Posts Tagged ‘A. Sherrod Blakely’

Celtics Will Rebuild Quickly With A Healthy And Hungry Rondo On Board



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That cold and long winter that was predicted for the Boston Celtics in the aftermath of Doc Rivers departing for the Los Angeles Clippers and Danny Ainge trading away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce is still in effect.

You don’t lose that kind of championship firepower and simply move on, not without up-and-coming stars ready to fill those shoes immediately. But I am inclined to trim some time off of the back-end of that prediction if the words coming out of Rajon Rondo‘s mouth are genuine.

The lone member of the Celtics’ championship team core, Rondo’s ability to bounce back from a season-ending knee injury and mesh with new coach Brad Stevens were the two biggest question marks hanging over the Celtics this season and in the near future. It wasn’t clear if Rondo wanted to dig in for the long-term rebuild that is under way in Boston, not at this stage of his career and not after all of the playoff highs and lows he’s dealt with the past six years.

He silenced any doubters by quietly going about the business of being the leader you hoped he would. He developed a relationship with Stevens, even going so far as to declare his new coach as his “best friend” at media day. “We talk every day, we laugh and joke, we just had dinner the other night,”Rondo said. “I’m going to help him, he’s going to help me. He has my full support, and I told him from day one when he came to my camp [in Louisville for their first meeting in July], I’m 100 percent behind him.”

While Rondo’s not expected back in action until sometime after the first month of the season, if that soon, he’s already helping to jumpstart the Celtics’ franchise rebuild by simply buying in to the new program. He swears his plan all along has been to stick it out with the Celtics, he has two more years and $25 million on his current deal. He told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com as much, making clear his mission to revive the franchise along with his career as one of the top point guards in the game.

I love it here. The fans are great here,” Rondo said.  “And [president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] has been straightforward with me. This is my team. Why would I want to leave? Why would I want out?

“I never really backed away from a challenge. This would be a challenge. I’m looking forward to working with coach [Brad] Stevens. It’s a brand-new start for us as a team. A lot of new players and a lot of young guys willing to listen, so I’m very excited about that.”

There was a time when Rondo’s leadership abilities, or lack thereof, were seen as the only thing that could hold the Celtics back. Now, at least from listening to him, his steady hand running the show in Boston is going to be the bedrock of the next era.

And this is coming from a cynic who wasn’t sure if Rondo would be willing to humble himself in the presence of a new coach without any NBA experience.

He appears to be a changed man, changed for the better in many respects, because of the injury he suffered and the perspective that distance from the game always allows. The maturity that was missing at times throughout the past six or seven years is there now. The wisdom gained from playing alongside future Hall of Famers like Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen will shine through, especially when he regains his form and returns to live action.

Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself:

Q: How curious are you to see how your game translates to a team with no Big Three around?

RR: “Whatever coach (Brad Stevens) asks of me, that’s what I try to do. If he wants me to shoot the ball more, I’ll shoot it. But at the end of the day, my natural instincts are to make my teammates better. Regardless of who is out on the floor, I believe I do make everybody out there better. I’m going to push them as hard as I can. I’m going to demand a lot out of them. I wouldn’t demand anything that I wouldn’t demand of myself. So I’m excited to play with a new group of guys.”

Q: When you said you felt nothing when the trade went down …

RR: “That was blown out of proportion.”

Q: So what was the story behind it?

RR: “I don’t really say much and speak out on exactly what happened. I talk to Kevin all the time. I talk to P. Obviously it was different when the trade went down. I didn’t expect it to happen. I had just gotten off the plane. It happens, and that’s the business. I’m not going to say it was, ‘forget about it’. We still talk about them in the locker room today, tell stories about how KG was, things Paul did. At the end of the day, I still talk to every one of those guys. I talk to Jet, I talk to P, I talked to Kevin yesterday. We still check on each other. It’s a brotherhood. It’s something that you can’t break. We won titles together. We been through the fire together. It’s just something for life.”

