Since being all but written off following Rajon Rondo's season-ending ACL injury, the Celtics have gone 16-7, strengthening their hold on a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While there's been some chatter about the team playing better without Rondo in the lineup, GM Danny Ainge dismisses the notion that the All-Star point guard might become expendable going forward, stressing that the team loves the backcourt combination of Rondo and Avery Bradley (link via Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com).
"I don’t know what you're insinuating," Ainge told 98.5 WBZ-FM in Boston when asked about Rondo. "Because Avery is not Rondo and
Avery can also play two guard with Rondo and those guys have been
extremely effective together. I know that we haven’t had
them together much this year and I think that Rajon loves
playing with Avery Bradley, for a lot of different reasons. I think that
combination last year proved to be spectacular, they just didn’t get a
chance to get together much this year, so it's a little bit unfair."
Rondo's name has surfaced frequently in trade rumors over the last several seasons, and even Bradley was mentioned in a couple reports prior to last month's deadline, but according to Ainge, the Celtics don't intend to shop either player this offseason.
"I can’t envision any scenario, no," Ainge said of trading either player. "I love those guys,
where Rondo is right in the prime of his career, and Avery's not even
there yet, he's continuing to get better. I think they are a great guard
combination and to ever consider doing something like that, it would
have to be something significant."
While Rondo is under contract through 2014/15, Bradley will be eligible for a contract extension this summer. When Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors examined candidates for rookie-scale extensions over the weekend, he predicted that Bradley would sign a long-term deal with Boston this offseason.
Here's the latest on the Timberwolves from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities....
- General manager David Kahn isn't convinced he'll be able to make a deal by tomorrow's deadline, but it won't be from lack of trying, says Wolfson. The T-Wolves have made Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea, Derrick Williams, and Brandon Roy available as they explore trade options.
- The Wolves have received more calls about Andrei Kirilenko than anyone else, but the club won't move the Russian forward, barring a "too-good-to-be-true offer."
- Minnesota's top priority is a wing player with size. The team reached out to the Mavericks about O.J. Mayo, but was rebuffed, according to Wolfson.
- The Wolves like Timofey Mozgov and view him as a good value in free agency this summer, but are unlikely to reach a compromise on a trade with the Nuggets.
- To acquire J.J. Redick or Avery Bradley, the Wolves would have to give up Williams and a first-round pick, according to Wolfson. That's not happening for Bradley and is very unlikely for Redick.
- Rick Adelman and the Wolves like Courtney Lee and are keeping an eye on him, but they didn't want to offer four years in free agency last summer, so the contract could bother them.
- Adelman told season ticket holders that the Wolves' goal is to re-sign Nikola Pekovic this summer. However, some team sources aren't sure Pekovic is worth $11MM annually, and question his ability to stay healthy, says Wolfson.
After ACL surgery ended Rajon Rondo's season, Celtics president Danny Ainge insisted that he wanted to see how his team responded before deciding what sort of roster moves to consider. The Celtics have been on a tear since then, but Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa have also seen their seasons end prematurely due to injuries, leaving the team with a dearth of healthy bodies. While we wait to see wait Ainge and the C's have up their sleeves before Thursday, here are the latest rumblings from out of Boston:
- Marc Stein of ESPN.com isn't convinced that Kevin Garnett could be persuaded to waive his no-trade clause, even if it meant joining a team like the Clippers. According to Stein, ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported last night on SportsCenter that Chauncey Billups believes his friend's position on not waiving his no-trade clause is firm.
- Even if Garnett were to agree to a deal, the Clippers aren't willing to include both Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan in their proposal, according to Stein. The ESPN.com scribe cautions that it could be posturing on the Clippers' part, but one source says the Clippers feel like that's too much to give up for a 36-year-old who may not play much longer.
- Outside of weighing possible deals involving Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Celtics have also explored possibilities that include Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Fab Melo, and Avery Bradley, but have only received lukewarm interest, according to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld. I imagine plenty of teams would like to get their hands on Bradley, but perhaps the Celtics' asking price is exorbitant.
- One opposing executive on the Celtics, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "[They] are one of the more active teams out there talking, but they really
don’t have a lot of great options. They don’t have a lot to trade."
- Bulpett reports that the Clippers have yet to make a formal offer for Garnett. He also adds that Ainge doesn't feel any pressure to do anything more drastic than to add a player or two. "I love how hard our guys play and compete," Ainge said. "They do need some support
with some extra bodies for the rest of the year. I definitely need to do
that, to add some players to our roster. But that’s all that we need to
Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston delves further into what today's roster moves meant for the Celtic green, noting that the $275K the team saved by waiving Kris Joseph is nearly the amount it will cost the team to sign a veteran-minimum player late in the season. He also points out that Boston must wait for Joseph and Jarvis Varnado to clear waivers before being able to offer 10-day contracts. As for the now-former Celtics, Forsberg writes that both will have the option of returning to the D-League while awaiting their next opportunity. Here's the rest of what we've heard out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
- ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling describes how current Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga played a pivotal role in helping Knicks forward Chris Copeland earn a shot to play in the NBA.
- With P.J. Carlesimo, Nets rookie Mirza Teletovic has another chance to make a first impression (Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports).
- In a Q&A with readers that covered a variety of miscellaneous topics, Doug Smith of TheStar.com said that with a full roster, the Raptors aren't currently inclined to waive anyone in order to sign someone to a 10-day contract. With regards to their point guard situation, Smith thinks that Toronto should stand pat for now and seems confident that the team will eventually have discussions next summer to try and keep Jose Calderon.
