Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:11 pm
By Matt Moore
Let's get right to the point. In the list of people who influence the NBA, John Calipari isn't at the top. But the empire he's built and transferred to Kentucky to expand may be the center of the NBA universe outside of New York and Miami. And if you want proof, you only need to look at what's going on in Lexington this summer.
We start with the expected, another stellar team from Calipari. But this one, it's a little bit more than even the normal outstanding classes of prospects Calipari produces each year. In addition to Terrence Jones, who would have been a first-rounder this year had he elected to jump, the 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats feature three players CBSSports.com placed in the top ten of a 2012 mock draft, and four in the first round. Anthony Davis is considered by many to be the number one overall pick next year, Michael Gilchrist is talked about as being potentially just as good. Marquis Teague is plotted as a mid-first rounder (which means he could very easily wind up in the lottery). Only Doron Lamb, who Calipari has called the best player on this year's Kentucky team, isn't expected to go in the first round.
It won't happen, but we should note that it's possible that the entire starting five of UK this fall could go in the first round, and that four of the five could go in the lottery. That's absurd. For a coach known to pull in talent, the addition of Jones for his sophomore year has made this year's squad of prospects out of this world. Essentially, every Kentucky game needs to be a must-watch for NBA draftniks.
But that's not all. As the lockout drags on, some familiar faces are showing up in and around Lexington. Calipari offered early on to let locked out former members of the Wildcats use the facilities. In addition, several former Wildcats have decided to finish their degrees at UK should the lockout cost the whole year. Now, no one thinks this is about the family approach or goodwill and interest in supporting former members that Cal and the Blue Nation would say it is. And that's right in line with Calipari's approach. He's brazenly manipulative of NBA ties while all the while putting the most friendly of faces forward. It's made him the scourge of many college basketball pundits, while NBA guys? We tend to nod appreciatively. Calipari filters good talent into national television appearances, raises their draft profile, and then sends them on their merry way to where they belong: the NBA, making money to play the game they're at the elite level of already. The transparent slime may put some off, but the fact remains: Calipari has become a first-round gold mine.
Tyreke Evans, ROY. John Wall would have been ROY if Blake Griffin hadn't entered the fray as an actual sophomore. DeMarcus Cousins could have been a candidate if he'd kept his head on his shoulders. And all of that is before you factor the MVP Derrick Rose and his time with Calipari in Memphis. And with all those players hanging around campus, word will continue to get around to future prospects. It's not just cool to go to Kentucky. It's part of the NBA factory.
LeBron James is a "close personal friend" of Calipari. And while the rest of the universe may hate James, kids are still flocking to him as an idol, evidenced by both Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson's realtionship with him. Jay-Z? Visiting the locker room. The link here in all of this is, of course, Worldwide Wes, William Wesley, who is also, surprise! Calipari's agent representative with CAA. It's a whole little machine that makes collegiate moralists squirm, even as Calipari has done more to produce revenue for young players than any coach in the country. If it's all about him, so what? The effect is the same.
UCLA hosts the most famous and well known private pickup games. But with Cousins, Bledsoe, and Wall on campus along with Rondo and whoever else conceivably shows up, Lexington is going to be a virtual nexus of NBA workouts. It'll make the machine stronger, even as a class that some consider to have a higher total ranking than the Fab Five makes its way to play in the SEC.
Calipari is coaching the Dominican national team against a collection of former Wildcats. Cal has used every edge in keeping the factory rolling. William Wesley's close associate, LeBron James, and his brand will be sponsoring gear for UK this year. All-Stars are hanging out on campus and could be hired as special assistant coaches.
The reality is that with New York a tar pit where both the players and owners are stuck drowning in their own stubbornness, and Miami evacuated as the Triad go about their globe trotting ways, there's a new center of the NBA universe. Maybe Calipari isn't emperor of this kingdom, and he's just the friendly father figure he makes himself out to be. It doesn't change the fact that the future of the NBA flows through Lexington, and it's Calipari tending the waters.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:57 pm
By Matt Moore
Glen Davis had such a great regular season.
Glen Davis had such a terrible postseason.
