Who Will Get Cut?
October 19, 2008

Cuts are coming soon… with my best guess being before midweek.  Asking around this weekend, I was told there were 3 or 4 guys Doc is looking at and he wanted to give the guy who gets cut a chance to hook on somewhere else.  In looking at the roster and preseason performance, I’m thinking Doc’s “3 or 4 guys” is just a ruse… and there are really only 2 cuts to be made: Darius Miles and Sam Cassell. 

Darius Miles is the reason I was asking around about cuts this weekend in the first place.  From my perspective, when someone gets a DNP in a game where Doc says he’s going to start using more “regular season” rotations… then you’re in trouble.  Even in the game before, when the Big 3 got rest, Miles still only played 9 minutes.  Miles was always a long shot for reasons we all know by now.  Maybe he’s not physically ready yet.  Maybe that’s affecting his ability to grasp important aspects of the offense. 

And most importantly, Miles’ contract is not guaranteed.  The Celtics aren’t going to throw money away… so letting Miles go to maybe hook on somewhere else makes the most sense.

Sam Cassell hasn’t played a minute so far, but he might not need to.  Sam has the advantage of having been here before… so if he actually IS playing, then Doc could be saving him.  That’s not likely, though… and all the stuff about Miles applies to Sam when it comes to his contract.  Eddie House is clearly back as Rondo’s back up.  Gabe Pruitt has shown enough to stick with the team as the third point guard. 

So I would not be shocked at all to see Sam “cut,” then hook on as an assistant coach… only to be signed later in the year if the point guard situation doesn’t work out.  BUT… that would mean the C’s would need an open spot… which means they’d make two cuts, not one. 

That would leave the Celtics with the following rotations:  Tony Allen and Eddie House as the primary back court bench players.  Patrick O’Bryant, Leon Powe and Glen Davis as the main post back ups.  Your emergency/blow out fill-ins are Bill Walker, Pruitt and Scal.  And JR Giddens seems destined for the D-League. 

That’s a 14 man roster… which leaves the C’s the flexibility to bring someone in in a pinch.  They’ll keep 13 in town to practice (along with assistant coach Cassell… who would almost certainly suit up to stay in shape).  That’s my best guess… and that’s what makes the most sense to me.  We’ll see what happens in the next few days.

Rondo’s Blog:  Rondo at the GQ Ball in NYC  |  Herald:  Rondo feeling swell  |  Globe:  Rondo strains to stay healthy  |  Souza:  Necessary Roughness  |  Fox Sports:  Thanks to defense, C’s will repeat  |  NY Daily News:  C’s face long odds to repeat  |  Patriot Ledger:  Happy new year for Tony Allen  |  ESPN:  Odom, Sheed, Marion on trading block  |  LA Daily News:  Bynum, Lakers still far apart on extension  |  Derron Williams sprains ankle


“Rookies Got To Share Lockers”
October 18, 2008

Just add this story, courtesy of Jessica Camerato, to the list of reasons why I love the team dynamic.

The middle of the Celtics locker room always seems to be cluttered with a mass of rolling chairs, but rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker have learned there aren’t enough to go around.

“Honestly I was looking for my jersey and then they were like, ‘Rookies got to share lockers,’” Giddens said.

Giddens and Walker will be lockermates until the Celtics cut the roster down to 15. For now they share space next to Darius Miles and Rajon Rondo.

To quote Jess when she told me about the story:  “I guess the championship treatment is reserved for … well, the players who won the championship!”

Perfectly put.

Just a reminder, all the proceeds from the Red’s Army store this month go to the Shamrock Foundation.  As an added bonus, CafePress is offering free shipping on purchases over $50 with the code “Weekend50.”

Don’t Expect Much Tonight
October 8, 2008

The Philadelphia 76’ers are sort of where the Celtics were last year in terms of what needs to be accomplished in the preseason.  They’ve got Elton Brand… and they need to figure out just how well he really fits in with the rest of the team. 

