The Celtics missed out on Kevin Love, their primary target. But they managed to get some frontcourt help on a solid short-term value deal, landing former Raptors center Amir Johnson on a two-year, $24 million deal, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Free-agent forward Amir Johnson has agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal with the Boston Celtics, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Agent Kevin Bradbury of BDA Sports completed the deal Wednesday with Boston GM Danny Ainge.
Johnson, one of the best forwards on the market, departs after six seasons with Toronto. He gives Boston a long, athletic and experienced dimension that it needed in its frontcourt.
This is a solid move for the Celtics. Johnson is an athletic, defensive big who represents a significant upgrade over Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass. $12 million per year is good value for a starting-caliber center, and the fact that it’s only a two-year deal makes it very moveable, especially with the salary cap set to increase.
LeBron James lifts Kyrie Irving and Cavaliers to 3-0 lead over Celtics
BOSTON – LeBron James saw Kyrie Irving, who’d just gotten decked while shooting, laying on the floor and wasn’t going to let anyone get in his way of helping up his teammate – including Jae Crowder, who stood directly between the two Cavaliers.
LeBron grabbed Crowder to move him out of the way, and Crowder took offense. LeBron looked at Crowder, pointed to a sprawled-out Irving and continued toward Irving while Evan Turner pushed LeBron.
The Celtics scratched and clawed and successfully limited Irving, but they couldn’t stop LeBron (31 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks) from lifting Cleveland to a 103-95 Game 3 win Thursday. Up 3-0 in his fourth playoff series against Boston, LeBron will seek his first sweep in Game 4 Sunday.
Asked the plan for defending LeBron, Crowder refused to divulge for a fear of giving LeBron helpful information.
“Because it’s definitely been working,” Turner said wryly.
Not only do the Celtics lack an answer for LeBron, they can’t limit enough of his teammates.
Kevin Love (23 points, nine rebounds and three assists) played a strong No. 2. J.R. Smith (15 points on 12 shots) broke out of his funk. And Tristan Thompson came up with timely offensive rebounds.
Even with Irving – who led Game 1 with 30 points and scored 26 in Game 2 – not making a shot until midway through the third quarter and finishing with just 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting, that was enough to best Boston.
Not that the Celtics made it easy.
Instead of LeBron’s old nemeses like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, it was Crowder, Turner and Avery Bradley providing resistance. But this group of Celtics, while pesky, couldn’t sustain it.
Boston gained momentum late in the first half. Cleveland ended it on a 12-0, capped by six straight LeBron points.
Brad Stevens opened the second half with Crowder and Jonas Jerebko instead of starters Marcus Smart and Brandon Bass, and the Celtics scored the third quarter’s first eight points to tie the game. A late 8-2 run featuring five Crowder points and Crowder assisting a Turner triple got Boston within three. The Celtics never led after halftime.
“We’ve got finishers on our team,” Cavaliers coach Blatt said.
Even when the Cavaliers were out of rhythm, LeBron isolated and scored. Boston – like most teams – just don’t anyone who can match what he does, which he rubbed in at one point:
“Boston’s not going away,” Blatt said. “They haven’t up to this point, and they won’t.”
That may be true.
But as long as Cleveland has LeBron, it probably doesn’t matter.
Deron Williams uses triple-crossover to get free before hitting floater vs. Celtics (VIDEO)
The folks at the NBA titled this video “Deron Williams’ lethal double crossover and bucket,” but he actually crosses up Brandon Bass three times before getting by him to hit the pretty floater in the lane.
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The Nets lost this game to Boston, however, and in a very tight playoff race at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, lost the season tie-breaker to the Celtics, as well.
“We knew this was a big game; you guys knew this was a big game,” Nets guard Deron Williams said. “It wasn’t just one game like it normally is when you lose to a team when you fall back one game in the standings. This was actually two because of the tiebreaker. Now they have the tiebreaker.”
The Celtics currently hold the eight seed, while the Nets are a game-and-a-half back, but also trail both the Pacers and the Hornets in the standings.
Evan Turner throws behind-back pass to Brandon Bass on fastbreak for dunk (video)
This play started with Mike Conley’s injury, but the Grizzlies guard returned to action. So, we can enjoy how beautifully Evan Turner and Brandon Bass finished the fastbreak in the Celtics’ 95-92 win over the Grizzlies.
Rajon Rondo says he’s good with Rick Carlisle, open to staying with Mavericks
Like you haven’t had a loud, too-public argument with your best friend or wife, then by the next day everyone has moved past it and things are back to normal. Maybe even better because the air has been cleared.
“People say I’m not trying to be here, but I don’t talk to anybody but the five people that are in my circle,” Rondo said. “I will vent to them about where I want to be. I’m happy. I’m in a great situation. The best thing is the weather. I miss my kids. I miss my family. That’s hard, as well not having them and you come home after playing a bad game. They are always there to cheer you up. That’s been difficult.
“I haven’t had a change of heart about wanting to be here. But I said that in Boston, too, and look what happened.”
So would he be willing to stay in Dallas.
“Why would I not be? There are a lot of things that I really love. Even the practices, we listen to music, my type of music…. It’s a player’s organization. Players first, from our plane, the way we travel. I don’t take that for granted. We eat good. We stay at the best hotels. Of course, it’s the NBA. But this organization has the best. They have PlayStation in the lockers. I don’t play games, but it’s nice to know I got a PlayStation. TVs in your own locker. I heard about it – [Brandon Bass] and J-Terry [Jason Terry] told me – but seeing it and experiencing it.”
The deciding factor on where Rondo will play next year is money. It’s always money. What will Dallas offer? They can offer more than anyone. If Dallas does not will teams like the Lakers or Knicks come in over the top?
If the money is equal, then it comes down to the other things: Is the team competitive? (Dallas beats the Lakers and Knicks there, handily.) Is he comfortable with the organization? Does he like the coach? Rondo said gain in this interview he is all good with Carlise now, that they talk a lot about the game.
Dallas is still in the driver’s seat to retain Rondo. It just comes down to the negotiations this summer.