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Rajon Rondo said free agency is intriguing: 'I may want to go through it'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 31, 2014 01:49 PM

WALTHAM -- In response to an ESPN.com report that stated Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo intends to test the free agent market in the summer of 2015 when his contract is up, Rondo said that he is intrigued by that possibility, adding,"I may want to go through it."

While Rondo stressed that he has made no decision about his future and that he is just focused on this season, he did compare the process of free agency to college recruiting when asked what about it was intriguing to him.

"It’s kind of like college recruiting," Rondo said after practice here Friday. "I’m pretty sure a lot more goes into it in the NBA. A lot more money is spent. I’ve heard stories, guys getting called right at midnight. It’s something that I haven’t experienced. I may want to go through it. I haven’t thought about it at all. "

Rondo's contract, a five-year extension worth $55 million that he signed in the fall of 2009, is up after next season. He is set to become a free agent in July 2015 if the Celtics don't sign him to a contract extension beforehand.

But Rondo remained adamant that he isn't thinking that far ahead.

"I haven’t thought about it," he said. "I’ve just thought about getting my leg as strong as possible, continue to shake off the rust this year and come back even better next."

Baseline Perspective: Michael Carter-Williams

Posted by Yoon S. Byun January 29, 2014 11:17 PM

The Celtics lost another close one on a buzzer beater by Philadelphia 76ers guard-forward Evan Turner.

The Garden also welcomed home Hamilton native and rookie of the year favorite, Michael Carter-Williams playing his first NBA game in his home state. NCAA fans may remember Carter-Williams playing for Syracuse against the University of California when his mother received word that their house had burned down.

A couple of photos from his return home:

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Fist-bumping an official before the game.

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Driving and dishing to teammate Spencer Hawes in the first quarter.

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He didn't have a great shooting night, going 4 for 14. Here he is being denied at the rim by Kelly Olynyk.

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At 6'6" he's a good rebounder for a point guard. Here he is getting fouled by Chris Johnson (although it was called on Jared Sullinger) after crashing the boards.

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A section in the upper level cheered every time his name was called. They wore red and Sixers apparel.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-76ers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 29, 2014 06:29 PM

The Celtics return home after being embarrassed on Tuesday, 114-88, to the New York Knicks, facing a team with a similar goal, to land a premium pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The 76ers are percentage points behind the Celtics in the standings and have been playing with a painfully young roster that includes Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams, who is a native of Hamilton, Mass.

As for the Celtics, Rajon Rondo will not play tonight because it's the second game of a back-to-back set. He is expected to play Sunday against the Orlando Magic.

The Sixers also feature Evan Turner, who is enjoying a career season and is a restricted free agent at season's end. He has historically fared well against the Celtics.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (15-32)

PG Phil Pressey
SG Gerald Wallace
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Avery Bradley

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (14-31)
PG Michael Carter-Williams
SG James Anderson
SF Evan Turner
PF Thaddeus Young
C Spencer Hawes

Inactives: Lorenzo Brown, Nerlens Noel, Jason Richardson

Officials: Joe Crawford, Kane Fitzgerald, Violet Palmer

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• While Rondo is out, Celtics coach Brad Stevens had some good news: Avery Bradley is recovering quicker than expected from his sprained right ankle and he could play Sunday against the Orlando Magic. Bradley was expected to miss a "couple of weeks" when he sustained the injury on Jan. 21 at Miami but he has been walking without a boot and working out before games.

• It's a homecoming for Philadelphia coach Brett Brown who played at Boston University and is from Portland, Maine. Brown said he jogged the river near BU and see the campus brought back memories.

• First-round pick Nerlens Noel is still recovering from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament but was working out before the game. The Everett native is expected to miss the season.

• The Celtics get the next three days off before facing the Orlando Magic on Super Sunday.

Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger chosen for NBA's Rising Stars Challenge

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 29, 2014 04:41 PM

Celtics forwards Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger were selected for the 2014 Rising Stars Challenge that will be played Friday, Feb. 14, in New Orleans during the NBA All-Star weekend.

Olynyk, a rookie 7-footer, is a 2013 first-round draft pick out of Gonzaga. He's averaging 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds over 18.3 minutes per game. Sullinger is in his second season with the Celtics after being drafted in the first round out of Ohio State in 2012. He's averaging 12.5 points and 7.6 rebounds over 26.4 minutes per game.

The game will feature two teams with nine rookies and sophomores mixed together, drafted from a pool selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches. It will be the third straight year rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams.

The head coaches for both teams will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2014 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs -- Oklahoma City and Indiana.

Here is the list of all the players selected for the 2014 Rising Stars Challenge:

• Steven Adams, Oklahoma City, center, rookie
• Pero Antic, Atlanta, center, rookie
• Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee, guard/forward, rookie
• Harrison Barnes, Golden State, forward, second year
• Bradley Beal, Washington, guard, second year
• Trey Burke, Utah, guard, rookie.
• Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia, guard, rookie
• Anthony Davis, New Orleans, forward/center, second year
• Andre Drummond, Detroit, center, second year
• Tim Hardaway, Jr., New York, guard, rookie
• Terrence Jones, Houston, forward, second year
• Damian Lillard, Portland, guard, second year
• Victor Oladipo, Orlando, guard, rookie
• Kelly Olynyk, Boston, forward, rookie
• Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn, forward/center, rookie
• Jared Sullinger, Boston, forward, second year
• Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto, center, second year
• Dion Waiters, Cleveland, guard, second year

Welcome to Madison Square Garden for Celtics-Knicks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 28, 2014 06:39 PM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics hit the road for the first of a back-to-back set, trying to beat the New York Knicks for the third time this season. Boston crushed the Knicks on Dec, 8 at the Garden, leading wire-to-wire for a 114-73 win. The Celtics had six players in double figures, including former Celtic Jordan Crawford with 23. Five days later, the Celtics rallied to beat New York at TD Garden 90-86 as Jared Sullinger scored 19 and former Celtic Courtney Lee tallied 15 off the bench.

The Celtics have lost 17 of 20 games since plateauing at 12-14 but enter Tuesday four games behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the final playoff spot.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (15-31)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Gerald Wallace
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Avery Bradley

NEW YORK KNICKS (17-27)
PG Raymond Felton
SG Pablo Prigioni
SF Iman Shumpert
PF Carmelo Anthony
C Tyson Chandler

Inactives: Andrea Bargnani, Amar'e Stoudemire

Officials: Tom Washington, Kevin Cutler, Michael Smith

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WZLX-FM (100.7)

Pregame notes:

• Jerryd Bayless is back in the Celtics lineup after missing the past five games with a sprained left big toe. Bayless said the injury prevented him from running and cutting but was able to participate in the team's shootaround Tuesday morning and declared healthy enough to play. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley (who is recovering from a sprained ankle) did not make the trip to New York.

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Rajon Rondo will play tonight and could even play Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Rondo did not play in the Celtics' first back-to-back set last week but he may be healthy enough to go Wednesday.

• The Knicks will get Kenyon Martin back from a five-game absence with a sprained ankle. He will be available off the bench for the Knicks along with Metta World Peace. Andrea Bargnani is out for New York with a torn elblow ligament along with Amar'e Stoudemore with a sprained left ankle and bone bruise.

• The Celtics will return home to face the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday before three days off and then a Super Bowl Sunday home matchup with the Orlando Magic.

Shootaround report: Jerryd Bayless returns; Rondo's minutes increasing

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 28, 2014 12:45 PM

NEW YORK -- After missing four games with a sprained left big toe, Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless will return to action Tuesday night when the Celtics face the New York Knicks here at Madison Square Garden.

"He’s been out 10 days, so I’m sure his wind won’t be great, but I think he’s excited to play," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after morning shootaround. "We need his scoring. With him and Avery [Bradley] out, those are two guys that can go on scoring flurries for you. It’s good to have Jerryd back."

Bayless will come off the bench against the Knicks, but the Celtics will still be without starting guard Bradley, who will miss his fourth straight game with a sprained right ankle.

Stevens also said that starting point guard Rajon Rondo will play 25-30 minutes against the Knicks.

Rondo, who is easing his way back into the rotation after missing nearly a year following a knee injury, is on a minutes restriction, but the figure has been steadily increasing, and the most he'll play against the Knicks is 30 minutes, as he did Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets.

Stevens said the next question is whether Rondo, who has played in five games, will play in the second game of a back-to-back set, which would be Wednesday, when the Celtics play the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden.

Celtics sign Chris Johnson to second 10-day contract

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 28, 2014 11:03 AM

NEW YORK – The Celtics formally announced Tuesday they have signed guard/forward Chris Johnson to a second 10-day contract.

Johnson is with the team and will be available when the Celtics face the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.

In four games for the Celtics, Johnson, whom the team pulled out of the NBA's Development League, has averaged 10.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 assist in 26.6 minutes per game. He has also helped shore up their backcourt depth with injuries to Avery Bradley (sprained ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (sprained left big toe).

Seeing as this is Johnson's second 10-day contract with the Celtics, the team now faces a decision about what to do when those 10 days are up, because a player can only sign two 10-day contracts with the same team in one season.

If the team wants to retain the player after the second 10-day contract expired, the team must sign the player for the remainder of the season.

Celtics, Sal's team up against hunger

Posted by Staff January 27, 2014 05:29 PM

The Celtics, pizza, and a good cause as well? Tough to top that 3-point play.

The Celtics announced Monday that they have teamed up with Sal’s Pizza and Project Bread to launch a new community initiative called “Teaming Up Against Hunger presented by Sal’s Pizza”.

The partnership will give students at selected schools an opportunity to bring awareness to hunger by starring in their own Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) video.

Fourth and fifth grade students in select markets have been asked to create their own PSA’s about the issues of hunger, ending hunger, and eating healthy. At the end of the video, the call to action will be to register for Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger on May 4th.

This program will occur at five elementary schools in Chelmsford, Lawrence, Lowell, Woburn and Boston. In each of these areas, the elementary schools will be visited for an introductory assembly to explain the program. A Boston Celtics video crew will then come back to film the PSA’s. Judges from the Boston Celtics, Sal’s Pizza, and Project Bread will select the winning classroom’s PSA.

The final video PSA will include pieces from each classroom’s production. The PSAs will be showcased on Celtics.com and Sals-pizza.com. The winning classroom will receive a private basketball clinic with Lucky and a Celtics Legend

Celtics should retire Kevin Garnett's number

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 27, 2014 01:16 PM

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The poignant returns of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to TD Garden Sunday night served two purposes: to pay respect to the contributions of two of the franchise's great players, and to offer Celtics fans one final goodbye to an era we all wish could have lasted a little longer.

On both counts, it's hard to imagine a more perfect tribute. The players were moved, and as always, Celtics fans were on point. Minutes after Pierce's video ran and play had resumed, Garden fans were still chanting "Thank-you-Paul-Pierce." Fans and players looking up at the Jumbotron saw a woman holding a Celtics flag and bawling.

“I did notice that," said Pierce. "It was tough, it was tough for me to swallow. I was probably about five seconds from shedding [tears]. I’ll admit to it. No words that can really describe the shower of love here.”

Credit both the team and Comcast SportsNet New England for getting it right. Garnett's tribute lasted for a timeout; Pierce was given the full break at the end of the first quarter. Both tributes were shown in full on the local broadcast.

It's easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment, but in Pierce's case, no amount of hyperbole could be too much. The second-leading scorer in franchise history deserved the greater ovation and attention. Bob Ryan, who has seen a couple of Celtics games in his time, put Pierce's place in Celtics history perfectly in a tweet.

At one point during Pierce's tribute, a spotlight pointed to the rafters and spaces where two future retired numbers could be. Pierce's case for a retired number is a slam dunk -- "not even worth two seconds of discussion," said Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman on 98.5's "Toucher & Rich" show. But what about Garnett?