Sure, there’s very little doubt that he’ll have a positive impact.  And there’s no doubt that he’s really option #1.  But Philly still needs to get their timing down.  They need to figure out how Elton likes to do the little things… like how does he set his picks… how quickly does he roll off those picks… how quick is he to help?  So that means the Philly first unit will be getting more time in tonight’s game than the Celtics first unit.

So THAT means that the Celtics 2nd unit will be getting more reps against primo NBA talent.  That’s good for their development… but it might not look very pretty.  And the final score might reflect that. 

What should we look for?  Well… we’re looking for young guys to make good decisions.  They might not execute after they make that right call… but we need them to show that they’re TRYING to do the right thing.  We need to see confidence out of Tony Allen.  We need to see Patrick O’Bryant on the post, making good decisions on defense (even if his guy scores) and making good moves on offense (even if he misses the shot).  We need to see how well JR Giddens and Bill Walker grasp things.  Will they be looking at the point guard for way too long trying to figure out the play? 

Yeah, it’s a lot of minutia, but that’s where we’re at.  We won’t see much of KG, Ray and Paul at all.  They might be done for the night half way through the first quarter.  They key here is… don’t worry about the results.  Just make sure the C’s that are on the floor are thinking the right way.  The “doing” part will come as the preseason progresses.

Previews Galore

I’m happy to present to you the full NBA, team-by-team previews on Yardbarker.com.  I provided all of the previews for the Atlantic Division teams.  I also did the same for FantasyInsiderOnline’s team-by-team fantasy preview.  Each NBA team’s fantasy starter, bench, sleeper and stock up & down is on there.  So check them out.  A lot of people came together on that… there’s a lot of good info there.

Herald:  Brand new day  |  Doc will take it easy on Big 3  |  Globe:  Big 3 will take it easy  |  Ray Allen ready to come out firing  |  Scott Souza:  Pruitt more confident now  |  KG is the 2nd best selling jersey in Europe  |  Philly Enquirer:  76’ers test is cohesion, not Celtics  |  ESPN:  Hornets banking on Posey’s winning touch  |  Oden (who looks jacked!) finally takes court

Right Where We Left Off
October 5, 2008

(AP Photo/Stew Milne)

(AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Week one of training camp is in the books… and by all accounts, the Celtics have picked up right where they left off.  Yes, it’s early… but there are a lot of positive things coming out of camp.  Here’s a sampling:

Dime Mag on the team and Paul Pierce

In between college football on Saturday we caught NBA TV’s “Real Training Camp” with the Celtics. During the week we noticed the “We can win this thing” swagger surrounding the Hornets during their episode, but the C’s had that definite “We DID win this thing” swag.  Paul Pierce, who lost about seven pounds over the summer, was looking like he increased his vertical as well. He got up for some dunks, and during the five-on-five scrimmage he chased down Eddie House from behind and swatted his shot against the glass (which the ref whistled for goaltending).

From the same link… on KG and Perk:

Kevin Garnett was in his usual dark place, cussing at everyone and everything from himself to his water bottle… Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) didn’t practice but looked ripped; Danny Ainge said he might be the most in-shape player in camp.

Rajon Rondo, on Eddie House handling his biggest weakness last year: ball pressure

“Eddie has been in the league a long time,” Rondo said. “He did a pretty good job last year – we won 66 games and he played well. I am working with him and pressuring him and he’s handled it well.”

KG on team unity, and Ubuntu:

“Kevin said: ‘Hey, you guys. This is a different journey, but ubuntu never leaves the way we play,’ ” Doc Rivers recalled. “I couldn’t have summed that up better.”

Doc on Tony Allen

“He gets in these try-to-do-too-much habits at times, but I think overall he’s been good,” Rivers said. “He’s been one of our best playmakers, just making plays and attacking the basket.