Rondo has mind set on doing it again, this time with a different cast of characters, and with him in the leadership role that he didn’t have the first time around.



Marquee Coaches, Players Continue To Rule NBA’s Bizarro World



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Good luck deciphering what’s real and what’s patently absurd in regards to the on-again, off-again saga that is the Los Angeles Clippers’ pursuit of Doc Rivers as their next coach.

Franchises making trades to appease coaches, who in turn will walk away from one team to coach another … it’s news from basketball’s bizarro world. And free agency is still two weeks away.

As of this morning, Rivers remains the Boston Celtics’ coach, with three years and $21 million on a contract that the Celtics would love for him to see through. The Clippers have two other prime choices, Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw and former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, ready and willing to take over the reins of a franchise coming off its finest season in history.

But how long Rivers remains the Celtics’ coach could be up in the air, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The sides have reportedly rekindled talks that stalled over the weekend and trying to put the finishing touches on a deal that would send Kevin Garnett and Rivers to the Clippers in a deal that would include Eric Bledsoe and perhaps DeAndre Jordan, along with other assets:

Discussions over a blockbuster deal reached an impasse on Saturday when Boston general manager Danny Ainge held firm that Bledsoe had to be a part of package that included DeAndre Jordan and a first-round pick, but sources say that Boston has shown a willingness to find another asset to supplant Bledsoe and complete the complicated deal, sources said.

 The Clippers are prepared to give Rivers a five-year deal to coach and believe acquiring Rivers and Garnett – who will waive his no-trade clause – will lock up the re-signing of free-agent superstar Chris Paul, sources said.

The prospects of bringing Rivers back to the Celtics have become less appealing for Boston, who understand, as one league executive said, “There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. You can’t pretend this didn’t happen and just go back to work.”

Even if we are to believe that a Clippers-Celtics trade is contingent upon the Celtics getting their hands on Bledsoe, we all have to swallow the reality that this is still a system where marquee coaches and players continue to rule the world. Because no fringe player should ever hold up a slam-dunk deal that involves a franchise starving for direction and leadership missing out on a leader like Rivers.

The complications arise when you try to figure out what Rivers has in mind without hearing him explain it. He hasn’t uttered a public word about his intentions, leaving others to speculate about what it is he plans to do regarding his future — with the Celtics and in coaching altogether.

With a report surfacing that Rivers could opt for a return to the broadcast booth either way, the Clippers and Celtics could be going through all of this for nothing (according to A. Sherrod Blakely of the CSSNE.com):

The potential trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that would have freed up Doc Rivers to coach them is still considered a no-go.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Rivers will be back on the sidelines as the Celtics head coach this season.

A league source tells CSNNE.com that Rivers has not entirely ruled out taking some time off to resume his broadcasting career and return afterwards to coach.

“You guys (media) have been around Doc long enough to know that’s always been something he’s talked about,” the source said. “So it shouldn’t come as a surprise. And frankly, now is probably as good a time as any for him to go that route.”

If Rivers needs an escape route for the rebuilding process that seems inevitable in Boston, rekindling his broadcast roots might be the best route. The ill will a potential move to the Clippers’ bench will foster in Boston will be severe.

But if the Clippers are serious not only about acquiring Rivers, Garnett and Paul Pierce to pair with Paul, but also pursuing and eventually adding Dwight Howard, who is central to Phase II of this fantasy basketball plot, consider me impressed by the audacity of the Clippers to dream this big.

Never mind that the Lakers still believe that Howard will stick around. Building a future around the game’s best big man is much easier to do than building around an All-Star like Blake Griffin, who would have to be a part of any theoretical sign-and-trade deal.

(The Lakers doing this sort of business with the Clippers is yet another patently absurd idea that, in this environment, is every bit as plausible as anything else we’ve heard.)

