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Ainge speaks with Rondo, says he's 'satisfied'

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 28, 2014 01:13 PM

WALTHAM -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he has cleared the air with point guard Rajon Rondo about his absence from the team trip to Sacramento to remain in Los Angeles and attend a birthday celebration in his honor.

Ainge would not reveal whether Rondo had been disciplined or fined but said the situation has been resolved. Rondo, who was not supposed to play against the Kings, did not travel to Sacramento with his teammates, instead meeting the team in Salt Lake City on Sunday. Rondo has played in the past two games and told reporters his plans were his "business. Not yours."

"It was between Rondo and I and I learned some things that I didn't know and we had a lot conversation about it and I'm satisfied with it," he told the Globe. "He learned from it, too. Let's move on."

When asked if the incident hurt Rondo's perception throughout the NBA, Ainge said: "I have no idea. I don't think so. It certainly shouldn't. It doesn't change my perception of him at all."

Ainge would not say Rondo was at fault for missing the game or whether it was a misunderstanding but he defended his point guard.

"Whether it was a mistake or whether it wasn't a mistake, I think is in question," he said. "Second of all, if those that want to assume that it was a mistake, leaders make mistakes. All leaders make mistakes. That's just part of it. That doesn't disqualify them as leaders. Leaders learn, too."

Rondo did not speak before the team's practice Friday. In two games since missing the trip, he is averaging 20 points, 10.5 assists and is 14-for-27 shooting. The Celtics play their next back-to-back set on March 11 and March 12 at Indiana and home to the New York Knicks. It is uncertain whether Rondo would rest his surgically repaired right knee against New York.

Injury-ravaged Celtics lose Wallace for season

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 28, 2014 12:47 PM

WALTHAM -- There was a time where the Celtics' roster was loaded with players, depth wasn't an issue for coach Brad Stevens.

Those days are long gone after an eventful Friday at the team's practice facility, when Stevens revealed that veteran forward Gerald Wallace has a torn meniscus and bone spurs in his ankle and is out for the season.

Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed Wallace is out for the season and will need surgery. He has two more years on his contract. Also, Stevens said Vitor Faverani had a second opinion on his sore left knee and may also need surgery, although Ainge said it was "premature" to assume the burly center will miss the rest of the season.

"Listen, a lot of teams go through injury and we're going through our share right now and that's just part of it," Ainge said. "It's been very refreshing to have Gerald. He brings great energy to the game and great passion and intensity that I think our players and our fans feel. He will be missed."

Meanwhile, Stevens added that Kelly Olynyk (sprained left big toe) is doubtful for Saturday against Indiana but may return Wednesday and Avery Bradley (sprained right ankle) will be re-examined next week. Jared Sullinger (concussion) was expected to practice today and could play Saturday against Indiana.

The Celtics added Chris Babb from NBADL Maine to a 10-day contract for depth. The Celtics roster is full at 15 players and Ainge said the team has no intentions of buying out the contract of Keith Bogans, who had two more nonguaranteed years on his contract, which could be used as a trade chip this summer. So the Celtics will go with 14 players.

"We're concerned to have a shorter number of guys than we usually do for players, developing of our players," Ainge said. "For right now, we're hurting but I see those guys (Olynyk, Sullinger, Bradley) coming back in a short window anyway."

Much ado about Rajon Rondo

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff February 27, 2014 10:11 AM

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Two sides of Rajon Rondo were on display Wednesday night, and the contrast between the images is striking.

The first, of Rondo diving for a loose ball in a 115-104 win over the Hawks, shows the best of a player fans have come to love. Tommy Heinsohn was so enthralled he gave Rondo not one but FIVE Tommy Points. Rondo had a season-high 22 points and 11 assists in the win.

The other image, of Rondo standing at his locker disdainfully answering questions about skipping the Kings game over the weekend to stay in Los Angeles for his birthday, is tougher to look at.

"Nobody knows the story, so keep making up every story you guys possibly can," Rondo told the media, including the affable Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram, who asked the question. "It's my business. It's my choice."

With those comments, Rondo reignited a debate on Twitter and sports talk radio about whether or not he's fit to lead this team for the future. Words like "petulant" were tossed around, as if Rondo is a child. A journalist I respect, Comcast's Mike Giardi, compared Rondo to former Red Sox King of Crabbiness Josh Beckett. Nevermind that Rondo attended every game this season while injured, holding a clipboard and engaging his teammates despite the fact that he --everyone -- knows the Celtics don't have much to play for in 2013-14.

Rondo did nothing to help himself -- a simple, "It was a misunderstanding, I told someone with the team but should have told coach Stevens" would have sufficed -- but the Celtics aren't helping him, either. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Herald Monday that the Celtics were looking into the incident. Coach Brad Stevens said he was moving on from the incident but stopped well short of excusing Rondo's absence. All of this leads to speculation that Rondo's time in Boston might end sooner rather than later.

“All that, we’re handling internally,” said Stevens. “We’ve sat down and talked. We did that Monday. In my mind, I’m moving forward, and then when Danny [Ainge] gets back in town, they can meet and go from there.”

What do you think? Is this Rondo story much ado about nothing, or a larger reflection on his leadership? Vote in the poll below.


Rondo on missing Sacramento: 'It's my business. Not yours'

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 26, 2014 11:58 PM
Rajon Rondo addressed his missing the Celtics' trip to Sacramento, instead choosing to stay in Los Angeles and celebrate his 28th birthday while the Celtics were losing to the Kings 105-98. Rondo was not scheduled to play in that game to rest his surgically repaired right knee.

When asked about the commotion caused by his skipping the trip, he said: “I haven't really read much about it. Heard a lot of comments. Nobody knows the story,” he said. “You guys keep making up every story you guys possibly can. It's my business. Not yours."

Rondo said he is accustomed to the trade rumors, and perhaps Saturday's celebration was as much about remaining a Celtic as it was for his birthday.

"It’s pretty much the same. I think this trade deadline was the most I’ve been in trade talk, pretty much up to the deadline but it’s not always a bad thing,” he said. “Somebody wants you. You can look at it two ways. I don’t really choose to let it bother me. I try to continue to go out there and play as well as possible while I’m a Celtic."

Rondo said he enjoys being the team leader.

"I think this year is bigger than most but the past three or four years, me being the point guard on the floor, the extension of the coach, I've been the leader since I've been here," he said. "Everyone has their own opinion. I’m going to go out every night and play as hard as I can. That’s all I can do. That’s the only thing I can control is how hard I play for my team and for myself."

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Hawks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 26, 2014 06:16 PM

The Celtics return home after a winless road trip to face the shorthanded Hawks. The problem is, the Celtics are equally as shorthanded. Coach Brad Stevens announced that Kelly Olynyk, who had played well of late, would miss the next two games with a sprained toe sustained against the Sacramento Kings. The team feared it was broken but X-rays were negative.

Jared Sullinger is out with a concussion although he is improving. Sullinger also will miss Saturday's game against the Indiana Pacers. Stevens said Avery Bradley is improving but he won't be back until next Wednesday against Golden State at the earliest.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-39)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Jerryd Bayless
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

ATLANTA HAWKS (26-30)
PG Jeff Teague
SG Shelvin Mack
SF Kyle Korver
PF DeMarre Carroll
C Elton Brand

Inactives: Pero Antic, John Jenkins, Al Horford

Officials: Bill Spooner, Eric Lewis, JT Orr

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

Pregame notes:

• Brad Stevens was asked about Rajon Rondo missing Saturday's game against Sacramento to attend his birthday party. He said he had a discussion with Rondo before and after the team returned to Boston and is "moving forward." Rondo did not speak before the game.

• Stevens said he has had brief conversations with Danny Ainge about making another roster addition with the team being so shorthanded. But he said there has been nothing more than conversations.

