Rajon Rondo’s Broken Hand; Keith Bogans Trade

The Boston Celtics received some discouraging news on Friday in regards to their best player. Reports are coming out that Rajon Rondo will miss at least six weeks after breaking his hand and undergoing surgery.

While this injury news is not what Celtics fans wanted to hear, it’s really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Sure, Rondo will miss training camp and the start of the season — but it’s a season where the Celtics aren’t expected to do much of anything. Yes, the All-Star PG’s absence will be felt in Boston. The Celtics may not win as many games without him. But what does it really matter for a team that’s headed nowhere?

The main objective here should be getting Rondo back to full health without rushing his recovery. There’s just no reason to take any extra risk. Because if the team ultimately does decided to deal him away on or before this season’s deadline — what’s he really going to be worth at less than 100 percent?

If the Celtics are set on keeping him and building around him, the same logic should apply.

This news stings if you’re a Celtics fan. There’s no doubt about that. But if you’re a Celtics fan who wasn’t already looking slightly ahead to the future, then you’re just not being realistic.

Here’s to hoping for a speedy recovery for one of the game’s best point guards.

The Celtics made a trade on Thursday. Keith Bogans and his non-guaranteed $5.3 million salary was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for John Lucas III, Erik Murphy, Dwight Powell, and Malcolm Thomas. Both teams swapped a pair of second-round picks. The Celtics shipped their top-55 protected selections in 2015 and 2017 from the Sacramento Kings while they received the Cavaliers’ picks in 2016 and 2017.

The Celtics received a new $5.3 million trade exception for Bogans, which they have a year to use. While Powell and Murphy face long odds to make the roster, they are talented. Powell is a young power forward who was taken with the 45th pick by the then-Charlotte Bobcats and the only player in this deal with a guaranteed contract. Murphy enjoyed a good college career at the University of Florida. Both of the second-round picks from Cleveland could come later in the Draft because the Cavaliers are expected to contend for the NBA title.

The team also waived Chris Johnson and Chris Babb on Thursday.

Christian Watford was released on Friday, but the Celtics brought him back. The Celtics can only have 20 players under contract during training camp. Since they had 18 players before they traded Bogans and took back four players, they were over the maximum amount of 20 players with the still-pending signing of Evan Turner. After the trade was completed, the Celtics released Lucas and Thomas. This brought their roster down to 18 players so they have space to sign Watford and Evan Turner. This may be confusing, but the Celtics will have more moving parts over the course of this season.

The Celtics still have 16 guaranteed contracts for 15 roster spots. They will need to be creative as they cut down their roster before the season begins on October 29th against the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Celtics Release 2014-’15 Schedule

The Boston Celtics released their schedule for the 2014-’15 season on Wednesday.  The Celtics will play only one nationally televised game on January 14th at home against the Atlanta Hawks. This means the Celtics are not a premier team in the NBA.

Their lone star (Rajon Rondo) is in the final year of his contract. Their roster is filled with either players who have been disappointments (Jeff Green, Evan Turner, and Tyler Zeller) and rookies like Marcus Smart and James Young.

The Celtics schedule in November looks to be daunting. They have to travel to Houston (Rockets), Dallas (Mavericks), and Chicago Bulls. The only game where they could be favored is on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers. Then they have a six-game road trip through the Western Conference from January 19th through January 28th.

Here are some notable games for Celtics fans to look forward to.

-October 29th – The Celtics open the season versus the Brooklyn Nets at the Garden. Kevin Garnett could be back with the Nets. This might be Garnett’s final season in the NBA.

– November will be filled with home dates against the elite teams in the NBA. On November 12th, the Celtics will square off against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two nights later, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will visit Boston. Then on November 28th, the Bulls make their first appearance at TD Garden. On the last night of November, the Celtics will face the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

– Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries, and the Washington Wizards play in Boston on December 7th in their only visit to Boston.

