Tag:Paul Pierce
Posted on: August 18, 2010 9:04 am
 

Shootaround 8.18.10: Louuuu!

Pierce wants help, Wall won't get that many buckets, and the Suns have the pick but no roll in today's edition of the shootaround. Posted by Matt Moore

Paul Pierce says the Celtics need one more piece , specifically a wing to come in and relieve him. He doesn't sound thrilled with the team losing Tony Allen, specifically. How they'll fill that hole is an entirely different question, if at all. Allen played a pretty specific role (and honestly didn't play it all that well prior to the second half of last season). Furthermore, Pierce's statement serves as a significant knock agasint Marquis Daniels, who's supposed to particularly be just that for that for the Celtics.

The Warriors, Hornets, and Pacers are in pursuit of Lou Amundson, the Phoenix big man who found the team didn't have room for him after their replacement moves this summer. The Warriors are the easy option, a nice market and a fun way to play. But it also provides the least chance to win. The Pacers are likely to be a fun team, full of speed and versatility (much like the Suns last season), but it's not clear if Amundson (28) wants to be the veteran presence on a team. That leaves the Hornets, who will play a much slower pace than he's used to most likely. The fact is that the best situation for Amundson was Phoenix, who really did need him. But hey, when Hakim Warrick comes available...

John Wall is a near-lock to lead all rookies in assists next year. But how's his scoring going to be? Bullets Forever takes a look at the issue and finds that Wall's top three options are heavy-usage players that don't necessarily score a lot off of assists. So not only will Wall's scoring be lower than expected, but similarly his point totals may not wow the eye either. There's a solution, here, ditching Gilbert Arenas for cheap fluff, but no one wants to hear that option in Washington (or they believe that no one will take Arenas period).

A perfect example of what advanced metrics can do? A block is a block right? Except some blocks have more value than others , and the number of blocks you make impact the overall value of all of your blocks. So a block is not just a block.

Kendrick Perkins is targeting February for a return . Which is awkward, because that means if the Celtics find themselves surprised by a lack of center depth (despite Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal), they're not going to have much time to make that assessment if they need to make a trade.

The NCAA president wants to see baseball-like rules for the NBA's draft guidelines. This would mean players can go to the NBA straight out of high school, but if they elect to go to college, they must stay for three years or until they're 21. An interesting idea, but as John Krolik points out , one fraught with complications. An additional question is where the NBA D-League would play in this process, and if it would help bridge the gap. Either way, it's unlikely for this option to be adopted, given the economic realities.

Jerry Buss isn't lacking for confidence when it comes to the Lakers' chances against the Heat. The list of people actually admitting fear or even legitimate respect for the Heat is pretty small, for some reason.

The pick-and-roll has been the cornerstone of the Suns' offense for years. And yet looking at their options , the Suns may be looking at a lot more pick-and-pops than rolls. Robin Lopez may be their only hope.


Posted on: August 6, 2010 11:37 am
Edited on: August 6, 2010 11:46 am
 

Of leadership, LeBron, and KG

Posted by Matt Moore

Kevin Garnett is one of the most respected players in the NBA, with good reason. No one has shown  more focus at both ends of the floor over the past decade than Kevin Garnett. Much of his trademarked intensity is show; the screaming, spitting, growling is revealed as little more than theatrics when you employ them as often as he has. But that doesn't change how he's constantly barking out defensive assignments, dressing down teammates, and blocking the ever-loving crap out of anyone that dares to challenge his authority (or dying trying). He's a 13-time All-Star, and has an MVP trophy, a Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and an NBA champion.

And with all that respect that he has earned comes a level of expectation, often unfair, mostly ridiculous, that he live up to what we believe is the model of a true NBA legend. Or at least, that's been the pattern for everyone except KG. And if you want proof of that, compare KG and LeBron James.

In 2010, LeBron James abandoned his team, the Cavaliers, and did it in a publicly humiliating and disgracefully opulent way on national television. Maybe you heard about it, here and there. Before we continue, let's be very clear on this point:

The primary reason for the backlash against James is the way in which he announced his decision ("The Decision"), the way he seemingly laughed and skipped out of town while the dreams he had given Cleveland fans burned to the ground. There is simply no way to defend or even deflect that criticism. You're not going to find anyone outside of South Beach who thinks this was in any way acceptable. KG has never behaved in such a way, nor did he embarrass Minnesota on the way out of town. The way the two left is simply not comparable. See, I put it in bold, just so we're all clear on this.