• The Hawks will be without All-Star Paul Millsap because of a right knee contusion. He missed the past two games with the injury. Pero Antic (stress fracture, right ankle) and Al Horford (right pectoral muscle surgery) are out.

• The Celtics are expected to practice the next two days before taking on the revamped Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Celtics Mailbag: Is it Draft Day yet?

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff February 25, 2014 02:34 PM

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Only 121 short days separate us from the 2014 NBA Draft. If you managed to watch all four games of the Celtics' Western road trip, which concluded with a 110-98 loss to the Utah Jazz last night, that number is of great interest to you. It also means you need to find a more productive hobby.

Boston's last three games were against teams directly "competing" against them for a higher draft pick in June. The Bucks and Sixers have an upper hand on the league's worst record, but after that, the Celtics are among six teams that could end up with the third-worst record and a shot the top players in the lottery.

I watched every minute of the four road games so you didn't have to. Here's what you missed:

-- The C's are way better with Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger and way worse without them. This Sullinger stat is mind-blowing:

-- Kris Humphries is a better-than-average defender in the post. DeMarcus Cousins was so flustered by his defense Saturday night that he was openly shoving any Celtic he saw in the fourth quarter. Somehow he wasn't thrown out of the game.

-- Brandon Bass has been the Celtics' best player this season, and it isn't close

-- Make a couple of bad calls, dagnabbit, and Brad Stevens is gonna letcha know it.

Now on to the questions.

Part 1: Who is the best of the big guys that will be available to the worst six teams? Part 2: In your opinion, are Rondo and Sullinger Celtics next year?
Duffdaddy, JP

Jumping right into the draft stuff is a good place to start. I'm admittedly not an expert on all of the college prospects, but around mid-January, I usually ramp up my viewing just enough to make a fool of myself in the bracket office pool.

Joel Embiid is still the obvious No. 1 big man in my mind based on his combination of size and skill and his relatively rapid learning curve considering how new he is to the game. The other guy I really like is the kid from Indiana, Noah Vonleh. He is 6 feet 10 inches with a 7-3 wingspan, and can face up to the basket and take people off the dribble. NBADraft.net calls him a combo forward in the mold of Jamal Mashburn. Oh, and he's from Haverhill, which would play well here.

On your Part 2, yes to Sullinger for sure. In my heart of hearts, I believe Rondo stays next season and gives the Celtics a real shot to re-sign him, provided the building process is on track by then.

These next two questions are related:

Do you see Jeff Green becoming a key piece of our future or will we depart him in the upcoming offseason?
Braeden S., Perth, Australia

To Braeden: Neither. I see Green remaining on the team next season, but I wouldn't call him a key piece. He may be the most athletic 6-9 guy the Celtics have ever had, but we've seen enough at this point to know that Green can be the fourth- or fifth-best player on a good team and not much more.

In response to Colin's question, it's the flashes of athleticism and scoring in bunches that make it hard to quit Jeff Green. He's not a bad player, nowhere close to it, but he's not going to be Paul Pierce, either.

Two questions about the SG position.
1. Do you think Ainge should make a move for Lance Stephenson this summer because it's better to pay Lance $10-$12mil/yr than Avery Bradley $8mil/yr.?
2. If we don't get a top 3 pick, I was thinking we could draft Marcus Smart and play him at the 2 alongside Rondo and trade Avery Bradley. What do you think?
Carleton, Norway

Two great questions. I'm all in on Lance Stephenson, but I also think that the difference between $12 million annually and $8 million annually is nothing to sniff at. There's risk involved in being the team that gives Stephenson his first big contract, though the package is intriguing. I'm also pretty high on Bradley, even if I think he projects as a perfect third guard/sixth man.

Which leads into Question 2. I think Rondo and Smart would be very, very interesting in the backcourt, with Bradley off the bench, but then you really need a scoring wing, someone who can flat-out light it up. The Celtics also need a center who can defend. In my opinion, those are Priorities 1 and 2. Love the international questions, keep 'em coming.

If today was the draft, who should the Celtics draft?
Jon, Plainview

Not knowing where they'll pick, I still hold out hope that the Celtics can get Andrew Wiggins at No. 3 if he slips to there.

Bass has a reasonable $6.95 million on the books for next season. I'm with you in thinking Ainge did the right thing here, Mark, because I don't think anyone offered a pick as compensation without sending bad salary in return. It's a shame someone like Golden State didn't see the need to make that deal, though. Bass could be playing 25 minutes per game for that team.

I somewhat question the direction the Celtics have taken since the beginning of the year. Being a diehard Celtic fan, I never thought we were tanking the season in the beginning of the year. However, with the team getting rid of some key players who were showing some promise (Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford ,etc.), it now appears from their play we really now have a lost season. In addition, with Rondo stating he is looking forward to free agency, we may be even set back more than it appears. Hoping I am wrong. What are your opinions and do you think Danny has a plan from here on? I am concerned because of all the draft picks we have stacked up in the future; it appears most of them could very well end up being lower-end first-round draft picks, and will there be good players around at that time? I still believe in Danny but now that things have really taken a turn, would love to hear your thoughts.
Sonny, Fort Myers

As tough as it is, Sonny, my advice to you is to be patient. I know that's hard to do as a fan who cares about the team. The last four games have been painful to watch, and the remainder of the schedule should be tough as well. But the plan that went into action when the C's traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett is still in place. It really hasn't even started yet.

Here are the first-round picks the Celtics have over the next few seasons:

2014 1st round: Boston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia (lottery protected)
2015 1st round: Boston, LA Clippers, Philadelphia (lottery protected)
2016 1st round: Boston, Brooklyn
2017 1st round: Boston
2018 1st round: Boston, Brooklyn

Some of those picks may get higher in the lottery, but there are good players there. Some of the picks may ultimately be packaged for an All-Star. Rondo may bring something in return in a trade, but the more likely scenario I see is that he stays and signs a contract here. Testing free agency doesn't mean he wants to leave, it's just the right thing for him to do financially. Hang in there, it's going to get better.

That's all for this week. Thanks, all, for your questions.

Report: Rajon Rondo skips Kings game without permission

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff February 25, 2014 12:22 PM

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo wasn't scheduled to play against the Sacramento Kings Saturday night, but his decision to skip the game to spend his birthday with family in Los Angeles has irked at least some in the Celtics organization, the Boston Herald reports.

Rondo did not receive official permission for the move, according to the Herald, though the team is also not treating the absence as a big deal.

“I plan on talking to Rondo when he gets back into town,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Herald. “I’ll find out more about what went into it, and then we’ll handle it internally. We handle all of those kind of issues internally.”

Rondo didn't want to talk about the incident before Monday night's loss to the Jazz.

“We already talked about it,” Rondo told the Herald. “There’s nothing to talk about.”

Rondo's wife and children were with him in Los Angeles, and Rondo stayed back to spend time with them, the report says.

Welcome to EnergySolutions Arena for Celtics-Jazz

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 24, 2014 01:56 PM

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Celtics finish their West Coast road trip with one last chance to eke out a win against a Jazz team that is headed for another NBA Draft Lottery. The Celtics dropped a tough 105-98 decision to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, a game which coach Brad Stevens and forward Gerald Wallace was ejected by official Marc Davis.

