Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce say it’s too soon to talk future with the Celtics


Immediately following the Celtics elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the Knicks in Game 6 on Friday, the questions began to turn to the team’s veteran core, and whether or not they’d be back in Boston next season.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are both under contract, but are also in very different situations.

Pierce is on the books for over $15 million next year should the Celtics retain his services, but only $5 million of that deal is guaranteed. If Boston decides it’s time to rebuild completely, Pierce could be an amnesty candidate, and might end up playing next season elsewhere. Garnett, meanwhile, has two more years on his deal, along with a no-trade clause that essentially means it’s completely up to him whether or not to play out his contract or consider retirement after just completing his 18th NBA season.

Neither player was ready to talk about the large decisions facing them and the Celtics franchise this summer, but at least in Garnett’s case, he hinted that his decision to return may be based on what ends up happening with Pierce.

From Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston:

“One of the big reasons I came [to Boston] was because of Paul,” said Garnett. “Obviously, you want to be in a situation where it’s better. I want to make sure that I’m able to always help a team. I want to be in positions to where I’m giving something. I demand a lot of myself, both physically and from a skill level. But I’d be lying to y’all if I said Paul didn’t play into that factor. Like I said, it’s too soon of a conversation for me right now.”

Asked if he expected to be back in Boston next season, 35-year-old Pierce said that was a question for the Celtics’ front office.

“That’s up to [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] and them,” said Pierce. “I have no idea.”

Pierce continued to say that he’ll be playing next season somewhere, even if the Celtics decide it won’t be in Boston.

A healthy Rajon Rondo changes a lot in terms of what the ceiling is for this Celtics team, and if there are other roster tweaks available, Boston may give it one more go with Pierce and Garnett in place. Then again, the flexibility available by cutting Pierce loose may open the door to even more attractive options for next season, and ones that could be more sensible long-term solutions for the franchise.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell
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After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.