Tag Archives: chris wilcox

Celtics Have Many Questions in Summer

Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett (right) may have played their last game in a Celtics uniform.

Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett (right) may have played their last game in a Celtics uniform.

 

As the Boston Celtics head into the off-season, they have many questions to answer. The first is whether they should retain captain Paul Pierce?

Pierce could make $15.3 million this season unless the Celtics buy out Pierce for $5 million. If the Celtics choose to buy out Pierce, they will have to do it by June 30th. The issue is that the Celtics are already committed to $76 million for next season. If they buy out Pierce, they still do not have a lot of money to spend since they save just $10 million and they are already over the salary cap (likely to be in the neighborhood of $59 million). If the Celtics do cut ties with their franchise cornerstone, this could lead to Kevin Garnett also leaving the franchise. Garnett said after the Game 6 loss to the New York Knicks that his future is tied with Pierce. Head coach Doc Rivers left the door open  to the possibility of leaving the Celtics in his postgame press conference on Friday.

The free agent and draft class is very weak this summer so it will be tough to rebuild this off-season. This leaves trades as the only potential avenue to upgrade the 2013-’14 roster. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge was unable to ship Pierce or Garnett off at the trade deadline because he was asking for a significant return.

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Celtics’ Mediocrity Shows in Both Losses to Knicks

Celtics forward Jeff Green has been unable to get past Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.

Celtics forward Jeff Green has been unable to get past Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.

Is the debate about the Boston Celtics being better without Rajon Rondo this year over? Whether or not the Celtics are a different team for better or worse without Rondo is irrelevant because the Celtics have played like a mediocre team throughout the 2012-’13 season. They have been particularly poor on the road.

Bill Parcells used a line that fits the predicament well, “You are what your record says you are.” The Celtics finished the season just one game above .500, which means they are capable of playing well, but they are not a championship-caliber unit. They finished with the worst road record of all the teams who reached the postseason with a record of 14-27.

In the first two postseason games at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, the Celtics’ holes have emerged. They have scored a combined 48 points in the second half of Games 1 and 2 because they rely too much on Paul Pierce to break down the defense to create his own shot. Even when they were 14-4 in the first 18 games without Rondo, the Celtics would give up big leads in the fourth quarter because they would just believe Pierce would save them on offense. The Celtics are shooting jumpers, turning the ball over, and suffering defensive breakdowns.

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Brandon Bass’ Improved Play in Celtics’ Bigger Lineup

With the return of Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics forward could get more opportunities to drive toward the basket.

With the return of Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass could get more opportunities to drive toward the basket.

Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass has improved his play since Doc Rivers inserted Chris Wilcox in the starting lineup for the 93-92 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 27th.

Over the last eight games, Bass has scored in double figures in seven of those contests. The 108-89 loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 31st was the only game where Bass scored just 2 points. During this span, Bass has been more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket when the lane is open. He is knocking down his mid-range jumper consistently.

The most impressive part about Bass’ recent play has been the fact that the team is not calling plays for him. He is scoring with hustle and energy.

During this stretch, Bass has shot 46-of-83 from the floor and is averaging 13.9 points per game with five rebounds.

When Danny Ainge announced that Kevin Garnett would be out for a couple of weeks with inflammation in his ankle, Rivers continued to use a small lineup with Bass as the center. The Celtics got out-worked at home by the Knicks, who employed an equally small lineup with Kenyon Martin as the center. The Knicks had 15 offensive rebounds which led to 29 second chance points that night. On the following night Rivers put in Wilcox with Paul Pierce at the other guard spot alongside Avery Bradley. Jeff Green was used on the wing. Bass poured in 22 points against the Cavaliers.

When Bass hasn’t been shooting well, his game suffers on both ends of the court because he has trouble defending bigger guys in the paint. He became more communicative in the absence of Garnett on the defensive end. The Celtics continued to allow opponents to dominate the paint without Garnett, but Bass had been reluctant to even talk on the defensive side of the floor in the past.

While Bass had shown glimpses such as the 91-79 defeat in Oklahoma City against the Thunder in which he compiled 13 rebounds (including five offensive rebounds). Bass  had yet to maintain consistent efforts until recently.

Since Garnett returned on Sunday against the Washington Wizards, the Celtics starting unit has become even more dangerous. Bradley, Green, Pierce, and Bass were already playing well with the offensively-challenged Wilcox on the floor. With Garnett back, the lane could be open more frequently with Garnett setting up in the high post or taking the other team’s center out of the paint to defend his jump shot. Defensively, the Celtics have their leader back on the floor and they will not allow teams to get as many second and third chances against them. Garnett frees up the other players to get rebounds by just being active on the glass.

If the Celtics are to make a deep run in the postseason, they will need Bass to provide energy on both ends of the court.

Celtics Can Battle Heat For Eastern Conference Supremacy

Forward Jeff Green nearly carried the Boston Celtics to a win over the Miami Heat.

Forward Jeff Green nearly carried the Boston Celtics to a win over the Miami Heat.

The Boston Celtics showed they still provide problems for the Miami Heat on Monday night even without Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett on the floor. Despite the consensus that the Celtics are an aging, slow team, they showed that they can match the Heat by pushing the ball up the floor and beating the Heat in transition.

