the most interesting topic touched on was swingman Tony Allen‘s defection to the Memphis Grizzlies for a three-year deal worth a reported $9.7 million.
In discussing the situation with reporters, Ainge indicated that the Celtics had hoped to bring Allen, one of their three 2004 first-round draft choices, back. He said that money was not a driving factor in Allen’s decision to leave.
“Things did work out for Tony, we had a good six years with Tony,” Ainge said when asked what didn’t work out in negotiations. “We wanted Tony back and we tried to get him. It wasn’t a financial decision, there were other decisions, so I think that’s a question you’ll have to ask Tony.”
In his six seasons with the Celtics, Allen averaged 7.2 points, 1.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 18.4 minutes and was a plus defender, often guarding the opposing team’s biggest offensive threat.
Asked to evaluate the offseason, Ainge likened making any comment now to saying how a game went while just at halftime. The C’s are looking to add five more players to give them a 14-man squad, but much of time in the near future will consist of waiting to see which players are still available after the big contracts are done being handed out. He also said he does not expect Rasheed Wallace to change his mind regarding retirement.
Ainge said that the Celtics still have needs at multiple positions, noting they are looking for help at center/power forward, backup point guard, as well as wings. He did say that he likes “unproven rookies” Semih Erden (a Turkish center) and Avery Bradley (the team’s first-round draft choice, a point guard), and that the team is in negotiations with Nate Robinson to hopefully continue to back up Rajon Rondo. Asked about Robinson, Ainge said he is a “guy we’re talking with, along with a slew of other free agents as well.”
Josh Howard was a name brought up in the session and Ainge did not deny the team’s interest, saying he would “rather not get into the people who we are pursuing” and that “there’s a long list of them, but he’s on that list.”
The 29th overall pick by the Mavericks in the 2003 draft, Howard has averaged 16.3 points, 1.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds in seven seasons. The small forward had spent his entire career in Dallas before being traded to the Wizards in February. He played in only four games for Washington before tearing his ACL, an injury he is still recovering from.
|Tony Allen’s mom: ‘I’m sure he hates to leave’||07.12.10 at 9:22 am ET|
After the news came out that Tony Allen would be signing a free agent deal with Memphis, Allen’s mother, Ella Allen, told the Boston Herald, “He is definitely going to miss the Celtics — it’s a great team with great people. I know he is going to miss his friends. He really liked those guys. I’m sure he hates to leave.” She also explained in the article that she believed her son would stay in Boston, adding, “I am very surprised, but my son makes his own decisions, and I support him 100 percent.” But she did recognize the business side of the signing when she told the Herald, “They raised him. But sometimes change is good. It’s a business, and he just had to do what he had to do.”