Paul Pierce has a pinched nerve in his neck. So yes, that hurts.
The hope is that the Celtics mini-vacation from the schedule makers — after their Monday win over Utah the only other game for a week is Friday against the Warriors (Avery Bradley on Stephen Curry should be fun) — would help Pierce’s pain go away some. Rest this late in the season is a good thing for older players.
But the pain in Pierce’s neck isn’t going anywhere, he told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.
Pierce has been playing through it all season and has averaged 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game. His efficiency has slipped a little, but he is still a cornerstone player.
Playing through this is not ideal, but with Rajon Rondo out for the season the Celtics can’t afford to be without Pierce — they need his shot creation. The Celtics ball movement has been better by necessity since Rondo got injured. However, there are just moments in a game — particularly late in a game — where you just need a guy who can get his own shot, or draw the double and get it for someone else.
Pierce is that guy for Boston.
Hopefully an off-season of treatment will have him ready to go with Rondo for one more run at the thing next year.
The NBA permits teams to begin the regular season with 15 players.
The Celtics are the only team with 16 players who have guaranteed 2016-17 salaries.
So, it’ll be an intriguing preseason in Boston, where the early battle lines are already being drawn.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
Several league sources have indicated that second-year guard R.J. Hunter, third-year forward James Young, 27-year-old wing John Holland, and rookie forward Ben Bentil will compete for the last roster spot. Young and Hunter have guaranteed deals, Bentil has a partial guarantee, and Holland is nonguaranteed.
This probably comes down to Hunter (No. 28 pick in 2015) or Young (No. 17 pick in 2014). I’d be surprised if Boston keeps Holland or Bentil.
Hunter and Young, both shooting guards, have failed to make a dent in the NBA. Young has had more time, but he’s also nearly two years younger than Hunter. Both deserve patience the Celtics can’t afford to give due to their roster constraints.
Other teams should be monitoring this competition with the intent of scooping up the loser – maybe even trading for him to preempt the waiver wire and free agency.
The Celtics would have little leverage in a deal, and they know it. They went down this road last year and waived Perry Jones III, who was still on his guaranteed rookie-scale contract. Maybe the lesser of Hunter and Young will hold more value, but it still won’t be much.
One day after he was indicted for oil and gas conspiracy, Thunder minority owner Aubrey McClendon died in a single-car crash.
Now, his ownership stake could be tied up in court.
Ryan Dezember And Kevin Helliker of The Wall Street Journal:
Collapsing oil prices in late 2014 strained the new oil-and-gas empire he had assembled, and he struggled in his final year to raise more cash to keep it afloat.
Oklahoma records show he had pledged assets as collateral for loans, including his roughly 20% stake of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, fine wine, investments in tech startups and antique boats.
Lawyers for Mr. McClendon’s creditors have said they think Mr. McClendon, who during his Chesapeake heyday was a billionaire, left behind more debt than assets. The entrepreneur’s debts so far amount to about $500 million, according to Oklahoma probate records.
But Martin Stringer, a lawyer for Mr. McClendon’s estate, said claiming it is insolvent is “incorrect” because “nobody has the facts,” according to a transcript of a May probate court hearing. The value of many assets “depends on commodity prices,” he added.
Mr. McClendon’s creditors, which so far range from Wall Street banks to a former employee to a farm-equipment maker, have until Sept. 16 to file claims.
Clay Bennett remains the Thunder’s controlling owner, so the team will likely remain stable. But there’s still potential for this to get a little messy.
The Jazz just traded Tibor Pleiss to the 76ers in a salary dump. Utah gets Kendall Marshall in a procedural move and will waive the point guard whose salary is unguaranteed.
What’s next for Marshall and Pleiss?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports on Marshall:
several league executives still believe there’s a spot in the league for him as a backup point guard.
Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:
If so many executives believe Marshall belongs in the NBA, he’ll get signed. I have some doubts.
Marshall was curiously undervalued when he was younger and healthier. Now, he’s coming off a dreadful season in Philadelphia. A 2015 torn ACL still raises major doubts about Marshall’s ability to play even tolerable defense. His outside shooting has also regressed after blooming with the Lakers and Bucks.
Still, he’s a plus passer and just 25. He has a chance.
Pleiss is also coming off a lousy year, and he’s even older. He’ll turn 27 in the season’s second week, though he has played only one NBA season – and most of it was in the D-League. The 7-foot-3 Pleiss has plenty of size and a little shooting touch, but the 76ers don’t have playing time behind Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid to develop him. Pleiss likely returns to Europe.
Jae Crowder – one of the NBA’s most underrated players – went to the Celtics from the Mavericks in the Rajon Rondo trade (which, in hindsight, should be called the Jae Crowder trade). He then re-signed with Boston on an absurdly cheap contract.
But the Knicks could’ve had him instead.
New York traded Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavericks for a package of middling assets in June 2014. One of those middling assets was the No. 34 pick in the upcoming draft. It could’ve been Crowder.
Knicks president Phil Jackson, via Charley Rosen of Today’s Fastbreak:
I think the biggest mistake I made was actually this…One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics. In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder.
I’m not sure what the Celtics had to do with this. Crowder was with Dallas then, and so was the No. 34 pick that became Early (though that selection was originally Boston’s before a 2013 draft-night trade with the Mavericks). Jackson wouldn’t have been negotiating with the Celtics at all. My guess: Rosen got mixed up in his transcription.
Anyway, yeah, that stinks for the Knicks.
This is definitely an after-the-fact critique. Crowder hadn’t come into his own yet.
But he and Carmelo Anthony could’ve played together as combo forwards. The beauty of Crowder’s game is his ability to fit with anyone. So, Jackson’s logic leaves plenty to be desired. Passing on Crowder because an early second-rounder appeared more valuable at the time is far more defensible.
That Early is already out of the league only adds to the sting.
On the bright side, Crowder would’ve made the Knicks better and maybe cost them Kristaps Porzingis – who’s even more valuable than Crowder.