Rajon Rondo after latest Celtics loss: ‘I pretty much blame this on myself’

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The Celtics dropped a game to the Pelicans on Sunday that required overtime to be decided, and was really anyone’s game down the stretch of both regulation and the extra session.

Rajon Rondo didn’t do a lot offensively to contribute to his team’s chances, finishing just 3-of-14 from the field in 45 minutes on the floor, which included two misses in overtime — a makable floater in the lane, and a three-pointer he had to launch to beat the shot clock that wasn’t really close.

Rondo is one of the more well-rounded point guards in the game, however, and does other things to help his team. He finished with 14 assists against only two turnovers, and also grabbed eight rebounds. But his lack of offense seemed to bother him after this one, and Rondo attempted to take the blame for the loss.

From A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com:

Rajon Rondo understands his role as the Boston Celtics’ leader is to deliver when it matters most.

But for the second straight game, the Celts came up short in the closing seconds of a game that was indeed anyone’s for the taking. And while the responsibility should be spread liberally across the roster as well as the coaching staff, Rondo once again put much of the blame for Sunday’s 121-120 overtime loss to New Orleans on his shoulders.

“We keep coming up short,” Rondo told reporters following Sunday’s loss, which extended their road losing streak against Western Conference teams to 19. “I have to do a better job of finishing plays. I pretty much blame this on myself again.”

The Celtics are rebuilding, and Rondo is there to provide veteran leadership — so these comments don’t come as much of a surprise. But there’s one problem with his logic, despite the game’s closeness.

He wasn’t guarding Anthony Davis.

The Pelicans big man was completely unstoppable, finishing with 40 points and 21 rebounds, while adding three assists and three blocked shots. When someone on the opposing team has a statistical outing like that one, it’s a little silly to to blame oneself.

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.

 

 

Video of Kawhi Leonard struggling to board team plane concerning

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The San Antonio Spurs have been very tight lipped about how serious Kawhi Leonard‘s ongoing quadriceps issue is. He hasn’t played in the preseason or now the start of the regular season, with no timetable for his return. Part of that is the nature of the Spurs organization, but it leads to the feeling there is something more there.

Now surfaces this video of Leonard gingerly, slowly making his way up some stairs to the team plane, and it’s concerning.

To be fair, there is a real lack of context here, but according to the San Antonio Express-News, he had just come out of a rehab session. That means he might have been especially sore (and could have been iced up for the flight).

Still, this video makes one think it could be a while longer before we see Leonard back on the floor for San Antonio. (By the way over the past three seasons, including this one, the Spurs are 15-4 when Leonard sits. They will be fine short term.)

Nike “very concerned” after LeBron James’ jersey rips on opening night

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In the team’s first preseason game, the jersey of the Lakers’ Tyler Ennis was torn in the back with a tug from an opponent. Everyone made tearaway jersey jokes and moved on, thinking it was a one-off situation.

Then LeBron James‘ jersey ripped down the back on opening night, on national television.

Now Nike is looking into the issue, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

Nearly three days after one of its jerseys tore in the first regular-season game of its new deal with the NBA, Nike released a statement Friday expressing worry about the issue, without offering insight as to what happened or what will be done.

“The quality and performance of all our products are of utmost importance,” the company said in a statement. “We are obviously very concerned to see any game day jersey tear and are working with the NBA and teams to avoid this happening in the future.”

This is the first year Nike has the NBA apparel contract, having just taken it over from Adidas. They made the jerseys similar to what had been done for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where there were no issues, but these jerseys are lighter than the former Adidas ones. It’s unclear what, if any, changes could be coming.

Like many of the jerseys from opening night, LeBron’s ripped one is being auctioned by the NBA to raise money for hurricane relief.