At its core, hanging the banner of Player X in the rafters is a sign of personal respect to that individual, recognition that his years of hard work and exemplary performance did not go unnoticed by his employers. If you were to hang Garnett's "Outstanding Employee" plaque on the wall, it would read, "6 seasons, 6,233 points, 3,301 rebounds, and 1 championship."

That championship, which Garnett helped win along with Pierce, Ray Allen, Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo, Eddie House, etc. is the reason we're having this discussion at all. Without the ring, Garnett is an exemplary player who made Boston one of a few stops in a Hall of Fame career. With it, he's one of ours, though not nearly as much as Pierce is.

Twenty players have had their numbers retired by the Celtics (Red Auerbach and the team's original owner, Walter Brown, also have their numbers retired). Those 20 played for the Celtics an average of 10.4 seasons. Garnett's six seasons would tie with center Ed Macauley (1950-56) for the fewest of any Celtic with his number retired.

Garnett does not factor into the top 10 all-time in any Celtics statistical category. Fewer than 25 percent of his career points came in a Celtics uniform.

Despite those numbers, there is precedent for a player with a large body of success elsewhere being honored with a retired number in Boston. Dennis Johnson played seven of his 14 seasons in Boston, helping the Celtics to two titles before ending his career here. Johnson made four of his five career All-Star teams elsewhere and may be the best comparison when it comes to deciding what to do with Garnett.

It's about more than the numbers, of course, and Garnett has several things going for him. His arrival signified a new era of Celtics basketball, heavy on defense and intent on winning. It's a good argument whether he or Pierce was more responsible for the team's 2008 title, but there's no debating it couldn't have been done without Garnett. KG's knee injury robbed the Celtics of one and possibly two more titles.

The will of the people is also at play here. He may have been dragged from Minnesota kicking and screaming, but once he got here, Garnett embraced Boston in the heart-on-his-sleeve way only he can produce on a nightly basis. Fans loved him and he loved them back, even accepting the insular way he went about his business and lived his life, because New Englanders at their core are that way, too. Garnett made it clear he'd like to be remembered as a Celtic Sunday night when he said this return meant "even more than Minnesota," and that can only help his chances.

If Sunday's banner-spotlighting was any indication, KG may not have needed to blow that one last kiss to Boston. Ownership has been smitten with the idea of keeping Garnett in the family for some time. In a radio interview before last February's trade deadline, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told WEEI's "Mut & Merloni," "We're going to retire his number, whatever happens. He's an all-time great."

Keeping Garnett in the family makes sense for both sides. The Celtics get to claim one of the league's all-time greats as their own, and Garnett gets to be remembered for the best run of his career. With the Celtics' on-court future looking murky for a while, it doesn't hurt to hang another "W" in the win column.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Nets (Pierce and Garnett return)

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 26, 2014 05:41 PM

Well the day is finally here, the return of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to TD Garden for the first time since the blockbuster trade between the Celtics and Nets in June. It will be an emotional night for both players. Pierce arrived early, dressed quickly and did an interview with ESPN and shook hands with several Celtics employees. Garnett arrived on the Nets' second bus and walked quickly into the locker room. Neither addressed the media before the game.

The Celtics will be shorthanded again with Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless unable to play. Coach Brad Stevens said Bayless is closer to coming back but Bradley, who was walking without a significant limp, appears to be making progress from his sprained ankle.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (15-30)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Gerald Wallace
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Jerryd Bayless, Avery Bradley

BROOKLYN NETS (19-22)
PG Shaun Livingston
SG Alan Anderson
SF Joe Johnson
PF Paul Pierce
C Kevin Garnett

Inactives: Brook Lopez

Officials: Mark Davis, Leroy Richardson, Kevin Scott

TV, radio: 6:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Paul Pierce said the Celtics should build around Rajon Rondo and he should be the center of the franchise going forward. Rondo said he keeps in touch with Pierce and Garnett on occasion but will treat tonight as if it were a normal game.

• Bayless will miss his fourth consecutive game with a sprained left big toe and the Celtics desperately need his scoring off the bench. He was on the court taking jumpers and could make his return Tuesday against the New York Knicks.

• The Nets current starting five is 7-0 this season and they have won nine of 10 games since bottoming out with a 10-21 record. Garnett ranks first in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage.

• Vitor Faverani finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in NBADL Maine's 115-104 win over Ft. Wayne. Faverani said he enjoyed the experience with Maine and would go back again if asked.

• The Celtics are expected to practice Monday before flying to New York in preparation for Tuesday's game against the New York Knicks. The Celtics will return home to play the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday before three days off.

Pierce, Garnett discuss their return to Boston

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 25, 2014 12:55 AM

Sunday night. TD Garden.

Celtics. Nets.

Paul Pierce. Kevin Garnett.

Emotions. Lot and lots of emotions. Loud, long standing ovations. Crying.

"I’m gonna embrace it for whatever it is," Garnett told reporters after his Brooklyn Nets' 107-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks Friday. "I’m sure it's gonna be ... the emotions are gonna be very high, and I’ll react accordingly."

For Garnett and Pierce, it will mark their first game back at the Garden to face their former team since the two Celtics icons were traded to the Nets last summer.

"It's going to be special," said Pierce, who spent 15 seasons with the Celtics, the team that drafted him. "I don't know how I'll react, what emotions are going to be going through my head."

Both of them dove into the topic Friday night, and they spoke from the heart, especially Garnett, who opened his interview on a rather light-hearted note.

"It’ll be good to be back in Boston," said Garnett, who spent six seasons with the Celtics. "I hear it’s freezing as [expletive]. No different from New York. East Coast is East Coast. But, for the most part, it should be fun to go back and see what happens."

But just how special will it be to Garnett that he'll make the return with Pierce, who is still by his side, a teammate from Boston to Brooklyn?

"To make this whole transition efficient and worthwhile, it's felt like having someone that’s not only your partner, but your brother, someone who’s been there with you," Garnett said.

"Someone I’ve recognized a lot of things with, a personal friend, like I said a brother, to go through this whole process with. We’re sort of exiting together ... me probably before him.

"But, for the most part, to go through this whole thing, not only with him but with (Jason Terry) also, that’s made it a little more easy. Not that it's made things simple or less frustrating, but it's made the whole process worthwhile.

"We’re going there with all good thoughts and open arms. Boston was good to me. Boston was a whole 'nother episode for Paul because he’s been there for the good and bad. But, all in all, it was good times."

Said Pierce, "Yeah, we shared so many memories, on and off the court -- shared our best memories in Boston. We won a championship and when you talk about the ride we had together and the run, a lot of things go through your head so it's fun to be able to share it with him."

Pierce will be in the Garden's visitor's locker room -- an awkward experience, no doubt.

"I talked to [Celtics' travel and equipment manager John Connor] today, so I told him I'll probably sit in the equipment room like I used to always do in my 15 years there, who knows," Pierce said. "It's going to be a little weird, though."

WIll emotions be different because of how well the Nets are playing lately, having won an NBA-best 9 of 10 games this month?

"I don't even know," Garnett said. "I just know that the emotions probably will be high because of the success we had while we were in Boston. We had some really good years there, some really promising years. I think it’s going to be forever, embedded in it. People in this era will remember this (in Brooklyn), and the last six years we were there.

"I think anybody who’s part of that run and part of that era will always be remembered. Bostonians, New Englanders, they understand that and they never forget their favorites. We was fortunate to be part of that whole transformation ... and some things are forever, man. I’m happy to say I'm part of that era."

Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers received a roaring ovation from the crowd when he returned last month for the first time since leaving for the Los Angeles Clippers.

It's worth noting that Rivers didn't leave the Celtics on the best of terms -- some said he quit on the team -- but nary a boo could be heard upon his return to Boston.

"You've got to understand that everything we put into the six years we were invested in, we put everything into it," Garnett said. "I think the people of Boston and New England and [Massachusetts] they all understood that.

"I think they saw the appreciation and the hard work that we put into that, the effort more than anything. It's funny, they have a little pregame thing they used to always say, and in the pregame, I used to always hear Larry Bird. I would never look up, but I would hear it.

"Larry said, 'You can't fool the people of Boston. They know when you're working hard, they know pure basketball.' And that's right. When you go all out, they understand that, they root for that, and that's what they remember. If anything, I would hope they remember that Doc gave everything, along with the players that played there."

Of course, many memories stick out.

"The obvious ones," Garnett said. "The winning stands out. But times where some guys were beat up and played through. Small things for me. I can remember Paul playing through the flu in Cleveland. He was throwing up and everybody saw he had to take like two or three IVs and he played. Times where Ray (Allen) had a messed up foot and played, and (Rajon) Rondo gutting through his elbow ... Big Baby (Glenn Davis) damn near having a concussion and coming back. Doc sick in Detroit, gutting through it with a hoarse voice and he couldn’t even talk. Small things that I'll take that I don't really want to share with you guys for obvious reasons. The ceiling in L.A. ... these are certain things that stand out to me that I'll never forget."

Pierce, the second-leading scorer in Celtics' history, was asked if he's glad to get the night out of the way, given the emotion that it promises to bring.

"Yeah, it's gonna be a lot of emotions," he said. "You play your whole life there, you won a championship there, I mean, being the first time coming (back)...I never thought it would happen, but it is and it'll be here Sunday."

Rondo: 'I wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of my career'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 24, 2014 07:21 PM

One day after Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge revealed that he had offered point guard Rajon Rondo a contract extension, Rondo said he wouldn’t mind staying with the Celtics for the rest of his career.

“I like to stick to the script,” Rondo said before the Celtics played the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night at TD Garden. “I don’t like change much. I wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of my career.

"Things don’t always seem to go that way, but like I said before, it’s just a business. I wouldn't mind extending another 10 years in Boston.”

Rondo, a four-time All-Star, has one more year left on the five-year extension worth $55 million that he signed in October 2009.

The Celtics offered Rondo an extension roughly a month ago, Ainge said. The two sides weren’t able to get a deal done, but that was to be expected, as the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement limits the length and value of extensions at the moment.

It’s more likely that a deal is reached this summer or next, when Rondo stands to make considerably more.

Ainge mentioned that he expects Rondo to get paid “star money.” On that subject, Rondo said, “I’m making star money now, really. It’s a pretty good living. I’ll let my agent handle those terms.”

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Thunder (Durant out)

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 24, 2014 07:04 PM

The Celtics return home for a two-game homestand in what is expected to be an emotional weekend with Brooklyn coming to town Sunday. But before then, the shorthanded Thunder are at the Garden with NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant being a late scratch because of an injured right shoulder sustained in Wednesday's win over the San Antonio Spurs.

It will be the first time in OKC history that Russell Westbrook (knee surgery recovery) and Durant will miss the same game. Perry Jones, a former highly touted college player from Baylor, will make the start in place of Durant.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (15-29)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Gerald Wallace
SF Jeff Green
PF Jared Sullinger
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Jerryd Bayless, Avery Bradley

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (33-10)
PG Reggie Jackson
SG Thabo Sefolosha
SF Perry Jones
PF Serge Ibaka
C Kendrick Perkins

Inactives: Russell Westbrook

Officials: Ron Garretson, Mark Lindsay, Steve Anderson

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Durant downplayed his shoulder injury but the Thunder are being extra careful with their franchise player. He did not participate in shootaround but will dress and sit on the bench. The Thunder will wear their alternate uniforms tonight.

• Jerryd Bayless will miss his third consecutive game with a sprained left big toe but could play Sunday against Brooklyn. Avery Bradley will miss another couple of weeks with a sprained right ankle sustained Tuesday against the Miami Heat.

• Durant is on a stunning scoring pace, averaging 38.1 points in his past 11 games and shooting 52 percent from the field. He has scored 30 or more points an NBA-high 26 times this season, He also have five 40-point games.