As such, things are a little confusing as him as he sits through the lockout as an unrestricted free agent. There was a lot of talk during the Celtics' unceremonious exit from the playoffs about Davis' performance. He looked out of shape, lost, and failed to make a significant impact as the Celtics were thrown from the fold by the Heat. With Jeff Green's restricted free agency status assured with Boston's commitment to him, the thought was that Davis would want out just as much, after clashes with Doc Rivers and management. But at a recent appearance with Rajon Rondo at a charity event, Davis made it clear he wants to keep the green on. From the Boston Globe:
But today, Davis said he wants to come back and wants to clear any ill feelings with Ainge and coach Doc Rivers. Of course, that is impossible during the NBA lockout because players are not allowed to contact team officials.via Celtics' Davis considering overseas opportunities - Boston.com.
Davis was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for much of the season, and was a big part of why the Celtics lead the East for much of the year. But Davis tends to rely on his mid-range jumper too much, and because of his contributions to a contending team, he'll be overvalued in free agency. The Celtics may simply not have the room, especially if they plan on a big 2012 with that free agency class as many expect them to.
It's surprising to hear Davis talk so openly about a potential rift with his coach and front office, but at least he's being publicly contrite and not absolving himself of the blame. At the same time, where Davis winds up taking charges and looking goofy next year willd depend on the money, not personalities.
Interesting sidenote: The Globe reports Davis has lost a significant amount of weight. That could be a game changer for his free agency prospects if he can keep the weight off until free agency starts... whenever that will be.
Posted on: July 28, 2011 9:08 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 9:21 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The University of Kentucky's basketball program is practically a professional program already, spitting out lottery picks in large quantities year after year.
But some of those lottery picks are coming back home and their presence could take the school's basketball program up another notch.
Kentucky coach John Calipari tweeted on Thursday night that three NBA point guards who played for Kentucky will head back to Lexington if the lockout continues. "John Wall, Rajon Rondo & Eric Bledsoe all plan to enroll in the fall if the lockout continues," Calipari tweeted. "Kaboom!"
KentuckySportsRadio.com reported that the move could allow the trio -- point guards for the Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively -- to get some court time in with the current Wildcats. "Calipari announces that John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Rajon Rondo will all enroll at UK in the fall if lockout proceeds," the site reported. "What does that mean? Well, Wall, Bledsoe and Rondo are all eligible to be "Student Assistant coaches", which means practice with the team... Wall, Rondo and Bledsoe would have to be full-time students to be Student Assistants, but rumor is that is the plan."
A Lex18.com report quotes free agent forward Tayshaun Prince saying other NBA players could be following suit.
"Whether it's mid to late August or early September, I think some guys will start to roll in," he said.There are a lot of winners in this unique situation.
First, any NBA player who goes back to complete work on his degree is automatically a winner. Kudos to Wall, Rondo and Bledsoe for considering that step even after each has banked millions of dollars. That these three have chosen to do that while finding a home to work on their game and stay fit is a no-brainer, win-win.
Calipari, of course, is a winner, as the presence of an All-Star point guard, a Rookie of the Year candidate and a promising future starter on campus and in the gym only raises his already insanely-high profile as a mover and shaker in the basketball world and provides his current roster, which sports four potential first round picks in the 2012 NBA draft, with elite leadership and competition. Kentucky freshman point guard Marquis Teague, in particular, wins here too with three new mentors. Who better to answer his freshman questions than Wall, Rondo and Bledsoe?
The losers here are anyone that still believes in the purity of amateurism as well as any coaches that have to compete with Calipari for NBA-ready recruits. His factory just gets more and more refined by the season. Love him or hate him, his innovations and ability to find a competitive advantage are remarkable.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 12:00 am
By Matt Moore
The Boston Celtics' success runs on chemistry. Versus the Heat's model of running on athleticism and swagger, or the Lakers' model of running on confidence and length, the Celtics found almost immediately after Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett arrived that they were best driven by a sense of united purpose. It helped build a family atmosphere in Boston and a closeness with the players. They weren't just teammates, they were brothers.
You know, until Danny Ainge ditched Kendrick Perkins for a forward who doesn't rebound and Nenad Krstic who is coming to a European team near you. That didn't so much preach a sense of family to the players. And as a result, the team reacted in a devastated manner when Perkins was sent to Oklahoma City. It visibly and deeply affected them, and to assert that it was a distraction for the rest of the season is not out of line. So much so that Rajon Rondo, in an interview with Yahoo! Sports, claims that it affected the Celtics too much.
Rondo refused to use injuries as an excuse for losing in the second round of the playoffs to the Miami Heat. But he also believes the trade of Perkins, his closest friend on the team, affected the Celtics “more than it should have.”via Celtics' roster could get new look - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.
