Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quick Notes

Rajon Rondo will hold off on surgery for a couple weeks to repair his torn right ACL. In the meantime, Rondo will be seeking a second opinion from well known Dr. James Andrews. The Celtics will wait about five days for the swelling to go down before Andrews looks at the knee. But Doc River's has mentioned that whatever Adrian Peterson did to recover from his ACL injury, the Celtics will do. Dr. Andrews performed Peterson's surgery, so this looks to be the first of those steps.

 Doc Rivers has also mentioned that he is not too worried about his teams ball handling without Rondo.  A lot of players will push the ball up the floor, including Paul Pierce and Jeff Green along with all the guards. The second unit has been doing this without Rondo all season, so there is already a comfort level with a lot of that players that they are able to do this.

Proceed With Caution

The hottest topic in the NBA right now is which direction the Boston Celtics should decide to go in after Rajon Rondo's season ended this past weekend with his torn ACL. The answers so far seem to be pretty black and white: they should either "blow it up" and look to trade Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and some of their other aging pieces for young talent and draft picks OR just keep the team as is and bank on Rondo being ready for training camp in October as he says he will be. Maybe both ends of the spectrum are just not that realistic.

Keeping the roster as is would put a ton of pressure on both Garnett and Pierce as leaders and even ball handlers, not to mention a bump up in minutes. It doesn't seem likely that just nothing can be done. So the focus flips to what type of trade value their two hall of famers have. For the fun of it I will be posting trade rumors as well as my potential trade opinions leading up to the deadline... but here are some real reasons and facts why KG and The Truth probably are not going anywhere:

1. Garnett has a no trade clause in his contract, meaning he would have to approve any trade he is involved in. As we saw in Minnesota Garnett is more than loyal, and it would be tough to see him bailing on Boston. Looking even deeper, the title contending teams that Garnett may even consider would not have the young commodities to offer the Celtics without destroying their own team. Conversely, any team with those young players and picks to offer for Garnett would surly be a team that Garnett would not approve going to.

2. The only way Garnett possibly agrees to a trade to leave the Celtics would be if they move Pierce before hand, or in the same deal. Now this is possible, and although Danny Ainge will listen to offers, the Celtics REALLY don't want to trade their captain that has been on the roster since the 1998 draft. He is the face of the franchise, the fans love him, and 34 will be raised up to the legendary rafters when he retires. To get personal for a moment, as a 25 year old life long fan, Pierce identifies with Celtics basketball to my generation. Although it "makes sense" to trade him, unless the Celtics get a bundle of talent in return, it is the right thing to do to let him finish his career in Boston. I can't picture him in another uniform. I want to attend "Paul Pierce Night" at the Garden to see his number be retired with every game he played being for the same team.

3. This is the NBA, young talent and draft picks have an intense premium placed upon them. Garnett and Pierce could be significant contributors to any team for a couple of seasons, but those teams are not going to be willing to part with a player that can help them for the next 10 years, or a draft pick that could turn a franchise around. Trades that involve a salary dump happen all the time, even trades that involve trading a star in their prime happens on occasion when the right package is coming in return. But trades like fans are asking and hoping for the Celtics to complete are just not going to happen.

Boston may fall right in the middle of where fans want them to go, by keeping the core intact and waiting for Rondo, while also making some additions to build around what they have the rest of this year. J.J. Redick rumors are still swirling, and Ainge would still love to add a shooter of Redick's caliber to the Celtics. Because of the Rondo injury it would not be surprising to see the Celts try to either fill the point guard void by adding someone like Delonte West, or making a trade for someone like Kyle Lowry. I could just as easily see Doc Rivers being happy bumping up the minutes of Leandro Barbosa (primarily), along with Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Jason Terry.

This season is not down in the dumps as many fans and members of the media play it to be. Rajon Rondo is a fantastic player to watch and he puts together unique stat lines on a nightly basis. But he is overvalued as a winner. What are the Boston Celtics two biggest wins this season? The win at the Knicks earlier this month and the win at home against the Heat this past Sunday. Two games that Rondo did not play in, two games in which the team showed their true heart and won with Pierce and KG's leadership.

So all is not lost, the conclusion to this season is still to written. Rondo will return next season. But right now this team is still 100% confident that they can hold on to a playoff seed, and who knows what they are capable of if they head into the post season hot...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fab Melo Called Up

The Boston Celtics called up center Fab Melo from their D-League affiliate, the Main Red Claws, on Tuesday morning. Melo will fill the extra roster spot that the Rondo injury opened up, but that still does not mean Boston will not make a move.