• The Celtics will fly out immediately after tonight's game and face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday at Verizon Center before returning home to face Kendrick Perkins and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

OKC's Kevin Durant out tonight vs. Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 24, 2014 06:15 PM

Kevin Durant downplayed the injured right shoulder he sustained in Wednesday's win over the San Antonio Spurs. Yet, he did not participate in the team's shootaround Friday morning at TD Garden and coach Scott Brooks declared the Thunder All-Star forward out for tonight's game against the Celtics.

Durant has been on an incredible scoring binge, averaging 36.9 points in January, including games of 54 and 46 points.

"Just worried about tonight’s game. He’s not playing tonight,: Brooks said. "We’re just focusing on tonight. We’ll worry about Philly tomorrow. Kevin definitely loves the game. He’s not one that looks forward to missing games. The guy is a gamer. He loves to play. But, no. It’s the best thing for him. Until he’s ready to play, he’s not going to play, regardless of how he feels or what he wants to do. It’s a medical decision."

Perry Jones will start in Durant's place. It's the first time in six years, when Russell Westbrook arrived in Oklahoma City, that he and Durant have missed the same game.

Ainge says he talked to Rondo about a contract extension

Posted by John Carney January 23, 2014 04:25 PM

During his weekly appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” program Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he has discussed a contract extension with point guard Rajon Rondo but was unable to get one done.

Rondo, who just recently returned to action after missing almost a year with a knee injury, is under contract through next season. He signed a five-year extension in 2009 for $55 million and is due to make $12.9 million in 2014-15.

"We did talk to Rondo about extending him,” Ainge said on the radio show, “but that’s all part of the negotiation that will happen again this summer and most likely the summer after.

“In the collective bargaining agreement, there are limits on what can and can’t be done. Really, it’s not that Rondo doesn’t want to accept an extension, as much as it’s just not financially smart for him to accept it right now. We didn’t think he would, but we did try.

"I think that Rondo will demand quite a bit in the open market. The competition for Rondo in free agency will be very high.”

When he made his long-awaited return to the court against the Lakers last Friday, Rondo also was introduced as the Celtics’ new captain.

Rajon Rondo (rest) sits against Washington; Bradley out two weeks; Blue joins Celtics

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 22, 2014 04:17 PM

WASHINGTON -- As a precautionary measure, the Celtics rested point guard Rajon Rondo for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards because it was the second of a back-to-back set.

Rondo, who is easing his way back into the lineup after missing nearly a year following a knee injury, played about 25 minutes Tuesday in the Celtics’ loss to the Miami Heat, his most time in the three games since returning to the court.

But it wasn’t a certainty then that he would play the following day.

“It was more about, let’s make sure, again, to be very, very smart about this,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before Wednesday's game.

Stevens added that in the preseason, they didn’t play Gerald Wallace in the second game of back-to-backs, and that “this is Rondo’s preseason right now. Not fair to him that it happens in the middle of January, but that’s the way it goes.”

In addition to Rondo, the Celtics were also without the other half of their starting backcourt, Avery Bradley, who suffered a sprained right ankle against the Heat.

Bradley, who wore a boot on that foot and was on crutches as he entered the Verizon Center, is expected to miss up to two weeks with the injury.

“Everything I’ve been told, it’s a sprain, but as we saw with Kelly’s sprain, those can be significant,” said Stevens, referencing how Kelly Olynyk missed 10 games with a sprain earlier this season.

The Celtics were also without reserve guard Jerryd Bayless, who suffered a sprained left big toe Sunday against Orlando.

Stevens said Bayless will be day-to-day starting Friday, when the Celtics play Oklahoma City at TD Garden.

With such a thin backcourt, the Celtics brought in a reinforcement by signing guard Vander Blue to a 10-day contract.

Blue drove from Delaware, where he was playing with the NBA Development League’s Delaware 87ers, and joined the team here Wednesday morning.

“I was really excited about the opportunity to come here and be able to play for such a great organization and to make my dream come true,” Blue said. “I just thank God for everything he’s done for me. I’m ready to get to work now. “

Blue, a 6-foot-5-inch former Marquette standout who went undrafted in 2013, played in four games with the 87ers this season, averaging 19.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 30.5 minutes per game.

“Vander is a tough kid,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that’s a competitor.”

“It’s a great opportunity for me," said Blue. "A lot of guys can’t say they get called up from the D-League and, better yet, say they had a chance to play. They have a lot of guys down right now and they need me to come in and produce.”

The Celtics remembered Blue from his predraft workout in Waltham.

“It was a really good workout,” Blue recalled. “It was a really tough workout. I had a good conversation with Danny [Ainge] afterwards. We connected really well. He said, ‘You never know, we may see each other again.’ ”

Blue attending training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers before being a late cut. He also signed to play overseas in Israel, but he played there only briefly before joining the 87ers.

“It’s been a journey for me,” Blue said. “I’ve had one incredible story, but I just want to keep it going.”

Blue is one of two guards on the roster on a 10-day contract. The Celtics signed Chris Johnson to a 10-day deal last Friday.

Stevens is familiar with Blue, as the two were on opposite sides during the 2013 NCAA Tournament, which ultimately marked Stevens’s final game as the Butler head coach.

Stevens’s sixth-seeded Butler Bulldogs faced the third-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles in the second round, and Blue scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half to help his team rally back and pull off a 74-72 win.

“He hasn’t brought it up yet,” Blue said with a smile. “We talked about [Marquette] coach Buzz [Williams], but I’m pretty sure it’s going to come up soon.”

Said Stevens, “He made threes against us both times we played him last year and made big, big shots. Was not scared of the moment.”

Blue said he’s excited to play for Stevens.

“I think he’ll be a great fit for [the Celtics] and he can help me a lot,” Blue said. “I’m willing to work for him. He’s a good guy.”

Celtics sign guard Vander Blue to a 10-day contract

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 22, 2014 11:34 AM

WASHINGTON -- To help shore up their backcourt depth after starting guard Avery Bradley suffered a sprained ankle Tuesday night against Miami, the Celtics have signed guard Vander Blue to a 10-day contract, the team announced Wednesday.

Blue, a 6-foot-5-inch former Marquette standout who went undrafted in 2013, played in four games Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League this season, averaging 19.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 30.5 minutes per game.

It's expected that Blue will be available Wednesday night when the Celtics face the Washington Wizards here.

The Celtics signed Blue after Bradley, who started 43 games this season, sprained his right ankle in the second quarter of the Celtics' loss to the Heat in Miami Tuesday.

Bradley did not return to the game and Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after that game that Bradley would probably not play Wednesday.

The Celtics are already facing a slimmed-down backcourt with guard Jerryd Bayless sidelined because of a sprained left big toe that he suffered Sunday in Orlando. On top of that, guard Rajon Rondo is playing limited minutes.

At Marquette, Blue was named to the All-Big East Second Team as a junior after averaging 14.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.03 steals in 33.0 minutes per game. Blue also worked out for the Celtics before the draft, so they're familiar with him to a degree.

Avery Bradley leaves game with sprained ankle

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 21, 2014 08:58 PM

MIAMI -- Celtics guard Avery Bradley left Tuesday night's game against the Miami Heat with a sprained right ankle and team officials said he wouldn't return.

Bradley suffered the injury during the second quarter while trying to guard Mario Chalmers. Bradley appeared to plant his foot awkwardly on the play. He tried to walk it off but eventually left the court and went to the locker room.

With the Celtics already missing Jerryd Bayless (sprained left big toe), the loss of Bradley, their perimeter defensive ace, thinned the Celtics' backcourt even further.

Bradley had stared all 43 games this season and was averaging 14.8 points entering Tuesday night.

Welcome to AmericanAirlines Arena for Celtics-Heat

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 21, 2014 06:50 PM

MIAMI -- The Celtics return to the scene of their biggest win of the season, a thrilling, last-second win on Nov. 9 when Jeff Green canned a 3-pointer in the face of LeBron James for a 111-110 victory. James said before tipoff tonight that he remembers the game vividly and the Heat will be looking to avenge the defeat.

It will have to occur without Dwyane Wade, who will miss his third consecutive game to rest his surgically repaired knees. The Heat are beginning to express concern that Wade's knees may be more balky than initially thought. Former Celtic Ray Allen will start in the place of Wade.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (14-28)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Jared Sullinger
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans

MIAMI HEAT (29-12)
PG Mario Chalmers
SG Ray Allen
SF Shane Battier
PF LeBron James
C Chris Bosh

Inactives: Toney Douglas, Dwyane Wade

Officials: David Jones, Tony Brown, Lauren Holtkamp

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Allen snapped out of an unheard of 3-for-26 shooting slump with 10-for-16 shooting in the past two games, including 5-for-5 in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks. In 10 January games, Allen is shooting 27.9 percent from the field, 21.1 percent from the 3-point line and is averaging just 6.6 points.

• Joel Anthony is in uniform but it's uncertain if he will play against his former team. Anthony said it was "surreal" to be back in Miami just a few days after being traded and coach Brad Stevens said Anthony has been a model teammate so far.

• Jerryd Bayless will miss tonight's game with a sprained left big toe and could miss the next seven to 10 days. That means Phil Pressey will get extensive minutes at point guard backing up Rajon Rondo. Rondo is on a minutes limit but could play as many as 25 tonight, according to Stevens.

• The Celtics will fly out immediately after tonight's game and face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday at Verizon Center before returning home to face Kendrick Perkins and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

Rondo's minutes to increase against Heat; Bayless out

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 21, 2014 01:27 PM

MIAMI -- Rajon Rondo has been under minutes restrictions in his first two games since he returned to action after missing nearly a year with a knee injury, but his playing time is expected to increase when the Celtics face the Miami Heat here Tuesday night.

Rondo has been playing 20 total minutes per game, broken down into 5 minutes per quarter. That could increase to 25 minutes against the Heat, said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“It just continues to increase as he feels better,” Stevens said before morning shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena. “There’s nothing on the day after the game that would tell you otherwise, i.e. swelling, etc.”

Rondo played 21:20 in the loss to the Orlando Magic Sunday and said he felt fine afterward. In that game, he actually begged Stevens to stay in during the second quarter, but Stevens adhered to the restrictions and took Rondo out.

"Anybody that’s ever played sports, they [can come] in and they know they’re not going to play a lot," said Stevens. "And then when the time comes to come out of the game: ‘No, no, no. I can go longer.'

“That’s just your adrenaline talking and your competitiveness talking. That was anticipated and we talked about that before the time. He knows. He wanted to stay in, but he also knew the way we were going to do it.”

Stevens also said that Jerryd Bayless will miss the game with a sprained left big toe and could be sidelined 7-10 days. With Bayless out, reserve point guard Phil Pressey figures to play even more minutes.

After first game, Rondo says 'I’m alive, I’m walking, I’m well'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 19, 2014 12:07 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Two days after playing his first game in nearly a year, Rajon Rondo said that he feels fine overall and that his right knee -- the one he had surgically repaired after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament on Jan. 25, 2013 -- feels okay too.

“I’m alive. I’m walking. I’m well. I feel fine,” the Celtics point guard said Sunday morning before the team's shootaround at the Amway Center here, leading up to the Celtics' game against the Magic. “It’s been a while since I played, but I’m fine.”

Rondo played on a five-minute-per-quarter rule during his season debut Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, and it figures that he'll be on that system for a while.

"I think that will be the case until I’m told otherwise," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "Our medical staff is really good. I trust them to do the right thing by our players."

Stevens added that the most Rondo would play in one of the opening three quarters was five minutes. "And then we'll go from there," he said.

He added, "And let’s say you played him 12 in the fist three quarters and then 8 in the fourth, I think you’re testing conditioning a little bit. I do think the five-minute stints are probably best."

In terms of a Rondo's minute restriction, Stevens said there is no timeline.