While I'm sure Celtics fans would rather the team have reached this conclusion before they exploded in a blaze of sadness, in reality, Perkins wasn't what did them in against the Heat. James and Wade dropping pull-up 3-pointers wouldn't have been stopped by Perkins. They ran out of steam against a very good team with a lot of talent. But maybe that was the real cost of the Perkins trade. The Celtics needed energy, and the trade emotionally exhausted them.
It's good that Rondo can admit that they should have moved on, but for a kid that comes off as cynical to begin with, you have to wonder just how much further down the rabbit hole this trade has sent Rondo.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:29 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
It's one thing to be great on the court. It's one thing to be famous. It's one thing to be marketable. It's one thing to be respected.
But how do we throw all those attributes together? How do we determine which of the NBA's brightest stars are the most well-rounded? How do we put our finger on which stars capture the imagination, drop jaws and tug on the heart strings?
It's an impossible task, but that didn't stop the Eye On Basketball staff from trying. Over the last week, we pinpointed five characteristics that combine to make NBA players likeable: "Ballin' Ability" (how good a guy is as a player), "Winning Attitude" (how dedicated he is to the game), "Talking Softly" (how he comes across in public comments), "Commerical Appeal" (how visible he is in advertisements) and "Public Works" (charitable contributions and other character-defining achievements).
Our panel of four experts ranked every member of the 2011 All-Star teams on a 1-5 scale in each of these five categories. We then added up all the scores to get a ranking on a 1 to 100 scale. The higher the number, the more likeable the player. Pretty simple stuff.
Without further ado, here are the CBSSports.com 2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings, from worst (least likeable) to first (most likeable).
24. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks: Johnson’s unassuming personality and solid perimeter game don’t stand much of a chance here due to his relatively invisible national profile and his team’s lack of playoff success. Score: 44
23. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: Horford suffers from the same low-profile problem as Johnson but is perceived as more of a winner because he took home NCAA hardware at the University of Florida, and his game is predicated on doing whatever it takes to get the job done rather than jacking jumpers. Score: 48
22. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: Bosh is intelligent, articulate and gentle off the court and a versatile talent on the court, so he should be pretty likeable, at least in theory. His goofiness -- the photo shoots, the secret wedding, the screaming at the preseason parade -- has become off-putting now that he’s teamed up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. His status as the league’s most obvious punch line hurts him here. A lot. Score: 54
T-20. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Still just a half-touch too far up the “might be crazy” scale to be totally likeable at this point in his career. Westbrook is still stuck in Kevin Durant’s shadow, although he showed with his fearless play in the 2011 postseason that he might one day eclipse KD in terms of sheer star power. Could be a fast riser in future renditions of these rankings, especially if he can cut down his turnovers and shake a developing reputation as a bit of a late-game ball hog. Saying something interesting after a game once in a while wouldn't hurt either. Score: 55
T-20. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Much like the Lakers, Gasol took a step back in prominence this season when he didn’t show up as expected -- and as needed -- in the postseason. His gangly frame isn’t particularly marketable, at least not here in the United States, and while he is a true professional when it comes to the media, he’s known first and foremost as Kobe Bryant’s on-again, off-again punching bag. Score: 55
19. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: More than anyone else on this list, Rondo genuinely doesn’t care what you think about him. He can come across as curt and moody, and doesn’t expend much energy playing the media game. His authenticity can’t be questioned, but it does keep casual fans at arm’s length. Score: 58
18. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: An egoless star on an egoless team in an egoless organization in a relatively small market, Ginobili has never sought the bright lights. Even after all these years, the average fan doesn’t have much of a connection with him. There’s nothing not to like, but nothing that reaches out and grabs you either. Score: 59
17. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams gets bonus points for his amazing annual dodgeball tournament and rose to a new level of renown this year thanks to a blockbuster trade and a trailblazing deal with Besiktas in Turkey. The rumored spats with Jerry Sloan that surfaced when the legendary Utah Jazz coach abruptly retired briefly painted a very unlikable picture, although that didn’t seem to bother him too much. Score: 61
16. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: Beloved in Boston, Pierce’s personal likeability suffers a bit nationally because he’s almost always talked about as one of Boston’s Big Three, with Kevin Garnett usually getting top billing. He's a bit past his prime, which surely costs him some spots on this list. Score: 62
15. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: Allen is pretty much in the same boat as Pierce, although he’s got an energetic mother (the ever-present Flo), a picture-perfect jump shot and an unforgettable silver screen performance (Jesus Shuttlesworth) to give him a bit of a boost. Score: 64
14. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love is the anti-Rondo, fully embracing the media attention, putting his self-deprecating humor to full display whenever possible. He’s blogged, starred in viral videos and, let’s not forget, put up mammoth statistics through sheer hard work amidst a dysfunctional mess of a team. All while remaining sane. No easy task. Score: 65
T-12. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics: Thanks to his on-court bullying antics and incessant trash talk, Garnett is as polarizing as anyone in the league, save LeBron James. But his reputation as a winner was sealed by Boston’s title, he’s been a fixture on the national endorsement circuit for years and his overwhelming competitive desire helps cover up some of the ugliness. Score: 66
T-12. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: Near the top of his game and playing in a major media market, Stoudemire keeps the dunks and quotes coming, so everyone stays happy. The fact that he abandoned Steve Nash immediately following a Western Conference Finals playoff run to take more money without catching any flak for it is a testament to how he’s carved out a major place in the nation’s heart in his own, quirky way. Score: 66
11. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: Anthony’s steady focus during a half-season-long free agency and trade whirlwind last year won him a lot of goodwill, as does the fact that he’s put millions of dollars into both Syracuse University and Baltimore. Based on talent alone, Anthony should probably be higher on this list, but wife LaLa and his lack of playoff success hold him back. Score: 68
10. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin is still enjoying the “new-car smell” phase of his NBA fame. His audacious take-offs, explosive leaping and vicious finishing are so unique for a player his size that nobody much cares that he didn’t make the playoffs and still has a ways to go to fill out an all-around game. The centerpiece of All-Star Weekend in his very first visit, he’s got endorsements by the boatload and is arguably on the verge of over-exposure. He’s still a little stiff, but that seems to be fading. Once he gets a few playoff series wins under his belt, look for Griffin to be a perennial top-5 member on this list. Score: 71
9. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Duncan has been so good for so long -- and won so much -- that the respect factor afforded him is significant enough to make up for a bland, sometimes robotic, personality. Duncan can be subtly hilarious and occasionally sharp-tongued with the media. He is also unfailingly classy. Score: 72
8. LeBron James, Miami Heat: He should be No. 1 on every NBA list ever made given his otherworldly talent and global-marketing-machine status, but James drops hard in terms of likeability due to his late-game failures in the 2011 NBA Finals, his out-of-touch comments towards fans following the Heat's eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the self-unaware “Decision” and his overall child-star cockiness/obliviousness. Even given all of that, no one would be surprised if winning a title vaulted him to the top of this list next year. His talent is that absurd. Score: 74
7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: You might have heard: Rose is humble. The 2011 MVP has so much going for him: He’s won at an early age, he’s winning for his hometown team, he’s lived up to expectations, he’s taken responsibility for losses and shared credit for victories, he’s managed to be a scoring point guard without getting written off as “selfish,” and he kept a safe distance from all the free agency politicking that soured a lot of fans on many top-name players last summer. He continues to battle his “shy” public nature, which is the only thing holding him back from much, much greater fame. Score: 79
6. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: Paul checks off virtually every box on the likeability list. He’s cutthroat on the court and cuddly off of it. He’s raised loads of money for Hurricane Katrina relief. He’s a devout man without being preachy. He comes across as a caring father and thoughtful citizen. He’s -- so far -- steered clear of hijacking his franchise by demanding a trade or threatening to walk in free agency. The touching story of his love for his deceased grandfather has become an indelible part of his identity. And he is team-first, always. There’s so much to like that you actually hope he finds a better situation, where he will be able to fill out his playoff reputation. Score: 81
5. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: This is the top of the mountain for Nowitzki, both on and off the court. It simply doesn’t get any better than captaining a balanced team through a marathon playoff run that ended with the demolition of the league’s most hated team. The cherry on top is the fact that Nowitzki came through in the clutch time and again. He’s put an ugly past relationship totally behind him, moving forward with a new fiancé. His personality with the media is easy-going and honest. He plays with a childish love of the game and hits shots that make you marvel. It’s hard to imagine another seven-foot German man gaining this level of acceptance and respect in the United States. Ever. Also, he’s squashed the “soft” label that haunted him for years. Score: 84