However, the secondary argument against James is that he has in some way compromised his legacy, lessened his greatness, by not being the sole elite player on his team. He is no longer considered able to reach the sport's summit because he has joined Dwyane Wade's team instead of building championship gold from the rubble he was drafted into. That by joining other elite players, he can no longer be considered elite.

Let's head on back to 2007.

Kevin Garnett has failed to reach the summit with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted him. Though there were a handful of very good teams, none of them even approached what you would call a "great" team. The Sam Cassell-Latrell Sprewell team rose and fell apart as fast as it came together, and Garnett has been losing consistently. It becomes known that he wants out, wants to be traded to a contender, does not want to waste his career any longer. He doesn't outright say he wants to be traded, after all, you're fined for such activity. But it's made pretty clear that his time with Minnesota is over. It's done. He winds up heading to Boston, joining Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, the captain, to form the first modern Big 3 and first relative superteam since the Lakers' 2004 crime against nature.

(It should be noted that the Spurs' combination of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili definitely constituted enough talent as to be considered a superteam, but more perhaps more impressively, they did it organically. They came to have three superstars by developing the talent they drafted. Not by acquiring the gold when the market was high on it.)

But KG was and is the leader, right? Well, I don't know. Paul Pierce is the captain, right? And the guy taking the game winning shots, most often? The face of the team? It's heart and soul? Isn't Pierce the one most often relied upon to rally the team? While Garnett is undeniably a leader on the Celtics, is he really considered the leader?

Oddly, what led me down this line of thought was a quote from, of all people, Rasho Nesterovic.

In an interview with rtvslo.com , and translated and brought forth by Project Spurs , Nesterovic talks about the difference between Garnett and Duncan. He discusses how Duncan won with the team that drafted him, and how Garnett made the smart move, but it was one to turn to the Celtics, who already had a leader in Pierce. This all leads to Nesterovic saying Duncan was the greater power forward of his time.

Huh.

Now, this is Rasho Nesterovic. We're not talking Bill Russell here. But the idea is one that deserves consideration. Did KG join the Celtics as a leader, or did he simply do the exact same thing that LeBron James did, only under better PR cover? The argument can certainly be made that James joined in free agency (which is apparently worse than bailing on your team while under contract with them), while Garnett was traded, so it wasn't really his decision. But if Garnett had told Minnesota management, "I don't want to be traded. I either win here, or I don't win at all," do you really think the Wolves would have said "No, no, Mr. Hall-of-Fame-Most-Beloved-Player-In
-Franchise-History, we want no part of you here"? Is that what you think would have occurred? Because I'm pretty sure Kevin McHale would have just gone back to figuring out ways to build the Wolves around KG (and failing miserably).

The argument could also be made that KG was on a "loser" while James was on a contending team. But there are two responses to that. 1. While this Cavs team was certainly better than any KG had, James has also been superior in terms of production (and playoff success if we're being honest) than anything KG had been. I'm simply pointing out that if you're going to say the Cavs were better, you also have to point out that James was better, and was a reason for the Cavs being better. And 2, is there really a difference between contender-but-not-champion and loser in our society? I don't subscribe to this. I think there are tons of brilliant players that simply were never fortunate enough to run into the blessed set of circumstances you need to win a championship (or play for LA). But if you're a results oriented person, KG and James had accomplished the same thing, and so to say that one needed to do what he needed in order to win a ring and the other needed to continue to struggle is a bit ridiculous.

We come to the crux of this, which is actually not that KG deserves more criticism or scorn for leaving Minnesota to fall into the void. Far from it. Garnett recognized that he needed to win a ring before his time was up, that it wasn't going to happen in Minny, and that Boston represented the best chance for him. He took it. He doesn't deserve to be slagged for that. Garnett has told other players not to let what happened to him in Minnesota happen to them. Now, that particular action is a little less likable. After all, there have been players that stayed "home" and eventually reached the promised land, and those championships are much more special to their small markets than the umpteenth championship for a storied franchise. This is nothing to do with the quality of the fans and just the simple fact that a lone championship means more than one of many.