"I’m guessing it will be at least for the first week, maybe more, in that minutes restriction," Stevens said. "Again, how we divvy those up or how we space those out – I don’t know what the right answer is to that. I do think it’s important that he’s playing at the end (of games), like he did the other night, because that’s part of getting back in the groove of things."

When asked about those minute restrictions, Rondo said, "It's not frustrating. I want to be patient. I knew going into it that it would be 20 minutes. It’s the first time in my career where I’ve had limitations, but it’s part of it. It won’t last forever. It’s temporary."

He added, “I’m not the first guy to do this, and I won’t be the last. I’ll adapt and I’ll adjust, and I’ll make the best of the 20 minutes.”

Rondo watched film of himself after the game and said that he felt okay about how he had performed, for the most part. But, again, patience is a part of the process.

"I haven’t had a preseason or training camp or even any other games to play," Rondo said. "I try not to get too down on myself. But at the same time, I’m very competitive and I expect the best out of myself."

When asked what he liked most about his return, Rondo said, "Just competing. I haven’t competed in 357 days. So just to compete. I’ve been taking it out on cards and other games, Connect Four, every game I can play. But basketball is what I love to do. It’s what I’ve been doing my entire life. I’m very blessed and fortunate to be able to do it again.”

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Lakers (Rondo returns)

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 17, 2014 06:57 PM

The long-awaited return of Rajon Rondo is tonight as he made it through his pre-game workout and will start for the Celtics. Coach Brad Stevens said he will play about 20 minutes in his first game since Jan. 25, 2013, when he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament against the Atlanta Hawks. Rondo gives the Celtics an All-Star presence and could change the course of the team's season.

He shot extensively before the game and showed no signs of discomfort.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (14-26)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Jared Sullinger
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (14-25)
PG Kendall Marshall
SG Jodie Meeks
SF Wesley Johnson
PF Jordan Hill
C Pau Gasol

Inactives: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash

Officials: Sean Corbin, Bennie Adams, James Williams

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• The Lakers will be without Nick Young, who was suspended for one game for punching Goran Dragic during the Lakers' 121-114 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Young will watch the game from the team hotel.

• Newest Celtics Chris Johnson (#12) and Joel Anthony (#50) were present and in uniform but Stevens said he was unsure if either would play. Anthony was acquired from the Miami Heat in the Jordan Crawford deal and practiced for a short time Thursday following his physical. Johnson was signed to a 10-day contract today.

• Kobe Bryant said he has no intentions of sitting out the rest of the season despite the Lakers likely missing the playoffs. He has missed the past month with a knee injury. Bryant said he could return next month. He also attended a BC marketing course late Thursday afternoon, surprising many of the students.

• The Celtics are scheduled to practice Saturday before heading to Orlando to begin a three-game road trip with the Magic, Heat and Wizards.

Rajon Rondo finds a rhythm, scores 8 straight points in the second quarter

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 17, 2014 05:56 PM

Rajon Rondo looked rusty in his first five minutes, missing his first two shots, one of them an air-balled jumper from the left baseline. He checked out after five minutes of floor time.

But when he checked back in with 7:31 left in the second quarter, the Celtics' All-Star point guard, who hadn't played in nearly a year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Jan. 25, 2013, started to look like his old self.

He scored a layup in the lane after faking a behind-the-back pass that fooled the defense.

Then, after Jared Sullinger stole the ball, Rondo took a feed and scored on an easy fast break 19 seconds later.

Rondo then made a pair of quick buckets, giving him 8 straight points for the Celtics. He was also pushing the ball up the floor, and the rest of the Celtics were following.

At halftime, the Celtics led, 58-52, and Rondo had 8 points -- all scored in the second quarter -- on 4-for-7 shooting in 9:35 of floor time.

In the pregame introductions, Rondo was introduced as the Celtics' captain, making him their 15th captain in team history and first since Paul Pierce, who held that title from 2003-13 before being traded from the Celtics to Brooklyn this offseason.

Rondo received a huge ovation from the crowd before the game, along with receiving the December Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable efforts and his history of generosity in the community.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens confirmed before the game that Rondo would play and that his minutes would be restricted.

"So we want to be right around the 20-minute mark, give or take, obviously," Stevens said. "I think it’s fair to temper our expectations because this is really still part of his rehab, in my opinion, because he’s on a limited block. And he hasn’t played in a competitive game for a long time.

"This will be a great opportunity for him and it’s great for us to have him back out on the floor with our team."

Stevens said he had an idea how many minutes Rondo would play in the first half, but that they'd play it by feel in the second half. Part of Stevens's job will be managing Rondo's desire to play more on a night when the Celtics don't want to overdo it with him.

"I think he’s going to want to play in every game, because he likes basketball and he hasn’t been able to play it for a while," Stevens said. "I talked to him yesterday about, 'When your adrenaline kicks in tonight, you’re going to want to play more. And we can’t do that.' That expectation has already been talked about."

Naturally, Stevens was excited to coach Rondo, the Celtics' best player, for the first time.

"Well, yeah, I’m excited to have our best player on the court. I think that’s No. 1, right?" Stevens said. "But certainly he’s a guy that can make plays, he makes plays for others, he lifts up everybody else’s game. So, yeah, I am excited about that."

But there will be adjustments for the rest of the Celtics players, several of whom hadn't played with Rondo -- and thus aren't used to him throwing passes out of nowhere.

"I think our trainers are prepared for four jammed fingers and stitches in the eyes and everything else," Stevens joked. "Fans need to be ready, everybody around the court needs to have their hands up and ready.

"We’ve seen a little bit of that in practice, but the good news is he’s been practicing full-go for almost a month now. I don’t think our guys will be too surprised. But I think they now understand, you better be ready."

Sullinger said he was ready, and so are his teammates.

"I think we’re going to feed off him tonight," Sullinger said. "When he’s going, I think we’re going to go as a team tonight. I think we’re going to take it to another level when he’s out there.

"It’s going to be fun. I heard he’s starting, too, as well, so I can’t wait to hear the roar when he comes back."

Celtics Mailbag: Trades, Rondo's return, and more

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 16, 2014 01:29 PM

rondoclose.jpg

They won!

The Celtics broke their nine-game losing streak Wednesday night at TD Garden with an 88-83 win over a legitimate Raptors team. Jared Sullinger did his best Kevin Love impression (foreshadowing, perhaps?) with 25 points and 20 rebounds. For now, our long regional nightmare is over.

Sullinger's continued development aside, breaking the losing streak was the third-most important thing to happen to the Celtics Wednesday. The first was the trade that sent guard Jordan Crawford to Golden State and forward Joel Anthony and two draft picks to Boston. Celtics beat writer Baxter Holmes has a breakdown of the picks in today's Globe.

One of the picks is a lottery-protected first-rounder that originally belonged to Philadelphia. The Celtics will receive that pick this season if it’s not in the lottery (picks 1-14).

If that pick is in the lottery, though, the Celtics still have a shot at it a year from now, but only if it’s not in the lottery next season.

And if the 76ers do, in fact, miss the playoffs this year and next, then that pick would turn into two second-rounders, one each in 2015 and 2016.

Factoring in previous trades, the Celtics could have as many as 17 draft picks over the next five years, with as many as 10 of those in the first round.

The second-most important thing that happened Wednesday is Rajon Rondo clearing his last hurdle before a return to the court Friday night vs. the Lakers. Rondo practiced with the Maine Red Claws of the Development League and didn't suffer any setbacks. The Celtics didn't need Rondo to break their losing streak, but with Crawford gone, they'll be happy to have him back.

All that and more are topics in this week's mailbag:

What is your opinion of the Jordon Crawford trade? I have mixed feelings on it. Jordan was very effective leading the team during Rondo's absence and I am hoping our leader Rondo has fully recovered and is ready to play at full speed. Also, with all of the draft picks Danny has managed to obtain, can you please go over all of them and do you foresee us trading any of these picks in order to move up in this year's so-called awesome class?
Sonny, Fort Myers, Fla.

Here's a detailed list of the picks the Celtics own on RealGM.com.

joelanthony1.jpg I liked the trade a lot. Danny Ainge turned an injured Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins into Crawford, then flipped him for two draft picks, one of which could end up being a first-rounder. Crawford has been good for the Celtics this season, but they're not trying to be good this season.

The picks allow the Celtics even more flexibility when it comes to trades. They can package them for players and use them to trade up or down in the draft. If several future first-round picks are enough to land the player they want in the upcoming draft, the Celtics will part with them. If it takes three or four picks to get a guy like Kevin Love (ooooooh), Ainge will probably do that, too. The 17 picks the Celtics have over the next five seasons are more than the Knicks and Nets have combined. Even Bill Belichick is blushing.

The Rondo aspect is certainly interesting in that trading Crawford shows tremendous confidence in Rondo's ability to come back and contribute right away. As for Joel Anthony, the player the Celtics acquired in the deal, I think Celtics fans will like how hard he plays, but he's the perfect player for a team not focused on winning here and now. He's played just 37 total minutes this season for Miami, and he's not hurt. His $3.5 million player option for next season will almost certainly be exercised,

If Kris Humphries continues to play well, do you think Danny will re-sign him or trade him?
Richard, Scottsdale, Ariz.

I don't think many Celtics fans expected to like having Humphries on their team this season, but he's been a solid contributor and citizen. He's a great trade chip for a contending team because he can help now, and his expiring contract is desirable for other teams as well. Given that they're not in contention now and likely won't be next year, it's hard to see Humphries coming back to the Celtics next season.

With Rondo's return and the trade deadline nearing, which Celtics do you see remaining on the roster on Feb. 21?
Al, Marshfield

Give Al credit for predicting the Jordan Crawford trade in the longer version of his question, sent to me before the deal went down yesterday. In my opinion, the guys that aren't going anywhere are Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Gerald Wallace, and Kelly Olynyk, with Sullinger being the most untouchable. As far as most likely to be traded, I think the order is Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Kris Humphries. Each of those three players can help a team now and also bring some value in return.

-- Here are two related topics from Twitter:

In case you missed it, Wallace told the Herald this week that this season has been "a slap in the face" for him. From the first day of training camp, Wallace has been very vocal about the fact that he did not want to play for a rebuilding team. What's been bothering fans, and what's likely bothering his teammates, is that he continues to beef. The situation isn't changing anytime soon, given the size of Wallace's contract. He's being paid handsomely to play limited minutes on a team that seems to be trying hard, and yet he continues to decry a lack of effort. What's the point in calling out your teammates like that?

I got the "paid handsomely" line from Ainge, who on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" show this morning explained that Keith Bogans has left the Celtics and returned home essentially because he's not happy sitting on the bench. In an odd turn, Ainge said he was fine with the whole thing, explaining that Bogans and his nonguaranteed deal were a valuable chip in the offseason, and for that reason the Celtics would not release him. For now, Bogans sits at home on his pile of money. Interesting, indeed.

What do you think Rajon Rondo's impact will be on wins and losses? Can he play the Celtics out of the lottery?
John, Franklin

The moves the Celtics have made dealing Courtney Lee and Crawford in the last few weeks seem designed to assure playoff non-contention. Rondo is a great player, one of the best guards in the league, but even he is going to find it difficult to win games with the team around him. Remember, the Celtics lost 18 straight games once with Paul Pierce on their team, and I'd argue that the 2006-07 collection of talent was better than what they have now, even with Rondo.

Heard there was a Celtics media game yesterday. You get smoked?
Phil, Boston

Of course. My team, featuring colleagues Chad Finn and Baxter Holmes, CSNNE's Jimmy Toscano, and others lost by about 10 to a squad captained by CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely. Chris Forsberg hit a couple big jumpers for the winners, and Celtics PR guru Heather Walker hit double digits in scoring. My contributions were a couple of putbacks and trying not to look silly guarding MassLive's Jay King, who can actually shoot and dribble and stuff. There's a rumor that NESN ran a clip of the game, which is a good reason to avoid watching television for a while.