4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Howard has deftly positioned himself as the heir apparent to Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most likeable NBA stars in recent memory. His dominant two-way play serves as the basis for a superhero persona, and his active online presence and numerous endorsement deals make his zany personality inescapable. The fact that he hasn’t committed to the Magic and could be headed for a free agency bonanza could cost him points down the road, but right now he’s still the giant, lovable teddy bear who can swat shots back to half court. Score: 85
T-2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: It was a shocking scene when Wade joined James in mocking Nowitzki during the Finals for being sick: A very flat note for someone who has historically been pitch perfect. Throughout his career, Wade has been a Teflon Don, particularly charmed as a player and as an endorser. With a title under his belt and a megawatt smile, Wade has displayed a good sense of humor for years as a pitchman and also been a staple on NBA Cares commercials. Both James and Bosh lost points last summer for their decision to team up in Miami, but Wade came off as a big winner, the cool older-brother figure who pulled off the recruiting haul of a lifetime. Score: 87
T-2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Colorado sure feels like a long, long time ago, doesn’t it? Bryant has made the most of the second half of his NBA career, winning rings by the fistful and growing his international popularity immensely. He’s played through pain, done things his way, taken a direct, often profane, tone with the media and become the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan. Age is slowly advancing, which has a way of humanizing people, and yet his ego and force of will push back equally hard, making it seem, at least for now, that his reign on top will last as long as he chooses. Right now, he’s the NBA’s most mythical figure. Score: 87
1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s virtually impossible to find fault with the NBA’s scoring champ. Durant combines Rose’s humble nature, Nowitzki’s impossible scoring touch, Griffin’s “new-car smell,” Howard’s technological accessibility and a Bryant-esque work ethic. He’s polite, he’s shown he has what it takes to win in the playoffs at a young age, he’s popular on an international stage already and the best is yet to come. He’s confident, but not cocky. He’s a gunner, but he comes off as unselfish. He’s team-first and loyal, much like Paul, and he’s locked in long-term so there’s no doubt or question about his future motives (at least not yet). Put it all together, and Durant is enjoying the ultimate honeymoon period with the NBA fans. We love potential, and Durant still has plenty of that. Also, he wears a backpack. Score: 88
Tags: Al Horford, Amar'e Stoudemire, Ben Golliver, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan
Posted on: May 12, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 7:43 pm
The Boston Celtics are reportedly negotiating a multi-year contract offer with coach Doc Rivers. Posted by Ben Golliver.
One day after the Boston Celtics were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Miami Heat, the Associated Press is reporting that the team is looking to secure coach Doc Rivers to a long-term contract.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations says the Boston Celtics and coach Doc Rivers are working on a deal that would keep him on their bench for multiple years. The deal is for “more than two or three years,” the person told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the details were still being worked out.With an aging core and the rise of younger, more athletic competitors, it's no surprise that the Celtics are looking for a measure of stability. Indeed, we noted earlier that Celtics president Danny Ainge is considering major rotation changes -- such as sending Paul Pierce to the bench -- and admitted that he would trade one of Boston's Big Three if a favorable trade came along.
In other words, it could be a choppy few years for the team as it works to reload, and possibly rebuild. The good news: It's clear from comments made to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger that Rivers wants to stick around. For the Celtics, keeping Rivers in place would not only provide a steady, trusted hand but could also serve as a potential lure for free agents.
But, really, it's the continuity factor driving this decision. Locking up Rivers gives the Celtics a solid slice of an identity during what could be a major roster overhaul. Whichever players stick around will need someone they trust. Whichever players are brought in will need someone that carries a massive respect factor. Rivers fulfills both categories, so if a reasonable financial agreement can be worked out, why not?
Posted on: May 12, 2011 6:27 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Less than 24 hours removed from a disappointing Game 5 and series loss to the Heat, the Celtics are in a mode of reflection. And potentially in a mode of transition.
Doc Rivers has indicated he wants to return next year but with the team aging and the roster a bit in question, some are curious as to where the Celtics are headed from here. The man at the front of that ship is general manager Danny Ainge who spoke to WEEI in an interview Thursday. He had a lot to say, most of it pretty intriguing.