But Garnett is simply passionate about being the best he can be. And for him, that meant joining a team with an established star, a veteran leader, along with another veteran leader, and winning a championship. That was his path. And it is not all that dissimilar from LeBron James' path (in terms of the end result; remember, the bold clause! The bold clause!). So if we're going to criticize James for not being "the man," we need to similarly disparage Garnett, Pau Gasol, and other players that did what they needed to in order to win a ring.

Garnett is no villain. He loved Minnesota. But in the end, he felt his best chance for achieving that ring was in Boston, alongside other stars. Those facts coincide with LeBron James' actions of the past three months. Even if you feel that Garnett was able to be a leader alongside Paul Pierce (the most rational and likely conclusion), you should at least recognize the same dynamic's likelihood in Miami. You don't have to like how James pulled off this career correction. No one does. But to question his legacy opens up a Pandora's Box that is linked throughout some of the greatest players in the history of the league.

Don't throw stones. The halls of NBA greatness are built of glass.

Posted on: August 3, 2010 8:27 am
Edited on: August 5, 2010 8:49 am
 

Boston versus Miami leads opening night

Posted by Matt Moore

The new NBA superpower in Miami will definitely have its hands full to start the season as the New Big 3 takes on the Old Big 3. Welcome to being the hunted, ring or no ring. The Boston Globe reports that the NBA season will kick off October 26th with the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics hosting the Miami Heat. If this report and the Orlando Sentinel report regarding the game against Orlando on the 28th are correct, it means two things.

One, Miami will immediately be under fire to produce wins. Starting the season off 0-2 would mean almost nothing in terms of their capacity as a team, but would result in a cataclysmic fire of negative press that would follow them until the notched several significant wins. Knocking off the Pacers on a Tuesday will not help things if they start off winless against the two best teams in the East outside of Miami, both of which have been to the Finals the past two seasons.

Two, the Heat will not open their own arena until at least Friday or Saturday, meaning it doesn't look like the NBA trusts the Miami market to create a particularly rowdy atmosphere, compared to what greets the Big 3 on opening night. Two road games against the two other top East teams? Baptism by fire, super-friends. Baptism by fire.

Meanwhile, the revelation that the season kicks off with Miami and Boston leads us to wonder what team the defending champion Lakers will face. Rampant speculation has suggested Oklahoma City, which would certainly bring the most high profile game for the Western second game of the expected doubleheader. Other possible options include the Suns, Nuggets, Spurs, and Mavericks.

We'll have more on the opening night matchups when the NBA officially releases its opening night, Christmas Day, and MLK day schedule tonight on NBATV.

Posted on: August 2, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 5:35 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Atlantic Division

Posted by Matt Moore

With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how teams in the Central Division did over the summer in negotiating their moves.


 

Boston Celtics

Added: Ray Allen (re-signed), Paul Pierce (re-signed), Marquis Daniels (re-signed), Jermaine O'Neal (free agency), Nate Robinson (re-signed), Von Wafer (free agency), Avery Bradley (draft), Luke Harangody (draft)
Lost: Tony Allen (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency)

Philosophy: "Ain't broke. Ain't fixing."

We thought they were too old to win last year, and they pushed the Lakers to seven games, and had a lead deep in the second half. Shows what we know. So the Celtics have rolled the dice with the same core again, another year older, another year slower, another year wiser, and for all intents and purposes, have changed almost nothing about their approach in a year.

Sure, adding Jermaine O'Neal gives them a fourth big to slot in, and will give Kendrick Perkins the time he needs to recover from surgery. But after dancing with the idea of trading Ray Allen, the Celtics re-signed the sharpshooter, gave Paul Pierce a new contract and for better or worse, have decided this is the ship they're going to sea with. It's had a ton of success, and obviously they feel that if they were able to go as deep as they did this year, there's no reason to believe they can't do the same this year.

The critics will add that Chicago, New York, and most especially Miami improved, but the Celtics will respond by saying those teams haven't proven anything. There's only one team that matters to Boston, and that team has the ring. Until then, they will consider the rest of the East nothing but pretenders. As long as they stay healthy, they have that right.