Baseline Perspective: counting seconds

Posted by Yoon S. Byun January 15, 2014 11:59 PM

The Celtics snapped their nine-game losing streak, traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks, and had point guard Rajon Rondo back in uniform today. Although Rondo did not play, he was on the court and participated during warm ups.

Playing off of Rondo's tweet yesterday about his return, and figuring we'd need pictures of him for tomorrow's paper, I thought I'd share what I captured, counting down the seconds to Friday's game. The time was read off of my camera's timestamp:

140115celtics0001.jpg
175,520 seconds (until tip off on Friday)
Stretching with Strength and Conditioning Coach Bryan Doo less than an hour before tip off.

140115celtics0036.jpg
175,217 seconds
Looking at his music player before heading off the court.

140115celtics0086.jpg
173,537 seconds
Running onto the court with the team during introductions.

140115celtics0107.jpg
173,488 seconds
Making a layup during warm ups.

140115celtics0603.jpg
172,984 seconds
Grabbing his teammates' rebounds.

140115celtics0644.jpg
172,797 seconds
Dishing his rebounds to various teammates.

140115celtics2188.jpg
165,811 seconds
Talking to Gerald Wallace during the game.

140115celtics3313.jpg
164,841 seconds
Watching from the bench. At this particular moment a group of fans behind him began a "Rondo" chant, hoping he would enter the game.

140115celtics3405.jpg
164,575 seconds
Talking to an official during a time out.

140115celtics3577.jpg
163,590 seconds
Applauding as the game comes to an end with a Celtics win.

Click here for a gallery from the game.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Raptors

Posted by Staff January 15, 2014 07:25 PM

The Celtics, losers of nine in a row, suffered two more losses when Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks went to Golden State in a three-team trade that brought Joel Anthony and draft picks to Boston.

They look to put the hubbub aside when they host Atlantic Division-leading Toronto. The Raptors are 12-4 since shipping Rudy Gay to Sacramento for the foursome of John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez and Chuck Hayes. They just finished a 3-0 homestand.

Game time: 7:30 p.m.

TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Starting lineups

CELTICS (13-26)
PG Phil Pressey
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Kris Humphries
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Joel Anthony

RAPTORS (19-17)
PG Kyle Lowry
SG DeMar DeRozan
SF Terrence Ross
PF Amir Johnson
C Jonas Valanciunas

Inactives: Austin Daye, Tyler Hansbrough

Officials: John Goble, Ken Mauer, Eli Roe

Pregame notes:

• Rajon Rondo dressed for the game but is not expected to play. “It would be more about getting in that rhythm, pregame activity a little bit,” said coach Brad Stevens. The coach said he had not talked with Rondo since his workout with the D-League Maine Red Claws earlier Wednesday.

• Pressey is getting the nod at point guard for his first NBA start. This, Stevens said, will allow the other starters to stay in their positions when Rondo returns. That is widely expected to be Friday, but the Celtics have yet to confirm that.

• Joel Anthony had not arrived in Boston before the game, and Stevens didn’t know when to expect him. But he is looking forward to their first meeting. “I don’t know him personally,” Stevens said. “I’ve seen him play since he was high school-aged. And obviously he’s got great strengths, specifically as a defender.”

Added Jared Sullinger: “He helped the Heat in the championship runs, and hopefully he can bring some of the winning that was spread through that organization, bring some of that over here.”

• Having to say so long to Crawford and Brooks hadn’t fully set in for the players, but they were understanding of the move.

“That’s the business. That’s the NBA,” Sullinger said. “You have the court aspect and you have the office aspect, and it’s just part of the business. You kind of get used to it.”

Celtics assign Rajon Rondo to Maine Red Claws for workout

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 15, 2014 12:32 PM

The Celtics have assigned point guard Rajon Rondo to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League. The plan is for Rondo to work out with the team this afternoon before immediately being called back up to the Celtics.

“Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this is the next step,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “This is a brief assignment so that Rajon can participate in a workout this afternoon with the Red Claws and he will be called back up to the Celtics upon the conclusion of the workout.”

Rondo has not played for the Celtics this season since undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. The move leaves him eligible to return to the Celtics Friday night vs. the Lakers.

Celtics trade Jordan Crawford, MarShon Brooks to Golden State

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 15, 2014 09:28 AM


The Celtics have traded guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors, a league source tells the Globe's Baxter Holmes. In a three-team deal, the Warriors will send point guard Toney Douglas to the Heat, while Miami sends center Joel Anthony to Boston. The Celtics will receive a projected future 1st-round pick and future 2nd-round pick in the deal.

Rajon Rondo's impending return and Boston's rebuilding plans made Crawford expendable. When Rondo returns, he'll join a backcourt rotation of Avery Bradley, Jerryd Bayless, and Phil Pressey. Crawford, who is making $2.16 million this season, averaged 13.7 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in almost 31 minutes per game this season will the Celtics. Brooks has seen very limited action since being traded to Boston over the summer.

After figuring heavily in Miami's rotation three seasons ago, the 6-foot-9-inch Anthony was averaging 3.1 minutes per game for the Heat this year. He is owed $3.8 million in salary next season.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, if the Sixers don't make the playoffs this season or next, the first-round pick turns into two second-rounders.

The news that Crawford was on the block, was first reported by New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey.

Stevens hints Rondo could return Friday vs. Lakers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 14, 2014 01:46 PM

WALTHAM -- Rajon Rondo would not speak with the media Tuesday afternoon at Celtics practice after a cryptic tweet from him late Monday night hinted that he may return to action Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

He left the commentary to coach Brad Stevens, who did not deny that Rondo may be back then, saying his return would hopefully come "very soon."

Rondo's tweet said simply, "29,233,380 secs." That amounts to approximately 338 days, which would be the time span from his Feb. 13, 2013, knee surgery and the Jan. 17 game vs. the Lakers.

"I'm still trying to figure out what [the tweet] means," Stevens said. "He's a pretty bright guy who shares his thoughts in unique ways. I kind of gathered that he was coming back fairly shortly.

"I'm guessing, based on everything I could tell, it's not [Wednesday], so obviously planning for the very short term without him but hopefully we'll have him back very soon.

"We're nearing that time, no question."

Stevens said Rondo will undergo a strenuous workout Wednesday, perhaps as one final test before his return.

"I'm looking for his thumb to go up," said Stevens. "I think that's his call, along with our trainers and our doctors. There's no basketball boxes that need to be checked with him."

Rajon Rondo hints his return could be Friday

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 14, 2014 12:47 AM

Rajon Rondo loves numbers and the flair for the dramatic.

And Monday night, after the Celtics lost, 104-92, to the Houston Rockets at TD Garden, the Celtics point guard tweeted a string of numbers that seemed to give a clue as to when he will make his much-anticipated season debut

Rondo, who has been sidelined all season while recovering from knee surgery, tweeted the following from his verified account: “29,233,380 secs”

That time equates to 338 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes.

It appears to be the exact duration of time between when he had reconstructive surgery on his right knee to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (Feb. 13, 2013) and this Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden.

In fact, Rondo appears to have have calculated the exact time between his surgery and tipoff – 11:07 a.m. on Feb 13, if you factor in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

It had been reported that Rondo had been targeting that date for his return, but Rondo denied it and has continued to do so, including before Monday’s game.

Rondo has only said that he planned to return before the mid-February All-Star Break.

Before the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t offer any specific dates on when Rondo would return, but he did say that, “I get the impression it’s sooner than later.

Stevens didn’t rule out a possible return for this week, saying, “I think you could say possibly. It wouldn’t be anything where I would be speaking with certainty.”

FULL ENTRY

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Rockets

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 13, 2014 06:13 PM

The Celtics return home, losers of eight in a row and nine of 10, to face the improving Rockets, who come to Boston with one of the most prolific lineups in the NBA. James Harden is a lock All-Star along with a healthy Dwight Howard as well as former Harvard standout Jeremy Lin and most-improved candidate Terrence Jones. The Celtics will be hard-pressed to get a victory tonight but played well in the final three games of their West Coast road trip, losing by a combined 16 points.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-25)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

HOUSTON ROCKETS (24-14)
PG Jeremy Lin
SG James Harden
SF Chandler Parsons
PF Terrence Jones
C Dwight Howard

Inactives: Robert Covington, Patrick Beverley

Officials: Joe Crawford, Nick Buchert, Brian Forte

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Jared Sullinger will return to the starting lineup over Brandon Bass, meaning Kris Humphries will remain a starter. Bass took a combined 11 shots in the final two games of the road trip. Sullinger averaged 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds on the final two games of the road trip.

• Stevens said Rajon Rondo will return "sooner rather than later," meaning he could be back within the week and could potentially make his season debut Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Rondo has not played since Jan. 25, 2013 because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

• The Rockets welcome back Chandler Parsons, who missed the past three games with a sore right knee. Parsons participated in the Rockets' morning workout and declared himself ready to play.
• The Celtics practice Tuesday before hosting Toronto on Wednesday and the Lakers on Friday.

Postgame thoughts following Celtics loss to Portland

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 12, 2014 01:01 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Celtics limp home after going predictably 0-5 on the West Coast road swing, though losing the final three games by a combined 16 points.

They played hard, shot well and put a scare into the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night at Moda Center before losing 112-104. They are now 13-25 having lost eight straight games and their visions of competing for the Atlantic Division title are becoming fainter by the way.

The Celtics are now 1/2 game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers for last place in the division and haven't won a game since Dec. 28, a span of 15 days. They played better after Gerald Wallace chided the team for lack of effort following a 31-point loss at Denver but they were still out-executed down the stretch.

Boston shot 23.3 percent in the fourth quarter as the combination of Jordan Crawford and Jared Sullinger were 2-for-14 shooting for 5 points. The Celtics grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter but by then it was too late. Portland scored 31 of its points on second-chance baskets while Boston countered with just 14.

"Of course we're going to have frustration," forward Jared Sullinger said. "I thought we fought hard from the beginning of this trip to the end, it's a big difference with the team. We're playing more together, the ball is moving side to side and we just gotta close out games better. That's about it."

• The Celtics were among the best 3-point shooting defense teams in the NBA but they allowed 52 on the five-game road trip and 10 on Saturday.

• Jerryd Bayless continues to progress as he gets accustomed to the Celtics' system, scoring 12 points with six assists Saturday in 21 minutes off the bench.

• Sullinger responded from a strong performance Friday at Golden State but posting his ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Welcome to Moda Center for Celtics-Trail Blazers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 11, 2014 09:20 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Celtics end this long and laborious road trip tonight against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Portland has been one of the league's biggest surprises and it's because of the All-Star caliber play of LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Second-year guard Damian Lillard will be a difficult cover for Avery Bradley, who has had his hands full on the road trip.

The Blazers came to TD Garden and raced past the Celtics 109-96 on Nov. 15. Aldridge led the Blazers with 27 points and Mo Williams scored 18 off the bench.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-24)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (27-9)
PG Damian Lillard
SG Wesley Matthews
SF Nicolas Batum
PF LaMarcus Aldridge
C Robin Lopez

Inactives:

Officials: Ron Garretson, Mark Ayotte, Sean Wright

TV, radio: 10 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (1030 AM)

Pregame notes:

• Jeff Green posted his second consecutive double-double on Friday (points-rebounds) after going doubleless for the first 35 games. Green is averaging just 4.8 rebounds, his lowest total since his rookie season.

• Rajon Rondo may return to the Celtics lineup on Jan. 17 as previous reported. It would mark nearly a year (Jan. 25, 2013) since Rondo has played in an NBA game. Rondo has traveled with the team for the past few weeks and said Friday he is close to a return but indicated only it would be before the All-Star Break.

