Boston Celtics: Offseason

Lakers Summer Forecast: C's biggest threat

September, 16, 2010
9/16/10
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Brian Babineau/Getty ImagesThe Celtics were the biggest threat in a seven-game series for last year's Lakers. L.A.'s panel of experts sees more of the same this season.
Our good friends at the Land O'Lakers Blog at ESPN Los Angeles are holding a summer forecast series of their own and Wednesday's question asked an expert panel which Eastern Conference team had the best shot of upending the Lakers in a seven-game series.

Evidently, there's not quite as much hype around Miami out West as there is back East. The Celtics hauled in nine of the 14 votes overall, three times as many as the Heat netted. Orlando sneaked in with one vote.

A couple of Los Angeles' panelists wrestled with the decision about whether Miami's assemblage of talent posed the biggest threat, but some ultimately pointed to Boston. As Forum Blue & Gold's Darius Soriano wrote:
"While Miami poses the best hypothetical threat due to their extreme talent base, I still have to go with Boston. Yes the Celtics have aged a year and adding the O'Neals [Jermaine and Shaquille] doesn't make them any younger. But that team defines the term "tough out" and we all saw how hard the Celtics pushed the Lakers in last year's Finals. Granted, the Celtics will have to get to the Finals first but if they do I think they'd present the toughest challenge and would have the best chance of winning the series. "

ESPN LA's Dave McMenamim also picked the Green:
The C's were about a half a quarter away from beating L.A. to win the championship last June and added the O'Neals in Shaquille and Jermaine. They have the size, they have the experience and they have clutch guys in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen who can match Kobe Bryant shot for shot. Miami and Orlando would be formidable Finals foes as well, but Boston is better equipped to unseat the back-to-back champs.

Click HERE to read the full story. Be sure to check out the whole series, HERE.

C's get a B on NBA report card

September, 7, 2010
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NBA.com Screenshot
NBA.com graded the offseason of all 32 teams and the Boston Celtics earned a solid B (only seven teams got a higher mark). Here's the teacher's comments:
Danny Ainge could have really shaken things up this summer, but the Celtics' stars and their coach are back for another run. And though it didn't seem possible, they got even older with the additions of the two O'Neals.

On-the-floor chemistry has been the Celtics' strength for the last three seasons. So integrating Shaq into both the offense and defense will be a critical challenge. But priority No. 1 with this team, as always, is staying healthy.

The Celtics proved last season that they don't need to tear through the regular season. They just need to be fresh come April. And when healthy, Boston is a tough out. They just may be short on talent when it comes to matching up with the new beast of the East, the Miami Heat.

Click HERE to read the full report card.

(h/t: Jay Ouellette)

Ainge: C's sign Delonte West

September, 1, 2010
9/01/10
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty ImagesDelonte West will be back in green this fall.
The Boston Celtics are set to sign free-agent guard Delonte West, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed to ESPN Boston.

West, selected 24th overall by Boston in 2004 NBA Draft, spent three seasons with the Celtics before being dealt to Seattle in the draft-day package that brought Ray Allen to Boston (along with the draft rights to Glen Davis).

"I think Delonte helps our club a lot," said Ainge. "He was one of the toughest guys for me to trade. I'd do it again, of course, but we really liked Delonte when he was here. Even though we knew the issues and the challenges he needed to take care of, we also think Delonte is in a better place today, than he was the day he left. He wasn't perfect, but we still liked the player."

West didn't last a season in Seattle before being flipped to Cleveland in a three-way trade. He has spent the last two-plus seasons -- seasons marred by off-the-court troubles -- with the Cavaliers, saving his finest efforts in the 2008-09 postseason before losing his starting job last season. Cleveland traded West to the Minnesota Timberwolves last month and he was waived soon after.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Champs?

August, 25, 2010
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Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesOur panel has high aspirations for the 2010-11 Celtics.
If Boston's rather improbable run to the cusp of a world title last season taught our panel of experts anything it's this: Don't bet against the Celtics.

Unfortunately, that's led to a bunch of bloggers who can't hedge their bets enough when predicting what the future holds for Boston's basketball team. For the third installment in our Celtics Summer Forecast series, we asked our panel of 18 experts from eight popular Celtics blogs to predict how the Celtics' 2010-11 season will end.

Several of our experts were hesitant to put anything past the Green. Maybe North Station Sports' Nick Gelso summed it up best: "Now this is a tough one. I am taking the safe route here: If healthy, the Celtics can beat anyone in the Eastern Conference."