Melo was recently called up just to see team doctors when he suffered a concussion. This time around Fab sat out his last game with a quad injury so there is some speculation he is just here to see team doctors again. Melo was at practice on Tuesday, so only time will tell if he is here to stick around. The Celtics have been in search of another big to help their rebounding, but many think Melo is not yet ready to produce on the NBA level, despite some D-League success.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rondo Reaction

With the news that Rajon Rondo has a torn right ACL, rumors are spreading like wildfire throughout the league about how the Celtics will react. Here are some good columns from Boston and across the country about Boston's future without their young star:

Brian Windhorst knows better than to count the Celtics out.

Jackie MacMullan was the first to discuss the torn ACL rumor with Rondo himself.

Adrian Wojnarowski thinks in this day and age, it is too hard to trade aging stars for young players and picks.

Other things to keep in mind about "blowing up" the current Boston Celtics roster:

1. A Paul Pierce for Rudy Gay swap seems more and more unlikely for both sides due to salary and the fact that Pierce desperately wants to finish his hall of fame career in green.

2. Kevin Garnett has a no trade clause and it's tough to see him agreeing to be shipped out unless Pierce is too.

3. Josh Smith will be sitting down with Hawks ownership later this week to discuss his long term options with the team, or the chance of him being moved.

More to come on all of this later, especially a look into possible trades, both with the Celtics as buyers and sellers and the deadline.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rondo May Have Torn ACL

It is being reported that Rajon Rondo's hyperextended knee may be a torn ACL. Rondo is out for the game Vs. Miami, a late scratch after warming up. The injury occurred Friday night in Atlanta. Rondo left the Garden and is currently getting an MRI, but the injury is rumored to be worse than origionally thought. Check out the twitter link here. Celtic fans will be holding their breath on this one hoping for some good news.

*Now confirmed Rajon Rondo has torn his right ACL and will miss the remainder of the season after he undergoes surgery. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Other Guys

As the Boston Celtics continue to find their way, coach Doc Rivers is becoming less and less confident in the units he is putting on the floor. He did recently say that he thinks the talent he needs is in the locker room (Doc Rivers discussing the underachieving Celtics on PTI 1/23 - 9:00 mark), but fans are pushing for moves to be made before February 21st. The Celtics got no scoring in a three point fourth quarter loss to the Knicks, including two terrible late turnovers. As I write this the Celtics are going into overtime with the Hawks after leading by 27, and the outcome really does not matter. (Hawks won in double OT). Win or lose their lack of effort and inability to score down the stretch told the story.

After these last games it's becoming clear that the need for scoring trumps everything else. Outside of Paul Pierce this team has no true scorer (and Pierce didn't even show up in the fourth quarter of the Knicks game). Rivers seems to think he has the guys to win in the locker room in his PTI interview, but break down the team and it really shows otherwise:

Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett: Pierce and KG are what they are. Aging superstars that are contributing to the best of their abilities. Both have lost a step even since last season, but there is not much of a reason to move either of them unless Boston is getting a significantly younger star. Not to mention the image it would create of how the organization treats its face of the franchise if they were to move Pierce after all this time. Garnett is still as valuable as any player on the defensive side of the ball, and Pierce is the best scorer on a team with no other scorers at the moment... nothing to see here.

Avery Bradley/Jared Sullinger: AKA the future. Probably the Celtics two strongest trade pieces, and at the same time the two players Boston would like to keep most alongside Rondo for their future. Both have shown their potential, most recently during the win streak when Bradley shut down the best perimeter player on the opposing team and found his offense, and Sully was a rebounding machine including scoring on the offensive glass. If Danny Ainge has any kind of plan, it should start with holding on to these two players.

Jeff Green/Courtney Lee: The inconsistencies have killed the upside these two players should be able to contribute to this current team's winning. Both very talented in their systems before coming to Boston (Green 15.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG in his last half season with OKC and Lee 11.4 PPG shooting over 40% from 3 PT), now are just role players we pray will show up on a given night. During the Celtics six game win streak they were arguable two of the best players on the team... hmmmm. But their numbers this season clearly show a drop off overall (Green 9.4 PPG 3.2 RPG and Lee 7 PPG shooting 34% from 3 PT). Both players have been mentioned in trade rumors, and if playing to their potential should have been able to be swapped for good talent, but that is looking less and less likely as their struggle continue.

Jason Terry/Brandon Bass: Terry and Bass are making Green and Lee look like All-Stars. Terry was essentially expected to be Ray Allen this season and to say that hasn't worked out would be an under statement. Terry is down from 15.1 to 9.8 PPG this season, the lowest since his rookie season, and that number is dropping. Bass is down from 12.5 to 7.6 PPG this season... you can start to see where all this missing scoring is. Most of the players on this team are new, however Bass plays primarily with the same unit he did last year, so there is not much of an excuse for his lack of play. Both of these players have been miserable, Boston would be fortunate to get rid of either in a trade.