Rajon Rondo is back after taking Saturday off, his first game since turning 28. The Jazz have played better since a horrid start but we'll have to wait until next season to see the first matchup between close buddies Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke. Burke missed the first meeting with a fractured thumb and Sullinger will miss tonight with a concussion.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-37)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Jeff Green
SF Gerald Wallace
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

UTAH JAZZ (19-36)
PG Trey Burke
SG Gordon Hayward
SF Richard Jefferson
PF Marvin Williams
C Derrick Favors

Inactives: Ian Clark, Malcolm Thomas

Officials: Tom Washington, Nick Buchert, Sean Corbin

TV, radio: 9 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Coach Brad Stevens returned to Salt Lake City, where he enjoyed two of his greatest victories as a college coach during the Elite Eight in 2010. His Butler Bulldogs beat Syracuse and Kansas State here at EnergySolutions Arena, leading Butler to its first Final Four. Or course, Stevens coached Jazz standout Gordon Hayward at Butler.

• Stevens said he is unsure whether the Celtics need another body after fielding just 10 players for the Jazz game. He said Avery Bradley (sprained ankle) is progressing from a sprained right ankle. It is uncertain when Vitor Faverani (left knee) will return.

• Derrick Favors (hip injury) worked out before the game and was declared healthy enough to play. He missed the past three games.

• The Celtics will fly back to Boston late Monday night and will take Tuesday off before facing the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. The Celtics get two days off after that and then three days off following Saturday's game with the Indiana Pacers.

Welcome to Sleep Train Arena for Celtics-Kings

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 22, 2014 09:10 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Celtics continue through their west coast road swing with a game at Sacramento, a team they beat handily two weeks ago. But the Celtics will be severely shorthanded, missing Rajon Rondo (rest) and Jared Sullinger, who was diagnosed with a mild concussion following an elbow to the head by the Lakers' Chris Kaman.

It is uncertain whether Sullinger has to pass through the NBA-mandated concussion tests but assuming he does, he is likely out for Monday's trip finale at Utah. Phil Pressey will get the start at point guard and Kris Humphries at center. The Kings will get Rudy Gay back for this rematch. He missed the previous meeting at Boston with flulike symptoms.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-37)

PG Phil Pressey
SG Jeff Green
SF Gerald Wallace
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

SACRAMENTO KINGS (18-36)
PG Isaiah Thomas
SG Ben McLemore
SF Rudy Gay
PF Jason Thompson
C DeMarcus Cousins

Inactives: Jason Terry

Officials: Marc Davis, David Guthrie, Eli Roe

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

Pregame notes:

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Rondo will play Monday at Utah and the rest is a byproduct of recovery from his knee surgery. Stevens said the decision of when Rondo will play in the second game of back-to-back sets will be determined by several parties. Rondo said his body is not ready for consecutive games.

• The Kings have decided to tell Jason Terry to stay home and rehabilitate his sore left knee instead of making an appearance with the club. Terry said he injured the knee early last season with the Celtics and underwent surgery soon after the playoff loss to the Knicks. Terry played 35 games for the Brooklyn Nets and averaged a career-low 4.5 points. He was acquired from the Nets in the Marcus Thornton deal.

• Sullinger woke up this morning with headaches but he did finish the game after his collision with Kaman. He was not with the team in the locker room.

• The Celtics will take Sunday off before a Monday game with the Utah Jazz to conclude the road trip. The club returns home for a five-game homestand beginning Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Welcome to Staples Center for Celtics-Lakers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 21, 2014 09:12 PM

LOS ANGELES -- The Celtics have 25 games left in their season and their roster should remain mostly intact after making no moves before the Thursday NBA trade deadline. With that difficult period over, the club can now concentrate on improving and progessing for the remainder of the season.

The final three games of this west coast road trip are winnable. The Lakers (18-36), Kings (18-36) and Jazz (19-34) are the remaining opponents. Rajon Rondo will play tonight against the Lakers but won't Saturday against the Kings because he said his knee is not ready to withstand back-to-back games. The Lakers will get Pau Gasol back from a strained right groin injury and have dropped a club-record eight consecutive games at Staples Center.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-36)

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

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (18-36)
PG Kendall Marshall
SG Jodie Meeks
SF Wesley Johnson
PF Ryan Kelly
C Pau Gasol

Inactives: Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry

Officials: Ken Mauer, Curtis Blair, Courtney Kirkland

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

Pregame notes:

• When asked about the trade deadline, Rondo said: "I'm under contract with the Celtics and that's who I play for. (The rumors) get annoying at times but it's been like that the last eight years. This is what I do for a living. It's not who I am. I'll be 28 tomorrow and I have a long life to live. This is part of what happens when you're an NBA player.

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he is not going to suddenly increase playing time to younger players for the express purpose of getting experience. He said he will give playing time to those players who deserve it. Kelly Olynyk has played well of late, Stevens said, and has earned increased minutes.

• The Celtics will be facing a familiar face in MarShon Brooks, who was acquired this week in the Steve Blake trade. Brooks will wear No. 2 for the Lakers. He was traded along with Jordan Crawford to the Warriors in the three-team deal that netted Joel Anthony and two draft picks.

• The Celtics will travel late Friday night to Sacramento and face the Kings on Saturday. Their last west coast trip of the season concludes Monday against the Utah Jazz.

Rajon Rondo on the trade deadline: "I didn’t know what was going to happen

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 21, 2014 02:56 PM

LOS ANGELES – The NBA trade deadline is always filled with uncertainty for players, and that was true Thursday for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Rondo said before his team's shootaround at Staples Center, where the Celtics will play the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

As was the case in previous years, Rondo was again involved in trade rumors, some of which seemed louder as teams wondered if he wanted to be with a rebuilding team.

While trade talk swirled, Rondo’s agent, Bill Duffy, came to the team’s hotel in Beverly Hills. Rondo also met with another representative from Duffy’s agency.

Finally, the deadline passed at 3 p.m. and Rondo was still a Celtic.

Several teams were reportedly interested, but none were interested enough to meet the Celtics’ high asking price.

A day later, Rondo was asked if it was nice to have the trade deadline in the past.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Everybody is different. I’m under contract with the Celtics and that’s who I play for.”

Rondo is under contract with the Celtics through the 2014-15 season. Then, in the summer of 2015, he will become an unrestricted free agent.

Rondo has said before that he’s intrigued by the free agency process, but he has also said that he doesn’t like change and could see himself staying in Boston for the rest of his career.

As for being mentioned in rumors, Rondo said, “It gets annoying at times. It’s been like that the last eight years, though. It’s what I do for a living. It’s not who I am. I play basketball for a living, for the time being.

“I’ll be 28 (Saturday). I have a long life to live. I have a lot of things going on outside of basketball for me right now and it’s part of what happens when you’re an NBA player. “

In a rebuilding season, Rondo wasn’t the only Celtic who might have been traded, but Rondo said he didn’t notice concern among his teammates.

“It’s not the first trades that a lot of these guys have been through,” he said. “We’ve all been through them. When that time comes, it comes.”

While Rondo has only played for one team, he also has been in rumors enough that he can talk from experience about how to deal with them as the deadline looms.

Even then, he said telling his teammates to relax won’t soothe their concerns.

"You can say those things, but at the end of the day, when you go home to sleep at night, it’s different for certain guys,” Rondo said.

“I can tell Joel (Anthony) until he’s blue in the face, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ But if that’s what he thinks mentally, that things might happen, that’s what it is.”

When the trade deadline rolled around in the past, Rondo said former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would tell the younger players to focus on what they could control.

“Obviously, you believe those type of guys, but they don’t have the control,” Rondo said. “It’s all about a matter of what happens.”

But did Rondo, now the Celtics’ captain, feel that he had to say something to some of the younger Celtics?

“Yeah, I don’t talk much about it,” he said. “We didn’t speak much about it as a team. (Celtics coach) Brad (Stevens) announced it a couple times in the meetings, in the morning shootarounds, but I didn’t say much about it.”

Even then, Rondo said trades were out of Stevens’s control, too.

“Danny (Ainge) and Wyc (Grousbeck) call the shots,” Rondo said, speaking of Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations and Grousbeck, the team’s co-owner.