The latest news and notes from around the Atlantic Division on Sunday afternoon:
- Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com speculates about J.R. Smith's next contract. Smith holds a $2.9MM player option with the Knicks for the 2013/14 season, and the team would be able to offer him $5.5MM via early bird rights if he declines it. Zwerling thinks Smith could command more than that on the open market, but notes that he loves playing in New York and may be inclined to take a pay cut to stay.
- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports that Iman Shumpert is hoping to return to the court in one to two weeks.
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes that the Knicks have turned the tables on their long-standing rivalry with the Celtics and now have the upper hand in the matchup.
- Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com breaks down the improvements the Celtics have made defensively since Avery Bradley has returned to the lineup.
It may be New Year's Eve, but that doesn't mean TNT's David Aldridge is taking a break from his weekly Morning Tip piece on NBA.com. In this week's column, Aldridge recaps the top 10 stories of 2012, including the Lakers' coaching carousel, the Dwightmare, and LeBron James' first NBA championship. He also dishes a few rumors on the Nets' coaching search and DeMarcus Cousins' availability, so let's check out the highlights:
- According to Aldridge, the Nets thought that Avery Johnson carried his desire for a contract extension too far, considering plenty of other respected coaches around the league began coaching in the final year of their respective contracts without extensions.
- While the Nets are saying P.J. Carlesimo will get a shot to prove he deserves to be the team's permanent head coach, Phil Jackson is still expected to get the first call if and when Brooklyn begins a coaching search in earnest. "It's Phil," a league coaching source tells Aldridge. "That's coming straight from Russia."
- Kings GM Geoff Petrie insists that Cousins is not on the trade block in Sacramento: "He's not going anywhere.
You can lay that to rest. Some of that stuff lives in its own reality." However, Aldridge hears from sources that the Kings are ready to consider moving the volatile big man for "a package of less talented, perhaps, but more emotionally grounded players."
- Some members of the Kings were surprised when Cousins was reinstated and showed up for practice so soon after being suspended, and weren't overly moved by his attempt to apologize. "When he apologized to the team, two players stood up and said 'we've
heard this bull(bleep) before,'" a source tells Aldridge. "'You're either going
to be with us, or you're not. We don't want to hear any more excuses.'"
- Examining teams with rumored interest in Cousins, Aldridge makes note of some potential roadblocks: The Celtics would be reluctant to part with Avery Bradley in any trade, the Pistons wouldn't be eager to pair Cousins with Andre Drummond, who Aldridge says "has his own growing up to do," and the Wizards likely wouldn't want to take on someone of questionable character after clearing the roster of that sort of player within the last year.
Jason Quick of the Oregonian looks at the friendly rivalry between the Trail Blazers' Nicolas Batum and the Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari that has stemmed from their days as young Euroleague stars hoping to make it into the NBA. Most notably, Quick mentions that Batum's salary negotiations this past summer were influenced by the type of deals that Gallinari, Marvin Williams, and Arron Afflalo had received with their respective teams. With that aside, here are a few more rumblings from around the Association tonight:
- Derrick Rose took part in the non-contact portion of Bulls practice today, although coach Tom Thibodeau has not yet placed a timetable on the superstar's return (Seth Gruen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports).
- Despite a strong start to the season, the Warriors' upcoming stretch against teams that have a notable inside presence will help determine if their interior defensive struggles against the Kings were either minor or a sign of a major problem, writes Marcus Thompson II of MercuryNews.com.
- Rookie Royce White is "hopeful" that he'll play for the Rockets again sometime this season (Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets).
- 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson confirms earlier speculation via a team source that Timberwolves guard Malcolm Lee will be sidelined for the rest of the year (Twitter link).
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune tweeted that Chris Douglas-Roberts is another top option available for the Timberwolves in addition to Michael Redd.
- In his Nuggets Mailbag, Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post discusses why he thinks Gallinari has shown the capability of being a clutch All-Star type of player, why Carmelo Anthony isn't necessarily the clear-cut MVP right now, and the Nuggets' decision to commit to a long-term deal with Ty Lawson.
Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger takes Deron Williams to task for his recent criticism of the Nets offense, believing that if Williams has issues with coach Avery Johnson just as he did with longtime Jazz boss Jerry Sloan, the problem lies with the player, not the coaches. Nonetheless, Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News questions whether Johnson can keep his job amid the signs of friction with Williams and the team's slump. The Brooklyn honeymoon appears to have ended for the 13-12 Nets, and here's more on a few of their Atlantic Division rivals.
We'll keep track of today's D-League news right here..
- Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Iman Shumpert could also head to the D-League when he's healthy again, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.
- The Rockets have recalled Donatas Motiejunas from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the team announced. The 7'0" rookie was assigned on Friday to the Vipers for the second time this season, and he averaged 23.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in two weekend contests.
- The Knicks have also assigned Chris Copeland and James White to the BayHawks so that they can practice with them in Westchester, New York, tweets Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Copeland, White, and Stoudemire will be called back up tomorrow.
- Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace told Sports 56 WHBQ that Josh Selby will return from the D-League after two games, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal (via Twitter). When Selby returns, Tony Wroten will be sent back to Reno.
- Avery Bradley said the Celtics have talked with him about a D-League stint, but he plans on traveling west with the C's on their post-Christmas trip, tweets Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
- The Knicks announced that they have assigned Amare Stoudemire to the Erie BayHawks of the Developmental League so that he can get practice reps before returning to the Knicks this weekend. Coach Mike Woodson disclosed yesterday that Stoudemire would practice with the BayHawks, but it wasn't clear if he would be formally assigned to them.
The latest news and notes from around the Atlantic Division on Monday afternoon: