Tag:Boston Celtics
Posted on: March 6, 2009 7:56 pm
 

Doc's thoughts are with Daly

BOSTON -- Doc Rivers knew the question was coming and couldn't hide his emotions.

"It's tough," Rivers said Friday night when asked about one of his mentors, Chuck Daly, being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

There was a lot riding on the Celtics' game against the East-leading Cavs -- homecourt advantage, a gut-check for Rivers' team without Kevin Garnett protecting the basket from LeBron James' aerial assaults. But Rivers had to put it aside for a moment during his pre-game talk with reporters and send his thoughts to Daly.

"He's a guy that I looked up to, made calls to, and got a lot of advice from," said Rivers, who succeeded Daly as coach of the Orlando Magic in 1999. "A lot of the stuff I'm running came from sessions with him."

Players, former players, coaches, former coaches, GMs, former GMs -- they're all taking a deep breath and wishing the best for Chuck D.

 

Posted on: February 20, 2009 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2009 12:46 pm
 

Bad break for Suns, Celts (UPDATE)

It was all wrapped up in such a tidy little gift box for the Suns. After the embarrassing mismanagement of coach Terry Porter's firing during All-Star weekend in Phoenix, coupled with efforts to trade both Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal, the Suns embarked on the Alvin Gentry era with a 282-point explosion in back-to-back victories of the Clippers. After the trade deadline passed Thursday, the Suns apparently were ready to leave the shameful soap opera behind and step into a sorely needed cocoon of normalcy.

They kept Amare and Shaq and at least would be able to evaluate the product on the court without the distraction of financially motivated decisions coming from their fickle owner, Robert Sarver.

Then came the news Friday that Stoudemire underwent surgery to repair a partially detached retina in his right eye, a procedure that likely will cost him the rest of the 2008-09 season. Along with it will come the conspiracy theories and second-guessing. Just what this struggling franchise needed.

Stoudemire was injured in the midst of his 42-point, 11-rebound outburst Wednesday night against the Clippers. It is the same eye that was accidentally poked by then-teammate Boris Diaw in training camp, resulting in a Kareem-like fashion statement but no major damage. Goggles wouldn't do the trick for Stoudemire this time, though. He needed a trip to the eye surgeon, Dr. Pravin Dugel, who informed the Suns that Stoudemire wouldn't be able to return to physical activity for about eight weeks. Given that the playoffs begin eight weeks from Saturday, and that the ninth-place Suns have no reason to expect they'll make it in without Stoudemire, Phoenix is back to focusing on the tough choices ahead this summer. The basketball court, alas, will not be their sanctuary.

Did the Suns know in the hours before Thursday's trade deadline that Stoudemire would be lost for the year, and does that explain why feverish trade talks surrounding the All-Star forward stopped on a dime like Steve Nash? A good theory, but largely irrelevant. Suns president Steve Kerr said at the news conference announcing Gentry's appointment to interim coach Monday that he wanted to keep the roster intact and evaluate the impact of the coaching change. The same day -- two days before Stoudemire's injury -- Nash informed reporters that he'd spoken with Kerr and asserted, "We think the team is going to stay the same."

It'll stay the same for the next 29 games, anyway. After that, Kerr, assistant GM David Griffin, and yes, Sarver, will try to figure out what to do with the $36.4 million owed to Stoudemire and Shaq next season -- nearly half the team's payroll for two guys they spent the past three weeks trying to trade.

At the same time the Suns were digesting the impact of the Stoudemire injury, Kevin Garnett was en route to Boston for an MRI on his right knee. He landed awkwardly on it Thursday night during the Celtics' 90-85 loss at Utah. Funny how karma operates sometimes; the Celtics arrived in the middle of the night -- where else? -- in Phoenix, where they're spending the next two days preparing to take on the Suns without Garnett Sunday. Garnett will be examined by team physician Dr. Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital Saturday. The Celtics are optimistic it's not a long-term injury, but they've already ruled Garnett out for the next three games -- Sunday at Phoenix, Monday at Denver, and Wednesday at the Clippers.

