There’s a lot of talk from NBA players about going to play in Europe if there is an extended lockout, although most of it is fantasy not reality. Do you think a quality European club is going to sign an NBA player for half a season?
But free agents, that may be a different story.
Enter Nenad Krstic, the Serbian center who was likely to draw international interest anyway. He started last season with the Thunder and finished with the Celtics but will be a free agent July 1 when the lockout starts.
CSKA Moscow are reportedly interested in signing Boston Celtics’ Serbian center Nenad Krstic (27 years old, 213 cm). According to Serbian website Sportske.net, the Russian club has offered the player a long-term contract.
The club would not comment on the rumors, which is pretty much the standard policy of teams on both sides of the Atlantic.
For all the talk of a player going to Europe, this one makes some sense. We’ll see how it pans out (nothing can really happen until July 1) but this is one to watch.
This was the dream. For all the criticism, the spontaneous hatred from people he never met in cities he’d never lived, for the questions and the scrutiny, this was what he had hoped for. When LeBron James decided to abandon the franchise that drafted him and pursue a team that didn’t think Wally Sczcerbiak/Ben Wallace/Mo Williams/Antawn Jamison was the answer to pushing a franchise over the top, it was in the hopes of getting past the Celtics.
The funny part is, in the end, it was James doing it himself anyway. While it may not have been possible without Dwyane Wade making one huge key play after another, it was still James finishing the game with 10 straight points. It was James taking over, James clamping down on Pierce, James unleashing a volcano of pent-up emotion which led the Heat into the conference finals and left the Celtics in their Mesozoic Era.
Afterwards, James was apologetic about the Decision, respectful towards the Celtics, humble about his career. There was no dancing, no preening, no over-the-top indulgence. Maybe he learned from the past three years of braggadocio and the reaction to the formation of the Heat. Maybe he didn’t. But Tuesday night represented the beginning of LeBron James’ reclamation project, the path from pariah back to “Chosen One’ status. Everyone will still hate him tomorrow that hated him Tuesday night, but they’ll respect him more. His talents were stunning apparent at the end of Game 5, in the steal that became the dunk, and 3-pointers which should have been impossible. There was no way to deny it Tuesday night. If LeBron James isn’t the best player in basketball, he shares that honor.
Winning is supposed to heal all wounds. It won’t make Cleveland feel any better, New York any less slighted, Boston, Chicago, or Los Angeles any less resentful. But James taking the step forward, downing the Celtics, signifies a move out of NBA adolescence, which James has been stuck in for years, since the infamous Detroit game, really. James grew up in this series against the Celtics. He closed games. He hit clutch shots. He didn’t abandon hope and sulk away when things didn’t go his way. Was it easier since he was surrounded by so much talent? Absolutely. But the story here is that evolution.
By the same token, it can come crashing down just as quickly if the same demons that have chased his game in the form of the Celtics simply inhabit Bulls colors. A failure next round and all this advancement means is that the Celtics have really fallen that far. But for a night, the Heat vanquished the Celtics, and James has moved into a new stage in his career.
Game 5 was his finest moment, even better than the Detroit Game 5. It was a bigger stage, as counterintuitive as that sounds considering the Detroit series clinched his way to his first and only Finals appearance. This was when everyone was watching, waiting for him to fail. The Celtics were supposed to close him out, to shut him down. And instead, James took over, finishing with emotion and command. Maybe it was nothing more than a good game against a team whose timer had run out.
But it felt like more.
It was a classic performance, capping off a classic series from James. The ten straight points will be remembered most. But it was James, feeding James Jones on an outlet, trusting his teammate to make a big shot that defines the breadth of James’ game. He came, he saw, he conquered. Against the team that embodied defense, chemistry, greatness in the East over the past four seasons, James rose to the occasion, finally.
For a player who had been given so much before he’d earned it, who had been titled King before he had a kingdom, it felt like an ascension. It wasn’t how people wanted him to do it, and he may never be forgiven. But maybe LeBron’s ready to be King of his jungle, finally.
It’s just a calf strain. It’s not the Achilles that kept Shaquille O’Neil out for more than month. What happened to Shaq on Sunday was just a calf strain. Everyone kept saying that (especially Celtics fans). Still, Celtics players were a little down.
Then came good news from Doc Rivers today that Shaq could be back sooner rather than later, via WEEI.
“He may play at the end of the week,” said Rivers following Monday’s practice, which included every player except O’Neal. “We’re just not sure yet. If that’s what it requires. We’re going to do whatever they tell us is required. Other than that, I would love to play him, honestly, a couple of game.”
Boston plays Friday (Wizards), Sunday (at Heat), Monday (at Wizards) then finish with the Knicks next Wednesday. Getting Shaq back for some run in any of those games would be a plus.
He looked good in the six minutes he was out there. But it was just six minutes.
Nenad Krstic was back in practice as was Troy Murphy. Expect them both to get time starting Tuesday.
MRI Negative for Celtics’ Krstic, disaster averted
It’s a huge bullet dodged for the Celtics who clearly have missed Kendrick Perkins since trading him and Nate Robinson for Krstic and Jeff Green. In last night’s loss to the Hawks, the Celtics were out-rebounded 52-38. Jeff Green accounted for 0% of those 38 rebounds, with a total of 0. Meanwhile, Shaquille O’Neal could be back tomorrow, could be back next week, could be back in the playoffs, could fly away to a magical land with Puff the Magic Dragon. All of those scenarios have about an equal chance.
Krstic gives them a body, but does he give them what they need, which is the toughness and brutal strength Perkins offers? At least he gives them someone who’s healthy, and at this point, the Celtics have no choice but to be thankful he didn’t tear anything and roll the dice.