Morning shootaround — April 15


VIDEO: Highlights from games played April 14

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Pierce says time with Nets was ‘horrible’ | Perkins says LeBron much like KG | Mavs worried about Parsons’ injury | Bucks’ Parker out for training camp?

No. 1: Pierce blasts time with Nets, questions Williams’ leadership — When the Boston Celtics dealt franchise mainstays Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn in the summer of 2013, the idea was those two would provide the veteran leadership needed to help the Nets realize their long-held Finals dreams. That’s not quite what happened, though. Brooklyn stumbled out of the gates in 2013-14, then turned things around and eventually won Game 7 in a first-round series against Toronto … and lost in the East semis to the Miami Heat. Pierce left as a free agent last summer to sign with the Washington Wizards and is enjoying life there today. He opened up to ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan about how much he disliked playing in Brooklyn and had some harsh words for Nets point guard Deron Williams, too:

“I’m much happier,” he said. “It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really.

“It was just the guys’ attitudes there. It wasn’t like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice. I was looking around saying, ‘What’s this?’ Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice.

“If me and Kevin weren’t there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.”

The player that puzzled him the most, said Pierce, was point guard Deron Williams.

“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that.

“I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”

Pierce said veteran Joe Johnson was an affable professional but also a reluctant leader.

“Joe is quiet,” Pierce noted. “He doesn’t want much attention. He doesn’t say much.

“There’s a lot of secondary guys on that team. KG and I went there looking at them as the main guys who would push us, because we were advancing in years. But we ended up doing all the pushing.”

When the season ended, they declined to sign Pierce to a new deal and let him walk as a free agent.

“I would have stayed in Brooklyn because of Kevin,” Pierce said. “I told him, ‘I don’t really like this situation but I would never leave you if you want me to stay.’ But they decided not to re-sign me so I never had to make a choice. I would never have left Kevin like that.”

Pierce still engages in group texts with former Celtics teammates (and coach) Doc Rivers, Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Big Baby Davis, but hasn’t talked to Ray Allen since he bolted from Boston to Miami in the summer of 2012.

Though much has been made of it, Pierce said, people don’t understand he wasn’t all that close to Allen to begin with.

“It was a weird relationship,” Pierce conceded. “We were all good friends on the court, but Ray always did his own thing. That’s just the way Ray was. Even when we were playing together, we’d be having a team dinner and Ray wouldn’t show up. We’d go to his charity events but Ray wouldn’t show up to somebody else’s.

“I called him on it. I said, ‘Man, Ray, we support all your stuff but when we ask you, you don’t come to ours.’ I remember when Rondo re-signed with Boston, we had a little dinner at a restaurant and Ray didn’t show up.

“I know Ray probably didn’t like Rondo that much, but it wasn’t a fact of not liking somebody. You don’t have to like everybody you play with — it’s a matter of showing support.”

***

No. 2: Perkins: Garnett, James ‘on same level’ as players — Veteran center Kendrick Perkins played 3 1/2 seasons alongside Kevin Garnett in Boston. He’s played 16 games as a teammate of LeBron James this season in Cleveland. But before his stint as a Cav, Perkins squared off against James on the NBA’s biggest stages several times when Perkins was with the Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since becoming a teammate of James, Perkins has seen a lot of KG-like qualities in LeBron, writes Jessica Camerato of BasketballInsiders.com:

Kendrick Perkins played over three seasons with Kevin Garnett. During that time, LeBron James was enemy number one, the Boston Celtics’ biggest foe on the Cleveland Cavaliers as they fought to rule the Eastern Conference.

Four years later, that rival is now Perkins’ teammate. He sees similarities between his past and present team leaders.

“Him and KG are on the same level,” Perkins said. “They’re both so unselfish, it’s crazy. They [really like] making other people great. Then when you hear them talk outside of the court, it’s on a whole other level. They know their [stuff] front to back. LeBron could be a GM some day.”

Perkins quickly realized the perception of James mirrored that of Garnett: dislike them as opponents, like them as teammates.

“That’s their competitive nature,” Perkins said. “But when I got over here, he (James) welcomed me with open arms.”

“Every day he carries himself as a professional – the way he takes care of his body, doing all the little things – and he punches in the clock,” Perkins said. “All the success you see on the court, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes … Catch him spending an hour-and-a-half daily, cold tub, massages, shots, he’s great. He’s [so] dominant that you’ve got to follow him … When he talks, everybody is like, ‘Ok, yes sir.’”

