As you watch the NBA playoffs and get excited for the draft lottery, you can read about all the happenings in the Celtics world. There are surprisingly a lot of news and notes:
STEVENS ON RONDO: “I THINK HE’LL HAVE A MONSTER YEAR NEXT YEAR”
Rajon Rondo, who returned 29,233,380 seconds after his ACL surgery, began his 2013-14 season on a personal six-game losing streak, which was part of a 12-game losing streak for the Celtics when he was in the lineup. However, Rondo averaged fewer than 25 minutes per game in his first six contests in 2014. He then played more than 35 minutes per game the rest of the way. Mark Murphy of the Boston Globe writes about how Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge think that more than his endurance is on the way back:
“I heard Danny (Ainge) say this and I agree — I think he’ll have a monster year next year,” said Stevens. “A lot of that will be determined by his work in the summer. And as everyone knows, (the coaches are) available all summer (to work with).”
In his eighth NBA season, Rondo still was able to tally 13 double-doubles in 30 games. We even saw him make at least three 3-pointers four different times in 2014, the first four times in his career. Although Rondo had some flashes of brilliance, Stevens saw him shoot 17 percent from downtown in his final 12 contests as well as have some very frustrating times with his ball handling:
“Because he was coming off the ACL he had a couple of little nagging things as well, and it contributed to that inconsistency and availability, especially late in the year.”
Rondo missed four of the Celtics’ last six games of the season with injuries to his shin and hamstring.
AINGE TO BRING PIERCE BACK?
Although he only put up 15 points in Game 1 on Saturday in Toronto, Paul Pierce scored nine of them in the final three minutes of the game. The ball was in The Truth’s hands as he made the Nets’ final four field goals of the game (and old friend Kevin Garnett was the only other Nets player with a bucket in the final four minutes of the contest). Ainge would not mind having the old captain back in Boston:
Ainge on possibility of bringing Paul Pierce back: “At the right price, right circumstance.”
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) April 17, 2014
Those comments from the president of basketball operations came on Thursday, and he knows that Pierce would be a great asset in Boston. As we discussed in September, the feeling is mutual.
JOEL ANTHONY REPORTEDLY STAYING IN GREEN
Joel Anthony, who the C’s acquired in mid-January as a part of the three-team deal that sent Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors, will most likely be back in Boston. Chris Haynes of Comcast SportsNet Northwest explains that this was no surprise:
Boston Celtics forward/center Joel Anthony will exercise his player option for the 2014-15 season and return to the C’s, a league source informed CSNNW.com.
The deadline for the shot-blocking forward to decide his fate is July 1, though the Celtics clearly expected this outcome.
The defensive center from Montreal will turn 32 years old in August and will make $3.8 million in 2014-15. Yeah, nice job there, Miami – the Heat signed him for $18 million in 2010. Well, he becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season, so we will see if the two-time NBA champion and 2007 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year will help the green with his interior defense.
MIKE ZARREN IS A CANDIDATE TO REPLACE JOE DUMARS
Assistant General Manager and Team Counsel Mike Zarren, who I have enjoyed seeing several times at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, is once again in consideration for a general manager position. CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely writes:
Mike Zarren, the Celtics’ well-respected, numbers-crunching, assistant general manager, is again under consideration for another job.
He is among the early names to surface for the soon-to-be vacant GM job with the Detroit Pistons.
David Griffin of the Cavaliers and Kiki VanDeWeghe in the NBA office are also in the running for the job. Zarren, who is the author of the draft “wheel” and has been in the forefront of the analytics movement, has been an important part of the Celtics organization, so it sure would be a loss if he were not in Boston next season.
SEAN GRANDE ON THE FUTURE AND JEFF GREEN
I had the pleasure of interviewing Celtics play-by-play radio announcer Sean Grande on CLNS Radio’s Celtics Beat with Rich Conte. We spoke with Grande about many Celtics topics, including why the Celtics should be competing within the next few years:
I don’t think people realize the width and breadth of what is possible out there. What Danny [Ainge] has done is not going to be able to automatically pull off [a Kevin Garnett-like trade] again, but the Celtics are one of two or three teams that are in position to do that. It is like the draft lottery: chances are you are going to get sixth. That’s more likely than not, but the Celtics have a greater chance of getting one than 25 other teams.
… Danny has created – with the assets he had – many different directions that he could go based on what’s available. I don’t know if it’s going to be next year or the year after or in three years, but the Celtics are in better position to be contenders in 2017 than five-sixths of the league.
Grande also spoke about why there is so much upside for Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk:
The upside to me – and this will sound backwards – is that Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk have so many ways they can get better, and they still had good years at times. Yet, their learning curve and their room for improvement is what you want it to be. They can get much, much better.
Grande offered a very interesting comparison between Jeff Green and Kendrick Perkins as he described Green’s future:
What’s really odd about Jeff Green is that he is sort of the anti-Boston player. The best example that there is was the guy for whom he was traded. You look at Kendrick Perkins and Jeff Green – you talk about their talent and you talk about players who made a permanent impact in the Boston sports culture. Perk was a Boston player: he got the most out of his talent, heart on his sleeve, emotion all the time – it doesn’t necessary make you a better player.
… I think the things that drive people crazy about Jeff Green are not going to change. That is who he is. He’s extraordinarily talented. Is he your go-to guy? He is not that guy in the fourth quarter. But can you win with Jeff Green? Yeah, you can win with him.
Grande also referenced that fewer than two and a half years ago, Green was having heart surgery. It is remarkable that he has played in all of the Celtics’ 169 regular-season and playoff games since the beginning of the 2012-13 season. As we have seen in previous years, he would be intriguing as the third or fourth option on a Celtics team in a few years.
No matter how much Celtics fans can get on Green for his inconsistency, the Celtics commentator recently wrote about how the TD Garden fans were the MVPs of the C’s 2013-14 season.