Celtics face 'win or blow-up' scenario

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It was all worth it.

You have to tell yourself that, Celtics fan or no. The offseason that brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Boston next to Paul Pierce was a success, because it brought a banner, and there’s nothing that can be done to refute that. The NBA’s ultimate prize is worth the cost, whatever it is.

But in the Boston Herald, Danny Ainge is quoted hinting that the time for the detonation of this Celtics’ core may be coming sooner than anticipated, and that the remainder of this season, just two and a half years removed from that great summer, will determine the short and long-term future of this group of players.

“I’m constantly thinking about that,” he said. “But I think what happens beyond this season will be based more on how this team performs from here on out than what’s happened to this point.
“I think we’ll know a lot more about this team over the next few months. All we can do now is speculate.”

And be ready to cut in widely divergent directions based on the findings.
“I’m prepared in either scenario,” Ainge said. “We’ll either add to this team or change it.

That sounds an awful lot like a GM debating whether or not to blow up the plan. The Celtics have a terrible record against the Eastern elite, and in the face of the disaster at home versus Cleveland, the whispers have become shouts that the time has past for this alignment, and that the Celtics need to look to the future.

Talented point guard Rajon Rondo is a considerable asset, but he’s never shown to excel outside of the comfy confines of the Big 3. It’s probable he’ll continue to be an All-Star, but it’s simply not certain yet. Kendrick Perkins is a serviceable, if limited, center, and Glen Davis can flail around a lot. Outside of that, the Celtics possess no long-term players they can depend on or build around.

It was all worth it.

But you have to wonder if there could be, or will be, more.

Please print this to laugh at when the Celtics go on some sick run and make the Finals.

Caris LeVert suffers injury so horrific, it brings teammates to tears and opponents to prayer (video)

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Caris LeVert has been one of the Nets’ biggest bright spots. The hard-working 24-year-old was a Most Improved Player candidate, and he seems well-liked throughout the organization. He’s even already hit a couple gamewinners this season.

But LeVert’s breakout campaign hit a devastating snag tonight, as he injured his leg.

The reactions of both his Brooklyn teammates and the Timberwolves say everything. This is a tough one.

Markelle Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

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A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

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LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.

With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

Damian Lillard:

It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.

A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.

But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.

It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.