“His first step has 100 percent returned. He doesn’t mind going into traffic anymore and taking hits. Last year he would not do that, so I’m real happy with Tony.”

… and on Patick O’Bryant

“Patrick’s really good so far as long as he plays with the starters, and he struggles when he’s not. Honestly that’s probably with everybody, but especially at that position because you play alongside Kevin (Garnett). When Patrick plays alongside Kevin, it really makes him good because of his length.”

And our boy, Rajon Rondo, is finally packing on some pounds:

“I’ve gained 7 pounds,” Rondo beams. “I guess you have to win a championship to gain weight.”

The spindly point guard has added muscle, but he’s also added confidence over the short summer.

“I want to be the best point guard in the league one day,” said Rondo. “My coaching staff believes in me. The Big Three believes in me, and the rest of the team believes in me. I’m going to keep working hard regardless of how much I’ve accomplished so far.”

We’ve already told you that Bill Walker is impressing people.  All-in-all… not a bad bunch of stories coming out of the first week.  On the flip side, JR Giddens isn’t picking things up quite as quickly… and Gabe Pruitt is looking like he’ll fall behind Sam Cassell on the depth chart.  And it will, realistically, take a little while for us to really see what Darius Miles can give us.  But still… for the first week of camp… I’m impressed at how the Champs came back. 

And now for the weekly “cool Celtics tidbit at the end of an unrelated Mark Spears notes column“: 

An NBA source said the consensus among the league’s referees is that the player and coach who give them the hardest time verbally are Boston’s Kevin Garnett and Utah’s Jerry Sloan. The source also said the referees take into account that it’s just part of their intense makeup and they have learned not to take it personally.

Another Spears note:  The Celtics currently have 5 first-round top 10 picks on their roster.  Can you name them without clicking that link?

Wicked Early Preview
October 1, 2008

Training camp is one day old… which means it’s a perfect time for predictions!

Actually… this is part of a massive effort in the NBA blogosphere to put together previews for every team.  It’s coordinated by Jeff at CelticsBlog and it will feature previews by something like 70 different blogs all month long. 

Today, we… along with a few other C’s bloggers… will put together a Celtics preview.  And the rest of this week, other Atlantic Division bloggers will put up previews for their respective teams that we’ll link to… and so on… and so on… all month long until every team is previewed.

So without further ado:

Team Name:  The World Champion Boston Celtics
Last Years Record: 66-16
Key Losses:James Posey
Key Additions:JR Giddens, Bill Walker, Patrick O’Bryant, Darius Miles 

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?

With the Celtics handcuffed a bit by how much money is tied up in Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen… the C’s had no choice but to go bargain shopping to fill out their roster.  The loss of James Posey will hurt in many respects… but the contract he got from New Orleans just wasn’t happening in Boston for a variety of reasons.

So the C’s went to the clearance aisle and pulled in two guys who could actually have a decent impact.  Patrick O’Bryant is a legit 7-footer who is very young and very raw.  In a best case scenario… he went into a cocoon this summer with Clifford Ray and started his metamorphosis… and he’ll emerge this season as legit post player who will rebound and defend… and occasionally score. 

In Miles, the Celtics have a reclamation project that they hope will pan out like so many of them have for the New England Patriots.  Miles’ skill was never in question.  But his attitude, and right now… his health, are huge questions.  Fears over his attitude have subsided to some degree because he has the motivation of returning to the NBA… and he’s doing so with an NBA champion full of strong-willed leaders.  He’ll either have to be part of the team… or the team will reject him.  If he gets healthy… he’ll be the steal of the off-season.

The selections of Giddens and Walker (the latter via draft-day trade), reflect the same philosophy.  Both had middle-round (or, depending on who you ask, lottery) potential… but both fell in the draft for different reasons.  Giddens can be an explosive wing player that will help the C’s by pushing the ball… and who will be helped by the veteran leadership.  His questions are also about his mentality… but he’ll have some strong leadership on which to rely.  Paul Pierce especially will be looked at as a role-model for Giddens, as Giddens started at Pierce’s alma mater (Kansas) and faced some similar, off-the-court incidents.  