Grade: B

New Jersey Nets

Added: Derrick Favors (draft), Damion James (draft), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency), Travis Outlaw (free agency), Johan Petro (free agency)
Lost: Tony Battie (free agency), Keyon Dooling (free agency)

Philosophy: "In search of the meaning of Plan B'"

Man, what a letdown. They thought they had a shot at it all. Drafting John Wall. Signing his good friend, LeBron James. Building an empire in Brooklyn. Capitalizing on new owner Mikhail Prokhorov's wealth and power, minority owner Jay-Z's fame, and LeBron's game. It was all set up perfectly. And then one series of disasters after another occurred, and the Nets fell flat. Didn't even walk out with Carlos Boozer. Whiffed on every single one of the top flank free agents.

Don't get me wrong, Anthony Morrow is the steal of the summer. Great shooter, has upside, physical tools to be a better defender than he was in Golden State (like every Warrior). But Jordan Farmar means almost nothing to them. Derrick Favors is so raw he comes with a side of wasabi and ginger, and Johan Petro is... Johan Petro. Even with Travis Outlaw it's hard to see a plan in place, much less the execution of that plan. This team won't be as bad as it was last year, because it's almost impossible for them to. But it's hard to see them being much better.

Grade: F

New York Knicks


Added: Amar'e Stoudemire (sign-and-trade), Raymond Felton (free agency), Kelenna Azubuike (trade), Anthony Randolph (trade, Ronny Turiaf (trade), Timofey Mozgov (free agency), Andy Rautins (draft), Landry Fields (draft), Jerome Jordan (draft)
Lost: Chris Duhon (free agency), Al Harrington (free agency), Eddie House (free agency), Sergio Rodriguez (free agency), David Lee (sign-and-trade)

Philosophy: "Express yourself."

Stylin' and profilin', the Knicks are coming to town. This isn't the super-team Knicks fans hoped for, not even the contending team many expected given their cap space and market availability. In the end, the damage done by Isiah Thomas was just too severe (and sending him as your final LeBron pitcher? What's up with that?) But the Knicks' failures to land one of the Big 3 did mean they were able to concoct this roster, which is inconsistent, underdeveloped, and absolutely 100% interesting.

The idea of an Anthony Randolph-Amar'e Stoudemire pick and roll set is enough to send nouveau basketball philosophers into some sort of apoplectic shock. Meanwhile, Kelenna Azubuike gives D'Antoni the shooter he's been missing, and Turiaf brings some punch. This roster isn't perfect, far from it, but it's stocked with interesting, fun players, who can get up and down in D'Antoni's system. New York basketball may not be contending again, but it's going to be interesting. And that's enough to give Knicks fans what they want, to be relevant again. The real rebuilding starts here, and it's all around Amar'e Stoudemire. We're finally going to learn just how good Stoudemire is without Steve Nash.

Grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers


Added: Evan Turner (draft), Tony Battie (free agency), Spencer Hawes (trade), Andres Nocioni (trade)

Lost:
Samuel Dalembert (trade)

Philosophy:
"Making fusion with carwrecks."

If Evan Turner isn't a Top-5 player in the NBA in five years, this year looks way worse. Switching coaches, the Sixers still held back from a complete blow-up, not moving Andre Iguodala or Elton Brand over the offseason. Brand's value is non-existent, but he's going to have to go if the team wants to completely start over. Meanwhile, Ed Stefanski changed coaches to Doug Collins, who's been broadcasting for quite a while, and traded Samuel Dalembert for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni, or "the Big White Cap Blanket." The Sixers may have hit a home run when they lucked into the No.2 overall pick in Turner, but if the lack of explosiveness he showed in summer league is more than just a lack of offseason conditioning, things could get worse before they get better in Philly.

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors


Added:   Ed Davis (draft), Solomon Alabi (draft), Linas Kleiza (free-agency), Amir Johnson (re-signed), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Dwayne Jones (draft)
Lost:   Chris Bosh (sign-and-trade), Antoine Wright (free agency), Hedo Turkoglu (trade)

Philosophy:
"No way out."

The temptation will be to grade Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization for the mistakes of last summer, which came to hurt them last season and this summer. But that's not our goal here. Losing Bosh was a foregone conclusion, but they still have to take a hit for failing to convince him to stay, no matter how hard that would have been. But after that, Colangelo at least made the move that you have to make when faced with the destruction of everything you've worked for: set fire to the remains and collect the insurance. They traded Hedo Turkoglu and his massive new contract for short term contracts, and managed to get long-term assets in draft picks and trade exceptions from Miami for Bosh. They are committed to starting over, and though the money handed out to Kleiza and Johnson is not chump change, there's still a plan in place.

