Posts tagged: Los Angeles Clippers
If you’ve been following the madness that has transpired over the past few days, you know of the blockbuster trade talks that have been going on between the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics.
The Celtics and Clippers have been discussing a deal in which Kevin Garnett would be sent to Los Angeles in exchange for DeAndre Jordan and two 1st round picks. As a part of the deal, the Celtics would also release coach Doc Rivers from his contract.
Rivers still has 3 years left on his 5-year deal and can’t just up and leave Boston due to a no-compete clause in his contract. To make this transaction a reality, the Clippers would have to give Boston some sort of compensation in order for them to release Doc out of his contract.
Technically, however, coaches can’t be traded and the league offices have called both teams in order to sort through the details of this coach for player trade. Read more »
The Doc Rivers offseason dance gets crazier with each passing day. Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported on ESPN Thursday that Rivers and the Clippers have “strong mutual interest” and, as the LA Times previously reported, Rivers would be the Clippers No. 1 choice for their head coaching position should he leave Boston.
Sources told ESPN.com that Rivers is highly intrigued by the idea of coaching the Clippers in the event that he and the Celtics part company after nine seasons together and one championship in 2008. Sources say that the Clippers, meanwhile, would immediately vault Rivers to the top of their list if he became available as they continue a coaching search that, to this point, has focused on Brian Shaw, Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins.
According to the report, the Boston Celtics would not consider releasing Rivers from his contract–3 years, $21 million–to coach another team, unless they received compensation in return. Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe ($) reported that the Celtics would be looking for multiple first round picks over the next few years, or young talent in return. Read more »
On certain nights (yesterday included), Boston’s lack of interior depth proves glaring. After DeAndre Jordan had five more dunks in one game than I had during my entire basketball career (or, in other words, five dunks), Doc Rivers cursed his lack of big men. (WEEI)
“I’m kind of kicking myself,” Doc Rivers said. “I told our bigs — our two bigs – ‘Tonight, you can’t get in foul trouble.’ We couldn’t afford Kevin or Nenad in foul trouble.”
Rivers wished the Celtics could have used fouls to keep Jordan — who shoots free throws like Ben Wallace, if Ben Wallace were high on drugs and wearing a blindfold — off the line. But with no other big men besides Nenad Krstic and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics could not waste fouls. They could have just tried a new tactic called “defensive rotations,” but politely decided not to. Thus, the resulting dunk-o-rama. (In related news, Troy Murphy must need to make at least one field goal before Rivers considers him a big man.)
Boston’s depth is unlikely to improve by Friday. Rivers said Glen Davis should return before any other injured Celtic, but even Davis will likely miss tomorrow’s game against Philadelphia. Shaq was 85% two days ago, now calls himself 84.2271156442222%, plays bingo with old people, and cannot give an exact date of his return (though he says he won’t return until three days after he becomes 100%). Von Wafer will miss approximately 2-3 weeks, Jermaine O’Neal’s return remains a mirage, and Delonte West — well, he was originally supposed to return last night, but that didn’t happen. I assume the Celtics are just coaxing West along slowly.
Yesterday, only five players the Celtics suited up had been with the team more than two weeks. One of those five players, Avery Bradley, played as much as your great grandmother did last night. Needless to say, the C’s could use some good health.
When an NBA team earns a 23-point deficit (and the Celtics did earn theirs), even the most invigorated comeback attempt needs the perfect storm to succeed — timely baskets, key forced turnovers, missed shots from the opponent. That’s not me calling the Celtics attempted comeback tonight “most invigorated,” though they played hard in the second half. Just pointing out how they would have needed near-perfection to overcome such a putrid start.
And it was certainly putrid; the first half was far more Gerald Green era than Bill Russell era. DeAndre Jordan had 2,583,342 dunks, every shot the Clippers took (or, at least, so it seemed) was uncontested, and the Clippers manhandled the Celtics in every way possible. Blake Griffin did not put any Celtics on a poster in that first half, but his teammates more than made up for him — 67.6% shooting isn’t very bad.
The Celtics did come back, though it proved futile. The comeback, as most comebacks do, started with defense. One stop at a time, the Celtics scratched their way back into the game. There were offensive heroics, of course, but you don’t get Ray Allen transition three-pointers without stops. You don’t get Rajon Rondo reverse layups without stops. You don’t cut a 23-point lead down to four points without stops, and consistent stops.
When the Celtics played their best basketball, a shocking five took to the parquet floor. Carlos Arroyo played shooting guard, Jeff Green manned power forward, and Nenad Krstic held down the fort at center. Not a lineup I ever expected would play so well for the Boston Celtics, but, well, I didn’t expect the Celtics to trail the Clips by 23 points on this night, either. Nor did I expect DeAndre Jordan to don his cape.
Arroyo, in his Celtics’ debut, looked freed. Like Miami had been his jail, and getting cut from the Heat was the best thing ever to happen to him. In ways we didn’t see in Miami, Arroyo played point guard. He didn’t just dribble the ball up the floor, pass to an infinitely more talented teammate, then spot up in the corner — no, he actually played a true point guard. He made a beautiful bounce pass to Krstic. Drained a jumper in the lane. Looked 2,400% more comfortable running Boston’s offense than Avery Bradley did, even though it was his first game, even though he was playing with a new offensive system and new teammates.
