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Sunday Notebook: Pierce Wants to Stay, Rondo’s a Bad Ass and Ray Copes

 

• Quote of the day definitely goes to Rajon Rondo, who has this to say about the Brad Miller flagrant foul (via the Globe’s Frank Dell’Apa):

“The hit was softer than I expected,’’ Rondo said. “I knew I was going to get hit, going back to last year. It wasn’t as hard as it seemed. I think he tried to go for my face but he hit me in my nose.

“But I’ve been hit harder. You just know, you’ve got a feeling. It didn’t hurt, I was just focusing on trying to make a free throw, honestly. I wasn’t mad or anything, that’s part of the game. I’ve been hit way harder. Next time we play them I’m still going to drive whether it’s him whether it’s [Joachim] Noah or anybody. It could be Shaq[O’Neal]. I’m still going to drive that’s what I do.’’

This is awesome in so many ways. Hopefully this Miller-Rondo thing is now over. 

• Paul Pierce addressed his upcoming “free agency” (I use quote marks because there’s no way he’s walking away from a $21.5M player option) with the Globe’s Gary Washburn. Nothing new, but always fun to hear the greatest Celtic since Bird recognizes the importance of being the greatest Celtic since Bird:

“It probably wouldn’t even look right, me in another uniform at this point,’’ Pierce said yesterday morning at the United Center before the Celtics’ 106-80 win over the Chicago Bulls. “It’s probably like seeing Kobe [Bryant] in another uniform or Tim Duncan in another uniform. It probably wouldn’t look right.’’

No worries Celtics fans, Pierce is not relishing the possibility of free agency. He is rarely asked about the rather obscure opt-out clause, but it might be time for the organization to respond and give Pierce the career security he desires and ensures that he finishes a Celtic.

“Like I said, I want to retire a Celtic, I kept that no secret and it will all play out, depending how many years I want to play,’’ he said. “I am sure that Danny [Ainge] and Doc [Rivers], as long as these guys are here, ownership, I am sure they want me to stay also.’’

You can never rule out a washed-up Pierce playing a season in some NBA purgatory city when he’s 39 or something. It has happened with too many star players. But Pierce is going to be in Boston for every relevant game of his career. 

One other interesting note from the Pierce piece:

Of the 29 players taken in the first round of the 1998 draft, 17 are no longer in the NBA.

Let’s take a look at those 17 guys, after the jump.

 

The list of 1998 draftees who have not played a minute in the NBA this season: Michael Olowokandi (#1); Raef LaFrentz (#3); Robert Traylor (#6); Bonzi Wells (#11); Michael Doleac (#12); Keon Clark (#13); Michael Dickerson (#14); Matt Harpring (#15); Bryce Drew (#16); Mirsad Turkan (#18); Pat Garrity (#19); Roshown McLeod (#20); Tyronn Lue (#23); Felipe Lopez (#24); Sam Jacobson (#26); Vladimir Stepania (#27); Corey Benjamin (#28).

Pierce will probably go down as the 2nd-best guy from this draft, behind only Dirk Nowitzki (selected #9 by the Bucks and traded to Dallas immediately for Tractor Traylor). I will not even listen to people who argue that Vince Carter has had a better career than Pierce. 

• Also via Dell’Apa in the Globe, Doc has something to say about Tony Allen!

“It’s going to take time,” Rivers said. “He’s going to look great in a game and bad in a game at the same time. We just have to get through it and be patient with him.”

I’d settle for TA looking just “decent” instead of flip-flopping between great and horrible. And I don’t care how great you might look for half of the minutes you’re in the game; if you’re turning the ball over on 27.3 percent of the possessions on which you try and do something with it (and that is TA’s current turnover rate), you are hurting the team.

• The Herald has a nice segment of its Sunday notebook devoted to Ray Allen’s methods of keeping in touch with his children, particularly his diabetic son, Walker: 

“The beautiful thing is iChat,” the Celtics guard said of his primary mode of communication with his family while on the road.

“When I got on the bus the other day I linked in and they had a computer in the kitchen, so they can see me on the bus when I’m traveling,” he said. “At least they can see me and that I’m working and I’m going to be home soon.”

You know what’s great about this quote? That Ray labels basketball as “working.” That’s the way he approaches the game, and a lot of guys would do well to approach it that way.

Here’s more of Ray discussing the upcoming Christmas road trip:

This time Allen will make the trip with the knowledge that Walker has a short memory.

“I think he forgot,” Allen said. “Right now his long-term memory is good, but his short-term memory, I don’t know. Even when he got back home he forgot some of the toys in the toy room that he had. He thought he had new toys in the house, and they were just his old toys.