Leandro Barbosa/Chris Wilcox: Each player has been injured or in Barbosa's case dealt with a personal issue, but when they play they are effective. Wilcox is on his way back from injury but should resume playing soon. On a team where scoring and rebounding have become big needs, an offensive talent like Barbosa and a rebounder like Wilcox deserve to be playing... I'll keep it that simple.

Fab Melo/Jason Collins: We'll keep this one even more simple. The Celtics need a center, neither of these two are it. (In fairness to Melo, he could be ready in a couple years).

Rajon Rondo: Nope, I didn't forget about him, but as usual while everyone else has someone to be paired with or compared to, Rondo is in his own category. He is the best player on this team and the most diverse. At times he is the reason they are winning and at times he is the reason they are not. Which begs the question is Rondo the player the Celtics want to build around or is he their best piece to use at the trade deadline? Both are reasonable options when you look at the decline in this team. The whole reason I put this chart together is to show that outside of Rondo/Pierce/KG this is a COMPLETELY new team from the teams that have been successful in Boston in recent years. Trading Rondo at this point would not be the end of the world as some fans may see it. Especially if some combination of Terry/Lee/Bass/Green could be included as well. Rondo can and should be a scorer, but he has not been, so lets again revisit some potential players available that could help the Celtics with their scoring.

Josh Smith: Smith still has to be considered the clear cut number one option to solve the Celtics needs. He can score from all areas of the court, would buy into their defensive mentality, and can rebound which also helps solve their next highest necessity. Smith is likely to leave Atlanta for free agency this summer, the Hawks may be forced to deal him if they do not feel confident they can retain him. Once a teammate of Rondo's at Oak Hill, being reunited on the court could be a great spark for both of them.

Rudy Gay: Memphis just made a huge move to save a lot of money and retain Gay, but the door still is not completely shut on Rudy being traded. Although it looks unlikely, the Grizzlies would still listen to offers as long as they are getting talent in return, surly Rajon Rondo would qualify as a talented enough piece to hear out a deal about.

J.J. Redick: The J.J. Redick rumors are starting to swirl, and Boston is looking like the most likely destination for him (as reported here on Hoops Rumors). Redick is having a career year and the Magic are shopping him hard around the league. Averaging close to 15 points and shooting nearly 40% from downtown J.J. could be the player Celtics fans were hoping Lee or Terry would be... but Orlando is asking a high price.

Derrick Williams: Williams is young and unproven, so far he is a bust for a number two overall pick, but he has shown flashes. He can get to the basket, something Boston desperately needs. The Celtics seem to have these problems with Green and Lee, but those are players that have been in the league, why not try swapping one of them for a player with the same struggles in only his second season?

Monta Ellis: Not that Ellis is even on the trade block, but this is they type of player the Celtics need. A guy in the mold of J.R. Smith or Jamal Crawford, Ellis fits this type and should be easier to acquire than the others. This is more wishful thinking than anything, but hopefully Ainge has the same idea.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

News Around the League

Just months after Ray Allen left Boston and took a significant pay cut to go to Miami for three years, Ray seems to be unsure of his future. As reported by Hoops Rumors here, Ray has been talking to the media about the chance of him retiring at season's end. His numbers have dropped off hard since his time in Boston, but that was something he had to have seen coming. Obviously there is nothing to be discussed here until summer time, but just something to keep an eye on.

If you mentioned to someone a couple of months ago that the Lakers could be shopping Dwight Howard at the trade deadline, they probably would have laughed at you. Not so crazy anymore... D12's nightmare has continued in LA, now with Mike D'antoni saying that Howard and Pau Gasol can't be on the court together. Kobe Bryant has also stated that Dwight has been taking him out of his game because he thinks too much about getting Howard the ball in good position. With the chance that Howard walks at the end of the year, the Lakers are considering cutting their losses and trying to deal him now. Of coarse these teams would have permission to talk to Howard about signing an extension before hand. Teams that seem to make sense are Brooklyn (his top choice/team that pushed hardest for him from Orlando), Atlanta (his hometown/looking to move Josh Smith to make room), LA Clippers (on paper a trade could work out easily but REALLY, the Lakers handing over Dwight Howard after the Chris Paul mess), and don't sleep on Mark Cuban in Dallas.

This is the last season we will be seeing this logo. The New Orleans franchise has a news conference set in which they will change their name to the Pelicans and also change their logo and team colors. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has expressed interest in bringing the Hornets' name back to its home in Charlotte when the story broke for the first time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Struggle Continues

Kyrie Irving was spectacular against the Celtics tonight as the Cavs beat Boston 95-90 to slide to a four game losing streak that put them below .500. Irving dropped 40 points to go with five assists as he tore the Celtics' D apart all game.

It was another tough night scoring for Boston, as Doc Rivers implied, it is time to find the right guys. Because it looks like the right guys are not all on this roster. The road only gets gouger ahead. The Knicks are in town Thursday night, then a tough double-header takes them to Atlanta on Friday night before coming back home to host the Heat on Sunday afternoon.