On maybe changing the starting lineup:
"Maybe there’s a change of roles. Maybe Paul [Pierce] comes off the bench, cuts down on his minutes. Maybe we find a way to get Jeff [Green] more minutes. His role will expand if he’s back here next year. There’s no question about that ... "
"It wouldn’t totally shock me if there’s a change in the starting lineup, but that’s just way too tough to tell."That's right, Ainge said the idea of bringing Paul Pierce off the bench is on the table. The indication there with Green is that maybe he becomes the starter. Of course that means Green returns to the team next season, which is in question as he's a restricted free agent this summer.
On that Ainge said the team would put up Green's qualifying offer, but the market will ultimately determine if the Celtics bring back Green.
On the possibility of trading one of the Big Three:
"I would have to look into that if a good trade came about." Ainge has said that before, reportedly flirting with trading Ray Allen a year ago. He wasn't afraid to pull the trigger on dealing Kendrick Perkins and Ainge is always looking long-term. He knows the window is starting to close on the Celtics and that Allen, Pierce and Kevin Garnett won't be there forever.
On the possibility of trading Rondo:
"Probably not. I can’t ever say never, but that’s not our plan right now, probably not." By the sounds of it, Ainge is committed to building around Rondo for the future. Maybe a Rondo, Jeff Green core? Who knows.
Ainge's biggest regret of the season:
Surprisingly, it's not the Perkins trade that was so widely criticized. Instead, it was letting a player walk in free agency.
"I would have fought harder to bring Tony Allen back," Ainge said. "We tried to sign Tony, we tried to come within our rules of staying in our two-year program. I think that Tony would have helped us.
"We offered Tony a two-year deal out of the gate, but then when Memphis showed him some love and he started thinking about the idea of more playing time ... Then, he wanted a change of scenery."
Ainge was also asked about Rivers' future with the organization and Ainge said he thinks Rivers would like a "Jerry Sloan type coach" meaning he stayed with one organization for a long time. That seems to contrast most of what we've all heard with Rivers, but with him saying "I'm a Celtic" last night after the game, it seems like he doesn't see himself patrolling another bench for a while.
This Celtics season is going to be one that's talked about for a long time. The big blockbuster trade at the deadline that tested the team's chemistry and togetherness. The injuries to key players. The battle against age and an upcoming supertrio. Most want to put a bow on the Celtics as we know them and while it sounds like Ainge is ready and willing to move parts, I'd think this core has at least one more run left in them.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 1:50 am
Edited on: May 12, 2011 2:42 am
Grades for the Heat and Celtics after the Heat's 4-1 series win to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Posted by Matt Moore
The biggest series of the playoffs is over, and the juggernaut created by "The Decision" in free agency 2010 downed the UBUNTU machine. Grades seem like they don't do this series justice, but we've got to get some perspective.
LeBron James: If the 2007 series against the Detroit Pistons was when LeBron James truly announced to the world that he had arrived, the 2011 series against the Celtics may have been the one where he showed how much he's learned. It wasn't the mos impressive series from a statistical standpoint, but the way James closed, especially Game 5, makes it feel like it. James didn't hog the ball, didn't go ISO too much, hit big shots, worked with his teammates, and became the emotional leader the Heat needed him to be. He had a rough Game 3, but responded to close out the Celtis. And, oh, yeah, this time no one will say he quit in a Game 5.
Dwyane Wade: Wade struggled in the playoffs last year, and especially this regular season versus the Celtics. They were a plague on the game of his house. But in this series, Wade wiped it all away. Never scoring fewer than 23 points, Wade was a beast. He dominated Game 1 and Game 5. His Game 5 was particularly brilliant. For three quarters, LeBron James couldn't get his scoring on track. Wade kept the Heat in it with timely play and amazing score after amazing score. He blocked Kevin Garnett. He made a wild reverse over his head for the and-one. He did everything you need your franchise player to do and eventually contained Ray Allen. LeBron James may have won the game for the Heat, but Dwyane Wade put him in a position to do so.
Chris Bosh: Is this the series where Chris Bosh starts to make himself into a known player? Before the series, I was dangerously close to writing a post called Shark Bait: Chris Bosh and detailing all the ways Kevin Garnett would destroy him. After a surprisingly strong Game 4, Garnett came out swinging in Game 5. Bosh looked overrun, again. Bosh finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, one point less than Garnett and tied in boards. He made huge plays, kept the ball alive, and hit a few open looks. It wasn't a great series from Bosh, but he definitively wasn't the weakpoint. He was good enough to get the Heat a win.