“I think he forgot, but I know he knows what he’s dealing with, and he knows what he has to do different from his brother, and if he doesn’t feel well he’ll tell you.

“Sometimes he’ll play with you, because last night he said he had to (vomit), and he didn’t. So I said, ‘OK, if you have to (vomit) then let’s get to the nursery,’ and then he said, ‘I didn’t.’

“He’s learning the complexities of being a child and getting what he wants. That’s how I know he’s got his wits about him.”

I don’t feel this way about many famous people, but I’d really like to meet Ray Allen someday and have a conversation with him. About whatever. It doesn’t have to be basketball.

• Speaking of non-basketball issues, Pierce discusses the financial troubles of his longtime running mate, Antoine Walker. (Via the same Globe piece above):

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to Antoine, man,’’ he said. “Guys, especially young guys who haven’t been in the league that long, [have to] use those type of things as examples, especially when life expectancy of an NBA player doesn’t last long. It could end quick. Hopefully we can use the players in the past whose careers have been shortened one way or another, just learn to appreciate it a little bit better. There’s going to be life after basketball because there’s not a long life span of a career playing basketball.’’

I just feel sad about what has happened to Antoine Walker. 

• Finally, Bill Doyle in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette is a bit worried about the C’s bench without Marquis Daniels. He rightfully notes that Shelden Williams’ production has dropped after a nice start, but I think it’s too early to say things like this:

Early this season, Daniels insisted, “A lot of the guys on this second team could be starters on any other team.” Now that Daniels is hurt, only Wallace could start for most NBA teams. This bench may not even be as deep as Boston’s two years ago when House, Allen, Davis, James Posey, Leon Powe and P.J. Brown all contributed. 

Glen Davis and Tony Allen contributed next to nothing to the C’s ’08 title run. If this season’s full bench is healthy, it should be the best of the New Big Three era.

  • Shane Troy

    In response to “Sunday Notebook: Pierce Wants to Stay, Rondo’s a Bad Ass and Ray Copes”
    IF you ever do meet Ray Allen, please write about it. I think he might be the nicest, most respected player in the NBA. Never have I heard, in the 3 years he has been on the celtics and even before when he was with the Sonics, one bad thing about him. It seems that every player and coach would love him as a teammate (especially J.R. Giddens http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/11499/touching-the-rim) or to merely be associated with him. He is far and away my favorite player in the NBA.

  • Idaho

    Zach,

    What do you think about the MVP on the celtics team so far? I saw a poll on ESPN in the last week and Pierce received the lowest votes out of KG, Rondo, and Ray.

    I thought that was way off-base. I know we are in a transition period with KG putting up decent numbers and Rondo starting to up his game as of late but I think overall to this point Pierce has been the only one bringing it night in and night out especially when they were struggling early – he was their only hope offensively. I think you chalk up a few more losses without Pierce early on and I don’t know if you can say that about anyone else on the team. Maybe without Rondo as of late we might have lost a few games but…you get my drift. Curious on your take.

  • Jeff Lyons

    This is only slightly connected to this post, but I’m starting to wonder (and you might want to put it in your back pocket for a while) when the press/bloggers/experts are going to transition from viewing Rondo as not as good as other premier points because he benefits from playing with KG/PP/Ray, to viewing them as having their careers extended by playing with him. Maybe it won’t be seriously talked about until next year, but maybe later this season?

  • Sam

    I wouldn’t put Nowitzki ahead of Pierce. I’d say Pierce is a significantly better defender, enough to close the gap between them offensively.

    As for the MVP trophy, I’m pretty sure Paul would be rocking one if team owners had been as committed as Cuban to procuring the best players on the market.

    Consider that after his first trade, Toine went from being the 2nd best player after Pierce on the C’s to the 4th or 5th best player on the Mavs after Nowitzki, Nash, Mike Finley and Antawn Jamison (and they had Josh Howard coming off the bench). Put Pierce in his prime with that crew and the Mavs teams that followed and I’m pretty sure he’d garner plenty of MVP votes.

  • Idaho

    MVP for the celtics that is….just for the first 20 games lets say.

    I love it when there is enough buzz in the NBA that you forget it is sunday and there is football on.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    Personally, I think the quarter pole C’s MVP has to be either Pierce or Rondo.

  • Idaho

    Jeff,

    I think Rondo being compared to the best PG’s will always be an interesting one bc he is peculiar as a PG (even outside of the “big 3″ fact). I.E. the great PG’s finish games with good free-throw shooting, good decision making, clutch shots, etc. Although Rondo has abilities of a classic PG (assist/T.O. ratio) he has some glaring lacuna’s. However, he also is a superb rebounder so he makes up for his weakness in other ways.

