Reports: Celtics want first round pick for Pierce; looking at younger coaches

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Let the rebuilding process begin.

With the Doc Rivers to the Clippers deal in place (waiting on the Clippers and Rivers to finish hammering out contract details) the Celtics have started to look around at trade options for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and they starting to think about what coach to bring in.

And in both cases, they are thinking young.

Boston is expected to pick up the $15 million option on Paul Pierce but are looking to trade him for a first round pick, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks are among the teams that have expressed trade interest in Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, according to sources with knowledge of the talks. But sources told ESPN.com that Pierce is most likely headed to neither one of those teams if he leaves the Celtics this week.

In Cleveland’s case, owner Dan Gilbert has gave the order he is tired of being in the lottery ever year (even though they have won it two out of three years) and they are looking for players who can help the Cavs make the postseason next year. Pierce would do that, especially paired with a healthy Kyrie Irving.

The Cavaliers have two first round picks — their No. 1 overall (they are not trading that for Pierce) and the No. 19 of the Lakers. That could be a move that would interest both sides. The Bucks have the No. 15 pick.

Boston also likely will try to move Kevin Garnett this summer as well, but he has a no trade clause and has say in the matter (no, KG is not ending up with the Clippers without a change of heart in the league office). In both cases the Celtics can afford to be patient and wait for a deal they like.

The other question in Boston is who will replace Doc Rivers as head coach?

First, don’t expect a quick decision here. There are reports the Celtics could wait until after Summer League (meaning mid-July) to make a move here. Jason Terry is going to be an assistant coach for the Celtics at Summer League.

The coach the Celtics do hire may not be a name you recognize, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Boston Celtics will consider several younger and lower-profile candidates for the franchise’s coaching vacancy, including assistant coach Jay Larranaga, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The idea is a solid one — get a younger coach to go with the younger team you are building and let them grow together.

That model works well in a smaller market such as Oklahoma City, but for one of the NBA’s premiere franchise in a market where the Celtics get a lot of scrutiny it may be harder to make work.

We’ll see how all this turns out, but one thing is clear: The rebuilding has begun.

Robin Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Jae Crowder’s shoe (VIDEO)

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Why did Robin Lopez tie Jae Crowder‘s shoe during Sunday’s Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? We may never know. Perhaps he was just helping the Celtics forward after he tossed him to the ground? Or maybe he’s just doing weird Robin Lopez things?

In any case, Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Crowder’s shoe after it came off during a battle down low early in the third quarter at United Center.

Here’s how it went down.

Via Twitter:

I still have no idea.

Noticeably frustrated, Russell Westbrook gets prickly with reporter after loss to Rockets (VIDEO)

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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets played an ugly game down the stretch on Sunday. The Rockets employed a hack-a-Andre Roberson strategy, while the Thunder played sloppy and often poorly with Russell Westbrook out of the game.

The latter was the subject in question when Oklahoman reporter Berry Tramel spoke with Westbrook and Steven Adams at a postgame press conference following the Game 4 loss, 113-109.

Tramel’s question — whether the Rockets got a boost when Westbrook was off the floor — was directed at Adams, but the Thunder MVP candidate couldn’t let it go.

Snapping at Tramel, Westbrook told him not to split them up.

Via Twitter:

Tramel’s question is legitimate, and one of the overarching themes of this series thus far. Westbrook’s response is pretty far off the mark, but it did tell the story of how he’s feeling going away from Chesapeake Arena down 3-1.

Game 5 is on Tuesday in Houston.

Kevin Love throws full court pass to LeBron James for sweet and-1 bucket (VIDEO)

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Kevin Love and LeBron James were locked in an epic battle with the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Sunday’s Game 4 playoff matchup. Part of that matchup included yet another long, full court pass between the Cleveland Cavaliers duo.

Love, as you might guess, was the passer and LeBron was again the receiver.

The play came in the final minute of the second quarter, with Love nabbing a rebound from the right block and LeBron jetting down the floor.

Love’s pass was perfectly placed, and Paul George just didn’t have the strength to keep him from getting the and-1.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Nene’s 28 lead Rockets past Thunder for 3-1 series lead

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Houston.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.

Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder.

Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at the break. He grabbed the 10th rebound in the final second of the second quarter, and the Thunder led 58-54 at intermission. Meanwhile, Harden made just 2 of 9 shots and scored just six points in the first half.

The Thunder opened the second half with a 10-2 run, but Houston closed to 77-73 at the end of the third quarter.

Adams made the first of two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining to cut Oklahoma City’s deficit to four. He rebounded his missed second free throw and found Westbrook for a 3-pointer that cut Houston’s lead to one point. But the Thunder lost track of Nene on the other end, and he converted a three-point play. Gordon’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds made it a four-point game.

TIP-INS

Rockets: G Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA for confronting a fan after Game 3. The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off.

Thunder: Westbrook had just one turnover in the first half. … Adams went 6 for 6 from the field in the first half. … Westbrook missed all six of his shots in the third quarter.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.