Walker could be yet another second-round steal for Danny Ainge… who has made a habit of stealing productive players in what many consider a throw-away round in the draft.  Walker’s role model on the team will be Leon Powe… who also dropped in his draft year because of serious injury questions.  If Danny is right again… he’ll have yet another tough forward that will come in with a scowl and do a lot of fan-friendly dirty work.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?  Experience, Star Power, Depth (more…)

A Week Away… Time To Limit Ray
September 21, 2008

It’s amazing how short the offseason is when you win a championship.  I’m used to trying to come up with another month’s worth of stuff to tide you readers over.  But the Celtics will open up training camp in 8 days.  8 DAYS!!!

So now it’s time to start looking at how we can properly defend our title.  Number 1:  Limit Ray Allen’s minutes early in the season.  Ray says he’s 100% now… after starting last season with some soreness still lingering in his ankles.  I think its in the Celtics best interests to keep Rays minutes low to start the season… and see what some of these younger guys can do with bigger minutes early in the season.  Get Giddens in there with the first team to see what he can do.  Put a Rondo, Tony Allen, Bill Walker, KG and Pierce lineup out there for a little while. 

I’m not worried about Pierce.  He’s a bull that inflicts more punishment than he takes… and he’s one of the most durable players of his generation.  I’m not worried about KG, either.  He’s in phenomenal shape and he plays far enough away from the basket that he’s not absorbing a lot of punishment. 

And even though Ray might have the best body on the team… suspect joints will fail you if you put too much wear and tear on them.  Let’s face it… if Ray Allen WASN’T a physical specimen… he’d probably be retired by now.

So its a testament to him that he has been able to bounce back so well.  But I think he’s at the age right now that you have to err towards preservation.  The good thing is…  Danny Ainge has made enough additions to this team that Ray can play 30mpg or fewer until the All Star break without the team missing much of a beat.

Elsewhere:  Mark Cuban posted some of the emails he got in response to Josh Howard’s “I don’t celebrate the anthem” comments… and then he took them down.  I read them when they were up.  They were disgusting.  The racism in those emails made me want to puke.  Cuban took them down… because he says he made his point.

The Nudist Disapproves
September 6, 2008

Charley Rosen, Fox’s resident Celtics-hater and… as our favorite photo of him clearly shows… avid nudist, doesn’t like what the Celtics have done this offseason.

Given all of the possible pitfalls, Danny Ainge’s offseason moves have been seriously inept.

Even when Darius Miles was at the top of his game, his defense was pitiful, his jumper was shaky, his game was marshmallow-soft and he was a total jerk.

The signing of Patrick O’Bryant to back up Kendrick Perkins provides little more than a sizeable warm body.

Unless Gabe Pruitt’s game undergoes a stupendous improvement, or rookie J.R. Giddens turns out to be a prodigious talent — and considering that both Tony Allen and Eddie House are really 2-guards — the Celtics have no serviceable backup at the point.

None of the above is meant to predict an empty season for the Celtics. Rather, the intent is to roll out the reasons why a repeat is fraught with peril. After all, they’re still the champs until somebody beats them.

Or, as is more likely, they beat themselves.

Yeah, sure, O’Bryant and Miles are crap shoots.  What Rosen doesn’t consider is that the Celtics are at a point where they’re only allowed to offer $10 an hour.  Ainge is playing a high-risk, high reward card here.  Miles clearly had a ton of talent that was never realized.  If he’s healthy, and if he can get his mind right, he’ll make Danny look like a genius.  Same with O’Bryant… who is coming to the C’s after being mis-cast in the Warriors run-and-gun style.  Clifford Ray could earn the title “big man guru” if OB works out… and he’s under no pressure to perform.  With scaled-back duties and more back-to-the-basket play… maybe he’ll realize some of that potential.