    The good news for him is that Jason Kidd didn’t have too much difficulty breaking the mold to be considered one of the best pg’s in the league at one time. Kidd is the only other pg that is playing right now that I can compare Rondo to bc of his peculiarity.

    Until he demonstrates he can finish games in general (especially the big games) I cannot do it. I don’t care how many intangibles you have, if I want you on the bench in the last 5 minutes of the game bc of poor decision making and you are a liability offensively you are not elite. It should never be a headline that your pg made 2 free throws in a row at the end of a game. He doesn’t have to shoot 90% but respectable percentages are a must from a PG.

    That said, I think Rondo is a gem and is headed toward being an elite pg if he doesn’t let an ego get in the way of a work ethic. He has work still to do.

  • Jeff Lyons

    “Lacunas”! Really?

    I think his ego is fueling work ethic. He attacks teams with “elite” pg’s ferociously this year. And look at how he didn’t shy away from the Miller hit, and his comment on it.
    I believe the jumpshot is going to continue to improve and so will the foul shooting.
    Are there five better pgs in the league right now? If not, isn’t he already elite? Isn’t this where the big 3 argument is holding him down?
    I don’t get where the poor-decision-making comment is coming from.
    The discussion of non-traditional point guards got me thinking of Magic Johnson.
    Agreed about the work to do, but I’m convinced he will do it.

  • Silverlock

    I will admit Dirk is more talented, but ever since the Golden State playoff loss, we know which of these guys has the heart of a champion. I would start my team with pierce over Dirk every day of the week.

  • Idaho

    Yes, lacunae, you named them and the average NBA fan can name them. You could make an argument that there are 5 better pg’s in the league but I agree he is one of the 5 or 6 most valuable pg’s in the league right now. But comparing him to the elite pg’s of recent decades, no. It is one thing to be top 5 at your position but another to be elite. Steve Nash = Elite. Rondo = not elite…yet. :)

    Can he get there??? His recent big-time plays at the end of games gives me hope. I want to see him produce at the end of games or just take care of the ball in clutch moments.

    Look, other than the fact that he quit playing any defense against Orlando in the playoffs last year (this is a guy who is trying to prove himself as a leader in this league) I have every reason to hope for his success. I love the C’s and have no personal vendettas with Rondo other than I question his heart. My comment about the ego was not to imply that his ego was greater than any other player but I think ego’s in general get in the way of player’s reaching their true potential bc of basketball culture. There is a fine line with the best competitors – being confident but at the same time not lacking honesty with yourself so you can get better and reach the next level.

    I am sure most of you have seen more games than I but the games I have watched when Rondo does commit turnovers it is in clutch moments. I would love to see some data that shows me otherwise. As a C’s fan, if the game is close, especially if it is a big time opponent, I do not want the ball in Rondo’s hands even as a distributor. Hopefully he can change that for me.

  • Idaho

    I agree that some of the criticism of Rondo comes from playing with the big 3. But is that not a fair critique, at least when it comes to assists? It doesn’t discount him but I think it is a worthy component to consider when questioning his status as a PG in the NBA.

    I wonder all the time how many people would know his name if you switched him with D. Rose or some other team with little fire power. Especially considering the fact that he can’t shoot.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    On Pierce….
    I consider Finals MVP is the most important individual trophy. Pierce 1, Nowitzki 0. But its impossible to say either one is better than the other now….both are still playing at such a high-level and leading their teams in the thick of the race. Vince, not even close.

    I can’t say enough good things about Pierce. I recently moved to Boston and it is such a treat to be able to watch him night in, night out. Maybe its worth reminding all of you who have been lucky enough to see him his whole career…..soak it in while he’s still at this level for another year or two…. cause you’ll be reminiscing with your friends and telling your grandkids stories about him down the road. Regardless of the opponent, other storylines, ups and downs of other players, or whatever….Pierce is worth tuning in every game….from a game where he dominates on both ends…..to one where he just happens to take care of the little things. If you wanted to teach someone to play bball ‘the right way’, you would just tell them to watch The Truth.

    On Rondo:
    RR has all the tools, but it takes all my effort not to let him frustrate me silly. He defers scoring himself way too much (he has been way more aggressive on his finish the last couple weeks, hope it continues). I understand he is the PG and his primary job is get everyone involved….but he has to keep the D honest….and Cs will need him to score in crunchtime some games in the playoffs. Longterm, he will be elite if he wants to be….the set-up in boston has been great for him and would disagree with anyone who says otherwise….(lets see how D Rose progresses now that the team is crashing and everyone is expecting him to be the savior even though he is clearly not ready yet).

  • Idaho

    Word Kool-Aid.

  • Jeff Lyons

    Word.

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