– The Celtics will not play on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. Boston sports fans will have a doubleheader with the Bruins and Celtics both playing at home on Black Friday (annual ritual except in the case of lockout) and New Year’s Eve. The Celtics will host the Bulls on Black Friday and they will see the Sacramento Kings on New Year’s Eve.

– In January, the Celtics begin their journey on the West Coast against Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers come to Boston on March 29th.

– The All-Star break is lengthy this year as the Celtics will be off from February 11th until the 20th. The Celtics last game before the All-Star break and trade deadline (February 19th) is against the Hawks at home. This could be Rondo’s final game with the Celtics among other veterans like Brandon Bass, Green, etc.

– Featured rookies: Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves will be in Boston on December 19th. The Milwaukee Bucks led by Jabari Parker play in Boston on April 3rd.

– The Celtics’ two meetings against the Los Angeles Lakers will be on December 5th (in Boston) and February 22nd (in Los Angeles).

This season appears to be another frustrating trek in the win-loss column. Though,there could be some interesting developments in the 2014-’15 season such as whether the Celtics will move Rondo and the development of Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Smart, and Young. Next summer, the Celtics will have money coming off their books, but Kevin Love is not walking through that door.

Celtics Circuit: C’s Sign Evan Turner

After several weeks of speculation, Evan Turner has found his new home. The 25-year old forward will reportedly sign a deal with the Boston Celtics.

This obviously means that he’ll be playing for his third team going into his fifth NBA season, and that his stint with the Indiana Pacers can officially be labeled as a failure.

Who knows how many teams expressed interest in signing Turner, but you have to believe multiple offers were on his table. The fact that he chose the Celtics shows that he’s looking for an opportunity to prove himself, rather than an opportunity to win games.

The Celtics aren’t going to be awful next season, but they’re not going to be good either. Perhaps Turner is looking for a chance to grow right along with his team? He’ll definitely get that chance Boston.

While it’s inaccurate to label Turner as a flop thus far in his career, it’s also hard to say he’s living up to No. 2 overall pick hype. But all in all he appears to be on pace for a solid NBA career. He’s averaged double-digits in each of his first four seasons, with an increase in PPG each year.

It’s too early to close the book on Turner as an NBA star, but the safe bet at this point is that he’ll end up being a solid No. 3 or 4 guy by the end of his time in the Association. He needs more time to development, and he’ll have that in Boston.

Best Options for Boston Celtics with No. 6 Pick in 2014 NBA Draft

The Boston Celtics got the No. 6 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, something that probably disappointed fans that thought they’d at least land in the top five.

It could have been worse.

Luckily, this is a strong draft. Even at No. 6, the Celtics will have some attractive options to choose from that they can build with for the long haul. But given the assets this team has with regard to extra and future draft picks, general manager Danny Ainge will also have the flexibility to get creative.