He wasn't alone. Half of our panel hedged their bets in one way or another, many suggesting that the Celtics would meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and tossing their arms up from there.

Even in a bulked-up East, where the Miami Heat were dubbed the landslide favorite to steal Boston's crown by ESPN.com's panel of 93 experts in the national Summer Forecast, our panel is skittish to suggest Boston can't get back to the NBA Finals.

As CelticsBlog's Jimmy Toscano wrote, "We saw a completely different team in the playoffs last season than we saw in the regular season, so if that same intensity returns for the playoffs this season, the Celtics could absolutely be your NBA Finals champs."

But will they?

Click HERE to read the full story.



Over on the national Summer Forecast, our panel of 93 experts pegged the Los Angeles Lakers as most likely to walk away with another Larry O'Brien Trophy. Here's the voting breakdown:

Boston's offseason additions, including Shaquille O'Neal, helped ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan give the Celtics the preseason nod to be champs:
If they had had Kendrick Perkins and a healthy Rasheed Wallace in Game 7, I think they would have won at Staples. Pau Gasol was just too much for them down the stretch. But now they'll have Jermaine O'Neal, too, to check Pau in a deciding game. I still think they need to replace the departed Tony Allen, but it's a long time between now and the trade deadline.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Planting seeds

August, 24, 2010
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AP Photo/Charles KrupaWhere will the Celtics be seeded at season's end? Our panelists weigh in.
The Boston Celtics proved last season that a team’s regular-season record and playoff seeding are not always foolproof indicators of postseason success. Boston sleepwalked through the final four months of the 2009-10 season, earned the lowest possible seed for a division champion, and still came six minutes shy of winning an NBA title.

In Monday’s debut of the Celtics Summer Forecast, our panel of experts predicted a four-win increase for Boston next season. Now, we ponder whether that will help the team improve upon the fourth seed it obtained last year.

Totaling up the responses, our scratchpad looked a bit like a scorecard from a solid round at the local Par 3 golf course (3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 3, 2).

Our 18 experts (yes, we grew overnight) from eight Boston basketball blogs -- CelticsHub, Red’s Army, CelticsBlog, Celtics Town, North Station Sports, and Gino’s Jungle, Celtics Stuff Live, and Celtics 24/7 -- were fairly evenly split on whether the Celtics would land the No. 2 or 3 seed, with a slight edge going to the third spot. No one picked the Green to leap higher than No. 2 or lower than No. 4.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Beasts of the East

August, 24, 2010
8/24/10
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Steve Mitchell/US PresswireLeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the overwhelming favorites to win the East.
ESPN.com's national Summer Forecast today tackles the question of which team will win the Eastern Conference next season and the 93-member panel leans heavy in favor of the Miami Heat. Here's a glimpse at the results of the offseason poll:

The Celtics do have their supporters. Your humble blogger was one of the panelists that voted for Boston (be sure to check back Wednesday when our own Celtics Summer Forecast tackles how Boston's season will end; our local panel of experts and I predict how far Boston advances during the 2010-11 campaign). ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan also comes down in favor of the Celtics:
Celtics. Because they can defeat the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals with their size and their defense. Miami cannot defend the two O'Neals (Jermaine and Shaq) and Kendrick Perkins in the low post. And the Who Is The Alpha Dog question is going to become the Heat's undoing in the deciding game of that series? Also, the familiarity factor weighs heavily in Boston's favor -- something we all should have relearned while watching the Celtics last spring in the postseason.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Later today, we'll unveil Part II of our Celtics Summer Forecast, where our panel tackles what seed Boston should land in next year's postseason.

Summer Forecast: How many wins?

August, 23, 2010
8/23/10
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhat lies ahead for the 2010-11 Celtics. We've got experts with answers.
Training camp doesn't start for another month and the 2010-11 NBA season doesn't officially tip off for 65 more days. The regular season won't end until eight months from now, and there will be two more months of playoffs before a champion is crowned.

Fortunately for the impatient type, over the next three weeks we're going to tell you everything that's about to happen to the Boston Celtics next season.

With a nod to ESPN.com's national Summer Forecast, we've assembled a panel of 15 writers from six of our favorite Celtics blogs -- CelticsHub, Red's Army, CelticsBlog, Celtics Town, North Station Sports, and Gino's Jungle -- to lend their thoughts on how Boston's season will unfold.

