Kevin McHale says Celtics’ Big 3 may not be done just yet

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The Celtics have a lot of questions heading into next season. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will both enter free agency this summer, and the organization will have to decide if they think the core four of those two, along with Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, are solid enough to contend for one or two more seasons in the Eastern Conference.

While Danny Ainge may be open to the idea, most don’t think that Boston has enough, at least as currently constructed. Add in the fact that Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus played key roles in the Celtics’ run this season and are also free agents, and the team has some serious decisions to make.

With the stricter salary cap restrictions put into place in the new edition of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, conventional wisdom says to start to rebuild on the fly around Pierce and Rondo, instead of sinking further of the team’s cap space into aging veterans who might not have much left.

Nothing has been decided yet in Boston, however, and it’s entirely possible that the organization may indeed try for another run with what it’s got. That plan of action wouldn’t surprise former Celtics Hall-of-Famer and current Rockets head coach Kevin McHale who, speaking at adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy on Monday, said that talk of the end of the Big Three era in Boston may be a little premature.

“Not done yet,” McHale said, when asked what he thought of the end of the current era in Boston. “They got to the Conference finals, we’ll see what happens. Those guys have got contracts that they’re going to have to get signed; it has yet to be determined what’s going to happen.  I would be surprised if they didn’t try to put the team together for another run for a year or two.

“If you get to the Conference finals, you’re one of the last four teams. So why would you blow up a team that’s better than 26 other teams in the NBA? I think they’re going to probably ride this out a little bit.”

The reason, of course, is that if it’s a championship you’re after, then what the Celtics have isn’t enough. This run was a nice surprise, but it’s unlikely that this current group will get as far next season. Derrick Rose’s injury took out the Bulls, the Pacers are young and only getting better, and the Heat are back in the Finals for the second straight season.

Boston ended up as one of the last four teams standing. But it’s a stretch to think the same level of success could be achieved again by bringing back essentially the same core group of players.

Warriors say Kevin Durant doing non-contact drills, could return before end of season

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Kevin Durant has been working out on the court before the last couple of Warriors road games, and people watching have taken note — he was moving well, shooting, and generally looking healthy for a guy coming off a grade 2 MCL sprain and a bone bruise.

Reports were out that Durant was on target to return before the end of the season.

Wednesday the Warriors confirmed that.

Teams are vague, realistically what is that timeline?

Durant likely would be on a minutes restriction for those game, but just getting to shake the rust off and work on his conditioning in a real game would help Golden State heading into the playoffs.

Not that they need much help, having won eight in a row. The Warriors have a 2.5 game lead over the Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference heading into the game between the two Wednesday night.

Check out Lakers’ stretch of hitting 15 straight shots to end third quarter (VIDEO)

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.

But that young Lakers core also has its moments.

Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.

After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.

It’s official: Joakim Noah cleared to play, 20-game suspension starts tonight

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What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.

Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).

That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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