Doc Rivers is pretty much treating Darko like Robin Williams treated Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting”

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I think one of the worst things that can happen to a writer is when his references become outdated.

So naturally I elected to go with the “Good Will Hunting” reference, here. Anyway, Doc Rivers was talking about Darko Milicic, and the conversation comes across like a horse whisperer or some sort of counselor. He’s trying to make the bad men in Darko’s basketball past go away. From the Boston Globe:

“You can see that he gets frustrated easy,” Rivers said. “So we’re trying to eliminate those episodes. Our thing right now with Darko is to play forward. From being around for a short time, as a coach I can probably feel he’s played his career backwards. He lives in the past a lot and we’re trying to get him to live in the future. I told him (Friday), the only time I’ll take you out is if you make a mistake and make another mistake because you’re thinking about the last mistake. I won’t take you out for making a mistake. So hopefully that works.”

via Doc Rivers promises to take mental approach with Darko, Rondo -Celtics blog – Boston Globe basketball news.

Seriously, I get that the movie’s old, but can’t you see Rivers hugging Milicic awkwardly, while telling him “It’s not your fault. Brown/Saunders/Iavaroni/Adelman never trusted you” over and over again?

The reality is that Milicic has struggled for a variety of reasons. And maybe if the NBA had a legitimate minor league system so he could have been brought along slowly, he would have made it. Maybe if he’d just found the right coach. But Milicic has had opportunities with quality coaches and still struggled. Again, Rick Adelman wanted Darko gone before Michael Beasley. Think about that.

He wouldn’t be the first guy to find success with the Celtics where he had failed elsewhere. And they need a legitimate center in the worst way. But it’s one thing to talk about the mistakes in preseason. It’s another to live with them in the regular season, and Rivers isn’t in a position to allow a whole lot of growth and development. A standard’s still set for the Celtics’ season.

We’ll see if Milicic can take this newfound support to establish himself, or just how far Rivers’ patience goes.

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.