Each weekday for the next three weeks, our panel of experts will tackle one question about the 2010-11 Celtics, combining their crystal balls to provide the clearest glimpse into the future of Boston's basketball team.

We tipped off the series today by asking our panel to predict the Celtics' win-loss record for the upcoming season. The panel's average prediction: 54-28. That's a four-win upgrade from last season, when Boston finished 50-32 overall.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Bringing the Heat

August, 22, 2010
8/22/10
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesFormer Celtics guard Eddie House is excited for what awaits with the Miami Heat.
Eddie House told the Arizona Republic he doesn't hold a grudge against the Boston Celtics for trading him to the New York Knicks, but he hopes to make the team regret the move should the Green and House's new team -- the Miami Heat -- cross paths in the playoffs next season.

From the Republic's Dan Bickley:
Yet for House, this is somewhat personal. He's not one to carry grudges, but he's still sore at the Celtics for trading him to the rotten Knicks in February. Come playoff time, he plans on reminding them just what they're missing.

"That stung a little bit," House said. "When you feel like you're a main part of what the team is doing and you're on a mission, to get the rug pulled out from under you and get sent to a team that has no shot ... that kind of hurt."

House expressed excitement for the 2010-11 season, often comparing it to the 2007-08 campaign in Boston and the lofty expectations that came once Boston's Big Three was assembled. But he suggested it will be even bigger than that.
"I compare it to the year I went to Boston when the Big Three got together in 2007," House said. "But this is going to be even bigger. This is going to be Boston on steroids."

House signed a two-year, $2.8 million veteran's minimum deal with the Heat last month, joining Miami's newly assembled trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

The Heat visit Boston to tip off the 2010-11 season on Oct. 26.

(h/t: NESN.com)

Perk: Shaq a great pickup

August, 20, 2010
8/20/10
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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/GettyKendrick Perkins watches the action in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins remained mum in the days following Boston's addition of Shaquille O'Neal. But speaking to the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn on Friday, Perkins said all the right things in regards to Shaq and comments by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who suggested Perkins would have to work to earn his starting job back once healthy.
"I thought [Shaq] was a great pickup for what we got him for," Perkins said by phone from Texas. "Shaq is a Hall of Famer. He can always help us. I think it was a great pickup. I am glad that he is on the team. We just got one goal, and that's just trying to win the ring."

Team president Danny Ainge said last week that Perkins would have to work to regain his starting spot in the lineup when he returned to full health. Perkins said he is not intimidated by that challenge.

"I don't see it threatening me at all," he said. "I gotta work hard. I know I gotta fight to get back to where I was. It's no problem with me. Hard work is not a problem."

Perkins and O'Neal have gone to war plenty of times in recent years, most recently with Perkins needing stitches to his lip after tasting an O'Neal elbow during the Eastern Conference semifinals in May. Shaq did his best to squash any notion of bad blood during his introductory press conference earlier this month.

"Perk is a very tough defender, probably one of the best big defenders in the league," said O'Neal. "It was only on-the-court-battles and marketing. He’s a guy that’s not going to back down, I’m not going to back down. So I think if anything it was good for TV.

"Now, being on the same team, I will give him all the knowledge I have accumulated over the past 18 years. Have we had battles? Of course we have. Have we had good battles and bad battles? Of course we have, but that’s all over now because we’re teammates."

Perkins also told the Globe he's hoping for a late January return, which would be more optimistic than the February date that Ainge and others have suggested.

Pierce's future

August, 19, 2010
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Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce in front of the Coliseum in Rome during Boston's 2007 preseason visit.
After inking a four-year contract extension this offseason, Celtics captain Paul Pierce celebrated the fact that the new deal will allow him to retire in a Boston uniform. Just don't bank on a farewell tour during the 2013-14 season, it might come sooner than that.

In an interview with Comcast SportsNet's Greg Dickerson this week at his Boston basketball camp, Pierce suggested he's going to play "three or four" more seasons and the language of his new contract appears to leave an opportunity for him to walk away from the NBA after the 2012-13 campaign.

According to the supremely helpful salary database at ShamSports.com, Pierce's four-year contract is set to be paid out in escalating increments of $13.9 million next season, $15.3 million in 2011-12, and $16.8 million in 2012-13 before dipping back to $15.3 million in 2013-14.