In the past, both Rondo and Garnett gave Erik Spoelstra and the Heat coaching staff fits because the Heat did not have anyone who could defend them even in a half-court offense. If Spoelstra put LeBron James on Rondo, then Rondo would be able to find a smaller defender such as Mario Chalmers on Paul Pierce or getting screened to free up former Celtic Ray Allen.

Jeff Green rose to the occasion in the 105-103 loss to the Heat on Monday and gave Celtics fans a glimpse of what could have been if Green did not have an aortic aneurysm in his heart last year. Like Rondo, Green can match the athleticism and size of James and Dwyane Wade. Green is 6-9, 235-pounds with the ability to be a top player in the NBA. These intangibles were why then-Seattle SuperSonics and current Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti traded Allen for Green during the NBA Draft in 2007. Green has never been an aggressive scorer despite leading Georgetown to the Final Four in 2007. When the Thunder could not afford to keep Green, Presti sent him back to the Celtics for Kendrick Perkins in 2011. What Green gave the Celtics on Monday night is exactly what Danny Ainge and former Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan were saying when they received the most talented player in that deal. The Thunder may have benefited in the short term with Perkins’ interior defense and the lunch-pail mentality that he brings to the court. The Celtics were just unlucky with Green’s heart condition or else they could have went to the NBA Finals last year.

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Celtics Add Three Players For Roster Depth

Boston Celtics like Terrence Williams' court vision.

The Boston Celtics like Terrence Williams’ court vision.

The Boston Celtics have continued to make roster moves after the trade deadline ended on February 21st. They signed Terrence Williams to a deal for the rest of this season with a conditional option for the 2013-’14 season and they brought in forwards D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph on 10-day contracts.

Since the Celtics were down to 10 players on the roster, including Fab Melo, they were relegated to taking players who were competing overseas or in the NBA Development League. Randolph, White, and Williams all played in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Williams was a lottery pick (11th overall in 2009) for the then-New Jersey Nets out of Louisville. The 6-foot-6-inch forward dealt with maturity issues and was sent to the NBADL by ex-Nets coach Avery Johnson. He was eventually released by the Nets in 2011 and he played sparingly for the Houston Rockets. Then the Sacramento Kings claimed Williams off waivers and he played in just 13 games for the Kings. The Celtics like Williams’ size at the guard position and playmaking skills. Williams has seen the court in five games for the Celtics since he was initially signed to a 10-day contract on February 18th. He has also missed two games because of a Coach’s Decision. Williams is averaging 2.6 points per game with 1.6 assists.

White saw four minutes of action in the 83-81 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. He contributed with two blocks and he attempted just one shot. The 6-10 forward out of Indiana University was also a first round selection (29th overall) by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. White has played four years in the league. After his minutes dropped off in his second and third seasons with the Thunder, he was let go. The Charlotte Bobcats scooped White off the waiver wire. He played in 24 games in 2010-’11 for the Bobcats where he averaged 19.4 minutes per game and 8.5 points to go with 4.4 rebounds. In 2011-’12, White played in 58 of the 66-game shortened season and he started 11 of those games. His numbers decreased across the board. The veteran can be a solid depth player with his athleticism and he can help the Celtics inside the paint. He played for the Shanghai Sharks after he was unsigned by an NBA team.

Randolph came from Duke University and he was undrafted. He has bounced around the league for five seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Miami Heat.  The 6-foot-10-inch forward has not played in the NBA since 2009-’10. Randolph averaged 32 points and 14.5 rebounds in 28 games for the Foshan Long Lions of the CBA. Randolph has yet to enter a game for the Celtics because he was signed last Friday.

Williams could have an expanded role as he learns the Celtics’ schemes. He also practiced for the Celtics last summer. Meanwhile White’s mid-range jump shot could help the Celtics if Kevin Garnett or Chris Wilcox is out of the game. Randolph is another player whose size could be useful in case the Celtics need him. Both White and Randolph are trying out with the team.

Celtics Will Not Be Sellers At Trade Deadline

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett dictates where he wants to go with his no-trade clause.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett dictates where he wants to go with his no-trade clause.

This is the season for trade rumors and speculation to be at its all-time peak with the deadline approaching. Like every year, the Boston Celtics will be in the middle of the activity.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Celtics will not be sellers on February 21st, 2013. Besides Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics do not have valuable trade chips other than Avery Bradley and possibly Courtney Lee.

The Celtics do not have many players with expiring contracts other than Pierce, who has a player option that is guaranteed at $4 million for next year. The other expiring contracts are for role players such as Leandro Barbosa, Jason Collins, and Chris Wilcox who won’t net much in return. Teams around the league will have to take on contracts for multiple years. The NBA rules state that trades must match salaries.

Garnett is one of four players (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki) to have a no-trade clause in his contract. Since Garnett is fiercely loyal, especially to Doc Rivers, it would be hard for the Celtics to deal him away. Remember before the Celtics traded for Garnett in the summer of 2007, Garnett refused to come to Boston until the Celtics traded for Ray Allen to join Pierce.

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