• Jared Sullinger snapped out of his slump Friday night with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes. Sullinger collected his first game of multiple 3-pointers since Dec. 18 and he also collected his eighth double-double of the season.

• The Celtics return home Sunday morning and begin a three-game homestand with Houston, Toronto and the Los Angeles Lakers next Monday, Wednesday and Friday respectively.

Rajon Rondo denies report he targeted Jan. 17 as return

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 10, 2014 10:05 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. – Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been sidelined all season while recovering from knee surgery, adamantly denied a Yahoo Sports report that, citing unnamed sources, stated that Rondo had targeted Jan. 17 as a possible return date.

The Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers that day at TD Garden.

“I’m not sure where that came from," Rondo said of the report Friday before the Celtics played the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena here. When asked if he had any targeted return date at all, Rondo said, “Honestly, I don’t.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said talk of any potential return date for Rondo was news to him. “I have not heard that from him or from anybody who would have that information," Stevens said.

Said Stevens, “We never talked about a specific date. I haven't heard from our organization that a date was targeted."

Earlier Friday, before the team's morning shootaround at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, Rondo said he plans to make his debut before the 2014 All-Star Break.

The Celtics’ final game before the break is Feb. 12, when they host the San Antonio Spurs at TD Garden. So it is reasonable to expect that the All-Star point guard will make his much-anticipated return at some point before that game.

"It may be this month, next month. It’ll be before All-Star Break," Rondo said.

Welcome to Oracle Arena for Celtics-Warriors

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 10, 2014 09:53 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Celtics continue their West Coast road swing tonight in Oakland, where they face one of the league's hottest teams in the Warriors, who had their 10-game win streak snapped Wednesday by the Brooklyn Nets. Boston played better than it had in recent games on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, but it still resulted in a 111-105 loss, the Celtics' ninth defeat in the past 10 games and sixth in a row.

Kris Humphries will remain in the starting lineup, replacing the struggling Jared Sullinger. Humphries has been battling a sprained ankle but said he came out of Wednesday's battle with Blake Griffin with no further discomfort.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-23)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (24-14)
PG Stephen Curry
SG Klay Thompson
SF Andre Iguodala
PF David Lee
C Andrew Bogut

Inactives: Festus Ezeli, Jermaine O'Neal

Officials: Bennie Adams, Leroy Richardson, Ben Taylor

TV, radio: 10:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Jared Sullinger now has five flagrant foul points after collecting two in a 23-second period Tuesday in Denver. If Sullinger picks up any additional flagrant fouls, he could serve a 1-game suspension (for a flagrant 1) or 2-game suspension for (a flagrant 2).

• Rajon Rondo indicated Friday morning that he will return before the All-Star Break but he denied a report that he is set to return Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

• Sullinger is averaging 8.6 points and shooting 29.6 percent in the past five games and has been nursing a sore left hand for the past six weeks.

• The Celtics will take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, the final game of their five-game road trip. They return home for a three-game homestand against Houston, Toronto and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rajon Rondo plans to return before the All-Star Break

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 10, 2014 02:51 PM

SAN FRANCISCO -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who has yet to play a game this season as he recovers from knee surgery, said Friday that he plans to return before the All-Star break.

The Celtics' final game before the break is Feb. 12 against the San Antonio Spurs at TD Garden.

Rondo made his comments before the Celtics held a morning shootaround at the Four Seasons Hotel here. They are in the Bay area to play the Golden State Warriors Friday night in Oakland, the fourth game on a five-game road trip.

"It may be this month, next month. It’ll be before All-Star Break," Rondo said.

Rondo suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee a year ago. He had surgery in February 2013, performed by Dr. James Andrews, and has been rehabbing since.

"I haven’t had any swelling," he said. "I’m wearing my brace. At times when I play, it doesn’t feel like I have it on. No setbacks. It’s just, I’m taking my time."

At this point, conditioning remains a key hurdle.

"I’m just trying to get back into shape," he said. "I haven’t played ball in 12 months. You can do all the cardio, treadmill, running you want, it’s still different from basketball shape."

Rondo didn't rule out a possible stint in the NBA's Development League, either.

"I might go practice with them when I get back," he said. "Still just not sure yet."

Since he was first cleared to participate in full-contact practice in December, Rondo said, he has made considerable progress.

"I feel 10 times better," he said. "I feel more confident, stronger, more explosive. What I’m doing in the weight room, it’s productive."

He also said he's getting more comfortable with his teammates, many of whom haven't played with him before.

"I’m getting a feel for them, they’re getting a feel for me," he said. "I’m hitting a couple guys in the face or the chest, not knowing the ball is coming. The biggest thing is, I’m always telling guys, always be ready, even though it may not seem like the ball is coming to you."

Still, the hardest part, he said, is "just not playing."

"I don’t even like to watch the game anymore," he said. "It's frustrating. You see things that you just can’t help. It’s only a matter of what you can do from a vocal standpoint on the sidelines."

Asked what it will take for him to know he's ready to return, Rondo said, "It’s just a feeling. I’ll probably just wake up that morning and play."

Jared Sullinger on his flagrant fouls: "I’ve just got be more careful"

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 8, 2014 10:07 PM

LOS ANGELES – Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that the team appealed to the NBA the first of forward Jared Sullinger’s two Flagrant 1 fouls Tuesday against Denver, and that, after reviewing the call, the NBA decided Wednesday to overturn it.

It’s an important decision from the Celtics’ perspective. Before it came down, Sullinger had five Flagrant 1 fouls this season, one short of a one-game suspension, according to NBA rules.

But now, Sullinger has four Flagrant 1s, meaning he is two short of a suspension. However, if he is whistled for a more serious Flagrant 2 foul, he will be suspended for one game.

Players earn one point for each Flagrant 1 foul, two for each Flagrant 2 fouls. When they reach six points, they earn a one-game suspension. For each point beyond six, they’re suspended for two games.

Sullinger was whistled for the two Flagrant 1 fouls during a 23-second span in the third quarter of the Celtics’ 129-98 loss to the Nuggets.

The first came when after he knocked J.J. Hickson to the floor during a drive to the basket. The next came when Sullinger hit Kenneth Faried with an elbow to the chin when Sullinger tried to clear room while attempting a short jumper.

Sullinger apologized for the second call, saying he didn’t mean to elbow Faried in the chin.

“That was a total mistake on my part and a miscalculation on my part,” Sullinger said before the Celtics faced the Clippers Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Sullinger said he isn’t sure if he can change his game to avoid committing hard fouls -- he described "growing up in an old-school household, watching old-school basketball" -- and he said he isn’t worried about developing an unsavory reputation.

“I’m just out there trying to protect my teammates, make sure we’re in the best possible position to win the basketball game,” he said. “Instead of just giving them 2 points, I decided to take the foul. I’ve just got be more careful. I’ve just got to wrap them up, maybe. Or be not so aggressive with them, maybe. I don’t know.”

He admitted that frustration – the Celtics had lost five straight entering the game and lost by a season-high 31 points to Denver – played a role in his play against the Nuggets.

“When you lose by so much, that’s one of the reasons,” he said. “And also when you go on a losing streak, you kind of get frustrated with yourself, because you try to play as hard as you can to put your team in position to win and it just seems like the ball is not rolling in our favor. You get real frustrated, but my problem was I wore my emotions on my sleeve instead of keeping it internal.”

Coach Brad Stevens said he addressed the issue with Sullinger, but that they’ve moved on. Stevens also said he isn’t concerned that Sullinger would change his style of play, thus affecting his overall game.

“That stuff all gets blown out of proportion,” Stevens said. “He’s a good basketball player. He’s made some mistakes in some of those circumstances. But that won’t change how effective he is on one end of the floor.”

Said Stevens, "He’s a young guy. He can change his reputation in a positive manner with continued play."

Ainge said he wasn’t worried about Sullinger.

“I’d much rather have a guy be overly aggressive and try to calm him down as he gets more mature and figures it all out than to have a guy that you never have to worry about being overly aggressive,” Ainge said.

“It’s something that we will address with Jared because flagrant fouls – not only do they lead to suspensions, but they’re also very penalizing during the course of a game.

"But at the same time, for the long-term benefits of Jared, I’m not worried about the reputation ... He just needs to learn to wrap guys up better and not swing the arm. I think he’ll learn.”

Celtics forward Gerald Wallace was in support of Sullinger after Tuesday’s game.

“I’m just happy to at least see someone from our bigs give a hard foul,” Wallace said. “He’s the only big willing to give a hard foul to not give up a layup. I’ll take that all day. We shouldn’t allow the other team’s guards to lay it up and dunk on us. I applaud him for that.”

When asked about Wallace’s comments, Sullinger smiled.

“You’ve got to understand – Gerald is old school,” Sullinger said. “Before the game (Tuesday), we were talking about high school basketball. Gerald said he won the national player of the year in high school in 2000. And I started laughing.

“I said, ‘I won it 10 years later after you.’ And he just got up and walked out the room. Growing up and just watching good, hard playoff basketball in the NBA and watching how things are changing, I have to change.”

Wallace said Tuesday that he didn’t think Sullinger would tone down his physical play because of the number of flagrant fouls he has received.

“I don’t think so, you know what I’m saying?” Wallace said. “If you’re going to build a reputation for being a hard-nosed player, you have to keep it going. It’s not like he’s going out there trying to hurt people or intentionally knock people out. He’s playing hard in the paint. A lot of bigs do that. Hopefully, it turns around for us.”

Welcome to Staples Center for Celtics-Clippers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 8, 2014 10:00 PM

LOS ANGELES -- The Celtics have now dropped five straight games, including Wednesday's embarrassing 129-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday that prompted some choice comments from forward Gerald Wallace, who said the Celtics are "all talk." They will have a chance to snap their losing streak against the shorthanded Clippers, who are missing Chris Paul, who is expected to miss six weeks with a separated right shoulder.

Brad Stevens was waiting until the final moments to announce his starting lineup and a candidate could be Kris Humphries over Brandon Bass at power forward. Stay tuned.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-22)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: MarShon Brooks, Rajon Rondo

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (24-13)
PG Darren Collison
SG Jamal Crawford
SF Jared Dudley
PF Blake Griffin
C DeAndre Jordan

Inactives: Chris Paul, J.J. Redick

Officials: Zach Zarba, Courtney Kirkland, JT Orr

TV, radio: 10:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Jared Sullinger now has five flagrant foul points after collecting two in a 23-second period Tuesday in Denver. If Sullinger picks up any additional flagrant fouls, he could serve a 1-game suspension (for a flagrant 1) or 2-game suspension for (a flagrant 2).

• Jerryd Bayless was 3-for-11 shooting with 6 points, 3 assists and 3 steals in his Celtics debut and Stevens said Bayless was trying to be too unselfish.

• Clippers coach Doc Rivers said injured guard J.J. Redick (broken hand) is getting closer to returning, which would move Jamal Crawford back to his more natural sixth-man position.

• The Celtics will take Thursday off and fly to San Francisco in preparation for a Friday game against the Golden State Warriors, who had their 10-game win streak snapped Wednesday at Brooklyn.

Gerald Wallace: 'Right now, we're the team that's all talk'

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 8, 2014 12:13 AM

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USA Today photo

DENVER – Gerald Wallace has emerged as the Celtics' voice of reason and biggest critic in his first season in Boston, and once again he challenged the team following its embarrassing 129-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Denver canned 14 3-pointers, attempted 38 free throws and led by 22 points at halftime.

The Celtics allowed 103 points through the first three quarters and looked discouraged and lethargic throughout the night.

"I'm very surprised. Right now, we're the team that's all talk," he said. "We talk about how we want to get better. We talk about things we need to do to get better. It's easy to go out and practice and do it. Practice doesn't really apply to anything with making yourself better. When they turn them lights on, when it really counts, when it's about the team and making the team better and trying to win as a team, we don't do it."