  1. Trade Into Top Four, Package 6th Pick With Other Assets
  • If you ask me, there are four golden prizes in this 2014 draft: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum. Top four is where you want to be. At No. 6, the Celtics will likely be looking at Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon and Dario Saric—all strong prospects who justify top-six value—just not ones who offer the same type of upside as our projected top-four picks. If the Celtics really want to make a splash, they could look to package No. 6 with a combination of players and picks in an attempt to move into the top four and secure either Wiggins, Embiid, Parker or Exum. If Wiggins and Parker go No. 1 and No. 2, it’s possible the Philadelphia 76ers, who already have a point guard and center, won’t be as interested in Exum and Embiid at No. 3, which might make them willing to trade down. What if Wiggins, Parker and Exum go top three, and Embiid is there for the Orlando Magic, who already have a center? Maybe Orlando would then be willing to move down two spots if it was fairly compensated to do so. The Celtics own the No. 17 pick as well as No. 6. They could put together a package of those two picks, along with some talent on the roster and negotiate from there. It’s too early to know whether the Sixers or Magic would even consider such a deal, but it’s certainly an opportunity worth exploring if you’re Danny Ainge.
  1. Draft Big
  • If Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Dante Exum are off the board, the Boston Celtics will be guaranteed one of the top-three power forwards in the draft. Julius Randle is a bully—a physical interior forward who can man the glass and take over in the paint. Regardless of how well you rate his upside, Randle has the potential to evolve into a long-term starter and significant franchise building block. Noah Vonleh is no different. Almost a year younger than Randle, he led the Big Ten in rebounding playing under 27 minutes a game, and with 6’9″ size, a 7’4″ wingspan, a post game and promising jumper, there really isn’t much to question outside of his developmental timetable. Aaron Gordon established himself as the most athletic big man in the class. He proved it at the NBA Draft Combine, though you didn’t really need a timer or measuring stick to come to that conclusion. Gordon isn’t as polished offensively as Randle or Vonleh, but his incredible defensive versatility and above the rim hops play to his unique two-way potential. I’m a Vonleh guy myself, based on his sharp physical tools and inside-outside offensive repertoire, but all three of these prospects seem like can’t-lose options in this year’s draft.
  1. Marcus Smart
  • Who knows what Rajon Rondo’s future looks like? But whether he’s here for the long haul or not, Marcus Smart makes sense for more reasons than one. For starters, he’d give the Celtics some insurance in case Rondo does end up somewhere else. And it ultimately gives Danny Ainge more flexibility, as it would allow him to trade Rondo without having to worry who’ll run the point. Smart also has the versatility to play off the ball. If Rondo stays, Smart’s length, 227-pound frame and scoring ability should hold up against many other NBA 2-guards. Lastly, he offers a competitive edge that this team seemingly lost when it traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Smart plays mean, physical and aggressive. He’s someone who looks like he’d run through traffic to get that W.”I sort of like Marcus Smart. I like his fire,” Danny Ainge said while appearing on ESPN’s combine broadcast, per ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. At No. 6, Smart just might be the top option on the board regardless, depending on how Ainge has him stacked up with the prospects. I don’t know if Smart will ever reach All-Star status, but I do know he’s got the two-way game to make a positive short and long-term impact.
  1. Draft-and-Stash
  • This might not make the fans happy, but with a big free-agent summer coming in 2015, and no rush for the Celtics to win in 2014-15, it might not be a bad idea to stash some talent. Croatia’s Dario Saric can play, and it seems as if he’s getting better by the week. Saric was recently named MVP after putting up 23 points, 11 boards, seven assists and five blocks in the Adriatic League final. And he’s fresh off a 36-point, 15-rebound performance in a one-point win over KK Zadar in Croatian League. David Pick of Eurobasket.com tweeted he heard a Los Angeles Lakers scout was there to see it. Though he’s entered his name in the draft, Saric hasn’t committed to playing in the NBA in 2014-15. And depending on each team’s particular rebuilding plan and strategy, only certain ones might feel comfortable using a top pick to draft-and-stash. Saric is a legitimate top-10 prospect, and with another pick in the mid-first round and a long ways to go in the rebuilding process, the Celtics are one of those teams that can afford to wait on talent overseas. This kid offers a level of offensive versatility the Celtics won’t find in the NCAA pool. If he chooses to stay overseas, the Celtics could bring him over for 2015-16 after another year of seasoning in a full-time role abroad.
  1. Package Picks and Assets For Established Talents
  • Whether it’s Kevin Love or another big-name player, the Celtics might want to think about packaging their picks to acquire some established talent. They have a ton of future first-round picks in their bag. The No. 6 they have for 2014 could potentially be a whole lot more valuable to someone else, especially if it comes with a Happy Meal and sides. If Danny Ainge isn’t in love with the prospects projected to be there at No. 6, he could look to package the pick with more picks and assets in a deal for an actual player. Love would seem like the obvious target right now based on the hourly trade rumors. But Ainge is a creative guy who looks at every possibility. There are other players to be had for the right price.