What does all of this mean? In the West, it means your playoff field is set, because Dallas and Utah no doubt will be able to hold off the Amare-less Suns, who enter the weekend one game out of the eighth spot. In the East, it means Orlando GM Otis Smith was either resourceful, clairvoyant, or both when he pulled the trigger on a three-team trade that brought Rafer Alston to O-Town as a very capable replacement for injured point guard Jameer Nelson. A week ago, it looked as though Nelson's injury would cause the Magic to bow out gracefully from their perch among the quartet of teams capable of winning the championship. Now, they're the only one of the four who did anything significant at the trade deadline to help themselves.

The Celtics will be examining a fairly deep list of big men, including Mikki Moore (released by the Kings) and Joe Smith (who could be bought out by the Thunder). They're also in the market for a defender with length who can shoot (hey, what happened to that James Posey guy?) with Tony Allen sidelined eight weeks following thumb surgery. They have some time to evaluate their options and add someone by the March 1 deadline for playoff eligibility. Assuming Garnett's knee checks out OK, KG will be back and the Celtics will try to avoid walking into the playoffs with a limp.

UPDATE: Indeed, the Celts got welcome news Saturday when McKeon diagnosed a strained muscle behind Garnett's knee. The MRI showed no structural damage, and KG will miss 2-3 weeks.

The Suns? Once again, they're a mess. Will Amare stay or go? Does anyone want a Hall of Famer on his last legs drawing a $20 million salary? Will Nash get a chance to chase down a championship while surrounded by capable teammates? Or is he destined to play out his days as the lone box office draw on a rebuilding team?

All good questions. Let me see if I can find a pair of goggles through which I can see the future, and I'll let you know how it turns out.

 

Posted on: February 14, 2009 9:16 pm
 

Ultimate honor for the ultimate winner

PHOENIX – The ultimate winner strode to the dais, beaming with pride. Bill Russell, winner of 11 NBA championships, called this “one of my proudest moments in basketball.”

From this day forward, the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award will be named for Bill Russell.

Who else?

“I accept this for my team,” Russell said, his voice cracking with emotion. “And my team included our coach, Red Auerbach, and all my teammates over the years.”

It was a bittersweet moment, said Russell, who last month lost his beloved wife, Marylin, after a long bout with cancer. Commissioner David Stern had a chance to tell Marylin about the honor her husband would be receiving, and she carried the secret with her – perhaps only telling Auerbach up in heaven.

Incredibly, Russell never actually won a Finals MVP trophy. They didn’t start handing them out until 1969, when Russell’s Celtics beat the Lakers but Jerry West got the award – the only one given to a player on the losing team. So now you understand why, upon receiving the trophy from Stern Saturday night, William Felton Russell held it as tenderly as a newborn.

“I learned very early in my career,” Russell said, “that the only important statistic in basketball is the final score. I dedicated my career in basketball to making sure we were on the positive end.”

There were jokes and pleasantries, even a thorny bouquet for the writers, with whom the reclusive Russell has long clashed.

“I want to explain something to you,” Russell said. “This is only the second time I’ve been out in public since I got my hearing aids. When I found out I was gonna be around a lot of guys from the media, I put ‘em in a drawer back in the hotel room.”

Laughter filled the room, and Russell said, "My second year in the league, I was the most valuable player of the league by the players' votes. But I was second-team all-league by the writers' vote. That's why I didn't wear them. ... The reason I don’t wear them is not vanity. The reason I don’t wear them is that I like what I don’t hear.”

Russell turned 75 this week, and has emerged from seclusion to become an ambassador for the NBA and mentor to its young players at a time when the league really needs one. I say this not because the league is in bad shape, because it’s not. I say this because it has a tremendous opportunity to truly enter another “golden era of basketball,” as Stern always says.

The kids are gonna be all right, but they need some guidance. They need to remember where they came from, need someone to look up to. Russell can help.

When the laughter died down and the room went quiet, Russell’s famously hoarse voice went soft, the emotion of the moment tightening his throat.

“Very seriously,” Russell said, “what I’m going to do next week is visit my father’s grave. Because he was my hero and I’m going to share this with him.”