Jared Sullinger's evening exemplified that. He was called for two flagrant fouls in a 23-second span and was ejected in the third quarter. Sullinger now has five flagrant points and would serve a one-game suspension with his next flagrant 1 foul.

"Hey, Denver was doing everything the right way, so everything was going their way," Wallace said. "The way we played, the way we play as a team, the things that we do, we don't deserve to get the calls they got. They got them. Jared's first (flagrant) was 50-50 and the second one, I've seen that play done 50 times, that's my first time ever seen it called a flagrant foul. Everything was going their way, so why should we get the benefit of the doubt? We're not playing worth a crap anyway."

The Celtics have dropped eight of nine games and have allowed 248 points in the past two games. Wallace said he is done with team meetings and gatherings to figure out the issue.

"Like I said, guys gotta look in the mirror man. It's gotta be the individual. It's gotta be timeout for I and what I can do to help us win?" he said. "What can I do to help the team win? What can I come out on the court and provide to make our team better? Right now it's too much of 'I,' too many guys trying to do it on their own and in this league, that's hard to do."

When asked about Sullinger and his flagrant fouls, Wallace had nothing but support.

"Like I said, they had everything going, so it is what it is. I'm just happy to see somebody take a hard foul from our bigs," he said. "He's the only big that's willing to take a hard foul not to give up a layup. I'll take that all day. We get hammered going to the hole, we shouldn't allow the other team to just come in and lay it up and dunk on us. I applaud him for that.

"If you're going to build a reputation of being a hard-nosed player, you keep it going. Eventually, the refs gotta see it. It's not intentional. It's not like he's going out there trying to hurt people and intentionally knock people out. He's playing and he's playing hard in the paint. That's what bigs do. A lot of bigs do that. Hopefully it turns around for us."

Finally, Wallace said the Celtics have all the right answers in the locker room but they don't translate to the court.

"We done met, we done talked, we done did everything, we done argued, fussed, complained, moaned, everything you can do," he said. "It doesn't matter in here. It matters out there on the court. And until we can take all the talk and everything that we say in here and apply it to out on the court, it's useless, it's basically like talking to the wall."

The defense has slipped considerably. Randy Foye scored 23 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, most of them without a defender in his vision.

"It's a pride thing man. We know (Randy Foye's) a shooter, that's what he does," Wallace said. "The last two games, Oklahoma City, they probably had five, six dunks in a row on us. Just walking down the middle dunking. It's not about skills, it's about pride. Pride and playing as a team, pride and not wanting to be embarrassed. That's what it comes down to and we've got to figure it out."

Welcome to Pepsi Center for Celtics- Nuggets

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 7, 2014 07:50 PM

DENVER -- The Celtics continue their West Coast road trip with perhaps their most winnable game in a rematch with the Nuggets. The Celtics led wire-to-wire in a 106-98 victory over Denver on Dec. 6 at TD Garden. Jordan Crawford led the Celtics with 22 points and Kris Humphries added 18. Humphries is out tonight with a sprained ankle.

The Nuggets have recovered from an eight-game losing streak with two consecutive wins, including a 137-115 victory at the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets had seven players in double figures and scored 77 points in the second half. Former Celtic Nate Robinson scored 21 points off the bench.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-21)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: MarShon Brooks, Rajon Rondo

DENVER NUGGETS (16-17)
PG Ty Lawson
SG Randy Foye
SF Wilson Chandler
PF Kenneth Faried
C J.J, Hickson

Inactives: Danilo Gallinari, JaVale Mcgee

Officials: Rodney Mott, Steve Anderson, Kevin Scott

TV, radio: 9 p.m., CSNNE, WZLX-FM (100.7)

Pregame notes:

• Jerryd Bayless joined the team Tuesday morning and Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he will play extensively off the bench. Bayless will wear uniform #11, the same worn by former Celtic Courtney Lee.

• Bayless said he is "excited" to be in Boston and hopes to find a permanent home. The Celtics are his fifth team in six seasons.

• The Nuggets will be without veteran Andre Miller, likely until he is traded. Coach Brian Shaw said Miller, although active, will remain away from the team. He had been unhappy with his role.

• Stevens said MarShon Brooks is likely to return from NBADL Maine following two more games. Brooks is actually in Reno, Nev. playing in the D-League Showcase.

Jerryd Bayless will make his Celtics debut vs. Denver

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 7, 2014 02:11 PM

DENVER -- Jerryd Bayless knew Sunday would probably be his last day to wear a Memphis uniform. He knew that before he put it on for the last time, before the Grizzlies played Detroit on the road, because by then he had heard he was likely being traded to Boston.

Bayless then went out and scored 10 points in 26 minutes off the bench against the Pistons. He also had 5 assists. The Grizzlies won by an impressive 28 points.

When he got on the team's charter plane to head back to Memphis that night, he checked in with his agent, who told him the deal was going to happen, meaning the 25-year-old former lottery pick (2008) would soon be playing for his fifth team in six seasons.

And, with that news, the 6-foot-3-inch, 200-pound Bayless, who is averaging 8.1 points this season, slipped on his headphones, closed his eyes, leaned back in the seat, and tried to get some sleep. He knew he had a busy schedule ahead. And when the plane landed back in Memphis, he asked how quickly he had to join the Celtics, who are on a road trip out West.

Bayless then flew from Memphis to Denver, arriving here Monday morning, and he is expected to make his debut with the team Tuesday, when the Celtics face the Nuggets.

"The turnaround was so quick," Bayless said before shootaround Tuesday morning. "That’s the tough part about it. It’s something that we all signed up for. I’ve been through this before. I think I’ll be OK."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bayless, who was acquired in a three-team deal that involved the Celtics, Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder, will come off the bench. He'll also wear No. 11, the same number of the player he's replacing, reserve guard Courtney Lee, who was traded to Memphis.

To help balance the financial aspects of the swap, the Celtics also agreed to take forward Ryan Gomes from the Thunder in exchange for a 2016 second-round pick. The Celtics then waived Gomes Tuesday as soon as the deal became official.

In essence, the Celtics acquired a player they coveted in Bayless while also clearing some cap room by taking on his expiring $3.1 million contract and shipping out Lee's deal, which has two years and about $11 million left on it.

But the Celtics also gained a player who had scored in torrents against them, including averaging 18.5 points in two meetings this season.

"We've always liked Jerryd," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who has watched Bayless play since he was in high school in Arizona.

Bayless laughed when asked if he remembers his big games against the team he now plays for.

"Yeah, I remember them," he said. "It went well. Hopefully that can kind of correlate and translate to me being in Boston now. I’m excited. I can’t say that enough. I’m excited about this opportunity. I’m excited about moving to Boston and just being a part of the community and the organization."

Stevens seemed relieved to have Bayless on his side.

"My impressions of his game are that he’s a guy that can go on some scoring streaks," said Stevens. "Obviously he did that against us.

"He does give us more flexibility in ball-handling, with regard to playing some '1,' which is good. And he’s been around, obviously, an organization that’s had some pretty good success getting to the Western Conference finals last year, and he played a big role in that."

Bayless, who has also played for Toronto, New Orleans, and Portland, will likely play shooting guard for Boston, though he has also played point guard.

"Whatever I can help this team with is what I’m going to try to do," said Bayless, "and obviously when [Rajon] Rondo gets back, it’s going to be more [shooting guard]. He’s the best point guard in the league."

When asked how the lineups would change when Rondo does return from knee surgery, Stevens said, "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

Bayless has to adjust to new teammates, new coaches, and a new system, but he has done that before, having been traded three times before this. He said he wasn't surprised when this one happened, because he is in a contract year, and the NBA is a business, after all.

Still, it meant that he had to move on, again.

"I have bounced a lot," he said. "I really am looking for a home where I can settle in.

"I don’t think it’s a negative thing, because at the end of the day, every time you bounce around, somebody else wants you. That’s the way I try to look at it. Here, hopefully this can be one of my last stops."

Five things to know about Jerryd Bayless

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 6, 2014 12:09 PM

bayless5things.jpg

The Celtics have reached a deal to trade shooting guard Courtney Lee to the Memphis Grizzlies for fifth-year guard Jerryd Bayless, a league source told the Globe's Baxter Holmes Sunday. The deal sends Lee to his sixth team in five NBA seasons and brings the Celtics a guard with a similar skill set to the one he replaces. It also saves the Celtics $11 million over the next two seasons.

In Lee, the Celtics are losing a player who has made 44 percent of his 3-pointers this season, on pace for a career high. Here's what they're getting in Bayless:

1. He was a top draft pick: You want the Celtics to acquire more lottery picks? They just did. Bayless was the 11th pick in the 2008 draft after averaging 19.7 points per game in his only season at the University of Arizona. He won the most valuable player award in the Summer League that year after averaging 29.8 points per game. In that same 2008 draft, Lee was the 22d pick out of Western Kentucky. Brook Lopez went one pick ahead of Bayless at No. 10. The Celtics selected J.R. Giddens with the No. 30 pick.

2. He's having a bad year: The worst year since his rookie season, if PER (player efficiency rating) is your measure. A measure of a player's efficiency on the court with a league average of 15, Bayless's PER is 11.5 in 31 games. He's shooting 37 percent from the floor and 30 percent from 3-point range, both well below his career averages of 41 percent and 35 percent. The numbers stand in contrast to Lee's above-average year thus far.

3. He's 6 feet 3 inches tall: Good sleuthing, Dzen, you really cracked the code on this guy. But Bayless's height matters because at 6-5, Lee was the tallest guard in the Celtics rotation. That allowed him to guard taller players, sometimes even small forwards. The Celtics don't have a guard like that now.

4. He's a Celtics killer: At least over the last two seasons. On Nov. 4, Bayless scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter to help lead the Grizzlies to a 100-93 win. Last season, he put up 30 points vs. Boston in a win on March 23.

5. He has an expiring contract: Monetary considerations are part of every deal, but they may be the biggest factor in any deals the Celtics make going forward. Bayless and his $3.1 million come off the books after this season. Lee had two years remaining on his contract. The Celtics continue to butt against the NBA's salary cap line of $71.748 million, and they have some priorities this offseason, such as signing Avery Bradley and clearing even more space for bigger signings down the road.

Do you like the deal? Take our survey below.


Source: Celtics reach deal to send Lee to Memphis for Jerryd Bayless

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 5, 2014 04:28 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Celtics reached an agreement that will send Courtney Lee to Memphis in exchange for Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless, a league source confirmed to the Globe Sunday.

The deal will give the Celtics a young, athletic perimeter player who has torched them in the past while, more importantly, giving the team more financial flexibility, which the organization greatly covets in this new era of rebuilding.

A potential trade announcement was expected to come as early as Monday.

Lee, who was traded to the Celtics in 2012, posted a photo on his personal Instagram account and it included, in the caption, a message for Celtics fans.

“Would like to thank every1 in the Celtics organization for the opportunity to be a Celtic,” Lee wrote. “I enjoyed my time in Boston and am grateful…Would also like to thank the fans for the amazing year and a half journey. We started off a little rocky, but I got my game back right so thanks for the extra motivation #allgoodthingscometoanend!!!”

Bayless, who’s averaging 8 points and 2.0 assists over 20.8 minutes per game, has a $3.1-million contract that will expire after this season.

And by dealing Lee, the Celtics will shed salary, clearing the nearly $11 million that is left on his contract, which has two seasons left after this one.

The NBA’s luxury-tax line this season is $71.748 million, and the Celtics, with 14 signed players, are just under it, paying out roughly $71.2 million in salaries.

If this deal goes through as expected, the Celtics will move even further under the tax line.

Lee, who was averaging 7.4 points per game over 16.8 minutes per game this season, was not in uniform nor was he on the bench when the Celtics faced the Oklahoma City Thunder here Sunday.