Winners, Losers of C’s-Nets Blockbuster

Let’s start with the winners in this trade.

Jason Kidd: Jason Kidd is apparently a great head coach. He’s been with the Brooklyn Nets for just a couple weeks and the franchise is already a contender. The trade will provide further veterans around Brooklyn’s new coach, including Kevin Garnett, who was drafted just a year after Kidd. It’s easier to coach veterans, especially guys like Garnett and Paul Pierce, than it is to try to jell talent that’s never won. Kidd isn’t on his own; imagine a Celtics practice with Garnett pushing teammates or a huddle with Pierce helping rally Kidd’s message.

Kevin Garnett: Kevin Garnett will get one more shot at an NBA championship. One of the league’s biggest name superstars of the last nearly two decades, Garnett becomes a valuable piece in the Brooklyn Nets’ effort to contend for a title. Not only is he back in a winning situation, but he’ll continue to earn high dollars. Garnett waived his no-trade clause and the Nets fully guaranteed his $12 million contract owed to him for the 2014-15 season, per Adrian Wojnarowski. Garnett never produced with the Celtics as he did with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but even at 37 years old he still averaged 14.8 points on 49.6 percent shooting and 7.8 rebounds through 68 games. His fire will never go anywhere, and he’s the perfect leader to pair with Coach Kidd, former teammate Paul Pierce and the younger personality of Deron Williams. This trade makes the Nets a legitimate challenge to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, but it will also be intriguing to watch how Kidd works well with his veteran stars.

Deron Williams: Forget the numbers. Certainly it will help Deron Williams’ statistics being able to initiate the pick-and-roll with Kevin Garnett and drive-and-kick to Paul Pierce. The point guard will thrive in a system coached by Jason Kidd with plenty of weapons. But the true value in the trade for Williams becomes the veteran leads of what Garnett and Pierce will bring. Williams has a competitor’s fire, but he always seemed held back in previous situations. With Garnett and Pierce, Williams should roar as a competitor in a way that Rajon Rondo learned to be. Winning will help to, as the Nets’ turn to contenders will only further the appreciation for what Williams can do.

Paul Pierce: It’s going to be strange to see Paul Pierce out of Celtics green. But remember, this is good for him—really good. The Celtics probably could have returned the same core, but with a healthy Rajon Rondo, and pushed back into the postseason with the hopes of something special happening. Remember, this team is just one full season removed from taking the Miami Heat to seven games. Pieces began to drop off slowly, however, as first Ray Allen left, then Doc Rivers left and it appeared Garnett was set to retire or be traded somewhere else. Where would that have left Pierce? Now, the veteran forward will not have to drown in Celtics losses as he counts down to his retirement. He moves on with Garnett as his teammate to (presumably) go contend for a title with the Nets. He can still score and he still has the desire to defend the other team’s best player. Plus, he will still get paid. The Celtics were likely to use a $5 million buyout option sending Pierce into free agency, but now Pierce will receive the $15.3 million he is owed in 2013-14.

Now let’s look at the losers in this trade.

Rajon Rondo: Rajon Rondo is all by himself. He’s the odd man out after the Celtics have now sent away Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers. The All-Star point guard went down with an ACL injury midseason and he’ll return to a far different environment. When Rondo entered the league as a rookie, the Celtics were a 24-win team in the 2006-07 season. The Big Three of Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen was formed in the following season’s championship run and the Celtics were a playoff team ever since. Now the point guard will likely have to get used to losing again and it may be a few years until Boston is back. Rondo is one of the Celtics’ good contracts at $11.9 million next season and $12.9 million in 2014-15. The Celtics will continue to keep him as the team’s centerpiece, which won’t be a fun role for Rondo moving forward.