In addition to James’ 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game this season, Perkins has been impressed by his basketball IQ.

“I knew he was a great basketball player, but you’ve got to be around him to really respect his knowledge and his passion for the game,” Perkins said of James. “His knowledge is unbelievable. He’s really one of the smartest guys I’ve been around as far as knowing the game.”

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No. 3: Mavs concerned about Parsons’ knee injury — The Dallas Mavericks were hoping they’d be able to get small forward Chandler Parsons back in the lineup before tonight’s season finale. Parsons has been dealing with a right knee injury that first started bothering him on April 2 and as the playoffs close in this weekend, it’s quite possible he could miss Game 1 for the Mavs. ESPNDallas.com’s Tim McMahon has more:

The plan was for Parsons to play the last two regular-season games, which would give him plenty of time to chip the rust off and get ready for the playoffs. That changed when his knee “kind of gave out in a weird way” during his workout at Staples Center.

At this point, Parsons hopes he can play in Wednesday’s regular-season finale against Portland, but that’s no guarantee. In fact, he can’t be sure he’ll be ready to go for Game 1 in San Antonio or Memphis or Houston or Los Angeles.

If the playoffs started now, Parsons said he couldn’t play.

This isn’t about precaution. Parsons’ knee is a problem for the Mavs, who desperately need their $46 million small forward in peak form for the playoffs.

“Am I concerned? Yeah, I’m concerned,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll see where we are. We’re not going to take any risks with it. He desperately wants to play, and he’s played hurt a lot this year. When he came back from his foot thing, he was out there a lot earlier than a lot of guys would have been. We’ve just got to make sure we’re smart about the whole thing.”

Parsons simply has no lift and no explosiveness, even though the swelling in the knee is down. The 6-foot-9 small forward could barely dunk off his right foot Sunday, even before he suffered the setback.

“Right now, I think if I played, not only do I think I’d further the injury, I know I’m not as good as I could be, and I’d probably hurt more than I’d help,” Parsons said while pedaling on an exercise bike before he watched Rajon Rondo and the Mavs reserves play the Utah Jazz.

“I could play, but it would almost be selfish to rush back and play and not be able to help my team. I’m not going to be immature and ignorant just to play. I’m dying to play. I really want to play, but at the same time, I’m not going to be selfish and rush back and not be a contributor and be able to help our team.”

Parsons doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong with his knee. The MRI from April 3, the day after soreness and swelling forced him to leave the Mavs’ loss to the Houston Rockets in the third quarter, came back clean. The swelling has been gone for several days. But the soreness persists.

“I’m doing whatever I can to get there, and it’s just not making the progress that I thought it would,” said Parsons, who has another doctor’s visit scheduled for Tuesday in Dallas. “It’s nothing structural, no tears in the tendons or anything, so I know it’s nothing like that. But it’s just kind of scary not knowing what it is and why it hurts so much and why it’s not better.”

***

No. 4: Bucks’ Parker making progress, but is unsure if he’ll be back for training camp — A season after an abysmal finish in 2013-14, the Milwaukee Bucks are the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. That they accomplished that feat without star rookie Jabari Parker — who was lost for the season after tearing his left ACL in mid-December — is even more impressive. The good news for Bucks fans is that Parker is healing up nicely, but the worrisome news may be that he won’t be ready for training camp. BrewHoop.com’s Aron Yohannes has more:

It’s been almost four months since Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker has played organized basketball. After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 15 in Phoenix against the Suns, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft has been largely out of the spotlight while his team continued their surprise turnaround this season.

For only the second time since the injury, Parker spoke with reporters about his rehab after the Bucks unveiled their new team colors and logos Monday night. Still just three months into his rehab, Parker is still a bit unsure whether or not he’ll be ready for the start of training camp next fall.

“I don’t know what my timetable is.” Parker said. “I’m just getting better and improving.

“I don’t measure myself to where I was last year. I think I want to go far ahead, so who knows the ceiling to that. It’s going to be a while of course, so I don’t have any timetable.”

On April 1, Parker took part in very light work before the Bucks played the Chicago Bulls, participating in shooting, passing and dribbling drills. It was the first time anybody was visibly able to see his progress.

“I just wanted to get that touch (for a basketball) that I wanted to have.” Parker said of the work he did that day. “I’m making really good progress, I’m staying positive and not looking too far ahead so I over-limit myself.”

Parker has been in attendance for the majority of the Bucks’ home games, sitting next to fellow rookie Damien Inglis on the bench most nights.

