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

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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.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.