“They pull the trigger. Coaches have mentioned it all the time in the past, but, still, things can happen. You do have a say so, but at the end of the day, Danny is going to do what’s best for the team.”

The Celtics remained intact through the deadline, but Rondo said his focus before and after is the same.

“My mindset hasn’t changed from when I came back from playing (after missing nearly a year following a knee injury) and it hasn’t changed now,” he said. “It didn’t change in the Phoenix game because I was in a lot of trade talk. I still had one focus – to play as hard as I can – for this team, and to help my teammates try to win games.”

* * *

Stevens said he hasn’t heard any heckling from Lakers fans during his time here.

“Nobody knows who I am,” the rookie NBA coach said with a laugh. “Nor do I really stop. I usually have my headphones in, and I don’t walk around the street with green on.

“I did get some comments because I had my Red Sox shirt on (Thursday). I got, ‘Go Sox!’ They don’t know who I am, but clearly there are some Red Sox fans around here.”

* * *

Rondo said he won’t play Saturday when the team plays the Kings in Sacramento. It will mark the fourth time that he has sat out the second game of a back-to-back set for precautionary reasons as he eases his way back into form.

Celtics don't pull off a deadline deal, and that's OK

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff February 20, 2014 03:30 PM

aingedeadlinenodeal.jpg

Are you not entertained?

The NBA's trading deadline came and went without a peep from Celtics president of basketball Danny Ainge Thursday. Rajon Rondo is still a Celtic, and in a bigger upset, so are Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries. The roster that has carried the Celtics to a 19-36 record will more or less finish out the season.

In an unscientific poll during our live chat this afternoon just before the deadline, 72 percent of you said you weren't OK with this result. You wanted the Celtics to make some kind of move. For a large percentage of you, this lack of action is disappointing.

The trade deadline wasn't just a dud in Boston. Andre Miller, Aaron Brooks, Steve Blake, and Jan Vesely were among the players changing uniforms Thursday, which doesn't exactly move the meter. Teams are reluctant to make trades in February when so much is uncertain, but even by quiet trade deadline standards this one was a snooze fest.

As disappointing as the lack of action now might be for Celtics fans, it's important to remember that for the long term, today doesn't change much. Trades involving Rondo, Bass, Jeff Green, and others for guys like Kevin Love, Dion Waiters, Josh Smith, and Omer Asik can happen just as easily in June as now. Easier in fact, given that by then we'll know which teams are picking when in the draft and which players have declared.

The Celtics had two main objectives Thursday: To gain assets, in the form of draft picks or good young players, and to free up future salary cap relief. The best they could have hoped for was to do one or the other. The worst result would have been taking on either a bad contract or giving up one of their picks to make anything less than an exceptional deal happen.

And as hard as it may seem to believe given their record, the Celtics are dealing from a position of strength. Here's the first-round picks they own, and where they come from, over the next few seasons:

2014 1st round: Boston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia (lottery protected)
2015 1st round: Boston, LA Clippers, Philadelphia (lottery protected)
2016 1st round: Boston, Brooklyn
2017 1st round: Boston
2018 1st round: Boston, Brooklyn

Humphries has value staying put because his $12 million comes off the books after this season. Rondo is signed for another year at a reasonable $13 million, and you only want to trade him if you're getting something really, really great in return. Trading guys like Bass, Green, Keith Bogans' contract, and Gerald Wallace, while nice in theory, means you have to take on bad contracts in return. It delays the process.

There's one good argument for the Celtics having made a move today, and its that they may be too good to get a high lottery pick with the roster they have now. Right now the Celtics have the 7th-worst record in the league. The formula for improving their chances involves playing guys like Kelly Olynyk and Chris Johnson more and Rondo and Humphries less. You could call it tanking, but the Celtics can do it in the name of player development. They're not likely to get much better regardless of who's out there, even if they don't get much worse.

The lottery is exactly that. The Celtics are dependent on fate, but with multiple picks and smart cap management they're trying to insulate themselves against one bad roll of the dice. If the process works it will be boring, less an overnight success than a methodical slog back to the top. Ainge didn't screw anything up Thursday. He could screw it all up with a bad draft or trade in June, but let's get there first. If you were on board with trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last July, you should still be on board now.

So now that that's out of the way, anyone hear any good Rondo rumors lately?

Source: Celtics don't pull off any deals at trade deadline

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 20, 2014 02:43 PM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline has come and gone, and the Celtics made no deals, a league source told the Globe Thursday.

Danny Ainge, the team's vice president of basketball operations, had cast doubt on the possibility that anything would happen earlier in the day, and sure enough, that is the case.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is expected to address reporters at 5 p.m. at the team's hotel here, and it appears that he won't have much to address. The Celtics are in Los Angeles to face the Lakers Friday night at Staples Center.

There were numerous trade rumors this year, many involving teams that were reportedly interested in Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, but none of those so-called interested teams appeared to be interested enough to meet the Celtics' steep asking price for Rondo.

Ainge had stressed many times publicly that the Celtics view Rondo as a key part of the team's future, going so far as to tell the Globe earlier this year that Rondo is "going nowhere."

Of course, the Celtics weren't in a position where they had to make a deal at this time. The team already has numerous assets -- including as many as 10 first-round draft picks over the next five years -- that will help speed along the rebuilding process.

Now, the team will focus on this summer to further shape their roster going forward.

NBA trade deadline live chat: No deals

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff February 20, 2014 11:32 AM

rondodeadline.jpg

The NBA's trade deadline came and went without a peep from the Celtics Thursday. Here's what you had to say.


Welcome to US Airways Center for Celtics-Suns

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 19, 2014 11:40 PM

PHOENIX -- The Celtics begin their unofficial second half with a rugged road trip out west starting with the surprising Phoenix Suns, who are currently sixth in the Western Conference after being pick to be one of the league's worst teams. The Suns could be seeking help before Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline and the Celtics could be looking to move veterans for younger players.

So far their team is intact, including point guard Rajon Rondo, who is set to start tonight. We'll find out tomorrow afternoon whether it will be his final appearance as a Celtic.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-35)

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

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

PHOENIX SUNS (31-21)
PG Goran Dragic
SG Gerald Green
SF P.J. Tucker
PF Channing Frye
C Miles Plumlee

Inactives: Eric Bledsoe, Emeka Okafor

Officials: Rodney Mott, Kane Fitzgerald, James Williams

TV, radio: 9 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Avery Bradley and Vitor Faverani were left behind in Boston to rehabilitate injuries and will not play on this trip. Bradley is recovering from a sprained right ankle while Faverano has a sore left knee.

• Rajon Rondo will not play in Saturday's game at Sacramento because he said he is not prepared to play in the second game of back-to-backs as he continues to rehabilitate from knee surgery. Rondo will play Friday against Los Angeles.

• The Suns have Emeka Okafor's expiring $14 million contract that is 80 percent insured to offer clubs in a deal but it is unlikely they will get Pau Gasol from the Lakers, who want more of the Suns' assets of draft picks and young players.

• The Celtics are scheduled for a practice Thursday before taking on the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The trip concludes with games at Sacramento and Utah.

Welcome to US Airways Center for Celtics-Suns

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 19, 2014 08:14 PM

PHOENIX -- The Celtics begin their unofficial second half with a rugged road trip out west starting with the surprising Phoenix Suns, who are currently sixth in the Western Conference after being pick to be one of the league's worst teams. The Suns could be seeking help before Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline and the Celtics could be looking to move veterans for younger players.

