NBA AM: Don’t Count Out The Celtics?
There doesn’t seem to be a sense of extreme urgency from league owners and players as the lockout nears the two month mark which leads many to predict the ongoing labor dispute will stretch into the fall and eventually tear into the early portion of the 2012 regular season schedule.
In essence, both sides won’t feel the pinch of the lockout until the money stops.
While a shortened NBA season would damage the league’s momentum in regards to retaining its newer fan base who were captivated by an exciting 2011 campaign, there are teams who would undoubtedly benefit from fewer games on the schedule — those being veteran laden teams.
One team seemingly a potential beneficiary of a shortened season is the Boston Celtics boasting the future Hall of Fame trio of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. While still highly productive on the floor it is obvious all three are on the downside of immensely successful careers and inching ever so close to retirement.
However Allen believes those counting out Boston from being a power player or believing their championship window is completely shut is making a huge mistake.
“If you go back to 2008, that was our last year,” Allen told CSNNE’s Kyle Draper at his charity golf tournament at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT on Monday. “2009 was our last year, 2010 was our last year, 2011 was our last year. I think we truly have proven to be very resilient regardless of what has happened. You win a championship or you don’t. We get knocked down we’re ready to get back up again. We’re going to fight. We’re going to fight no matter what.”
The Celtics won a NBA title in 2008 in their big three’s first season together and were heavy favorites to repeat the following year before Garnett suffered a season ending knee injury before the playoffs began.
In 2010, the veterans pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to seven games in the NBA Finals before succumbing in the final minutes of the pivotal contest.
Although Boston bowed out in the second round of the playoffs this past season, the team once again endured a rash of late season injuries and a midseason trade which shook up team chemistry (Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green trade).
But Allen’s confidence in his squad extends further than just the upcoming campaign. Even if the full year is lost due to the lockout the veteran believes Celtics management would still invest in the core for another run at a championship.
“I don’t think so,” Allen told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald when asked if a lost season would end the big three’s era in Boston. “They’re [management] not going to send us away because possibly we miss a season. We’re not going to say we’re done and we’re not going to play anymore. I still have a lot left in me and I’m sure that Kevin feels the same. At this stage of the game, I’m sure he’s rejuvenated and he’ll be ready to go.”
Whether a full season is lost or not the Celtics must address a plethora of items before beginning its march toward another title.
The team has only six players under contract for 2012 and currently is well above a salary cap figure most predict will shrink when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed.
Four of those players are Garnett, Allen, Pierce and All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo which most would agree isn’t the worst situation a team could be facing.
However, Shaquille O’Neal’s retirement and Nenad Krstic signing overseas leaves the team with just one center under contract – oft injured Jermaine O’Neal.
The other player under contract is the unproven Avery Bradley who played very limited minutes in 2011.
But one thing is for sure, retirement is far from Allen’s radar – lost season or not.
“When you stop so abruptly — it wouldn’t be anything I would accept,” Allen said. “As far as being ready to play another season, I would just be ready. Especially if you get a whole year off. It’s not as if you go into the next year and say I’m done. I’m not going to play anymore. We’re competitors. When you lose a season like that, you come back and you’re ready to get after it. It will fuel our fire, and enable us to go after it a little more next year.”
Bye-Bye Rudy: According to the Spanish media outlet Sportando, former Portland Trail Blazers guard and current Dallas Maverick Rudy Fernandez has agreed to a four-year deal to return to Spain and suit up for Real Madrid.
According to multiple sources Fernandez would play out the final year of his rookie contract this season (provided there is one) before joining Real Madrid in the summer of 2012.
The deal will pay Fernandez roughly $4.3 million per year.
Fernandez is set to earn $2.2 million with the Mavs this season before becoming a restricted free agent next summer with a $3.2 million qualifying offer for the 2013 season. These figures are under the current CBA,
The Blazers shipped Fernandez and point guard Petteri Koponen to Dallas in a draft night deal acquiring the Mavs’ first round draft pick Jordan Hamilton and second round selection Tanguy Ngombo.
While the departure will likely cause some backcourt depth problems for the 2013 campaign, getting at least one year of service from Fernandez will give Dallas plenty of time to bolster its depth moving forward.
Other NBA News & Notes
- Multiple media outlets are reportingDenver Nuggets starting point guard Ty Lawson has signed a contract to play for Zalgiris Kaunas of Lithuania. Nuggets fans can breathe a little easier knowing the deal includes an opt-out clause allowing Lawson to return to the NBA once the lockout ends.
- Lawson will join former NBA guard Sonny Weems on the Zalgiris roster. Important to note, Weems’ deal doesn’t include an opt-out clause.
- Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe returned to the University of Kentucky and are all taking courses toward their degrees. According to the San Antonio News-Express Wall stated the following on his education goals: “I’m trying to see if I can take some classes on campus, and if the lockout ends I can finish online. I wanted to be the first person in my family to get a college degree, although I’m probably going to be the second one now. My sister’s going to be a sophomore, so she’s ahead of me. Nobody had an opportunity to go to college in my family.”
- The Dominican Republic men’s national team, led by Kings forward Francisco Garcia, upended a squad of former University of Kentucky players currently In the NBA. Final score 106-88. The UK pros roster consisted of Cousins, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Tayshaun Prince, Jodie Meeks, Eric Bledsoe, Nazr Mohammed and Keith Bogans. The game was played at Rupp Arena.