Boston’s Danny Ainge learned from history, tries to avoid repeating it

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When the Boston Celtics powerhouse teams of the ‘80s wound down, the wheels came off that franchise. There were a lot of factors; Len Bias was a big one.

Current Celtics GM Danny Ainge — a member of those teams — has said the Celtics made a mistake trying to ride the wave all the way in to shore, then they couldn’t paddle back out. They were not aggressive enough in dealing with the decline, something Zach Lowe reminded us of at Sports Illustrated.

Thursday ainge put that history lesson into action. He traded Kendrick Perkins (and Nate Robinson) for an overrated forward in Jeff Green and a nice backup center in Nenad Krstic.

It’s a move that makes the Celtics worse today. They have Glen Davis, but they are now counting on Shaquille O’Neal (and to a lesser degree Jermaine O’Neal) to be healthy and stay healthy through the playoffs. Kevin Garnett and his iron will are still there. But Perkins will now be scowling at Kevin Durant.

Boston did not become weak with this move — they are still a contender in the East. They had the best record in the East when he was out. They still could get another banner this year. They still have Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. They traded Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to free up roster spaces so they go get Troy Murphy — not Rasheed Wallace, he’s not coming — or someone else who is bought out. They will still be in the title hunt no matter what.

The risk is in the playoff matchups. Perkins is a good post defender. He was their man against Dwight Howard. Shaq cannot handle Howard as well and is far more foul prone. Big Baby struggles against him. It’s going to take a team effort. Thing is, the Celtics old strategy was to leave Perkins on an island with Howard and take away everyone else because Perk could slow Howard. This changes that game. But the Magic still have a host of other non-Howard problems, and Boston would still be a favorite.

But what about the Heat? Will the defense be the same when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade come driving into the lane? And the biggest threat, what about the Lakers? Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol played volleyball with each other at the net in Game 7 when Perkins was out last season. Maybe the Lakers can’t get by the Spurs, but is that the risk you take.

Perkins might have left this summer for nothing. Boston made a four-year, $22 million offer to him (the max extension offer they could make off his current deal) and he turned it down. Perkins wants to get paid. Ainge didn’t want to risk that future, so he made a move. He got a good pick from the Clippers, and the Celtics don’t get a lot of quality picks (theirs are usually late in the round) so that is a plus. He got Jeff Green, who the Celtics drafted and maybe can start to approach the potential of his athleticism. The Celtics also have Rondo, who will be at the heart of their rebuilding efforts.

But to trade a core player in the middle of a championship window? That’s a ballsy move. A big risk. If Boston wins it all, Ainge looks genius. He has kept winning and started a transition to the future.

But if they don’t, if the Celtics lose somewhere along the line — especially to a team with great play up front — Ainge is going to hear it. Because most people want to ride that wave all the way into shore.

Vanessa Bryant suing helicopter company after crash that killed Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant and Gianna Bryant
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Ever since Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash last month, we’ve been seeking answers about what went wrong during the flight piloted by Ara Zobayan. After all, Kobe Bryant had made helicopter rides such a normal part of his life.

Now, Vanessa Bryant – Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother – is suing the company that operated the helicopter for wrongful death.

Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times:

The complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. alleged that pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was “negligent.”

“Defendant Island Express Helicopters’ breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs’ deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the lawsuit said.

Report: Ben Simmons back injury “isn’t a day-to-day thing”

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the back injury for Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons “isn’t a day-to-day thing”.

Simmons missed the Sixers first game following the All-Star break on Thursday. He then left Saturday’s game in Milwaukee after playing just 4:44.

Over the weekend, Philadelphia ruled Simmons out for Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks and said he would undergo further evaluation. Per Wojnarowski’s report, that evaluation is ongoing and a course of treatment is yet to be decided upon.

Expect Philadelphia to lean on Raul Neto, Alec Burks and Shake Milton as primary ballhandlers while Simmons is out. None possess the size and skill combination of Simmons, but all have had moments throughout their careers. Neto drew the start in place of Simmons on Thursday. Burks was acquired at the trade deadline to give the team much-needed bench depth. Milton has flashed at time in his second season, after beginning his NBA career on a Two-Way contract.

Philadelphia loses Simmons while in a battle with the Miami Heat for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The fifth-place 76ers are 1.5 games behind the Heat for the fourth seed, and two games ahead of the sixth-place Indiana Pacers.

Pacers: Jeremy Lamb suffers torn ACL, torn meniscus, fracture

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Kobe Bryant making two free throws after tearing his Achilles was one of the greatest moments of his legendary career.

On a day Bryant was honored, we learned Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb made a similarly gutsy pair of free throws during Indiana’s loss to the Raptors yesterday.

Pacers release:

During the second quarter of the Pacers game at Toronto on Sunday, Indiana Pacers forward Jeremy Lamb sustained a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, a torn lateral meniscus and a lateral femoral condylar fracture.

He will undergo surgery on a date to be determined. He will be out the remainder of the season. Any further updates will be provided after surgery.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb misses all of next season. This is just a devastating set of calamities.

At least Lamb has a guaranteed $10.5 million salary each of the next two seasons.

Indiana (sixth place, 33-24) will have an even tougher time winning a playoff series now. The Pacers could challenge in the first round, but they’ll almost certainly be significant underdogs.

They have depth at shooting guard, for what that’s worth. Victor Oladipo just returned. Justin Holiday is a solid reserve. Finding his lane at point guard, Malcolm Brogdon can move off the ball when T.J. McConnell or Aaron Holiday plays point guard.

Michael Jordan braces for return of ‘Crying Jordan’ meme after Kobe Bryant eulogy (video)

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The NBA just held All-Star Weekend in Chicago, where Michael Jordan starred for years with the Bulls. Jordan wasn’t a visible part of the festivities, though. He just prefers to remain out of the spotlight.

Yet, Jordan spoke at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service today. That’s how important Bryant – whom Jordan described as a younger brother – was to Jordan.

Jordan even addressed the elephant in the room – that he was reproducing the “Crying Jordan” meme. Thank goodness for another laugh amid the tears.