So far their team is intact, including point guard Rajon Rondo, who is set to start tonight. We'll find out tomorrow afternoon whether it will be his final appearance as a Celtic.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-35)

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

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

PHOENIX SUNS (31-21)
PG Goran Dragic
SG Gerald Green
SF P.J. Tucker
PF Channing Frye
C Miles Plumlee

Inactives: Eric Bledsoe, Emeka Okafor

Officials: Rodney Mott, Kane Fitzgerald, James Williams

TV, radio: 9 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Avery Bradley and Vitor Faverani were left behind in Boston to rehabilitate injuries and will not play on this trip. Bradley is recovering from a sprained right ankle while Faverano has a sore left knee.

• Rajon Rondo will not play in Saturday's game at Sacramento because he said he is not prepared to play in the second game of back-to-backs as he continues to rehabilitate from knee surgery. Rondo will play Friday against Los Angeles.

• The Suns have Emeka Okafor's expiring $14 million contract that is 80 percent insured to offer clubs in a deal but it is unlikely they will get Pau Gasol from the Lakers, who want more of the Suns' assets of draft picks and young players.

• The Celtics are scheduled for a practice Thursday before taking on the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The trip concludes with games at Sacramento and Utah.

Rajon Rondo on trade rumors: 'Whatever happens, I'll be able to adjust and adapt to it'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 18, 2014 03:50 PM

PHOENIX – With Thursday's NBA trade deadline fast approaching, numerous trade rumors are swirling, especially around the rebuilding Celtics, who regathered here after the All-Star Break to kick off a West Coast road trip that starts Wednesday against the Suns.

But Rajon Rondo didn't flinch when asked about trade rumors. He's used to his name being tossed around this time of year, even when there is far more speculation than fact.

"This is year 8 for me -- and I think this is year 8 for me being in trade rumors, especially around this time," the Celtics' point guard said before practice here Tuesday.

But is this year different?

"This is pretty much the same thing I go through every year," Rondo said. "I think this is the most trade talk maybe, as far as seriousness for me, but, like I said, I still live my life every day and do what I do. Whatever happens, I'll be able to adjust and adapt to it."

If Rondo is a Celtic after the deadline passes, he said he doesn't plan to play Saturday against Sacramento, which is the second game of a back-to-back set.

Rondo hasn't played in the second game of a back-to-back since he returned to action in January after sitting out nearly a year following a knee injury.

"It's three (games) in four nights," he said. "Look at it that way. It's a lot of games."

As for the trade rumors, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, "I’ve gotten the impression from everything that I know and from everything that I read that what you read is a lot more than what’s actually happening."

Even still, the Celtics will have to deal with rumors until the deadline passes at 3 p.m. Thursday, when the team will be in Los Angeles in advance of Friday's game against the Lakers.

Stevens said he hasn't noticed his players being distracted with the deadline looming.

When asked if the Celtics could look night-and-day different then, Stevens said, "I’m not anticipating that, nor am I looking at that. I’m looking at the guys that are here. And I have been looking at the guys that are here the whole time, and told them that today.

"I think the trading deadline is going to be full of rumors and part of it is because there’s a deadline on Thursday that more are going to be created. What we’ve got to do is, ‘OK, this is where we are.’ I like our locker room. I like the vibe of our locker room and so I’m focused on the guys that are here. The other part is, I’m fortunate that’s my job. I get to focus on the guys that are here. I haven’t put too much time thinking about things that aren’t."

In other Celtics news, starting shooting guard Avery Bradley (sprained ankle) and Vitor Faverani (knee) didn't make the trip and won't be playing in the Celtics' next four games.

All-Stars honor Russell for his 80th birthday

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 16, 2014 09:24 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- Celtics legend Bill Russell, who turned 80 Wednesday, was honored during Sunday's All-Star Game with a touching tribute from other league legends as well as the current All-Stars.

Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Julius Erving were introduced at midcourt following the first quarter at Smoothie King Center. Johnson then took the mic and asked fans to sing "Happy Birthday" to Russell, who was sitting courtside. Following a standing ovation and singing for Russell, Johnson called for the Western Conference All-Stars led by Kobe Bryant, and Eastern Conference All-Stars, led by LeBron James, to walk over and shake Russell's hand.

The scene was reminiscent to major league baseball all-stars greeting Ted Williams before the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park.

Russell raised his hand in acknowledgment. He was also honored at the Legends Brunch earlier Sunday.

Welcome to TD Garden ...

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff February 12, 2014 06:49 PM

In a lot ways, Brad Stevens can appreciate watching the Spurs play musical chairs with their lineup.

They toughing out their annual rodeo road trip, pushing through a stretch of nine-straight road games with a shorthanded roster, and they still have second-best record in the Western Conference.

No matter who they have on the floor, they manage to keep things running smoothly. Stevens pointed out the 32-points Patty Mills put up last Saturday pinch-hitting at point guard for Tony Parker as a prime example.

“I think some of the most inspiring basketball I’ve ever watched is when they don’t have all their players,” Stevens said. “[And] some of the most inspiring basketball I’ve ever watched is when they do have all players. I think they’re one of the very few elite teams in the league.

“They move the ball, they move bodies, they know their system inside and out. They can plug people into those spots and on any given night that person can have 20 or 25 points.”

They'll be without Parker again tonight against the Celtics. He was sent home by the team to get an early start on this weekend's all-star break.

STARTING LINEUPS

BOSTON CELTICS (18-34)PG Rajon Rondo
SG Jeff Green
SF Gerald Wallace
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani

SAN ANTONIO SPURS (37-15)
PG Cory Joseph
SG Marco Belinelli
SF Danny Green
PF Tim Duncan
C Boris Diaw

Inactives: Tony Parker, Manu Ginolbili, Kawhi Leonard

Officials: Mike Callahan, Scott Wall, Marat Kogut

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

Pregame notes:

•Avery Bradley re-sprained the right ankle he originially injured in January and will sit out tonight and possibly tomorrow as well. Stevens said he hoped the ankle injury isn’t something that will linger too long.

“Hopefully it’s going to be something that’s not long term,” Stevens said. “It doesn’t look like it will be. It looks like it’s just the same as the first one. So not a long term thing.”

• Brandon Bass is back in the starting lineup after suffering a scratched cornea on Monday against the Bucks. Stevens said Bass didn’t have to wear goggles during shootaround and doesn’t expect him to wear them in-game.

“Brandon is good to go,” Stevens said. "That’s an uncomfortable feeling when it first happens. But he feels a lot better now.”

• The Spurs signed Brown to a second 10-day contract. The eight-year vet averaged 2.2 points, 1.2 rebounds and 6.3 minutes in six games on his first stint.

Welcome to BMO Bradley Center for Celtics-Bucks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 10, 2014 06:08 PM

MILWAUKEE -- This is a game between the Celtics and Bucks if you can recognize the players on both teams. The Bucks will be without four rotation players tonight -- Ersan Ilyasova, O.J Mayo, Caron Butler and Larry Sanders -- while the Celtics will go tonight without Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.

Mayo produced a big game the last time the two teams played in Milwaukee. He scored a game-high 22 points while Brandon Knight added 20. Milwaukee has won two of the three meetings so far this season and if it wins tonight, 30 percent of its victory will be against the Celtics.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (18-34)

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

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani

MILWAUKEE BUCKS (9-41)
PG Brandon Knight
SG Nate Wolters
SF Khris Middleton
PF John Henson
C Zaza Pachulia

Inactives: Caron Butler, Carlos Delfino

Officials: Scott Foster, Eli Roe, Gary Zielinski

TV, radio: 8 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Avery Bradley will have an MRI on his troublesome right ankle but said he doesn't believe the injury is serious. He said he likely came back too early from the injury that caused him to miss five games. Bradley said he is likely out Wednesday also.

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Rajon Rondo is likely to play in the Celtics next back-to-back set: Feb. 21 against the Los Angeles Lakers and Feb. 22 against the Sacramento Kings. Stevens added that Vitor Faverani's sore left knee is not serious and he will be re-evaluated in a few days.

• Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested to prevent tanking, the teams with the three worst record should be ineligible for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery.

• Jared Sullinger became the second Celtic to win Eastern Conference Player of the Week, averaging 20.3 points and 12.7 rebounds in three games. Jordan Crawford won the honor in December.

• The Celtics will return home late Monday night, take Tuesday off and then face the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday before the All-Star Break.

Trading Rajon Rondo is a bad idea

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff February 10, 2014 11:39 AM

rondonotrade.jpg

On Nov. 26, 2011, the NBA reached an agreement with the players association to end the lockout that canceled the first part of the 2011-2012 season. One of the first steps in picking up the pieces was to grant teams permission to talk to free agents and to discuss potential trades. Three days later, reports surfaced that the Celtics were trying to swap Rajon Rondo for fellow point guard Chris Paul.

That trade, of course, did not happen, but Rondo has been dogged by trade rumors ever since. Conveniently lost in the narrative of most of them is the fact that the Celtics weren't just trying to trade Rondo; they were trying to get Paul, widely acknowledged to be one of the best two or three point guards in the league. An alternate narrative, "Danny Ainge wants to trade Rajon Rondo", made for good talk show fodder. Type Rondo's name into Google and the robots will offer "trade" and the name of another team as the top choices you may have been looking for.

rondogoogle.jpg The New York Knicks are the most recent subject of a Rondo rumor. On Sunday, USA Today reported that the Knicks “Have a strong belief [Rondo] can be had," and for a package as appealing as the wildly overpaid Amar'e Stoudemire and clearing either Jeff Green's or Gerald Wallace's salary in 2015. That's delusional even by New York's center-of-the-universe standards.

Ainge has stated that he isn't trying to trade his point guard, but he's also acknowledged that he takes calls on all players in the interest of doing his job. This month, Ainge told the Toucher & Rich show that the team tried to sign Rondo to an extension over the summer, but that it makes more financial sense for Rondo to wait until he becomes a free agent. Rondo plans to test the waters of free agency after next season, according to an ESPN report.

On the possibility the Celtics might move him, Rondo said this summer, "Those are things that are out of my control. I don't tend to worry about those things. I have to live my life. Whatever the case may be, whenever that may happen, that's what will happen. But until then, I'm a Celtic, and I'll play as hard as I can for this organization."

Rondo's impending free agency might make trading him sound appealing, but the smarter move for the Celtics, for a variety of reasons, is to hold onto their four-time All-Star.

Somewhere between the Rondo-CP3 trade that never happened and now, the discussion of whether or not to trade Rondo got twisted. The debate is often wrongly framed around whether or not the Celtics can build around Rondo, as if its an either/or situation. Whether or not Rondo is the best player on the team is irrelevant to the argument, a fun topic for a bar debate but one that doesn't stop the Celtics from continuing to better themselves. In the NBA you need three or four really good players to be successful (See San Antonio, Indiana, Miami, Oklahoma City). In Rondo you've already got one of those guys. Through the draft and the trade market, the Celtics hope to acquire one or two more potential stars. Losing Rondo makes that challenge more difficult.

Retaining Rondo past his current contract won't be easy, and therein lies the actual debate Ainge finds himself in. The Celtics have Rondo under contract for $13 million next season. After that, they can offer him more than any other team in free agency. Rondo's comfort here, the team's very favorable draft and salary cap situation going forward, and the point guard's relationship with Brad Stevens are all check marks in Boston's favor. So is the potential for Jared Sullinger to turn into a star.

Going against the Celtics could be Rondo's wanderlust or an immediate competitive advantage offered by someone else. Money could also play a role. Just because the Celtics can offer Rondo the most money doesn't mean they will. If someone else views Rondo as a No. 1 player and the Celtics view him as a No. 2, it would be hard to blame Rajon for taking the money and running. Given how smart Rondo is, though, it's hard to envision him going somewhere for a max deal that hampers that team's ability to add other top players. In that way, the Celtics have a real shot to keep him.

The worst argument of all for trading Rondo is that trading him before the deadline improves the team's chances of tanking for a top draft pick. The Celtics can manipulate the roster in other ways -- they've traded Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford already this season, and they can give Rondo strategic nights off. Plus have you seen this team? The C's aren't exactly world-beaters even with Rondo on the floor. Shipping out a known commodity for a slightly better chance at an unknown one, even with a loaded draft, would be shortsighted.

Rondo isn't perfect (see: outside shooting), but the extent to which he is polarizing has always flummoxed me. At his best Rondo is the best passer in the league, capable of putting 44 points on Miami in a playoff game, At his worst, he's a walking double-double who can run a team. And yet in a recent Boston.com poll of more than 3,700 readers, 69 percent wanted the Celtics to keep Rondo. Here's a question for the 31 percent of you who would have him go: Why are you so eager to see him leave?

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Mavericks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 9, 2014 05:18 PM

The Celtics will go for their fourth consecutive win tonight against the veteran Mavericks, who will feature four starters that are at least 32 years old. Of course, the main Maverick is Dirk Nowitzki, who is polishing off a Hall of Fame caliber career, averaging 21.9 points and 6.1 rebounds and shooting 61 percent in his past six games.

Boston will be healthier, getting Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley back after both missed Friday's win over the Sacramento Kings. Rondo missed Friday with general knee soreness and Bradley re-sprained his right ankle. Both were sharp in pre-game workouts.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (18-33)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani

DALLAS MAVERICKS (30-21)
PG Jose Calderon
SG Monta Eliis
SF Shawn Marion
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Samuel Dalembert

Inactives: Gal Mekel, Ricky Ledo

Officials: Tony Brothers, Pat Fraher, Kevin Cutler

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

Pregame notes:

• It looks like Vitor Faverani may be out until the All-Star Break as the Celtics are cautious with his sore left knee.

• Monta Ellis worked out before the game and is considered a game-time decision with a sore hamstring. Ellis played 34 minutes Friday against the Utah Jazz and scored 22 points.

• Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested to prevent tanking, the teams with the three worst record should be ineligible for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery.

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Dirk Nowitzki is a definite role model for Kelly Olynyk. Nowitzki, one of the great stretch power forwards of all time, was very similar physically to Olynyk entering the league. Stevens said he wants Olynyk to be more aggressive offensively.

• The Celtics will leave late Sunday night for Milwaukee and a Monday evening matchup with the Bucks. They ended the first half with a Wednesday home game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Rondo unsure if he'll play Sunday against Dallas; Bradley questionable

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 8, 2014 03:05 PM

WALTHAM -- After sitting out Friday's game against Sacramento with "general soreness," Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo said he wasn't sure if he'd play Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden.

"I don’t know yet," he said before practice here Saturday. "I’ll talk to my doctors. Talk to my teammates, see how it goes."

Rondo stressed that the soreness he felt was not related to his right knee, which he injured nearly a year ago. Instead, he said the soreness was related to his playing 8 games in 20 days after having not played a year because of that knee injury.

"I’m fine, just a little sore," Rondo said. "It’s been a while since I played. So, little sore, nothing major. The knee is fine."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said they should know whether Rondo plays Sunday before shootaround that day.

"[Rondo will] go through whatever he goes through [Saturday], get with [team trainer] Ed Lacerte, then by the time we walk through at the arena tomorrow, 3:15 or so, we’ll know by then," Stevens said. "That’s kinda the way we will usually do it. You won’t wait until game time, necessarily; you’ll know before shootaround."

Starting guard Avery Bradley (ankle) is questionable to play against Dallas. Bradley sat out Friday's game against Sacramento after twisting his right ankle Wednesday against Philadelphia; Bradley sprained that ankle last month and missed five games.

