Philadelphia 76ers  v Boston Celtics - Game One

Kevin Garnett will return to Celtics next season


He’s baaaaack.

As most expected after his strong playoff run, Kevin Garnett has shot down talk of retirement and told the Celtics he will return to the team next season, the Boston Herald reports.

The Herald has learned this morning that Garnett has informed the club he will be back.

The 36-year-old considered retirement, but ultimately decided to return for an 18th NBA season — and more. According to an NBA source and a source close to Garnett, the sides are working out the details of a deal that will be for at least two years and could possibly include a third.

“The decision came down to whether KG wanted to keep playing,” said one source. “And once he decided that he did, it was going to be Boston. He wasn’t going to leave Doc (Rivers) and those guys and play anywhere else.”

Other reports suggests the new deal is three years, $34 million, or about $11 million a year. That seems about right, he had to take a cut from the $21 million he made last year. I would expect that it is a two year deal with a team option on the third (we will have to see what the buyout on that year is).

So the Celtics are heading into at least years six and seven of the “big three” era, and Garnett will be 38 if he stays for all three years of the contract. With KG back it means Boston remains in a “win now” mode and will be looking for players that can add some youth and athleticism, but are not full on projects. This is not rebuilding. Boston just drafted Jared Sullinger out of Ohio State, who could fit that mold and bring a smart game and some energy to the roster from Day 1. Also expect the Celtics to re-sign Jeff Geen for next season. They have a lot of room to move,

Bringing back Garnett also makes you wonder what kind of offer Boston will now make to Ray Allen.

This decision was expected after Garnett looked good last playoffs, averaging 19.2 points and 10 rebounds a game, with a PER of 20.5 in the playoffs. Most importantly during that run to the conference finals, Garnett was again anchoring the Celtics defense — when he would sit the Heat would go on runs almost every time.

Garnett has made $291 million in salary during his career and with this deal will move past Shaquille O’Neal as the highest earner in NBA history, reports Darren Rovell of CNBC.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.