The final season is only $4 million guaranteed, becoming $5 million if Pierce participates in 50 percent of Boston's games (regular season and playoffs) over the preceding three seasons, according to a note on the site. The deal is fully guaranteed if Pierce is not waived on or before June 30, 2013.

The language suggests the Celtics can swallow what would likely be a $5 million cap hit for the 2013-14 season in order to allow Pierce to ride off into the sunset a little earlier. Pierce will be 35 after that 2012-13 campaign with 15 seasons of NBA mileage on his tires.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has positioned his team to keep the current core intact over the next two seasons, then undergo a massive overhaul -- likely building the team around Rajon Rondo -- after the 2011-12 season. Pierce could stick around for the first year to aid that transition process, then examine the team's potential to continue winning and his own health in deciding about a 16th (and almost certainly final) NBA season.

Pierce did suggest in the same interview that he'd like to venture overseas for a couple more years of basketball even after his NBA career is over.

"I think this is going to be it for me," said Pierce. "After these three or four years that I'm going to play, then I think that's going to be it for the game of basketball. I put so much into this game. As far as retiring from the NBA, I think I will be done after this contract because, eventually, I want to go overseas and play and live for a couple of years. That's why this is a big contract for me, knowing I'm going to retire a Boston Celtic. I want to go to either Italy or Greece for a year. I think I want to be able to bring my family over to just kind of share a different experience overseas for a couple of years, before I settle into retirement."

Italy, of course, is where "Ubuntu" was born for the Celtics after the team traveled there before the 2007-08 championship season, just months after the Big Three of Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett were assembled.

(h/t: CelticsBlog for Pierce quote transcription)

Mailbag: Order of wings

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
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Sam Sharpe/US PresswireCan we interest you in Larry Hughes?
One topic dominated the mailbag this week: Wings.

And while we'd just as soon devote an entire 'bag to thehit 90’s sitcom, the McCartney-fronted band, or Buffalo’s tastiest treat, readers wanted answers on how the Celtics plan to address the lack of depth behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

It's no secret that Boston covets another wing. On paper, it might be the team's lone remaining weakness after the offseason departure of Tony Allen. Everyone from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to head coach Doc Rivers to Pierce has opined over the past seven days that the Celtics need another shooter to cap off the 2010-11 roster.

We tackle the quest for a shooter, Ainge's comments about injured center Kendrick Perkins, and more in this week's offseason 'bag.

Click HERE to read this week's Celtics Mailbag.

Bradley ready to run

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
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Joe Murphy/NBAE/GettyCeltics rookie Avery Bradley should be practicing full speed again soon.
Putting on a Celtics jersey for the first time Tuesday felt good to Avery Bradley. Putting on basketball sneakers for the first time in a while felt even better.

Bradley, Boston's first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2010 NBA draft, donned the full Boston uniform for the league's rookie photo shoot Tuesday at the MSG Training Facility in Tarrytown, N.Y.

Bradley underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle on July 2, the same day he inked his rookie deal with the Celtics, and has been recovering ever since with eyes toward being in full health when Boston's training camp opens late next month.

"It's the first time I've put on basketball shoes in a while," Bradley told ESPN.com during a break in the action Tuesday. "But it's the first time I've put on the jersey, and it feels good to have 'Boston' and my name on the back. It's cool."

Click HERE to read the full story.

Buss on Shaq, Celtics rivalry

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesDr. Jerry Buss celebrates the Lakers' title victory over the Celtics in June.
ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin caught up with Lakers owner Jerry Buss Tuesday and the 76-year-old boss (and Hall of Fame inductee last week) engaged in some quality Boston-related chatter after discussing his own team's offseason moves and his thoughts on the Miami Heat.
* On Shaquille O'Neal signing with the Celtics: "I think there's a lot of rivalry and a lot of emotions in these things. Shaq and Kobe [Bryant] have a little thing going as to who wins the most rings and so Shaq signing with Boston sets up a potential showdown. I like the drama, I think it's fabulous. You can't help but love Shaq. He's still Shaquille O'Neal. He's still a very funny man, sometimes he gets a little carried away in his analysis of former employers, but outside of that he's quite a guy and we look forward to [playing Boston]."

