NBA PM: Pierce Approves of Celtics’ Moves
Entering this offseason, nobody was sure what moves the Boston Celtics were going to make. Would they blow up the roster and enter a rebuilding phase? Would they re-sign their veterans and make another run at a title? The team was at a crossroads. While it seemed that their window was closing, they had just come within one game of defeating the Miami HEAT and reaching the NBA Finals.
After much deliberation, Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ director of basketball operations, decided to retool rather than rebuild. Boston re-signed veterans Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Keyon Dooling and Jeff Green while adding Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph to the roster. Boston added some young talent, but it’s clear the team still expects to contend.
Paul Pierce approves of the recent moves and believes the Celtics made the right decision.
“I love what Danny has been able to do,” Pierce said to Celtics.com. “It was a tough decision this summer. I know a lot was riding on what direction we were going to head in, but I think it was all just a domino effect. Once we signed Kevin, we knew we were going to try to make another run at it. That’s pretty much the way I look at it. Once we were able to sign him, a number of guys were able to jump on board.
“I think with the guys who are coming in here – Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, a healthy Jeff Green and even some of our rookies – I think we’ve add a lot of depth. It’s going to take a lot of pressure off of me this upcoming season.”
As Pierce said, the Celtics’ decision to re-sign Garnett shows that they’re determined to win now. Entering the summer, that was the team’s top priority and the two sides were able to agree to terms on a three-year, $34 million deal. Had the Celtics let the veteran power forward walk as a free agent, the franchise likely would’ve entered a rebuilding mode and Pierce’s days with the team may have been numbered.
“He’s everything to us, moving forward and trying to win a championship,” Pierce said of Garnett. “If you don’t bring Kevin back, you never know what direction the team is going to head in. You’re probably talking about rebuilding and they probably would’ve looked to trade me at some point. There were rumors throughout the season when we weren’t playing well. Having Kevin back really told everybody what direction we want to head in moving forward, trying to win another championship.”
While the Celtics were able to re-sign Garnett, they did lose one member of the Big Three. Ray Allen signed with the Miami HEAT for the mini mid-level exception. Boston was offering significantly more money than Miami – $6 million per year versus $3.09 million – as well as a no-trade clause, but that didn’t stop the future Hall of Famer from taking his talents to South Beach.
“As you know, Ray Allen went off to Miami on his choice – he was a great teammate and it was fun playing with him,” Pierce said. “It’s going to be a little weird, but Ray made the best decision for him. That’s what it’s all about. You get into these situations with free agency and you have to make the decision that’s best for you and your family. Ray will always be a brother to me. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be wearing a championship ring. The things that he was able to do for this organization will never be forgotten. (I sent) a couple of texts. I’m a little bit bitter that he went to Miami, but he’s still a brother of mine.”
Pierce felt that Ainge did a good job replacing Allen by signing Terry and Lee. Pierce is particularly excited to play with Terry, who won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks two seasons ago.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Jason Terry after playing against him in college for a couple of years, watching his NBA career flourish over the years and seeing him win a championship,” Pierce said. “He’s bringing that element to our ball club now. He’s one of the best sixth men of all-time. That’s something that we were lacking a year ago, and that’s due to injuries, but hopefully he can bring that consistency and championship experience so that we can get back to where we were a few years ago.”
And make no mistake, getting back to that championship level is the goal for Pierce and the Celtics.
“We have championship aspirations,” Pierce said. “Here in Boston, we don’t want anything but a championship.”
Point Guard Controversy in Toronto?
When the Toronto Raptors traded for Kyle Lowry last month, Jose Calderon seemed to be the odd man out. However, the Raptors decided not to amnesty Calderon prior to the July 18 deadline and, two weeks later, they still haven’t traded the veteran point guard.
After talking to Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and general manager Bryan Colangelo recently in Las Vegas, it seems the team is prepared to enter the season with both Lowry and Calderon on the roster. They’ll compete for the starting job in training camp and while Casey insists the team doesn’t have a point guard controversy, this will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch in October.
“We don’t have a controversy,” Casey said of the competition between Lowry and Calderon. “To be a playoff team, you have to have multiple players at multiple positions. I know Jose. If he’s concerned about having someone else there to push him and having another point guard there to share time with him, I’d be shocked. He’s not a selfish player. We need multiple players at every position. We don’t have a ‘quarterback controversy.’ We’ll have a point guard out there and we’ll have a back-up. You need two quality point guards to make the playoffs.”
Colangelo, on the other hand, acknowledged a point guard controversy, but downplayed it and the effect it would have on the team.
“If you have two starting caliber players, there’s always going to be a controversy,” Colangelo said. “I guess what Dwane is saying is that the outside world makes more of it than we do internally. We’re going to let the two players come in and compete and ultimately it’ll be Coach’s decision who starts and who comes off of the bench. We could make arguments on both sides right now, on paper.”
Colangelo admitted that Calderon wasn’t thrilled when he found out that the Raptors had acquired Lowry from the Houston Rockets. Shortly after the Lowry deal was finalized, the Raptors began “working together” with Calderon and his agent Mark Bartelstein to find a trade for the point guard, according to reports. While Toronto hasn’t pulled the trigger on a deal yet, Colangelo didn’t rule out the possibility of a trade going forward.
“If a trade can be worked out, we’ll look at it,” Colangelo said. “That’s always the case. If there’s a trade that’s going to make our team better, we’re going to look at it.”
If a trade can’t be worked out, Calderon may have to enter the season as the Raptors’ sixth man. Lowry is expecting to be the starter in Toronto and he recently met with Casey during the Las Vegas Summer League to discuss the team’s playbook and personnel.
“If Jose were to come off of the bench, he would bring great experience and leadership to the young core of players that would be out there with him,” Colangelo said. “He has nice chemistry with Amir Johnson, especially on the high screen-and-rolls. We’ll see how it all plays out.”
The Raptors may enter the season with Lowry and Calderon on the roster and have them compete for the starting job in training camp. At the end of the day, Toronto has two talented point guards who have each proven that they can start in this league. That’s a good problem to have.
Miles, Cavaliers Agree to Terms
After weighing offers from a number of teams, unrestricted free agent C.J. Miles has decided to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune. Miles has agreed to a two-year deal with the Cavaliers and the deal should be finalized in the coming days. The small forward confirmed the news, tweeting out a picture of the Cavaliers’ logo earlier this afternoon.
Miles had also received interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks, but chose the Cavaliers because of his relationship with head coach Byron Scott and the opportunity to play a large role on the up-and-coming team.
“I have nothing but love for everyone in Utah and everything that was ever done for me there, from the fans all the way up to the front office,” Miles tweeted. “I appreciate all this Cavs Nation love. I’m excited to help the city on and off the court.”
Last season, Miles averaged 9.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 56 games with the Utah Jazz.