Boston Celtics: Free Agency
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on Wednesday that he's spoken with free agent guard Ray Allen and believes he is "open" to returning to Boston for another season.
Ainge can't technically discuss a new contract with Allen until July 1, per NBA rules, but he said he has been able to get a feel for where Allen may be leaning.
"Yeah, I think Ray's open to coming back," Ainge said. "But, listen, I don't know. I won't even get into details with talking to players other than the exit interviews and Ray was getting rehab here, and we've talked. So I have a feel of where his head is, but I'll know more in July."
Allen, who's been reportedly linked to several other teams, including the Miami Heat, underwent right ankle surgery on June 13 to have bone spurs removed. While the rehab period gave Ainge extra time to speak with Allen, he said they hadn't broken into talks of a new contract.
"I have had conversations with Ray, yes," Ainge said. "Not contract-specific, but just sort of what his hopes and future [are], what he thinks about our team and would he like to come back and all those types of things. But I haven't had any more specifics and on July 1 we'll talk more to Ray."
On the same day the Celtics introduced O'Neal to the Boston media, Harangody, the Celtics' second-round draft choice (52nd overall) this year, quietly inked a guaranteed two-year deal valued at $1.3 million.
After O'Neal's press conference on the practice court at the Sports Authority Training Center at Health Point, Celtics public relations czar Jeff Twiss informed the media that Harangody would be available for questions. O'Neal could be seen turning to coach Doc Rivers and asking, "Who?"
Harangody plans to make his name known, even on a team full of future Hall of Famers like O'Neal.
"Seeing Shaq today, I was kinda in awe a little bit -- starstruck -- but at the same time, I gotta come in the gym everyday," said Harangody. "We’re teammates now. There’s future Hall of Fame players, but you still gotta come in and give the same effort, no matter who’s in on the floor."
Harangody's signing maxes the Celtics' roster out at 15 players signed for the 2010-11 season (though that number includes Rasheed Wallace, who Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge hinted will be bought out before the start of training camp with Wallace set to retire). For the rookie out of Notre Dame, it's a relief to have a deal in place as Boston's roster filled up quickly this offseason.
"It’s a great feeling," said Harangody. "It’s a little bit of job security, especially being guaranteed. I can kind of sleep easy at night. And for it to be officially signed is also a great feeling as well."
Harangody may have essentially played his way into a contract this summer, raising eyebrows throughout Boston's five-game slate at the AirTran Summer League in Orlando (with Ainge and Rivers on hand for the show). He's still got a scar under his left eye from a collision during one game, but it's a nice reminder of his grit. He noted Tuesday that he, "put in the work and basically got a contract," and when talking about his solid showing behind the NBA 3-point arc, admitted he "surprised a lot of people, probably just except myself."
Rivers admitted that was true.
"I don't know [his role], hell he's a rookie, but he can play, I can tell you that," said Rivers. "He can shoot the ball and stretch the floor. He shot the ball extremely well in summer league from behind the NBA 3-point line, which I didn't know he could do, honestly, watching him in college. I didn't know he had the range.
"He's going to be player in this league. He's quirky offensively, and he had to figure out a way of scoring by not being dominant athletically. I love players like that, because that means they play with their heads. That's the type of player that makes it in this league, so that will be good for us."
We’ll have live updates and video from the always-entertaining Shaq on Tuesday morning.
Now maybe it's time for a real retreat.
Boston's addition of another impact big man is the latest check mark on Ainge's offseason to-do list. The Celtics' roster is at a point where the team could sign second-round draft choice Luke Harangody -- an anticipated move that would bring Boston to the maximum of 15 players under contract for next season -- and call it an offseason, yet still be comfortable heading into training camp in October.
Yes, there remains the lingering uncertainty about what exactly the team plans to do with Rasheed Wallace. But having not only reassembled but reloaded (borrowing last year's catchphrase) a roster that came six minutes shy of winning a world title in June, Ainge and the Celtics can maintain their wait-and-see approach with Wallace's contract and simply monitor what develops moving forward, particularly as other teams finalize their rosters.
