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Courtside chatter

This 'Wolve joins the pack

TERRY PORTER Has players in Phoenix TERRY PORTER Has players in Phoenix (File/duane burleson/Associated Press)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / June 9, 2008

Former Celtics forward Al Jefferson took in his first Finals game last night.

Jefferson was a key in the seven-player trade that helped the Celtics acquire Kevin Garnett from Minnesota. The 15th overall pick in 2004, Jefferson averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds for Minnesota in the regular season.

"It's good to be back to see my old friends, support Doc [ Rivers] and Danny [ Ainge] and all the guys," Jefferson said. "They are still the team that drafted me and gave me a chance. It's good to be back here.

"I'm happy for the fans, especially. They supported us last year when we were going through a lot of losses. I think they deserve this. For me to go to my first NBA Finals game, to watch the Celtics play and the way Paul [ Pierce] and Kevin Garnett have been playing, that's going to be a fun game to watch."

The Timberwolves have a good collection of young talent but had some growing pains this season, finishing 22-60. Jefferson has shown All-Star potential, and Minnesota has the third pick in the draft.

"I'm looking forward to being with this team in the future," Jefferson said. "We got a lot of great young guys. We got a good pick this year. I'm really looking forward to it.

"We've had a lot of great workouts. [Stanford center Brook] Lopez was there last week. It's just fun to watch and see the team be built from scratch."

Sun shine

Rivers called new Suns coach Terry Porter Saturday to congratulate him on getting the opportunity to lead the likes of Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, and Shaquille O'Neal.

Porter spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the Pistons after being head coach at Milwaukee for two seasons, where he was 71-93.

"I talked to him yesterday," Rivers said. "I thought he did a [heck] of a job in Milwaukee and he basically got fired because his whole team was injured, which I never understood.

"I'm glad to see him get another shot and an honest shot. He's going to get a chance to coach a great team."

All-star hotel

The Celtics are not expected to practice today and are scheduled to depart for Los Angeles at about 10:30 a.m. The Celtics are staying in Beverly Hills. Their gameday shootarounds will take place at the hotel they are staying in because they had trouble finding a venue for shootarounds and didn't want to make the trek to Staples Center, about a half-hour drive.

The Celtics will practice at Staples Center Wednesday, have Friday off, and Saturday's practice is scheduled at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo, Calif.

Living arrangements

Pierce, Garnett, and Sam Cassell have homes in Los Angeles. Gabe Pruitt is from Los Angeles and his family lives there. Do those players have to stay in the team hotel? "They can do what they want as long as they play," Rivers said.

Get your tickets

The Celtics are allotted three free tickets at home and two on the road for the Finals. With help from the Lakers, Celtics president Rick Gotham, senior vice president of ticket sales Shawn Sullivan, and vice president of media services Jeff Twiss got each player four tickets for purchase. Every player quickly said yes to the offer.

Going to bat for Casey

An NBA source said the Bulls are expected to decide today whether to hire ex-Wolves coach Dwane Casey, Suns assistant general manager Vinny Del Negro, or Kings assistant Chuck Person as their coach. Garnett believes the hard-working Casey is deserving. "When I was with him, he was consistent with hard work," said Garnett, who played 12 seasons with the Timberwolves. "I felt like he never really enjoyed the fact that he was a head coach. Maybe from management he was feeling pressure or whatever it was, but he just always worked. That's the one thing that I can't take away from him, that his work ethic was totally above average. His preparation, how he prepared for games and how he had us ready were always consistent. I always looked at him like a real motivating coach. I just thought, at times, he just never really enjoyed it like I thought he should. But for the most part, you want a coach that's going to be able to motivate guys, but at the same time have a work ethic and actually know what he's doing. So it doesn't surprise me that his name is out there."

Guarded interest

It's not always best to take need over talent in the NBA draft, but with long-term concerns over injured guard Shaun Livingston, it would be a shock if the Clippers didn't take a guard with the seventh pick. Livingston destroyed his left knee after landing awkwardly following a missed layup against Charlotte in February 2007, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, the posterior cruciate ligament, and the lateral meniscus. The fourth overall pick in 2004 missed last season and it's uncertain when he will play again. An NBA source said the Clippers aren't expected to make Livingston a qualifying offer (the lowest starts at $5.8 million), making him an unrestricted free agent July 1. But with major knee concerns, it's uncertain the Clippers, or any team, will be rushing to sign him. According to the source, Livingston can't work out back-to-back days and needs about 90 minutes of therapy before doing noncontact basketball drills. There is speculation he might not be able to play at the NBA level again. What made Livingston special: he is a point guard with Magic Johnson-like height, at 6 feet 7 inches. But if he returns without his spectacular quickness, he could move to the small forward position.

Doctor in attendance

Dr. Murray Lieberman, a close friend of the late Red Auerbach, attended Game 2. Auerbach attended every game the Celtics were in the Finals until his death, Oct. 28, 2006. "[Auerbach] would have been totally into it, but he wouldn't have wanted the focus on him," Lieberman said. "After a game he would have said, 'Don't talk to me. I didn't score a point.' But he would have loved the position they are in." Auerbach's daughter, Randy, who lives in Los Angeles, is expected to attend the games in LA.

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