Ainge says Celtics face “very hard” decision with Pierce this summer

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Is it time to break up the Celtics and rebuild? Or does the way they played the last couple games, and once they get Rajon Rondo back, mean it’s time for one more run at it?

That decision falls to Celtics decision maker Danny Ainge — the Celtics have until June 30 to buy out Paul Pierce’s $15.3 million contract for next season for just $5 million. Do that and Kevin Garnett may retire, or you can trade him for younger assets and start the rebuild with those pieces around Rondo.

Ainge told CSNNE.com’s A. Sherrod Blakely it will not be an easy call.

“What’s important to understand, yeah, it’s going to be hard for fans and everybody else, but as far as what’s doing what’s best for the Celtics, it’s probably going to be very hard, too,” Ainge told CSNNE.com. “It’s not a no-brainer. It’s not like you get a 21-year-old All-Star player, or you get the number one pick in the draft [if you let Pierce go]. Those decisions would not be hard, but I have a feeling the decision is going to be very hard, yeah….

“I have not even discussed that with anyone within our franchise yet,” Ainge said. “So that’s something for like a few weeks from now to contemplate.”

It would be the end of an era, Pierce is the most iconic Celtics player since the Larry Bird era. It would be an emotional decision. Pierce has said he wants to keep playing would get picked up by another team… but Pierce in another jersey just sounds weird.

Still it may be the right decision (or even one past due). If Boston brings back this group next season, are they going to be better than the Heat, Knicks and Pacers? Are they really contenders? I think you’re just delaying the rebuild and it’s better to start now. But my emotions are not tied up in this; the history of Pierce and KG in green certainly has to change the equation in Boston.

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.

Devin Booker’s 3-point-contest victory bright spot for Suns (video)

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Los Angeles – Devin Booker‘s Suns have the NBA’s worst record (18-41).

“I think everyone is fed up with the losing, from the top to the bottom of the organization,” Booker said this afternoon. “So, for us, it’s what’s next?”

A 3-point contest victory.

Overcoming Phoenix’s poor record to draw an invite to All-Star Saturday Night, Booker won the 3-point contest with a whopping 29 points in the final round.

That score left little margin for 2016 champion Klay Thompson, who capped the event with a 25-point round that was otherwise the night’s high. Clippers forward Tobias Harris, in his new home arena, finished third.

Booker was all smiles after the rare victory.

“Season not going how we planned, but I know a lot of the city was ready for this All-Star Weekend, having somebody participate,” Booker said. “So, I’m glad I could win it.

Where he and the Suns go from here is still questionable, but he has a plan.

“I’m going to win the dunk contest next year,” Booker said. “No, I’m just kidding.”

Full results

First round

Klay Thompson 19

Devin Booker 19

Tobias Harris 18

Wayne Ellington 17

Bradley Beal 15

Eric Gordon 12

Kyle Lowry 11

Paul George 9

Second round

Devin Booker 29

Klay Thompson 25

Tobias Harris 17