 

Posted on: January 27, 2009 5:44 pm
 

Marbury says he misquoted himself

Stephon Marbury went on national TV Tuesday. (Evidently, he did, anyway. I didn't see it. I have better things to do than wait for Marbury's next media missive to be shot across the bow.)

Anyway, Marbury pulled a Charles Barkley. You may remember that Barkley became perhaps the only person in American history to claim he was misquoted in his own autobiography. (For those of you in Rio Linda, autobiography means he wrote it.)

Sooooo ... One day after Marbury told the New York Post that he had a verbal agreement to sign with the Celtics, he said the following on a competing entertainment and sports programming network: "If something was to happen, I would be able to pick either of those teams. So it's not, 'Do I have a verbal or did Boston give me a commitment.' That's people saying what they are basically speculating on what I said."

Okey-dokey.

Alan Hahn of Newsday has an entertaining blow-by-blow of the exchange, complete with editorial comments and a famous quote from former St. John's great Walter Berry. Enjoy.

 

Posted on: January 26, 2009 11:10 am
 

Which Marbury is going to Venezuela?

G'mornin.

More Marbury news.

Two pieces of Marbury news, actually.

The New York Times reports that Zach Marbury, Stephon's younger brother, is close to signing a one-year deal with Los Guaros De Lara in the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto in Venezuela. Z-bury, who wasn't drafted after leaving the University of Rhode Island early in 2001 and has made no inroads toward playing in the NBA, says he's been working out with his more famous brother in Southern California and has regained his drive.

Meanwhile, back in the States, in the Liga Luna de Baloncesto, Stephon Marbury tells the New York Post that he has a verbal agreement to sign with the Boston Celtics. Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president, declined to comment on the report, calling it a "rumor." I'm checking with other sources and will get back to you after I finish yawning.

Does anybody care? Does anybody think the Marbury brothers could wind up in the same backcourt in Venezuela?

 

 

Posted on: January 7, 2009 1:17 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2009 4:18 pm
 

Celtics, Lakers lose; world stops spinning UPDATE

What has happened to the NBA we came to know and love? The NBA in which two dominant teams, both defending conference champions, would run roughshod over the competition and challenge historic marks for regular season wins on the way to a rematch in the Finals?

I wish no ill will on the Lakers or the Celtics. They are both proud, fine franchises. Both enjoyable teams to watch and cover. But I have to say it is refreshing that normalcy or parity or whatever you want to call it has slowly crept back into the NBA's collective consciousness.

The Celtics, who recently won 19 consecutive games and had people like myself charting their course to a new NBA record (34) and a 70-win season, have lost five of their last seven. Their stunning loss to the Charlotte Bobcats (114-106 in overtime) Tuesday night marked the second time since Christmas that they've lost two straight games. This one was the Knicks and Bobcats. Ugh. Celtics G.M. Danny Ainge was watching the game on his SlingPlayer while scouting D-League games here in Orem, Utah, yesterday. I would hate to have been sitting next to him at the final buzzer.

The Lakers, meanwhile, bid farewell to their 15-game home winning streak Tuesday night with a 116-105 loss to the Hornets. New Orleans and San Antonio are two teams in the West that are starting to gather steam. In the East, Orlando, Atlanta, and Detroit are starting to make some noise. I think that's good. One or two dominant teams are fun to look back on and appreciate, but they're boring to watch. It's much better this way.

UPDATE: InsideHoops.com has a game-by-game breakdown of the Celtics' slump that's worth reading.

Posted on: January 5, 2009 12:02 pm
 

So much for a Marbury-free New Year

In the time-tested tradition of breaking New Year's resolutions before all the garbage is cleaned up in Times Square, I have already fallen off the wagon. Loyal BergerSphere reader D. Miz of Breakin Down the Game has dutifully pointed out that  my promise of a Marbury-free New Year went by the boards with my very first post of 2009.

Then, while I was flying to Utah to convene with GMs and scouts at the NBA's midseason scouting combine -- the D-League Showcase -- Marbury managed to step back into the news again Sunday night. The Knicks beat the slumping Celtics 100-88 at Madison Square Garden while I was crammed into a seat built for my 4-year-old on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City. But that wasn't the story. The story was Kevin Garnett, Marbury's former teammate in Minnesota, saying publicly for the first time that he wouldn't stand in the way if the Celtics wanted to sign Marbury to bolster their underperforming, inexperienced bench.