"I think he feels a little bit better this morning than he did [Friday]," Stevens said. "Again, we'll kind of see how it goes."

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Kings

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 7, 2014 06:49 PM

With a chance for a third consecutive win, the Celtics will be shorthanded tonight against the Sacramento KIngs, who will be equally crippled by injuries. The Celtics will be without Rajon Rondo (rest) and Avery Bradley (sore right ankle) while the Kings will be without Rudy Gay (sickness) and Marcus Thornton (sore hip).

So it will be a battle of backups and an interesting point guard matchup between diminutive Phil Pressey and Isaiah Thomas, who is listed at 5-feet, 8-inches but is third on the team in scoring at 20 points per game. DeMarcus Cousins will be a force in the paint and draws the assignment of Jared Sullinger while Jeff Green will oppose rookie Ben McLemore.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (17-33)

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

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani

SACRAMENTO KINGS (17-32)
PG Isaiah Thomas
SG Ben McLemore
SF Jason Thompson
PF Quincy Acy
C DeMarcus Cousins

Inactives: Marcus Thornton

Officials: Tony Brown, Dan Crawford, Haywoode Workman

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

Pregame notes:

• An MRI on Vitor Faverani's left knee came back negative and he's considered day to day. Faverani injured the knee Tuesday in his NBADL assignment for Maine. Faverani said he was concerned with the injury but the results were the best-case scenario.

• The Celtics officially signed swingman Chris Johnson for the remainder of the season and with a nonguaranteed contract for next season. Johnson has been sparkling since joining the Celtics three weeks ago, averaging 7.6 points in eight games.

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Rondo looked sore in shootaround and he may play Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks while Bradley asked out of the game because of recurring ankle soreness. He missed five games with a sprained ankle in late January.

• The Celtics are expected to practice Saturday in preparation for a back-to-back set with the Dallas Mavericks (Sunday) and Milwaukee Bucks (Monday).

Chris Johnson thrilled the Celtics will be keeping him around

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 6, 2014 02:55 PM

WALTHAM -- With the Celtics planning to sign Chris Johnson for the remainder of the season, the former NBA Development League swingman no longer has to worry about what he'll do after his second 10-day contract with the team expires Thursday night.

Instead, Johnson, who was playing with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers before the Celtics called him up in January, can just focus on the next game, which comes Friday when the Celtics play Sacramento at TD Garden.

But Johnson was still beaming before practice Thursday, still thrilled with the news that the team was planning to keep him.

"I just have to give thanks to Danny Ainge for bringing me in and giving me the opportunity, Brad Stevens for giving me the opportunity to play when guys were injured, and my teammates for just giving me confidence," Johnson said.

Johnson added that reality hadn't set in because the deal had yet to be finalized. But when he heard that a deal was close, he said he called his mom -- "She was pretty excited" -- and his agent.

It's by no accident that the Celtics are keeping Johnson on board. He averaged 7.6 points over eight games.

"It’s a great story, but it’s not like it’s some miracle," said Stevens, the Celtics head coach. "It’s the result of hard work, doing the right things, not being scared of the moment, taking advantage of opportunities, those type of things."

Johnson also received plenty of support from his teammates, many of whom campaigned for the Celtics to sign him through the rest of the year versus letting him go.

"That says a lot," Johnson said. "That shows the confidence they have in me. I really appreciate that coming from those guys. Being here for the rest of the season, I’m trying to help the guys win."

Celtics plan to sign Chris Johnson for the remainder of the season

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 6, 2014 11:49 AM

The Celtics will likely sign swingman Chris Johnson for the remainder of the season, a league source confirmed to the Globe Thursday.

If the deal goes through, it is a credit to how well Johnson has played with the Celtics. He's averaged 7.6 points over 21.6 minutes in eight appearances over the course of two 10-day contracts, the second of which was scheduled to expire at midnight Thursday.

The 23-year-old joined the Celtics after being called up from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League in January.

While Johnson has impressed his teammates and coaches during his stint with the team, it still wasn't a given that he'd stay with the Celtics, who are just below the $71.75 million luxury tax line and are not looking to be a tax-paying team this season.

While signing Johnson for the remainder of the season won't put the Celtics over that tax line, it pushes them closer to it. It also means that the team has only one open roster spot.

Is Jared Sullinger untouchable?

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff February 6, 2014 10:38 AM

sullingerdebate.jpg

On any given day at Boston.com headquarters you can walk in and find a couple of us talking hoops. Sometimes, the sports gears turn so furiously that the debate spills out onto the mean streets of Twitter.

That's exactly what happened yesterday when I shared a thought on which Celtics might be on the block as we approach the Feb. 20 trade deadline (you can vote on which players you think should stay and which should go in this handy feature).

My tweet was met with a counterpoint by colleague Chad Finn that myself and Jeff Clark from Celtics Blog and dozens of others pretty much all agreed with.

My opinion of Jared Sullinger has been higher than is healthy for quite some time. Basically, I think he's the second-best player on the team, but given that he's locked up for two more years at a very reasonable rate (2014-15: $1.42 million; 2015-16: $2.3 million (team option), his value to the team is higher than his value in any kind of trade. Projected out over 36 minutes, Sullinger's points and rebound averages amount to 17.4 and 10.6 respectively. With better conditioning next season he'll have a chance to reach those numbers, in only his third NBA season.

Which brings us back to the initial question: Is Jared Sullinger the most untouchable player on the Celtics? Is Sullinger the last player you'd package in a trade, or is it Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, or someone else? Would you part with Ole' Sully in a blockbuster deal for someone like Kevin Love?

Leave your thoughts and vote in the survey below.


Welcome to Wells Fargo Center for Celtics-76ers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 5, 2014 06:23 PM

The Celtics get a chance to go for two in a row tonight in a rematch with the 76ers, who beat the Celtics at the buzzer last Wednesday on an Evan Turner runner. Boston came back to beat Orlando on Sunday 96-89 and are going for their first winning streak since Dec. 13-16 when they defeated New York and Minnesota.

The 76ers are in a similar position as the Celtics, building for the future and relying heavily on the upcoming draft. Turner, who may be trade bait later this month, has historically punished the Celtics. He averages 15 points per game career against Boston, third-highest against any opponent.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (16-33)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (15-34)
PG Michael Carter-Williams
SG James Anderson
SF Evan Turner
PF Thaddeus Young
C Spencer Hawes

Inactives: Jason Richardson

Officials: Monty McCutchen, Derrick Collins, Olandis Poole

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

Pregame notes:

• Vitor Faverani is back with the Celtics after a third one-game stint in the NBADL but it may have come at a price. Faverani banged knees with an opponent during NBADL Maine's loss to Delaware and will need an MRI on his left knee Thursday. Faverani scored 27 points in the game.

• Thursday is the deadline for the Celtics to make a decision on swingman Chris Johnson, who has been impressive in his three-week stint with the club. Johnson has averaged 8.7 points in seven games and shot 41.4 percent from the 3-point line.

• The 76ers will be without Brandon Davies (fractured right finger), Arnett Moultrie (D-League) and former Everett High product Nerlens Noel (recovering from left torn ACL).

• The Celtics are expected to return to Boston following the game and have Thursday off before hosting the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Celtics recall Vitor Faverani, who needs MRI on left knee

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 5, 2014 12:36 PM
PHILADELPHIA – The Celtics recalled center Vitor Faverani from the NBADL's Maine Red Claws on Wednesday morning, but he was not able to participate in the team's shootaround and won't play tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers because of a sore left knee.

Faverani injured the knee in Maine's 128-116 loss to Delaware. He scored 27 points with eight rebounds in 35 minutes, but said the knee "hurts" and he will have an MRI on Thursday when the Celtics return to Boston. Faverani has played three games for Maine and said he enjoys the experience, but the question is whether his most recent outing will take him out of the Celtics' lineup.