Over the past two months, a brace and a pair of crutches have helped Parker maneuver around. Now that he’s physically able to walk under his own power, he’s hoping he can start sprinting pretty soon.  And mentally? Parker hasn’t had any trouble dealing with that portion of his setback, something that has been pretty obvious from the start of the whole process.

“It hasn’t been real difficult because I know my journey. I know where I want to go, I know that my timetable and journal of my life is going to be in a different direction. So I just have to deal with it.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Julius Randle credits Kobe Bryant for helping him deal with the emotions of his injury … Clippers coach Doc Rivers is somewhat glad stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul had a tiff during last night’s game … Atlanta Hawks 3-and-D forward DeMarre Carroll is open to signing with the New York Knicks this summer … The Orlando Magic plan to make Kyle O’Quinn a qualifying offer this summer … LeBron James has the NBA’s top-selling jersey (again) while the Bulls boast the best-selling team gear … The L.A. Lakers will reportedly field trade offers on Nick Young … At practice the other day, Stephen Curry made 77 straight 3-pointers … Jose Calderon really wants to be a part of the New York Knicks’ rebuilding effort

ICYMI of the Night: Regardless of how this playoff chase ends for the Pacers, C.J. Miles has had himself a nice season in Indiana … 


VIDEO: C.J. Miles goes coast to coast for the power jam

 

12 Comments

  1. looz1225 says:

    So thats why they call Paul Pierce The Truth. He doesn’t hold back. LOL

  2. harriethehawk says:

    What DeMarre Carroll will leave my beloved Hawks to play for the bottomfeeder New York Knickerbonkers? Say it isn’t so!!!

  3. Aram says:

    Why is CP3 is not in most VP discussions?

  4. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Curry, Harden Co MVP’S

  5. Paul says:

    Say it ain’t so Pierce. You didn’t like it in BK (getting us into the second round and all). Oh well, at least he kept it real. Deron plays regular season and playoff games like he doesn’t want to be there. I know what Pierce is talking about.

  6. European says:

    I don’t want to comment each article, but I got to admit this is the best Morning Shootaround of the season. Really interesting today. Oh, just want to add one thing about Brooklyn – Hopefully Mirza gets back soon and that Lopez finally plays like he is capable of.

  7. Rhedz03 says:

    To me mvp means a player that Makes the biggest difference on his team. You take him out of the picture and the team either loss or has hard time winning games. Mvp means making others better on and off the court. Mvp is not just putting big numbers..its also about performing in the highest level day in and day out. Being the best and making the best decision on and off the court. Lifting the team is what a true mvp does…

    Im sorry to say this but curry is good but not yet there…

    Either james harden or lebrpn james…cuz this 2 does it all…they do everything..and they make an impact on their team…

  8. albert rincone says:

    The MVP race this season is one of the best we’ve seen in years. A bunch of great options, but if you ask me, it’s all Steph Curry. His numbers, and his team’s numbers, are tremendous. And when you look at how he and his team have performed against the top 10 teams in the league, compared to those of Harden and Westbrook, it is clear that Curry is the most valuable player. Good article on SH breaking down this season’s MVP race, def a great read: http://straighthoops.com/most_valuable.html

    • okckd35 says:

      That would prove curry has a better supporting cast. Both harden and Westbrook have been playing with injury depleted teams. Not to mention Westbrook leads them in ppg rpg spg and apg. He’s being overlooked as his team is struggling missing a lot of players this year. At 1 point they had 7 healthy players…. curry can have a terrible game and his TEAM still wins not so much with harden or Westbrook

  9. Kirby Record says:

    I have nothing against Paul Pierce but anyone who does this kind of thing in the press is a bit weird. Wy would he call out all these people in the press instead of just talk to them directly?

    • OKC says:

      Well the people he was talking about mostly aren’t on his team anymore so he probably doesn’t need to confront them or anything cause at this point it won’t help anything. Still I agree with you, it’s a bit weird to just throw all these people under the bus, but hey, he is a vet and potential HOF player so maybe he feels he has earned the right to candidly talk about how he and others approach the game and their teams.

      • HeatLifer says:

        He’s all about throwing them under the bus, and trash talking. He may not have liked them but they clearly didn’t think much of him. He’s a dirty player, with a nasty attitude and of course he’ll trash talk Bklyn, they didn’t want him.

        Grow up Pierce, you’re a bad example of sportsmanship and honor among players to all the kids out there coming up in the game. Lets just hope they turn out to be more like Ray Allen #MorelikeRay.

        #GrowUpPierce