That's a luxury that's been afforded the team by not needing to utilize Wallace's contract in roster construction thus far (an offseason victory in and of itself). The Celtics expect Wallace to formally announce his retirement at some point, potentially walking away from the $13 million and two seasons remaining on his contract. But until he follows through on that plan, Boston has the freedom to trade him (offering other teams potential salary cap or luxury tax relief) in exchange for another piece to its 2010-11 puzzle.
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UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Ray Allen says there is room in Boston for the Big Diesel and the Big Three.
The Celtics guard, speaking Saturday before a charity basketball game in Connecticut, said he believes Shaquille O'Neal is a good fit in Boston's quest to repeat as Eastern Conference champion.
The 7-foot-1, 325-pound center signed a two-year contract worth about $3 million on Wednesday.
"It's definitely interesting to me, because I think he can help us," Allen said. "One of our bad traits this past year was offensive rebounding and rebounding in general, and he's a guy that takes up a lot of space, so I definitely think he can help us."
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Sims, a 6-foot-8 Michigan product looking to make the move to the perimeter with the Celtics, likely realized that Boston's roster was quickly filling up and couldn't pass up a payday to stay stateside and compete for a job on a veteran-laden roster.
Sims averaged 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his senior year with the Wolverines. With the Celtics, he chipped in 7.5 points per game in four summer appearances in Orlando. He also played for the Dallas Mavericks in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Just before signing with the Boston Celtics this week, Shaquille O'Neal shared his vision for the end of his career.
"I came into the league very graciously and want to go out very graciously," the 38-year-old O'Neal told the Associated Press. "My main thought was I would like to play for a winning franchise, somebody that's used to winning, somebody that keeps winning."
With a no-doubt Hall-of-Fame resume and set to be the oldest player in the league, it was not about money. Unlike Karl Malone, this wasn't a last-ditch title grab for a player worried about a legacy of losing. O'Neal sought a tradition of success and the chance to close out his career on a championship note.
His decision follows a long history of legends who gave it one last try in Boston. The dynasty of Celtic Pride formed in the 1950s and 1960s created an atmosphere of success irresistible for aging stars looking to solidify their legacy.
Some -- like Kevin Garnett or Bailey Howell -- arrived with plenty left in the tank. Other fading stars -- like Clyde Lovellette and Arnie Risen -- were brought in by Red Auerbach to play a reduced role and stuck around for multiple years.
However, Shaq seems to belong to a third group of aging legends: Players keenly aware the end is right around the corner and ready to make Boston a brief, final attempt to go out a winner.
How will Shaq be remembered in Boston? Ultimately, that comes down to whether he helps hang a banner in the rafters. Without that title, he'll likely fall into the category of forgotten Celtics. Consider the cases of four legends who preceded O'Neal in Boston: Artis Gilmore, Bill Walton, Pete Maravich, and Dave Bing.
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"It's an interesting move," said Thibodeau. "It's a calculated risk. I think there are things he brings to the table. I think the big thing is with [Kendrick] Perkins being out until January, and you never know how long it will take when he does come back, Perkins is a very underrated player. I think he's a huge key to the team defense. So I think what they're doing is trying to protect themselves until Kendrick can come back.
"Shaq is a guy you can throw the ball to. He can still get a pretty good shot up. His size is a factor. You start looking at their length up front now. They added a couple 7-footers with Jermaine O'Neal. He really had a terrific season last season with Miami, so they added some shot-blocking there. I think part of it is trying to hold the fort until Kendrick can come back, but when he does come back, you're going to have three guys at the center position, so that could be tough.
"I think he does add some things to their team."
Click HERE to listen to the full interview.
Less than 24 hours after Shaquille O'Neal's signing became official, the Celtics have added green-themed Shaq merchandise to their online store. The popular jersey T-shirts are priced at $21.95, while replica jerseys are $44.95.
If even just 1/100 of Shaq's 3 million Twitter followers buy a replica jersey this season, that will cover the cost of his $1.4 million contract.
Jermaine O'Neal jerseys are not on sale yet, likely because there's a lingering issue about what number he'll wear. O'Neal stated at his introductory press conference last month that he wanted to wear No. 7. Trouble is, Marquis Daniels, who sports that number last year, re-signed with the team soon after, and would be expected to hold onto that jersey. Then again, Daniels could use a fresh start this season, so maybe he'll work out an agreement to sell that number over to O'Neal before camp starts.
No word on when Semih Erden merchandise will be available.
(Insert audible groan)
Yes, we're aware of all the reasons it shouldn't work. But here's one Shaq-sized reason it would: More floor time with Kevin Garnett and a starting unit that can mask the defensive deficiencies in O'Neal's game.
Let's remember, too, that this is really only an issue for maybe 45 games, at which point you hope that Kendrick Perkins has recovered enough from offseason ACL surgery to rejoin the starting lineup.
But at the start of the 2010-11 season, we can't shake the notion that it makes more sense to start games with Shaq and allow Jermaine O'Neal to come off the bench. Here's why ...
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This is going to be verrry interesting.
Shaquille O'Neal has devoured a rather large slice of humble pie and is joining the Boston Celtics for the -- ahem -- veteran's minimum of around $1.4 million. Thus, when the 2010-11 season begins, Shaq will make less money than just about every other Celtics veteran, with the exception of Von Wafer.
It has never been this way for Shaq, who throughout his career has been, well, mostly all about Shaq. And all about the money. Yes, he has had supporting roles since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers (some might say that was the case even in his final days as a Laker), but there always was the accompanying, rather-large paycheck that verified his importance and value. That always was important to Shaq. (He is not alone there.) Now, after seeing no team step up for anything more than the $1.4 million he can make due to his many years of service, the question remains: Can he still be effective, happy, productive and a non-distraction with the relative paltry money he will make?
If you are the Celtics, the easy answer is: Who cares? If Shaq does buy into the program, then fine. If he doesn't, the team can cut him at a minimal cost and investment.
It's all on the Big Minimum.
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Here's the full release from the team:
BOSTON, MA – The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed free agent center Shaquille O’Neal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille’s caliber to your team,” said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations. “His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster.”
O’Neal, a 7’1” center, posted averages of 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and shot 56.6% from the field last season in 53 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former Louisiana State Tiger is a three-time NBA Finals MVP (2000, 2001, 2002) and former NBA MVP (2000). He has been named to 15 All Star games and also has been named All-Star Game MVP three times. His 15 All-Star appearances are the second most all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 17. He is a member of four NBA Championship teams (3, Los Angeles Lakers, 2000, 2001, 2002; 1, Miami Heat, 2006). One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history (he was youngest member of this team, at the age of 24, when it was named in 1996), O’Neal also is one of just three players in NBA history to be named league MVP, All-Star Game MVP and Finals MVP in the same season (1999-2000).
“I am honored to be joining the Celtics,” said O’Neal. “I have played against Paul, Ray, Kevin, Rajon, and Jermaine for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship.”
The first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by Orlando, O'Neal has posted career averages of 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. He also has appeared in 214 career playoff games with averages of 24.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. O’Neal is the fifth leading scorer in NBA history (28,255 points) and is 14th in NBA history in total rebounds (12,921).
Click HERE for more on Shaq and the Celtics.
In fact, maybe this question best sums up this week's 'bag:
Q: Shouldn't we be calling the mailbag the MailShaq? -- Joe (Westerly, R.I.)
Indeed. We tackled your questions on whether Shaq makes the Celtics the team to beat (again) in the East, how Boston will utilize him on the floor, and what number he might wear in Green.
Hop HERE to read this week's Celtics
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