Doc Rivers confirms Rondo is human – and don’t call it a slump

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Deron Williams outplayed Rajon Rondo last night. Pretty badly. D-Will is one of the games elite point guards so there is no shame in him getting the better of a player, but Rondo didn’t look elite in his 1-for-10 shooting (with nine assists).

As noted over by our man A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England, the problem is this has gone on for a few games (and Boston has lost three of its last four).

On Monday, he had two points while missing 9 of his 10 shots from the field. He also had nine assists, which marked the fifth straight game he failed to tally double-digit assists — the longest such stretch for him this season. During that stretch, he’s shooting 17-for-50, or 34 percent, from the field.

“I’m getting good looks. I’m getting shots, I’m getting floaters. I’m getting lay-ups. I’m just missing right now,” Rondo said. “It’s not mental. I’m just missing.”

The problem is Rondo — his playmaking and energy — are the Celtics spark plug on offense. When he is off, the entire team misfires.

Doc Rivers is taking it in stride — and don’t use that “S” word about Rondo.

“He’s not playing great right now, but I don’t think he’s slumping,” Rivers said…

“He’s human,” Rivers said. “He’s going to go through stretches just like Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen] and Kevin [Garnett]. They’ve all gone through stretches.”

Well, glad we cleared up he’s not a cyborg.

But this is in fact a slump. That’s not a big deal, every player goes through it. One game soon Rondo will break out if it and his team will come along for the ride. But it is a slump. The Pacers are hoping it lasts just a couple more days at least.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.