If all of this hinged on the return of an injured stars like, say, Kobe Bryant or Rajon Rondo, all of the hand-wringing over the minutiae would make a little more sense. Any time there is a potential blockbuster deal to be made, you have to be willing to listen. Ainge has always been willing to do so and the Lakers and Clippers have not been strangers to the blockbuster in recent seasons (both Paul and Howard were acquired via blockbuster deals).

But for all of this to rest on the shoulders of Paul’s backup, albeit a talented young player in his own right, just doesn’t seem right.

Chemistry Issues Slowing Thunder


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
If anyone in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room knows about the strain a blockbuster trade can put on a team it’s Kendrick Perkins.

The Thunder center, whose trade from Boston three season ago signaled the championship rise of his new team and a fall from that perch for his old team, is doing his best to convince anyone willing to listen that James Harden‘s trade to Houston is not what’s ailing the Thunder right now.

“We’re trying to win,” Perkins told reporters after the Thunder lost the Atlanta Hawks Sunday, their second loss in three games. “We’re not really talking about the trade. The trade is done. We’ve got enough talent in here to win games.”

Oh, how quickly we forget, Kendrick (the big fella cried after being traded to Oklahoma City, for those of you who don’t remember).

(more…)

Celts’ JET Ready For Drone Work

 

Maybe Jason Terry ought to change his nickname. From JET to drone.

Before teeing off at a Boston Celtics charity golf event in Bolton, Mass., Tuesday, the veteran shooting guard teed off on two rival NBA teams that have been all but handed a go-straight-to-The-Finals card by many fans and insiders. Celtics maven A. Sherrod Blakely was there to chronicle Terry’s comments for Comcast SportsNet New England.

“My mission is to kill; whether it’s the Heat, whether it’s the Lakers. Hopefully both. That’s my mission, and that’s what I’m here to do,” Terry said on Tuesday shortly before teeing off at the Fifth Annual USI Shamrock Classic which was hosted by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation.

OK, so Terry is over the top with his imagery. No, moms and dads, he doesn’t mean literal bloodshed. Sports never has been or shall be confused with real warfare.

Reasonable people understand that Terry simply was voicing his competitiveness and hunger for another championship (he won one with Dallas in 2011). Besides, he is teamed now with a guy who once said (and got reprimanded for) this.

If Terry can do for Boston what he has done for 13 NBA seasons — with great consistency, averaging 16.1 points, 4.7 assists and shooting 44.8 percent for the Hawks and Mavs — the Celtics and their coach will be thrilled. He truly is just what the Doc ordered.

During the offseason, Celtics coach Doc Rivers put his wish list to paper in a lengthy letter to Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.

”We wanted a scorer off the dribble,” Rivers said. “I sit down and write Danny a letter about needs; that was my number one need. I didn’t think we had enough guys that could score off the dribble. (Rajon) Rondo can score off the dribble. But we needed a guy that could score and be a knock-down shooter. That was very important for us.”

Terry figures to be even more important if pressed into starter’s duty the first couple months while Avery Bradley recovers from two shoulder surgeries. Then there is the hole to be plugged since Ray Allen’s defection to Miami, a move in free agency by the popular Boston shooter that will turn each Heat-Celtics clash into an event.

The first one comes fast – Oct. 30 in South Florida, with the Heat’s ring ceremony on TNT. Folks can be as careful with their rhetoric as they like, but we’re expecting nothing less than seek-and-destroy (the other guys’ title dreams) mode from both sides.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 46)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now that the dust has settled from the trade deadline, it’s time to consider how all the moves made by the various teams (and it seems like every team made some kind of move) will shape the rest of the season.

Here at the hideout it’s time to react, reflect and round-up those in the know so we can make sense of it all. And that’s exactly what we’ve got for you on Episode 46 of the Hang Time Podcast .

Paul Coro from the Arizona Republic stops by to talk about Steve Nash‘s future and how the shakeup in the Western conference will affect the Suns’ suddenly promising playoff hopes, and A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast SportsNet in Boston drops in to explain the Celtics’ moves (as best he can, anyway).

You don’t want to miss this one.

LISTEN HERE:


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