It's make or break time in Boston, with the Patriots letting everyone down, the Celtics seem on pace to keep the disappointment coming. But here is a more positive outtake from Hoops Rumors about what is becoming a traditional slow start in Boston. Click here for the link.

Back to .500 - Time to Look at Trades

They lose three in a row, they win six in a row, then they lose three in a row again. Who is this team!? The inconsistencies are glaring, and it is becoming frustrating after a blow out loss to the Pistons. Here are the mighty Boston Celtics at 20-20, back to a .500 record. Past teams in the Garnett era have come out of the gate slow, but have maintained an identity that has helped the Celtics finish those seasons strong. This current Celtics team is yet to establish an identity, which could make it difficult to turn this season around.

Doc Rivers is as frustrated as anyone, and believes his team is not willing to put the work in; "I don't think we have the commitment to be a good basketball team. This team wants everything easy, they want the easy way out. They want to win easy, but the only way you're going to win easy is you're going to have to play hard. We're taking the wrong approach. I've either go to find the right combination, the right guys, or we're going to have to get some guys out of here." Clearly Rivers is turning the heat up on his players, challenging them to play the right way, or we will find someone that will.

This team is clearly in need of two things: size and scoring. So lets take a look at some options. The earlier names mentioned look like they are no longer on the move: Marcin Gortat (no longer wants a trade), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings will need a franchise player when they move to Seattle), Anderson Varejao (out for season). Here are some names that could potentially be acquired and make an impact in Boston:

Josh Smith: This would probably be the biggest move the Celtics could make. Smith is an ultra talented power forward with an inside/outside game and can defend and rebound the ball. Although the Celtics would have to give up a lot to get him, he is exactly what this team needs. It is no secret that the Hawks want to try and enter the Dwight Howard/Chris Paul lottery this summer, and Smith is rumored to walk from the Hawks as a free agent either way. He is a high school teammate of Rajon Rondo, so the two are not only good friends, but have chemistry on the court. Smith would be an ideal deadline add for the Celtics.

Samuel Dalembert: After being traded from Houston to the Bucks Dalembert has only been playing about 20 minutes per game, often less. John Henson and Larry Sanders have been great for the Bucks and eat up a lot of minutes. (Larry Sanders would be the better add for the Celtics... but that just is not going to happen) Dalembert is not a scorer, but an athletic big man that can rebound and defend. He would certainly take some pressure off of KG defending around the basket.

Paul Millsap/Al Jefferson: The Jazz have a four man log jam at the power forward/center spot. Along with Millsap and Jefferson, youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are both talented players. One of these four are going to have to move at some point, why not at the trade deadline? Assuming Utah keeps the two younger players that means Jefferson or Millsap would be on the move. Jefferson obviously has a past with Boston, and was the piece that landed the Celtics KG. He is a slightly improved defensive player since his time here, but Jefferson is a very valuable low post scorer. He would be a perfect piece to start alongside Garnett. Millsap has more of an inside/outside game, but is also a proven scorer much like Jefferson. Either player would fit in well, but I prefer Jefferson.

Robin Lopez: Lopez is a good defender and has really improved as a scorer and shooter. Although he would not be as big of an acquisition as the other big men on this list, Lopez would be a quality add, and probably a starter for the Celtics in the front court. Maybe the Hornets will want to move Lopez and hand the keys over to Anthony Davis as the teams starting center.

J.J. Redick: The Celtics are already rumored to be interested in Redick. Although Boston is deep at guard, scoring is desperately needed and Redick is the type of shooter that can get hot quick. Redick would not be a headline add to the team alone, but along with another move for a front court player that involves moving Courtney Lee or Jason Terry, Redick would be welcomed in.

Greg Oden: Oden is obviously a free agent, but absolutely would be a valuable addition to the Celtics. Oden is not ready to play, but fully expects to be in playing shape for next season. Oden has expressed interest in potentially signing with a team this year though, and either playing some spot minutes, or just continuing to prepare for next season with that team. Many teams have expressed interest in Oden, but Boston is one of them as Danny Ainge made clear on WEEI. Injuries have been Oden's weakness, but after his time off the risk could be worth the reward.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Becoming Clear: Bradley and the Bench Keys to Winning

The Celtics cooled down off of their six game win streak on Wednesday night, falling to the Hornets 90-78. Boston started hot, but after the first few minutes of the game struggled significantly to score; the streak had to end sometime. But how the Celtics respond to this loss could determine the outcome of their season.

At 20-18, and sitting in the eight seed in the East, the stretch between tonights game against the Bulls to the All-Star break will be crucial. Boston plays 14 games before All-Star weekend, including some tough opponents: Bulls, Knicks, Hawks, Heat, Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, and the Bulls again. This stretch is going to be huge for the team, they will either gain the momentum that they need to be considered a contender in the second half of the season, or remain a spotty team struggling to get into the playoffs.