Gerald Wallace: It’s not as if Gerald Wallace is going from a parade float in Brooklyn to basketball’s abyss, but the veteran swingman certainly will be missing out on the Nets’ future as contenders. The soon-to-be 31-year-old legs of Gerald Wallace has yet to play a significant role for a contender, and now he’s back to a rebuilding team. Because Wallace is making $10.1 million annually through the next three seasons, his contract matched perfectly for what was needed to make the blockbuster deal happen. Unfortunately for Wallace, he’s a causality.

Celtics Fans: Boston Celtics fans can’t like this deal. Paul Pierce has been the heart of that city’s basketball world for his entire career and watching him go play for the Brooklyn Nets won’t be a fun sight. What’s worse though is the rebuilding period that’s about to occur. The salaries brought in through the trade don’t help the Celtics, so it’s truly a move for the draft picks. But if the Nets are playing contending basketball, those picks aren’t as meaningful. The Celtics’ growth back to contenders could take a long, long time.

It’s Finally Time for Celtics to Dump Paul Pierce, KG and Start Full Rebuild

With Doc Rivers finally headed to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for a first-round pick, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Boston Celtics must now prepare to ship out Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce so they can begin the rebuilding process in earnest.

Moving Pierce elsewhere is easy and totally within general manager Danny Ainge’s control. Boston can buy out its franchise icon for just $5 million, so long as it does so before July 1. That move would save the Celtics more than $10 million off of next year’s salary cap, moving the team comfortably beneath the luxury tax line.

Before any buyout occurs, though, the Celtics are likely to entertain trade offers for Pierce. One rumor from Bob Finnan of The News-Herald had the Cleveland Cavaliers offering a pair of second-round picks in exchange for the veteran small forward.

Whether by trade or by buyout, it seems that Pierce will be moving on from the Celtics in the very near future.

Garnett’s situation is much more complicated. Originally included in what was technically termed a separate deal with the Clippers for center DeAndre Jordan, Garnett was supposed to have followed Rivers to Los Angeles.

 

Hi-res-156465998_crop_exactBruce Bennett/Getty Images

 

Per Wojnarowski, KG reportedly would have agreed to waive his no-trade clause only if he could join his coach with the Clippers.

But the NBA stepped in, making it known that it wouldn’t allow the Celtics and Clippers to essentially agree to two deals that were separate in name only. That intrusion from the NBA office appeared to have killed negotiations between the two teams, but the Clippers simply redirected their focus exclusively onto Rivers, apparently abandoning the half of the deal that included Garnett.

And now that the Clips have their new coach, it would stand to reason that they’d resume pursuit of a trade for Garnett. But there’s a problem.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the NBA has made it crystal clear that any subsequent moves to send KG to the Clippers will be extremely difficult to pull off.

It’s theoretically possible that the Clippers and Celtics could work out a modified version of the deal that might appease the league, but it certainly doesn’t sound like the NBA is willing to allow any trade that sends Garnett to the Clippers.

Stubbornness, thy name is Stern.

The league showed a surprising willingness to nix a trade it didn’t like when the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets had agreed on a deal to send Chris Paul to Hollywood, so this kind of dictatorial move is hardly surprising.

 

Hi-res-135992759_crop_exactStephen Dunn/Getty Images

 

That deal-killing behavior from the league turned out to be a boon for the Clippers, who ultimately ended up with Paul. Now it seems the league is evening the score.

As for the Celtics, the timing is certainly right for a new start. Since 2007, Boston has operated on a year-to-year basis, hoping to hold on for one more run with its veteran core. But now that Rivers is headed to the opposite coast, there’s little reason to suspect that the same strategy will be of use going forward.

Garnett won’t want anything to do with a rebuilding effort, especially with Rivers (and probably Pierce) long gone. If the league won’t allow the Celtics to move him to the Clippers, KG will have to reassess whether there are any other destinations he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause to visit.

And if none of those seem appealing, retirement could become a very real possibility.

 

Hi-res-84731705_crop_exactElsa/Getty Images

 

The Celtics had a great run over the past six seasons, but nothing lasts forever. It’s time for a new chapter in Boston.