And what most people seem to forget here is that the Celtics never had a real “serviceable” back up last year, either.  Sam Cassell was big for a few games in the Atlanta series… and that’s about all.  We tore through the regular season with Rondo and House… and it was the return of House that helped spark the C’s in the ECF and the Finals. 

Repeating is very hard to do… but I have no clue how much Danny could have done differently.  He could have retained Posey… and 3 years from now we’d be trying to figure out how to dump his contract.  So he rolled the dice with what little salary cap room he had.  So its easy to say Danny didn’t do much to improve the team… but you don’t know what Miles, O’Bryant, and Giddens will bring.  They’re truly unknowns at this point… so we can, at best, take a wait-and-see approach.

The Rebirth of JR Giddens
August 31, 2008

Boston Herald)

JR Giddens (Photo Courtesy: Boston Herald)

For a team that is returning all but 1 of its key players from last year’s regular season, the Celtics sure do seem to have a lot of question marks.  JR Giddens is one of them.  Or maybe he WAS one.

Giddens was finally, officially, signed this week… and he came to town to start working out with Bill Walker and Patrick O’Bryant (and Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, and Glen Davis… who have already been in town).  And it didn’t take Bill Walker long to notice something about Giddens.

“I’ve seen J.R. play a lot of times. I know he’s athletic. I know he can shoot it. But I didn’t know his work ethic. Up close, you see it that he really works. That’s probably the most surprising thing.”

Scott Souza also reports that Giddens already has some new ink:  A shamrock behind his left ear.  Giddens is trying hard to get us to like him:

Giddens says he knows he’s made mistakes. But he also feels it’s time for the corrections he’s made in his life to shine through. He admits he cares about, and has worked hard to restore, his public persona and wants the developing one of him in Boston to be positive.

“Somebody may be a dog on the court – a mean guy – but off the court he’s a teddy bear. I think it’s a little bit of that effect. Out here, I’m a monster, I’m a beast, I’m all in. But off the court my friends, teammates, know I am a real nice guy.”

I’ll state again for the record… I haven’t heard a single thing since the draft that make me question why he was drafted.  I’m loving this pick more and more.

What I’m not loving, and neither is anyone else, is the new Oklahoma City Thunder logo (via Slam Online).

Well… That’s Over. Now What?
August 24, 2008

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

This one wasn’t easy, but the US got the job done… beating Spain 118-107 to win the gold medal.  DWade had 27, Kobe had 20.  Spain had the game to 4 with a few minutes left.  But the US held on… and now we’re out of actual basketball to talk about.  For the next month or so… it’s going to be a lot of me and Chuck looking at the Celtics roster and asking “what if…. ?”

As in… What if Darius Miles looks REALLY good in the preseason… will Kevin Pritchard hire a sniper to take him out? 

And how the hell is that roster going to shake out anyway?  We know Ray, KG, Paul, Rondo and Perk are starting.  We know House and Tony Allen will get minutes on the perimeter.  We know Glen Davis/Leon Powe will get some run down low… presumably along with Patrick O’Bryant.  That’s 5 guys.  We can’t be going 10 deep on a daily basis… and we haven’t even considered the “Posey” role yet.  And we haven’t mentioned JR Giddens yet.  

As for Miles, Marc Spears asks today if he has any mileage left.  Scott Souza writes about Eddie House being happy with how things worked out.  And here’s Leon Powe teaching kids to play ball… and presumably… how to kill someone with a simple, icy glare.

One last thing I learned at the Olympics:  I still dig Sue Bird.  Maybe I’m just drawn to anyone named Bird who’s really good at basketball.  Hey… don’t judge me.

Giddens Signs
August 14, 2008

It took long enough….

JR Giddens is in the fold.  It’s a 2 year guaranteed deal with a team option for a 3rd.  Next up:  Signing Bill Walker.