Two things were made clear earlier this season when the Celtics played well: 1) Rajon Rondo has to lead with his aggressive play. 2) Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett must carry the team emotionally.

Two more things have been made clear in the last eight games: 1) Avery Bradley's "in your shorts" defense and hustle can not have a value put on it. 2) The bench play can not only carry this team at times, but keep Rondo fresher.

When these four things work in tandem, as they did for the win streak, the Celtics are tough to beat. However expecting all of those keys to be present every game is unrealistic. Some nights Rondo can carry the team (his triple double against the Bobcats). Some nights Pierce and Garnett will need to jump in the time machine and be the stars (game against the Knicks at MSG). Some nights the bench will need to limit the starters minutes and take over the game (game against the Suns led by Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger). And Avery Bradley is just special because if he is healthy he seems to be the one constant, always playing as hard as he can.

It seemingly does not matter which way the Celtics win on a particular night, but it is evident that they can not win the same way every night. If this roster is to find themselves in another Conference Championship, they may have to be comfortable not having a true identity, and unlike many teams, win in different ways. We will see if they can do it starting tonight against the Bulls in game one of these all important 14 games prior to the break.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Atlantic Division Update

Danny Ainge recently stated that he sees no need for the team to make a move right now with their recent resurgence. Going on to add that there is no need to add someone to sit on the bench. Although the team may be rolling right now, they still have a need for a high energy big man. During this win streak that role has been nicely filled by Jared Sullinger and even Jeff Green (even though he plays a majority at small forward). But Ainge would be a fool to put his post season trust in a rookie and a player who has proven he can be as inconsistent at times as Green.

If Sullinger and Green can keep this up that would be a hell of a bonus, but better safe than sorry. Both players will have their moments, but can not yet be relied on. For more check out Hoops Rumors on this topic and updates on the hot Nets and cold Sixers click here.

While you are on Hoops Rumors also check out these thoughts about LeBron James possibly opting out of his contract to return to Cleveland, and vote on the poll here.

Celtics Tuesday Practice Notes

The Celtics had practice in Waltham on Tuesday morning, and have been focusing specifically on the defensive end. They are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now, and have climbed up to number 13 on the ESPN NBA Power Rankings.

A lot of the buzz at practice was about Doc Rivers' son Austin coming to town tomorrow night as a member of the Hornets to play against his father and the Celtics. I am happy to be seeing the game in person tomorrow night for two reasons, neither of which are Austin Rivers. Rivers was one of the more overrated players in the draft, and was selected high based on potential that I fail to see.

Austin is a pure shooter, but gets his points on volume shooting rather than picking his spots. His ball handling and decision making is far to shaky to play at the lead guard spot, and his size leaves him as a questionable option off the ball.

The two things I will be looking for at the game will be if the Celtics can stay hot defensively and keep getting major contributions from their bench. And the real Hornets rookie everyone should want to see: Anthony Davis. Damian Lillard and Jared Sullinger are looking like the two biggest steals in the draft thus far. But Anthony Davis has been good when he has been in the lineup, and could just take some time to develop into the star he is expected to be. It should be fun to see him matched up against an elite defensive counterpart like Kevin Garnett, the type of player some think Davis has the potential to be like in the future.

Check out some other notes from ESPN Boston by clicking here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

C's Keep Streak Alive

The Boston Celtics remained hot on Monday nigh against the Bobcats at the Garden as they picked up their sixth win in a row. The Bobcats were able to hang around for a while before the Celtics finally put them away 100-89. Its great to see Boston reaching their potential and starting to develop as a team. Even though the Bobcats are not much of a test, it's easy to tell that this team is clicking, and it has all been since the return of Avery Bradley.

Bradley had a season high 16 points, and was a game high +15 in +/-. No doubt his energy has sparked the team, and he deserves a lot of credit for that. But outside of Bradley's fantastic play, inserting him into the starting lineup has helped the rest of the role players settle into their comfort zones. Courtney Lee has developed into the player he was expected to be, Jeff Green seems to be playing to his potential consistently, and Jared Sullinger has grown tremendously since the start of the season.

Rajon Rondo however was the biggest star of the game, posting his third triple-double of the season (26th of his career). Rondo finished with 17 points, 12 dimes and 10 boards. Paul Pierce had a game high 19 points.