Expect for the rest of the Raptors to be moved to whatever degree they can be, while the team sees if it can rebuild around DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, who seem to hold a lot of potential under the radar. Colangelo did not take on massive contracts of a subpar free agent outside of Kleiza's swallowable deal, and the Raptors have flexibility to make the most of their future.

The only question is if Bryan Colangelo will be around to be a part of that future.




Posted on: June 30, 2010 2:31 pm
 

Rivers reuturns to Celtics

Well that didn't take long .

About thirty seconds after I got done telling you how complicated the Celtics' situation is, Doc Rivers made it simpler. Via Ken Berger:

"Doc Rivers has decided to return for the final year of his contract to coach the Celtics , a person familiar with the decision confirmed to CBSSports.com Wednesday. Rivers had been thinking about stepping down to spend more time with his family."


And later:

"The timing of Rivers' decision was no coincidence; only he in the Celtics' organization has the persuasive powers to convince Pierce and Allen to forego potentially lucrative invitations to compete for a championship elsewhere, possibly with other marquee free agents. Those invitations will come fast and furious, but the knowledge that Rivers will be back certainly will give Pierce and Allen pause about leaving."


It can't be overstated how much Rivers' decision may influence both Pierce and Allen. This team has thrived based on a common philosophy and a bond. Their chemistry has been instrumental in their success, and that, more so than X's and O's is a product of Rivers' work. His return means that Allen will find it that much harder to look elsewhere. The same is even more true for Pierce, who has never donned another jersey in his NBA career.

That siad, Rivers was on thin ice before the Big 3 came along. He's been instrumental in the development of Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis, but struggled with Al Jefferson, and his rotations are notoriously spotty. For all the talk of wanting to focus on upgrading the current team, overcomplicating the lineup takes Rivers' focus away from what he does best, motivating. It'll be key to watch if the Celtics decide to keep the same blueprint with significant improvements, or try and expand the formula into something different. There are risks either way.
Posted on: June 30, 2010 1:10 pm
 

The Celtics are at a crossroads

You realize it was just three years ago that the Big 3 in Boston were formed? At the time, we knew that their window was short. All three were older, with only a few years left. After the first championship, it looked like they were destined for more. Then when the collapse in 2009 happened due to injury, we thought the window had slammed shut, and that carried through last season when they limped into the playoffs. Then they tore the East's head off and ate the remains, and going into the Finals it looked like everything was hunky-dorey. But even losing in the final minutes of a Game 7 aren't enough when the league moves as fast as the NBA does now.

And with the events of the past 48 hours, one thing is clear. The Celtics are at a crossroads.

Paul Pierce is opting out . Ray Allen is a free agent. And Doc Rivers is still trying to decide whether to come back or not. And all three of those decisions impact each other.

If Rivers comes back, he'll want to make sure he's contending for a title, not rebuilding. And Pierce and Allen will likely want to play for the coach that took them to the Finals, not Vinny Del Negro (no offense, Vinny).

So all sides have to come together to make another run at it, and then Danny Ainge has to decide exactly how much that run is worth. This is not an easy situation. You might say this is trickier than Amar'e Stoudemire in Phoenix or Dwyane Wade in Miami. The future in Boston is highly uncertain. They were unable to get to the summit with the squad as currently assembled. Do they believe they could get there with the same group a year older? Do they need home court advantage (read: should they actually try in the regular season?)? Do they have to upgrade? Are they willing to take a paycut to upgrade?

Rivers, to his credit, and unlike some other headline making coaches, is staying quiet . He's going to not say anything, make his decision, and live with it. Pierce is opting out, but there's no indication if he's doing so to make room for the team or to get the most he can or to explore his options elsewhere. After being dangled on the trade line, you can bet Ray Allen will be taking a good look around.

This team could be dramatically different next season, and that has impacts on Rajon Rondo, who would need to become the unquestioned leader of the team. For Kendrick Perkins, who will have surgery and won't be ready by the start of the season .

And where does that leave Kevin Garnett? All the Celtics have succeeded by one motto of staying together, playing together, fighting together. But the winds of change are at the door, and as a team, they have to decide what happens next.

Like I said, things move pretty quickly in the NBA. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss... wait. That's not right .
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com