* On the renewed rivalry with Boston after facing the Celtics in the Finals twice in the last three seasons: "From the very beginning, the Boston thing to me was the real issue because I was a big fan of the Lakers and sat through all those miserable moments when Jerry West and Elgin Baylor and even Wilt Chamberlain were getting beat and we came so close in those days, so very, very close and the frustration as a fan was terrible. And so, when I bought the Lakers, that was obviously upper most in my mind -- we've got to catch up and do to them what they did to us. And so, Boston has always been very special and beating them is always and forever will be special."

Click HERE to read the full story.

Jersey sure

August, 15, 2010
8/15/10
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Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesBeing former teammates might have helped Jermaine O'Neal grab Marquis Daniels' old number.
Looks like Jermaine O'Neal got his No. 7 jersey after all.

O'Neal said he planned to wear the familiar number when he signed with the Celtics last month. Trouble was Marquis Daniels already owned that shirt and re-signed with the team a short time after. Fortunately for O'Neal, Daniels' Twittered earlier this month that he was swapping numbers next season, which freed up No. 7 for his former -- and new -- teammate.

The Celtics said last week that new numbers weren't official yet, but according to an updated online roster, Daniels appears to have bumped up a spot to No. 8. Hopefully a new number will provide a fresh start after a forgettable 2009-10 season that was derailed by a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Jersey selection is no simple task in Boston, where 21 jerseys currently hang in the rafters, all of which fall between 00 (Robert Parish) and 35 (Reggie Lewis).

Shaquille O'Neal selected No. 36, becoming the first Celtics player to don that jersey (in fact, no player has worn Nos. 36-39). The Big Shamrock explained his decision last Tuesday, saying, "Actually, there was kind of a simple way of figuring it out: I’ve always been in the 30’s, this is my sixth team that I’m with, so 36.”

During their introductory press conferences, Avery Bradley held up a No. 0 jersey (prying it away from Oliver Lafayette, who wore it for one game last year), while Luke Harangody chose No. 55 (which has famous previous owners like Wally Szczerbiak, Dwayne Schintzius, Zan Tabak and Eric Williams).

Here's a quick rundown on other jersey numbers if the online roster holds through training camp:
  • Semih Erden held up a No. 86 jersey (his birth year) at his introductory press conference back in 2008, but appears set to shift to No. 50 this year, the same shirt he wore during Boston's summer league in Orlando. Erden wore No. 9 for his Turkish team last season, but is unlikely to wrestle that one from Rajon Rondo.
  • Lafayette is listed as No. 40, also the number he wore in summer league. He's definitely got a thing for the "0" numbers after wearing No. 20 in college and No. 10 early in his NBA Development League career (he also wore No. 21 last season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants). Michael Finley wore No. 40 last season.
  • The Celtics have not posted a number for Von Wafer, but the guess here is that he'll grab No. 13 (he wore that in Houston), which was vacated by the departure of Shelden Williams. The other shirts he's worn during his NBA travels -- Nos. 22, 23 and 24 -- are all retired by the Green (for Ed Macauley, Frank Ramsey and Sam Jones, respectively).

Summer forecast: Shaq a bust?

August, 13, 2010
8/13/10
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Steve Babineau/NBAE/GettyWill Shaquille O’Neal live up to expectations in Boston?
A few links from Thursday's NBA coverage:
  • In ESPN.com’s Summer Forecast series, our experts predict the best and worst newcomers of the year (any player added to a team this offseason). Shaquille O’Neal (6 votes) lands at No. 3 on the worst list, comfortably behind Amare Stoudemire (18) and Carlos Boozer (11). Here’s the blurb on Shaq:
    We’ve been down this road before with the Big Shamrock -- just last year, in fact. It's no secret that the Diesel has been in decline for several seasons and has only a little left to offer on the court. But perhaps the biggest concern is how he'll impact team chemistry in Boston. Can he handle being the fifth wheel or will he wind down his career as the Big Disgruntled?

    Click HERE to read the full story

    Jermaine O'Neal also earned two votes in the worst newcomer category, but landed outside the Top 10 in vote-getters. Not surprisingly, LeBron James dominated the best newcomer list, grabbing 78 of the 93 total votes.
  • Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall wants to play in the NBA next season if there’s an NFL lockout. He should probably read up on the labor situation facing the hoopsters.
  • Congrats to Jackie MacMullan, the Curt Gowdy Print Media Award winner at Thursday’s Hall of Fame ceremonies. For more on Jackie, read THIS article by the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan. Jackie truly couldn’t be a nicer person and her kindness towards this young journalist always meant a lot during my time at both the Globe and ESPN.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksK. Humphries 0.9