The Celtics will play host to big name rookies Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers on Wednesday night and try to go for seven in a row. The real test will come to the Garden on Friday night when the Celtics host the Bulls on the National stage on ESPN.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bench Boosts C's Again

The Boston Celtics, led once again by their bench, defeated the Houston Rockets 103-91 on Friday night. The second unit played as fans have envisioned them playing all year. Jeff Green (9 points), Courtney Lee (14 points), and Jared Sullinger (14 points, 11 rebounds) dominated the first half of the game, and remained contributors in the second half. Paul Pierce carried the load, scoring 16 or his 23 points after halftime, carrying Boston home after they nearly blew a 17 point lead.

Kevin Garnett was stellar with 17 points, eight boards, and four rejections. Along side Sullinger the two are turning into a force to be reckoned with in the front court. But the most impressive thing about the Celtics five game win streak remains the balance. Nine players played between 16-33 minutes, Rajon Rondo with a team high 33.

The defense was key again, holding the Rockets 15 points below their season average. Up next is the Bobcats on Monday night. The Celtics will looks to keep rolling, as they currently seem to be firing on all cylinders.  

Around the League

There is a lot going on around the association right now, the most popular story being the potential return of basketball in Seattle. This is causing a lot of chatter in Sacramento where the Maloof brothers are in discussions to sell the Kings to a Seattle based buyer who already has had an arena approved.

The Kings have been a sad excuse for a franchise since the Chris Webber days, but none the less have had some of the best fans in the NBA through tough times. This all sounds like a feel good story on the outside, "Seattle gets their Sonics back!" But this situation is turning into a mess.

The Supersonics left for Oklahoma City to become the Thunder in the summer of 2008, using their two draft picks to select Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to put next to their rookie Kevin Durant. The following summer they added James Harden through the draft, and now here we are, the Thunder are one of the Elite teams in the NBA and will be for the next 10-15 years.

This could have been a Seattle Supersonics team contending for the next 10-15 years where they have great NBA fans, instead they will have to settle for the lowly Kings franchise... if the deal even goes through. Assuming it does, now everything is right back to where we were: Seattle has a team, but Sacramento (a small market city that has proven they can maintain an NBA team - VERY hard to find) is now robbed like Seattle was.

Greg Oden is starting to make a little bit of noise about his potential return to the NBA. It has been three years since the former number one overall pick has taken the floor in a regular season game. But his agent has guaranteed that he will return by training camp of the 13-14 season at the latest.

Oden, who had his last of several knee operations last March, has done exactly what he needed to do by taking this time off. The Blazers medical staff is known as one of the NBA's worst, and they consistently pushed Oden back too early, evident by his reoccurring injuries. Oden needs this rest and time to get his body back if he is ever going to be a force in the league.

There are rumors that he will try to sign with a team by the end of this season, but he really should be treated as a fragile case and take all the way up till training camp to make his comeback. The Heat are known to be interested in Oden's services, and if I'm a GM I'm certainly intrigued. Even if he is a fraction of the player we expected him to be, and plays 20-25 minutes per game, he is the type of shot blocking force on defense worth one last risk. Can't teach seven feet... something the Celtics are in desperate need of.

Rudy Gay has burst onto the trade scene as he seems to every year. Minnesota declined an offer this week for Gay, and the Suns are believed to be working on an offer that includes Jared Dudley in return.  The Raptors appear to have the most interest in Gay, but the Warriors, Kings and Celtics (as they are each year) are also considering making offers.

Gay is part of the reason Ray Allen is a member of the Heat right now, after Ray was offended to be offered to the Grizzlies two years in a row in trades... one last year that was thought to be completed. Obviously he took it personally and ended up in South Beach.

Gay would be a fantastic fit in Boston, but the big three would have to be off limits. Even the way Avery Bradley is playing right now it would be hard to part ways with him. With those players not involved its tough to see a way the Celtics could add Rudy.

With Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce's leadership, and the emergence of Bradley, I would not be opposed to shipping off Rajon Rondo in the right scenario. Obviously Boston would need a point guard in return, so how about Mike Conley Jr. and Rudy Gay for Rondo? Does Boston offer? Does Memphis accept? Just a thought, but the way this team has showed it can still put its best foot forward without Rondo, don't put anything past them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Celts Roll Suns - Stay Hot

On the night that marked Jeff Green's one year anniversary of going under the knife for open heart surgery, he led the Celtics in scoring in an exciting win over the Suns. Green's highlights included back-to-back monster dunks at the end of the second quarter, en route to his 14 point night. Here's Green on his night; "I can't put it into words. I mean, it's a wonderful day. I had a good game, I'm just glad to be here."

It was only an 87-79 final score, but the Celtics looked fantastic, and played as balanced a game as they have all season. Check out these stats and facts from the game:

- Nine Celtics had six or more points for Boston

- The Celtics held the Suns to 16.7% FG shooting in the fourth quarter

- Jared Sullinger led the team in minutes (34) and had a career high 16 rebounds (game high +/- of +24)

- Kevin Garnett was the only starter in double figures; three players scored in double digits off the bench (Green, Sullinger, and Jason Terry)

- Jeff Green played two more minutes than Paul Pierce and was a +16 on the floor

Outside of Green's storybook night, Sullinger was a tremendous force on the floor, and is looking like the steal of the draft. (click for link). He had 12 points to go with those 16 rebounds, and was the best player on the floor for stretches.