"He tweaked his knee yesterday so he won't play tonight," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Obviously not what you want out of those types of stints. Hopefully that's a short term, day-to-day thing. We'll re-evaluate that in the morning. He's getting a lot of minutes, putting a lot of points and things on the board and hopefully that breeds some confidence as well."

Faverani said he just wanted to play and get the opportunity to improve.

"I am enjoying it a lot, I love to play basketball, this is my life," he said. "And I have a lot of minutes (there) so for me to play 30, 35 minutes is great."

Playoffs? Celtics say anything is possible in the Eastern Conference

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 4, 2014 03:22 PM

WALTHAM – Playoffs?

As wild as it sounds, the Celtics, less-than-proud owners of the fourth-worst record in the NBA, still have postseason-in-the-sky dreams, even during a campaign when most of their fans have accepted that management has its eyes set on a lottery pick.

"The East schedule isn't that crazy, so a couple of games where we can string some wins together, you never know,” point guard Rajon Rondo said after practice Tuesday.

While the development of young players and the collection of assets to help speed along the rebuilding process are more realistic goals, the Celtics are also well aware that, even in the midst of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, reaching the playoffs isn’t as outlandish a possibility as it might seem.

“Anything is possible in the Eastern Conference,” said forward Gerald Wallace.

Yes, in such a horrifically bad conference, no team is never quite out of it, no matter how hard it tries. Miami and Indiana are secure atop the league, but it’s basically a mess from there, with no other team above .600 and 10 of the conference’s 15 teams below .500.

So, for all their struggles, such as losing 16 of their last 19 games, the Celtics, as of Tuesday, were 5 games back of the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.

“It’s not like the Western Conference where if you lose two, three games in a row, you’re pretty much out of it,” Wallace continued. “We can get hot, win five or six games, and it can turn things around in the Eastern Conference.”

The 16-33 Celtics have a somewhat relaxed schedule in February, with just 10 more games – and four of them against teams with winning records.

The Celtics will play one of their more winnable games Wednesday, against the 15-34 Philadelphia 76ers on the road.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens recently said that it was “pretty ridiculous” that his team was still mathematically in the playoff hunt, despite its record.

“It’s a pretty unique year and everybody realizes that,” he added.

After practice Tuesday, Stevens, whose sole focus rarely extends beyond the next play in any game, again touched on the subject of playoffs, but he noted that he hasn’t referenced the postseason much with his players.

"Obviously, you want to be in the playoffs; obviously, you want to win the championship," he said. "Everybody in the league wants to win the championship. The most important thing for me right now, and where we are, is to get better today and play better tomorrow and then let the chips fall where they may."

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Magic

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff February 2, 2014 12:04 PM

The Celtics get another chance to notch a victory against the equally struggling Magic, who haven't won on the road since Dec. 16, a span of 10 games. Avery Bradley will return from a five-game absence with a sprained right ankle to help the cause. Bradley will return to the starting lineup and play alongside Rajon Rondo. The two have rarely played together in the past two years because of injury.

The Magic are rebuilding just as the Celtics are and but managed the beat Boston two weeks ago (93-91) at the Amway Center. Orlando is nearing full health, including Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who missed the last meeting in Boston recovering from a broken left foot.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (15-33)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Keith Bogans

ORLANDO MAGIC (13-35)
PG Victor Oladipo
SG Tobias Harris
SF Arron Afflalo
PF Glen Davis
C Nikola Vucevic

Inactives: None

Officials: Dick Bavetta, David Jones, Josh Tiven

TV, radio: 1 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Gerald Wallace arrived at the TD Garden at about 11:45 a.m. after missing Saturday's practice because of a death in the family. Coach Brad Stevens said before Wallace arrived that he was unsure if the veteran would play but he was available.

• Nikola Vucevic is back after missing 12 games with a concussion. He has played the previous two games, averaging 14 points and eight rebounds. He has led the Magic in rebounding 24 times this season.

• The Magic will be without guard Jameer Nelson, who did not make the trip to Boston because of a sore left knee.

• The Celtics will have two days off before facing the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Ever-changing Celtics struggle to find continuity

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff February 1, 2014 03:36 PM

WALTHAM – Rajon Rondo was sidelined for half the season, now he’s back.

Jordan Crawford, MarShon Brooks, Courtney Lee, Keith Bogans and Vander Blue were all here, now they’re all gone.

Jerryd Bayless, Joel Anthony and Chris Johnson were all elsewhere, now all three are Celtics.

Add in the fact that Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger have all missed at least one game for one reason or another, such as an injury, and what you have is a Celtics roster that has had almost no continuity at all this season.

And there’s the strong chance that, after the Feb. 21 trade deadline, the team could be even more different, especially with management in full-rebuilding mode, aiming to gather as many precious assets as possible to speed up the transition process.

The Celtics, who host Orlando (13-55) for a Sunday matinee at TD Garden, are in a state of flux; there’s no doubt about that. But amid all the change, the challenge is simple: get everyone on the same page so that you can put a competitive product on the court.

Of course, the Celtics (15-33) have lost 19 of their last 22 games, so it’s not as though they’ve mastered that difficult process by any means. Still, it has made Brad Stevens’s first year as the head coach even more interesting, beyond just his acclimation to the NBA.

“You feel like you’re in a pretty good rhythm in the beginning of the season because you know who’s there,” Stevens said after practice here Saturday. “And obviously there’s going to be personnel changes, especially in years like this year. So you expect that. You know that. But at the same time, it does present some challenges with finding any continuity on defense or offense.”

For a good example, he pointed to other teams, such as Oklahoma City, which hasn’t missed a beat even with key players such as Russell Westbrook sidelined with an injury. (Though, to be fair, that team has Kevin Durant. Enough said.)

Overall, the point Stevens tried to make is that when a team has a system firmly in place, pieces can be somewhat interchangeable without the level of play fluctuating too much.

Stevens said he does have a grand vision of what the Celtics can be when everything settles down – whenever that might be.

“You know, yeah, I think it’s coming together, but it’s certainly altered with change,” he said. “As I get more used to a Joel Anthony and what he does best, as we get used to Jerryd Bayless and what he does best -- go on down the line.

“We’ve had some guys that did some certain things really well, and those guys do things well too. It’s just different. So we’ve got to continue to piece that and put that together.

“Defensively, I think we’re in a really good spot with what we want to do. Offensively, I think, you’re just trying to figure out your best way to score and I think we’ve become less limited as we’ve become more healthy.”

On that note, the Celtics expect to have Bradley back Sunday after a five-game absence with a sprained right ankle. Humphries should be back after missing practice Friday with what he described as swelling in his knee.

And rookie center Vitor Faverani will also be back after a stint in the NBA Development League with the Maine Red Claws. Faverani had 16 points and 12 rebounds in the Red Claws’ win Friday over the Delaware 76ers. and he’s expected to play Saturday when the Red Claws face the Erie Bayhawks before rejoining the Celtics in time for Sunday’s game.

It’s uncertain if Gerald Wallace will play after having suffered a death in the family.

"Gerald is home [in Alabama], so he’s supposed to fly back tomorrow," Stevens said. "He’s obviously had a tough time, as any of us would. Certainly, first and foremost, I want to make sure he’s OK. I’m a lot less concerned about whether he plays in one game or not."

Lastly, Blue’s 10-day contract expired at midnight Friday, and the Celtics decided not to immediately retain him. While playing with the Maine Red Claws against Delaware, Blue scored 13 points.

The Celtics had signed Blue, an undrafted guard out of Marquette, only to help after their backcourt became decimated to recent injuries to Bradley and Bayless.

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