"I'm not opposed to Steph joining the team," Garnett said after the game to a throng of reporters who waited an hour to tap into his opinions on Marbury. "I feel like Steph has a lot of basketball in him. I know his IQ is very, very high. He is one of the best point guards I ever played with. I wouldn't be opposed to that."

KG stopped short of endorsing a Marbury signing, emphasizing that he wasn't suggesting it -- just saying he wouldn't be opposed. It was still news, even though it fell under the category of a non-recommend recommend from Larry David. (Curb Your Enthusiasm fans, I know you're with me.)

Knowing Donnie Walsh for the shrewd executive that he is, I wouldn't bet on a swift resolution to the Marbury matter. He can't sign with another team until Walsh lets him out of his contract, and the longer this drags on, the more leverage Walsh has. With teams looking at declining revenue during the recession, there will be a mad dash to dump salary as we approach the Feb. 19 trade deadline. Walsh knows that he holds a potentially valuable chip in Marbury's $20.8 million expiring contract. If Marbury isn't dealt by the deadline, the leverage will have swung about 80-20 in Walsh's favor. Marbury would have to clear waivers by March 1 to be playoff-eligible for a new team.

 

 

Posted on: January 3, 2009 9:53 am
 

Marbury Musings

An ESPN.com report that Stephon Marbury prefers to play in Boston has created a bit of a stir this weekend, and a delayed reaction. We've discussed here several times that Marbury's two preferred destinations are Boston and Miami -- partly to stick it to the Knicks, partly because the situations would be oustanding for him.

The problem is that Marbury having a preference about where to sign once the Knicks set him free is only half the equation. It takes two to Starbury, and neither team has expressed anything other than morbid curiosity about Marbury and his impending availability.

The Heat, for one, are slightly over the luxury-tax threshold and are trying to avoid paying tax this season. So if they signed Marbury to the $1.2 million veteran's minium, they'd have to shed a player to satisfy that goal.

As for Boston, president Danny Ainge, of course, has been doing his due diligence on Marbury. Boston's recent stumbles only underscored concern about lack of depth with the departure of James Posey for New Orleans and retirement of P.J. Brown. According to a person familiar with the situation, Ainge feels strongly that Marbury was not at fault for the way his Knicks career has ended. He doesn't blame Marbury for balking at a chance to play after being told he wasn't in the team's plans. But Ainge also has concerns about where Marbury is physically after sitting out the entire regular season and the last two months of 2007-08 following foot surgery.

Ainge confided recently that he doesn't fully understand what transpired between the Knicks and Marbury over the last couple of years; it's been a complicated relationship, with plenty of blame to go around. Basically, Ainge has an open mind about Marbury, with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The facts are these. Ainge would not add Marbury to the locker room unless the following conditions were met:  1) He's healthy and in good enough shape to help the team; 2) The coaches want him; and 3) The players want him.

Although Marbury is in excellent condition, he hasn't played competitive minutes in months. The other two conditions are tossups. Doc Rivers isn't afraid of coaching difficult players, and there is a feeling on the coaching staff that the departure of James Posey has left Boston's bench with a critical flaw -- no dependable sixth man providing instant offense on a nightly basis. Posey's contribution wasn't just on the offensive end, though; he provided defense and intangibles, two things Marbury doesn't offer. Marbury can be a decent on-the-ball defender when he's committed, but the last few years in New York he was an awful help defender.

Anyway, all of this most likely would be a moot point once we get to condition No. 3 -- the players. There have been conflicting reports about whether Garnett would block a Marbury signing. To me, the fact that he hasn't openly endorsed adding a player he was teamed with so famously in Minnesota says everything you need to know.

It's fun to talk about, though. And it was fun to see this photo resurfacing with the ESPN followup item. Yes, that is yours truly locked in an uncomfortable embrace with Marbury at Knicks media day before the season. It's a long story, one that is far from over.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com