When the bench plays like this, there are not many games this team will lose. Up next is the Rockets on Friday night. Boston will be looking for revenge on their loss in Houston earlier this season.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Red Hot Celtics Start 5 Game Home Stand - Rondo's Leadership? - Bradley's Impact?

The Boston Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now, and have begun to turn their season around after winning three games against top competition to return to .500. The next five games they play (all at the TD Garden) will be their crucial opportunity to start moving up the standings in the East.

There are plenty of good teams in the East this year, but no great ones so far, Boston needs to gain momentum and join the conversation. Paul Pierce is tired of the inconsistencies; "I'm tired of seeing flashes of it for six minutes here or there, and then take six minutes off. I'm tired of that now. I don't have too much left in the tank as far as my career, so this is it. I feel like the East is wide open, so there is a tremendous opportunity out there for us." Check out this great link on the Boston Celtics website that previews their matchup against the Suns and looks into their five upcoming games at home:

Boston Celtics game preview

Rondo will return from his suspension, hopefully picking up where he left off. Maybe I have been a little hard on Rondo in past posts, the Knicks game was very telling that the Celtics' character does not take a hit with Rondo out of the lineup. Many keep pushing for Rondo to be the leader, but perhaps he needs to simply lead with his play.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce proved in the Rondo-less victory over the Knicks that they are the heart and soul of this Boston Celtics team. If they can provide that spirit every game, then if becomes OK for Rondo to simply lead by playing his hardest. The only problem is Rondo has been knocked for stepping his game up in Nationally televised games, and taking nights off when he pleases.

Rondo's success in the National spotlight is no secret, ESPN is well aware of it. Rondo is just not the type of guy who is going to take the emotional reigns to the team, fortunately KG and Pierce are. But the Celts will need number nines best effort each night if they are to succeed.

Another contributor to the Celtics recent success (and major key to their future) has to be Avery Bradley. His numbers have not jumped off the stat sheet since his return, but his impact has been undeniable, and it starts in the win column. Since making his season debut on January 2nd against the Grizzlies, Bradley has been seeing about 24 minutes in his four games, averaging 7.3 points, 2 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

Despite loosing to the Grizzlies, Boston showed a lot of heart in an attempt to come back, and have spun that momentum into their current three game win streak. A streak you could argue has been sparked by Bradley's effort on the defensive side of the ball. Bradley, along with Courtney Lee, have been picking up the opposing guards full-court, and the team defense has been stelar since. With KG backing them up under the basket, opponents are shooting a mere 38% from the field during the win streak.

Avery broke out last game in a big role against the Knicks. Without Rondo, Bradley played 33 minutes, scoring 13 points and dishing out five dimes. Now Rondo and Bradley just need to get on the same page for the Celtics to make the push to the postseason. But if one thing was made clear in New York, it's that Pierce and Garnett will be carrying this team to the finish line emotionally.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chippy Victory at MSG

The Celtics picked up a 102-96 victory over the Atlantic Division leading Knicks on Monday night without suspended guard Rajon Rondo. The bench was huge, especially early in the game with Kevin Garnett being the only starter to score until half way through the second quarter. Paul Pierce was clutch again down the stretch, finishing with 23 points capped by a crushing fade away jumper over Tyson Chandler to essentially ice the game. KG went for 19 and 10 boards, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, and Jared Sullinger all were in double digits and key contributors on the defensive end as well.

The story of the game were the altercations between Garnett and Carmelo Anthony. They were called for double-technical fouls halfway though the fourth quarter, and remained chatty together throughout the game. Carmelo was then waiting for KG by the Celtics' team bus after the game, and was said to have to be restrained from the Celtics' locker room by security and teammates.

Here are some of the post game reports from CBS as well as a link to Barstool Sports for what KG is rumored to have said to Melo that set him off, click the links below:

Melo waits by Celtics team bus for KG

What KG said to Melo that flipped the switch

Although some may knock on Garnett, this is part of the reason he is as effective as he is. Besides his expanded game on offense, being the teams MVP on defense, KG also plays the role of instigator. And from time-to-time it works like it did last night. "Garnett was in the best opposing players head and he finished the game like it was bothering him. Meanwhile, Paul Pierce was able to take the game into his hands and take the Celtics home.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado Cut

The Celtics cut ties Sunday night with second round draft pick Kris Joseph and recent free agent signing Jarvis Varnado. These are two players that realistically would only see the floor in a blowout, so this won't hurt the rotation for the time being. But read between the lines here and Boston has to be setting themselves up for a move. Whether it be via trade or free agent signing is still to be seen. Keep an eye out in the meantime for some kind of move to be made. I will follow up on this with the most likely options out there at the moment. The roster now stands at 13.

