Earlier today we brought you the video — and we’d told you before that — how Celtics GM Danny Ainge is saying he doesn’t plan to make any trades at the deadline. Which is easier to say after your team has won six in a row. Still he is saying it over and over in a round of interviews.
Question is, do you believe him?
As ESPN’s Chad Ford pointed out in his chat today, what Ainge has said and his actions on the trade front have not always matched up — and other teams says he’s open to deals.
Danny Ainge did his annual radio interview where he appears flabbergasted at all the trade talk and says it’s unlikely they’ll do a deal. Of course, we know from past years, that Ainge isn’t exactly forthcoming in such interviews. Multiple teams tell me they’ve talked to the Celtics and they believe everything is on the table — as it should be. If Ainge can make the team stronger for a run at the Finals he will. If he can’t, but he can just start the rebuilding process in a big way — why wouldn’t he? The team he has now probably isn’t a serious Finals contender. I think it’s likely it moves one way or the other. So when I wrote a few weeks back that he could or could not move Rondo, I wasn’t trying to have it both ways. I meant that both options are on the table and he’s looking for the best deal for his team. If there’s a great Rondo trade for the Celtics, he’ll do it. If there isn’t, he’s not in firesale mode, he’s not moving players like Rondo or Paul Pierce for the sake of shaking up the team.
It comes down to this question: Do you think this Celtics roster, playing well, can win a title?
Boston fans do. They note how they took Miami seven games in the Eastern Conference finals last season. Ainge thought enough of it to bring back Kevin Garnett and everyone not named Ray Allen, plus get a deeper bench.
I’m not sold they can do it. Not close. While Boston had a few reserves injured last season they got to play a Hawks team without Al Horford, a not-that-great Philly team (which was there because the Bulls’ Derrick Rose blew out his knee) and then they got four games against Miami without Chris Bosh. Everything broke their way, I doubt it does again.
But my gut is still Boston makes a run with this group again. They may tweak around the edges but not at the core of the squad. And in a conference where every team has flaws, they could get back to the Eastern Conference finals. Although I think second round and out is more likely (with a loss to the Pacers or Knicks). If Ainge thinks they are second round and out, then a bold move could be in order. If a good one falls in his lap.
LeBron James admires Kobe Bryant.
Kobe pulling his name from 2016 Olympic consideration (perhaps an informed preemptive gesture just before the roster finalists were announced) might keep LeBron off Team USA.
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
Bryant not pursuing a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer is a very real reason James might also not join the team, according to NBA sources.
James is that disappointed the Rio Olympics will not serve as the final, ultimate celebration of Bryant’s career—and more so that James won’t have the priceless honor of being Bryant’s co-star teammate when it ends.
I don’t buy this.
Kobe said during the 2012 Olympics those would be his final Olympics. Two weeks later, LeBron said he wanted to play in 2016.
Did playing with Kobe on Team USA become more important to LeBron over the last few years?
I suppose it’s possible. Many got behind sending Kobe to Rio as a sendoff into retirement. Perhaps, LeBron got attached to the idea and became bitter once it fell through.
I just have a hard time believing LeBron would tie his decision so strongly to another player. Remember, he left one of his best friends, Dwyane Wade, in Miami to sign with the Cavaliers. Would Kobe’s presence really dictate LeBron’s outlook?
LeBron has been mum on his plans for Team USA. I’m sure the length of Cleveland’s playoff run and the toll it takes on his body will factor. He might not yet know what he’ll do.
The ball is in his court, which can be challenging. There has been backlash from media and fans against players who turn down Team USA, and LeBron could be trying to avoid that.
I trust Ding was told LeBron felt this way, but nobody – including me, including Ding – can know what’s in LeBron’s head. But this report strikes me as LeBron setting up the ability to attribute his absence to Kobe’s rather than facing the full brunt of reaction that comes to turning down Team USA.
The Clippers got hyped for Paul Pierce‘s potential last game in Boston by… reenacting the time Pierce got stabbed there? If not, it sure looks like it.
Mock fighting is the norm for the Clippers’ pregame, but I haven’t seen a single player targeted like this. Whatever gets you pumped, I guess.
Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.
As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:
Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7
Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.
An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.
Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.
But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.
The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.