At fear of gushing too much about Arroyo’s four-point, two-assist debut, but stats did not do him justice and even the smallest pleasures left me grinning. At one point, Arroyo pushed the ball in transition without dribbling the ball, pitching the ball forward to Sasha Pavlovic, who had a wide open jumper. Pavlovic bricked the jumper, but still: the Celtics have a backup point guard who looks to know what he’s doing. Doc Rivers was so excited with Arroyo’s play, he even kept Arroyo in the game to play shooting guard alongside Rajon Rondo. And the strange combo worked, beautifully. If this is the Arroyo the Celtics get every night, I can handle it. In fact, I’ll really start to dig the Carlos Arroyo era.
On the other end of the “early returns from buyout additions” spectrum, there’s Troy Murphy. I’m still not willing to completely shut the door on Murphy’s potential. But — well, how do I put this nicely? — he hasn’t exactly shown us anything to get excited about. There’s the whole “he still hasn’t made a shot as a Celtic” stat, which isn’t at all terrific but doesn’t even tell the whole story. His legs look shot. His shots lack lift. Quite frankly, Troy Murphy looks washed up, in ways 30-year old shooting power forwards don’t normally look washed up. Maybe that’s because he’s still working himself into shape. Or maybe his game has fallen off a proverbial cliff, to the point of no return.
Kevin Garnett shot like Ben Wallace, which is to say he did not shoot very well. Mo Williams shot like Dave Hopla, which is to say he rarely missed. And the Celtics learned a valuable lesson today, one which they’ve learned too many times in the past two seasons:
Sleep-walking, against any NBA team (even the Clippers), will not earn a win.
The Nenad Krstic era began with a wispy mustache, a barrage of offensive rebounds, and hustle galore. The Jeff Green era did not begin quite so seamlessly, but judgment on the C’s blockbuster midseason trade — for good or for bad — will not come instantly; it will not come until the Celtics either win the NBA championship or are eliminated trying. That said, a win tonight is a win, and the four mainstays still in Boston’s starting lineup remain talented and unselfish.
Krstic, Krstic, Krstic. He’s not a terrific offensive rebounder (though he’s competent), so don’t expect so many Krstic-related second chances every night. But he worked hard; oh, did he work hard, like a young boy at his first day of basketball tryouts. He battled for each rebound, which — despite tonight’s prolific rebounding, at least on the offensive side — normally is not Krstic’s strength. He hedged each screen-and-roll with his feet quick and his hips on a swivel. He fought, and he clawed, and he won over some members of Celtics nation who did not expect so much from the Serbian seven-footer. He even made moves with smoothness and canned a couple of pretty jumpers, sentiments (I promise) I never once wrote about Kendrick Perkins.
The Celtics will still need to replace part of Perk’s (11th-best in the NBA) 27.3% defensive rebound rate, and his hulking, intimidating presence down low. But the early returns on Krstic were terrific, even if, when Chris Kaman bullied Krstic in the fourth quarter for a far-too-easy lefty lay-in, I briefly worried how Krstic would ever defend Dwight Howard.
That’s a worry for another day, as tonight was about the two newcomers helping the Celtics to a win. Green wasn’t perfect, as his one “fall flat on his face while trying to penetrate the defense” maneuver evidenced. But you can see why Danny Ainge desired Green, and why Doc Rivers raved about Green’s versatility. Late in the third quarter, Rivers trotted out a lineup of Rondo-West-Pierce-Green-Davis. Speed, everywhere. Size, nowhere. But that’s the versatility Green brings (he can guard threes or fours, but handles the ball like a guard), and Rivers will enjoy his new toy.
Watching Green’s defense closely allowed me to see why he earned a poor defensive reputation in Oklahoma City. It was only one game, but Green’s positional defense seemed good. He was mostly in the right spots, and his rotations — especially considering he was playing in his first game as a Celtic — seemed mostly timely. But when Green’s man penetrated, Green’s hips opened right up and he escorted his opponent to the hoop. Once, after Green allowed an opponent direct passage to the hoop, he even recovered to block his opponent’s shot. It’s weird, but the block was actually a product of bad defense. Green’s impressive athleticism allowed him to recover, but improper technique let his opponent drive by him in the first place.
Green and Krstic made their debuts, but Delonte West impressed in his new role. West was everything I always wished Nate Robinson could have been. Poised. Controlled. Electric. Balanced, between scoring and passing. Taller than 5 feet 9 inches. Unwilling to randomly pull up for contested three-pointers on the fast break. West ran the team, in a way Robinson never learned how, in a way that allowed the Celtics to excel while Rondo sat on the bench for extended periods of time.
Watching Blake Griffin was fun, in ways you don’t realize unless you watch him on a regular basis. The dunks are great, sure, but there have been prolific dunkers before and there will be many more prolific dunkers. It’s Griffin’s feel for the game — his ability to pass and notice things most don’t — that really sets him apart. Griffin’s bounce pass to Randy Foye — the one that precluded Foye’s “welcome to the Celtics” dunk in Green’s face — left me far more awed than any display of Griffin’s mutant athleticism did. He knows how to play like point guards know how to play, and, once his defense catches up (if his defense ever catches up?), Blake Griffin will go down as one of history’s greatest power forwards. And, if tonight’s any indication, Randy Foye will go down as one of history’s greatest combo guards.
The Celtics are supposed to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, and they did. Paul Pierce scored 24 efficient points, the Celtics shot one million free throws, and Kevin Garnett played his normal well-rounded game. This Boston outfit hasn’t completely meshed, and fully breaking Green and Krstic in could take a little while. But you could see what the Celtics saw in each of them. You could see why Danny Ainge made this trade. Even while you still wonder whether Ainge made the right decision.