Check out the speculation on Hoops Rumors by clicking here.

Rondo Suspended For Knicks Game

Rajon Rondo has been suspended for Monday nights game against the New York Knicks for his actions during Saturday nights game against the Hawks. After an offensive foul Rondo made contact with official Rodney Mott and then did not cooperate with the NBA in the investigation afterwards.

Once again Rondo hurts his team with a silly suspension. He has done it in the past, including in the playoffs last year in Atlanta again. Bottom line is Rondo must learn from these mistakes and stop costing his team games without their point guard and arguably best player.

Jason Terry or Courtney Lee will get the start tonight in an attempt to get back to .500 against the division leading Knicks.

Celtics Rally in Atlanta

A night after a convincing win against the Pacers, the Celtics came out sleep walking, ending up down 15 points at halftime. But they came out of the locker room with determination, led by Paul Pierce (17 3rd quarter points) and Rajon Rondo (second triple-double of the season). Boston won the third quarter 33-9 and then were able to maintain the lead in the fourth. Atlanta had only 28 total second half points as the Celtics reignited the defensive effort from Friday night that they had lacked in the first half.

Pierce and Rondo were tremendous in leading the effort. Pierce totaled 26 points on the game along with nine rebounds and five assists. Rondo tallied 14 points, 11 boards and 10 dimes on the evening. Kevin Garnett contributed 14 points and was outstanding on the defensive end during Boston's second half rally.

Pierce played the role of superman again for the Celtics and was able to save the day as he has a few times in the past month. Rondo was the key as he has been in most victories this season. The Celtics will try and stay hot, as well as improve to .500 on Monday night in an important divisional game against the Knicks.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rondo Steps Up, Celts Collect Much Needed Win

It was an ugly first quarter, but Boston took complete control of the game against the Pacers in the final three quarters, resulting in a 94-75 win. The starters were able to go limited minutes and still pull out the win, a luxury for Doc Rivers who will be managing minutes again tonight in a tough game in Atlanta.
Rajon Rondo played the way Celtics fans have envisioned him playing throughout the losing streak, finally showing signs of the aggressive player that he needs to be. Without even stepping on the floor in the fourth quarter, Rondo poured in 18 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds. But it was the way Rondo did it that should catch your attention. He attacked the paint relentlessly, and did not ignore scoring opportunities as he has been. Rondo went 9-for-14 from the field in 29 minutes. This is the type of player the Celtics want him to be, and frankly the type of game that should be expected of him if this team is to contend.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were contributors, following Rondo's lead as they have been hoping for all year. KG scored 18 as well, but was ejected in the fourth quarter for a flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough (game high 19 points). Pierce chipped in 13 points with six rebounds and five assists (to go with a game high +20 in +/-).
Although there were not too many points scored, the Boston offense seemed to take a much better form with Rondo aggressively at the helm. The defense allowed 75 points against a hot Indiana team in a throwback 2008 performance. It was a good night at the Garden on Friday. Evident when Jared Sullinger leads the team in minutes in a win. Another hot team is on the slate tonight for the Celtics as they travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks(20-11).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

C's Drop Fourth in a Row

Boston welcomed back Avery Bradley on Wednesday night, who played in his first game this season, but it still was not enough. The Celtics continued their losing ways, dropping their fourth game in a row by double digits to the Grizzlies at the Garden. Boston was nearly able to come back as they closed an 18 point lead down to five with just a few minutes remaining, but Memphis finished strong and escaped with the win.
It was good to see Bradley back on the floor, and the team appeared to be playing hard, but the Grizzlies just had too much fire power for the Celtics to handle. Mike Conley Jr. had a game high 23 points to go with nine assists and Tony Allen had a nice homecoming with 15 points. Paul Pierce led the way for Boston with 17, but scored most of them early before going ice cold. Rajon Rondo played through a hip injury finishing with 11 points and 10 assists, Jeff Green chipped in 10 off the bench in only 14 minutes.
Bradley showed nothing special on the offensive end in his return, playing 19 minutes and scoring four points for 2-for-6 shooting with no rebounds or assists. Bradley presence however is expected to be felt more on the defensive side of the floor where he always plays with high energy.
The Celtics now sport a 14-17 record on the season, not what they were expecting after bolstering up their bench in the off season. Something needs to change soon and the team aspect of the game needs to come alive as it has in past years for the Celtics. The road ahead gets no easier as they play three of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference: Indiana at home Friday, at Atlanta Saturday, and at New York Knicks on Monday. If Boston fails to pick up the slack in these next three games they could be pretty deep on the outside looking in at the playoffs.