When asked before the game about Lee, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, “(He) probably won’t play, but that’s as far as I’ll go on that one.”

The Grizzlies can use a trade exception that they gained by recently dealing Rudy Gay to help absorb Lee’s contract, making it a player-for-player swap.

Bayless has been a thorn in the Celtics’ side before.

The 25-year-old former Arizona standout scored 15 points, all in the fourth quarter, of his team’s 95-88 win over the Celtics on Nov. 4 in Memphis.

Bayless scored a season-high 22 points against the Celtics later that month when the teams met in Boston. The Grizzlies won that game, 100-93.

And last season, Bayless scored 30 points in a 110-106 Memphis win on March 23.

For Lee, the potential deal could mean that he’ll be playing for his fifth team since being drafted by Orlando in 2008.

The former Western Kentucky star was dealt to the Nets in 2009 and then to Houston in 2010.

In 2012, as part of a three-team trade, Lee was shipped to Boston, and he struggled in his first season as a Celtic, eventually losing his place in the starting lineup.

Pelicans' Ryan Anderson exits game on stretcher

Posted by Staff January 3, 2014 09:26 PM

In the first minute of the fourth quarter at TD Garden Friday night, New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson left the game against the Celtics on a stretcher following a collision with Gerald Wallace.

A Celtics spokesman said Anderson suffered a cervical stinger.

The exit came several minutes after the two appeared to butt heads. Wallace bounced back up, apparently unscathed.

Trainers tended to Anderson and players and coaches from both teams surrounded him as he was placed on the stretcher. Anderson's neck and head were immobilized.

Wallace was the last player to talk to Anderson before exiting.

At the time of the injury, Anderson had 13 points — tied for the team lead — and seven rebounds. The Celtics held a 75-73 lead.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Pelicans

Posted by Staff January 3, 2014 07:19 PM

Following a loss to the Bulls Thursday night, the Celtics — losers of five of their last six — didn’t get back to Boston until mid-day Friday due to the first nor’easter of the year. Friday’s contest against the Pelicans will serve as one-game stay before the team heads out for a five-game Western Conference swing. New Orleans last played Wednesday when it dropped a 124-112 decision to the Timberwolves.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-19)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: MarShon Brooks, Rajon Rondo

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (14-16)
PG Jrue Holiday
SG Eric Gordon
SF Al-Farouq Aminu
PF Ryan Anderson
PF Anthony Davis

Inactives: Jason Smith

Officials: Ed Malloy, Ben Taylor, Mark Ayotte

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• The Celtics’ flight arrived around 1 p.m. this afternoon, but they weren’t about to make that an excuse for potentially playing poorly. “No excuses from our standpoint,” Brad Stevens said. “We have a game to play.”

• The staff loaded the players’ iPads with scouting information on New Orleans before the flight back to Boston, but Stevens stressed the most important thing was rest. Courtney Lee said Stevens stressed getting back on defense against what can be a quick Pelicans team.

• Jared Sullinger, who is continuing to wear a brace on his bruised left hand, maintained he’ll play through it until trainers suggest otherwise. Stevens said long-term damage is unlikely, but he did see Sulliinger a bit uncomfortable Thursday against Chicago. “I’ll just keep a pulse on that,” Stevens said.

• With this game the only one at home during a 10-day, seven-game stretch, the consensus was that looms large in terms of picking up momentum during a tough stretch. “We get this win, we start building momentum for going on the road,” Courtney Lee said. “That builds confidence and we feel comfortable about things, so we need to get this win.”

Rondo says he's "pretty close" to return to Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 2, 2014 08:32 PM

CHICAGO – Rajon Rondo said Thursday he is open to a rehabilitation stint with NBADL Maine and is getting “pretty close” after missing nearly a year following tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament.

“I’m better than last week when I talked to you guys,” he said, referring to his Dec. 22 meeting with the media. “I’m still getting my endurance but I’m getting pretty close, feeling good, feeling better. Like I said, I feel better than last week.”

Rondo, who has been traveled with the team and was cleared to practice three weeks ago, has been working out arduously to approach game shape, saying he does not want to return only to suffer another injury setback.

“A like a 12-minute quarter, straight,” he said when asked whether there is one sign that he’s ready to return. “I don’t want to go out there and get fatigued and cause another injury. I want to makes sure I’m ready to go and I’m in shape.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Monday that the organization had discussed sending Rondo to Maine for game action and practice time. Rondo had been mum about the possibility until Thursday. If Rondo does play with the Red Claws, it would likely be away from Maine. After Sunday, Maine hits the road for five games on the West Coast before returning to Portland on Jan. 18.

“That’s an idea definitely,” he said. “That’s more game-like speed with our schedule, the Celtics, we don’t a chance to play a lot of pickup, so that might be a possibility. You just never know, I might just pop up and play. You guys won’t get the memo. You just have to catch me on YouTube or something. Each week I’m getting better so I just want to give it a test when I have a chance.”

When asked if he was truly open to playing in the D-League, he said: “That’s what it’s for. I’ll probably be the first (NBA player) to (use it as rehab) but it doesn’t make a difference. I want to make sure I’m healthy and I handle it the right way. I don’t want my first time to come back out game-like to be the first time with the Celtics. I haven’t had a preseason. I haven’t had a training camp. Right now, this is my training camp.”

Rondo had a conversation with Atlanta’s Lou Williams, who underwent ACL surgery a week before Rondo but has been playing for nearly a month.

“Basically what stuck out to me was he said there’s going to be some good days and bad days,” Rondo said. “Especially for the first 18 months of the recovery. Lou Williams is out there with no brace. He’s playing well and he’s game where he had 28 (points). It’s a matter of getting his rhythm back.”

The Celtics entered Thursday in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race despite a 13-18 record. Boston has been one of the league’s most surprising teams because of the chemistry quickly gained under Stevens but Rondo said the team’s record will have nothing to do with the timing of his return.

“I’m pretty motivated regardless of our team’s record,” he said. “I told myself before the season I wasn’t going to base it off our record. It’s based off how I feel. We could be 2-30 right now, if I’m able to come back and play I want to play. I love the game. I’ve been away for a long time, and when I feel ready to play, I’m going to play.”

Rondo has not played in an NBA game since tearing his knee ligament Jan. 25 at Atlanta, more than 11 months ago.

“It’s frustrating, it’s rough,” he said. “It’s a lot of things that you go through but it’s how you handle it. I’m going through a lot of adversity but I’m staying positive and I have a lot of supportive people around me.”

Welcome to United Center for Celtics-Bulls

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 2, 2014 07:24 PM

CHICAGO -- Hopefully you've made it safely out of the snow and into warm quarters for what could be an interesting game tonight. The Celtics will play six of their next seven games on the road -- all against teams who will likely be favored -- beginning with Chicago, which is getting back to full health with the notable exception of Derrick Rose. The Celtics are coming off a tough home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday but appear refreshed after a day off.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-18)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

CHICAGO BULLS (12-18)
PG Kirk Hinrich
SG Jimmy Butler
SF Luol Deng
PF Carlos Boozer
C Joakim Noah

Inactives: Derrick Rose, Marquis Teague

Officials: Bill Kennedy, Josh Tiven, Scott Twardoski

TV, radio: 8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, (WZLX 100.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Jared Sullinger has been nursing a bruised left hand but coach Brad Stevens said he will continue to play and there is no structural damage with the hand.

• Luol Deng has returned Tuesday when an Achilles injury and scored 16 points in 34 minutes. He has historically played well against the Celtics.

• Rajon Rondo said before the game that he is open to play with NBADL Maine to get back into game shape and he is getting "close" to a return. He has not played since Jan. 25, 2013.

• The Celtics had planned to fly back to Boston immediately following the game but postponed their flight to 10 a.m. because of the impending storm. The New Orleans Pelicans, Friday's opponent, arrived in Boston Thursday afternoon during a small window where Logan Airport was open.

Some New Year's resolutions for the Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 2, 2014 10:05 AM

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I've never been a big fan of resolutions. My thought has always been that you shouldn't wait until the New Year to join that gym or read that book or start being nice to your boss. You shouldn't have to do these things at all, frankly, and you certainly shouldn't have to listen to your friends cry and moan on social media about how things are really going to be different this year.

I don't like making resolutions, but that changes when the resolution is for someone else. Getting on someone else for not doing things right is much easier than facing up to my own deficiencies. Without further ado, and from the comfort of my office chair, here are my 2014 resolutions for some of the Celtics.

Rajon Rondo: Get better Notice how I didn't say "get back on the court by Feb. 1" or anything like that. Rushing back is foolish for Rondo in a lot of ways. It could jeopardize his health, and the Celtics don't need to put their star player at risk during a season in which the playoffs are not a priority. Danny Ainge has admitted as such. Rondo's health may be the single most important factor to the future of this franchise, whether the Celtics decide to build around him or send him elsewhere this summer. Get better, Rajon.

Jeff Green: Be more consistent I can't tell you how many times I've been watching a game this season and thought, sometimes out loud, "Where's Jeff Green?" Green is capable of putting up big numbers -- 31 points against Cleveland, 29 against the Clippers --but he's just as likely to throw up a dud. His point totals in games in December: 15, 16, 19, 29, 8, 8, 13, 13, 11, 19, 8.

Green is averaging 15.9 points per game, up from the 12.8 he averaged last season but nowhere near the 20.3 he averaged last spring in a playoff series with the Knicks, which some saw as a precursor to bigger things.

Kelly Olynyk: Be patient And this goes for fans, too. Olynyk's talent is obvious, especially on the offensive end, but he's struggled with his shooting in his rookie season (.404, .281 from three). On defense he remains a work in progress. It will take time for his skill set to come together. The flashes of brilliance are there; Olynyk runs the floor well and sees it even better. He'll be a regular rotation player for years to come. For now, though, give him time.

Avery Bradley: Keep building Bradley has rebounded nicely after a difficult season last year. Not playing point guard has helped, as has much improved shooting (.454, .388 from three). Bradley's a player I've never given up on. His one remarkable skill, his on-the-ball defense, is so much above that of the average player that he'll have a place in the league for a long time (imagine Bradley as the third guard on the San Antonio Spurs or some other contender, for example). Bradley doesn't need to do everything. When Rondo comes back and with more scorers around him, he should be just fine.

Jordan Crawford: Keep driving Crawford has done a nice job sliding into the role of the team's No. 3 scorer, but his old nemesis -- shot selection -- has come into question recently. Crawford was 3 for 15 last game against the Hawks, making 1 of 7 3-pointers. Threes have never been his strong suit (31 percent for his career), and that's still true this season.

Look at Crawford's shot chart.

Shotchart_1388681606180.png

Why settle for threes with that kind of a mid-range game?

Jared Sullinger: Play your game All NBA players have slumps. Sullinger is going through his first one now, averaging 5.3 points on 28 percent shooting his last three games. That's got to be frustrating for a guy who takes most of his attempts three feet from the rim.

Sullinger has shown he can step out and take the occasional 3-pointer this year, but that doesn't mean he should abandon his junk game. Pound the glass, seal guys off, and throw in some more of those half-hooks. It's worked at every level of his career, and there's no reason to think it won't continue to.

Brad Stevens: Appreciate the process By all accounts, the first-year Celtics coach has exceeded expectations. The Celtics weren't supposed to be good -- and they still sort of aren't -- but they're playing a respectable brand of basketball. Stevens has the Celtics playing hard. They're 10th in the league in defensive rating and 12th in total rebounding. They've lost more games than they've won, but they haven't looked bad doing it.

Stevens has turned around the fortunes of Bradley and Courtney Lee. He's gotten through to Rondo and kept him engaged. He's made Kris Humphries likable and helped turn Sullinger into a rising star. The wins will come, Brad, but maybe not this season. And there's nothing wrong with that.

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