Heat supporting cast: This series proved that you really can beat the Celtics with three guys. Mario Chalmers didn't play consistently enough to get time, Mike Bibby continued his disappointing play, Mike Miller still couldn't hit a barn door with a shotgun, Joel Anthony had a few nice moments but also dropped passes and failed to capitalize on opportunities, James Jones had a hot start but then faded back into the background (though his 3-pointer in Game 5 was huge). There's a million ways we could call into question if the Heat can win with getting such little support from the rest of their players... but they just beat the Celtics.
Grade: C (passing only in that they did not prevent the Heat from winning)
Miami fans: In the name of all that chants "D-Fence," are you going to show up at any point, South Beach? You're embarrassing us as sports fans at this point. Go to the game, already!
Rajon Rondo: Rondo played through the dislocated arm. Rondo wasn't playing terrific prior to that. Rondo made huge plays with that busted wing. Rondo was also such a defensive liability that he had to be benched at the end of games due to the injury. Rondo's no-show in the first two games helped put Boston in an inescapable hole. Rondo's effort in Games 3, 4, and 5 was good enough that if healthy, you could have seen the Celtics taking the series lead, let alone avoiding a gentleman's sweep. We'll never know what Rondo would have been like if he hadn't been injured. But based on what we saw, we got all sides of Rondo, the good and the bad.
Kevin Garnett: Garnett was owned in three and a half games of this series. He had a brilliant Game 3, but never really established himself against Bosh as he should have. He came out gangbusters in Game 5, determined to make his mark. Then he completely vanished after the first quarter. Garnett had to take over in order to keep his legacy as an impact player alive. He didn't. And now he's headed home, with people struggling to understand how Chris Bosh outplayed the great Kevin Garnett. He probably yelled a lot, too.
Paul Pierce: If any player showed his age in this series, it was Pierce. Pierce continually tried to put the team on his back, and continually found himself being outdueled by James. He put the effort in, but the ability just wasn't there. Turnovers were a huge problem. He scored under 20 points three times in the series. The Celtics needed a hero. They got the Half-Truth.
Ray Allen: Allen clearly had significant problems with communicating with Rondo in the second half of this season, and the problems only increased in this series. Allen would go long stretches getting no shots, then heat up, then disappear. Allen finally warmed up in Game 5. He was the one Celtic to really go down swinging, but Dwyane Wade's defense was just too much for him.
Glen Davis: Glen Davis was a sixth man of the year candidate for much of the season. He was an outright disaster versus the Heat. He rarely drew charges, bobbled passes, too often settled for his jumper, failed to commit defensively, and didn't finish at the rim. All the Celtics lost on this series. Bug given Davis' free agency status, he may have lost more.
Jeff Green: Hey, nine points and three rebounds in 23 minutes! That's pretty good! ... Okay, yeah, Green had two huge turnovers at the end of the game and was a huge reason the Celtics fell apart down the stretch. Green is destined to be ruined by the scrutiny of the Kendrick Perkins trade. Which is a shame, because he shouldn't have been asked to take on the responsibility of being the next great Celtics this early, at midseason. But them's the breaks. And it broke bad for Jeff Green.
Celtics supporting cast: The Celtics' supporting cast wasn't terrible. It really wasn't. It played fine. But no one stepped up enough to make an impact except Delonte West, who inevitably tried to to do too much eventually.
Doc Rivers: You can't coach your players younger. Rivers made smart adjustments, tried different players, different rotations, the works. Rivers did his job. There just wasn't any way to coach this team up to where it needed to be.
Danny Ainge: Sorry, Danny. Trading Perkins may have been right for the future financials of the Celtics. Green's future may be bright. But you traded Perkins, the heart and soul of the Celtics, and though he may not have helped at all versus the Heat, we'll never know. That's how history is judged, unfortunately.
Tags: 2011 Celtics-Heat, 2011 EC Conference Semifinals, 2011 EC Playoffs, 2011 Heat-Celtics, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, Boston Celtics, Celtics-Heat, Chris Bosh, Conference Semifinals, Danny Ainge, Delonte West, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade, EC Playoffs, Eddie House, Erick Dampier, Erik Spoelstra, Glen Davis, Heat-Celtics, James Jones, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Joel Anthony, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat, Mike Bibby, Mike Miller, NBA Playoffs, Nenad Krstic, Pat Riley, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, second-round playoffs, Shaquille O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas