Celtics' Pierce, Garnett and Allen sit on the bench during their loss to the Heat during Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoffs in Boston

Celtics decision to rebuild or reload hinges on Kevin Garnett


The good news for Celtics fans is that all the talk of this season’s playoff run being the last for the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett may have been a bit premature.

The bad news might be that the club’s decision to go into a complete rebuild or to try to reload for one more shot at the title with its veteran core may hinge solely on the free agent decision that Garnett will have to make. From the Boston Globe:

The Celtics have four unrestricted free agents – Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, and Mickael Pietrus – that Ainge said he would like to re-sign for next season. The key piece, of course, is Garnett, who has yet to decide if he even wants to play next season.

Ainge said he and Garnett have kept in touch, and he expects to hear from the 17-year veteran again in the coming days. …

If Garnett decides to return, Ainge said he plans on using the Celtics’ available salary cap space to also bring back Allen, Bass, and Pietrus, and perhaps another piece. With Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo under contract, the team could make one more charge.

You can’t blame Boston for giving it one more try with this group, considering that the team was one win away from knocking out the champion Heat, and heading to the NBA Finals themselves. But a longer look at the realities of that postseason run — Derrick Rose’s injury that caused the Bulls to exit in the first round, Boston needing seven games to take down a not-very-good Sixers squad, and Chris Bosh’s unavailability for the first four games of the Conference finals — may show that a lot of things had to go just right for this Celtics team to get as far as they did.

Still, Boston competed as hard as anyone in these playoffs, so you can’t fault Ainge for giving it one more shot. That is, if Garnett decides it’s in his best interest to return for that final run.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.