Kevin McHale says Celtics’ Big 3 may not be done just yet

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The Celtics have a lot of questions heading into next season. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will both enter free agency this summer, and the organization will have to decide if they think the core four of those two, along with Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, are solid enough to contend for one or two more seasons in the Eastern Conference.

While Danny Ainge may be open to the idea, most don’t think that Boston has enough, at least as currently constructed. Add in the fact that Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus played key roles in the Celtics’ run this season and are also free agents, and the team has some serious decisions to make.

With the stricter salary cap restrictions put into place in the new edition of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, conventional wisdom says to start to rebuild on the fly around Pierce and Rondo, instead of sinking further of the team’s cap space into aging veterans who might not have much left.

Nothing has been decided yet in Boston, however, and it’s entirely possible that the organization may indeed try for another run with what it’s got. That plan of action wouldn’t surprise former Celtics Hall-of-Famer and current Rockets head coach Kevin McHale who, speaking at adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy on Monday, said that talk of the end of the Big Three era in Boston may be a little premature.

“Not done yet,” McHale said, when asked what he thought of the end of the current era in Boston. “They got to the Conference finals, we’ll see what happens. Those guys have got contracts that they’re going to have to get signed; it has yet to be determined what’s going to happen.  I would be surprised if they didn’t try to put the team together for another run for a year or two.

“If you get to the Conference finals, you’re one of the last four teams. So why would you blow up a team that’s better than 26 other teams in the NBA? I think they’re going to probably ride this out a little bit.”

The reason, of course, is that if it’s a championship you’re after, then what the Celtics have isn’t enough. This run was a nice surprise, but it’s unlikely that this current group will get as far next season. Derrick Rose’s injury took out the Bulls, the Pacers are young and only getting better, and the Heat are back in the Finals for the second straight season.

Boston ended up as one of the last four teams standing. But it’s a stretch to think the same level of success could be achieved again by bringing back essentially the same core group of players.

Andre Iguodala recalls Draymond Green doubling Kevin Durant in practice: ‘he was mad … We was tryna win’

David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images
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Devin Booker complained to his opponents for double-teaming him during a pick-up game.

That has sparked a Great National Debate: Is it right or wrong to double-team during pick-up games?

Kevin Durant:

That’s a reasonable conclusion. The primary defender is missing an opportunity to work on his defense by getting help. But I also think it fails to address the main point. Booker wasn’t complaining to help the defender. Booker wanted the ideal training environment for himself, the offensive player.

How should the offensive player feel about it?

It’s a reasonably interesting question that’s getting taken far too seriously because the NBA is in a dead period. But to give it more juice, let’s add the Kevin Durant-Draymond Green relationship to the equation.

Andre Iguodala:

Durant:

It seems Durant can laugh it off now, but this story feeds into what so many people think they know about these players – that Green is a relentless competitor (accurate) and that Durant is soft (inaccurate).

NBA players spend so much time playing basketball. Sometimes, it’s helpful to face game-like conditions, where double-teams can happen at any point. Other times, it’s helpful to have more-relaxed conditions.

I don’t know enough about Booker’s pick-up game or the Warriors’ practice to say what was appropriate in each.

Report: Executives expect Thunder to say they are not trading Chris Paul (but they are)

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It’s all about leverage.

Right now the vultures are circling the Oklahoma City Thunder, hoping to get a free meal. Everyone knows the Thunder are moving into a rebuilding mode and want to trade Chris Paul for picks/young players, so other general managers — the vultures — are throwing out lowball offers hoping to get a steal of a trade. And by steal we mean making the Thunder throw in a first-round pick as a sweetener to get CP3 and the three-years, $124 million left on his contract off their books.

Oklahoma City’s response? Say “we’re not trying to trade him” and be patient. Here is how Brian Windhorst phrased it on ESPN’s The Jump (hat tip Real GM):

“Here’s what executives expect to happen: they expect the Thunder to put out a message that we’re not looking to trade Chris Paul…We want him to work with our young guys. Because they don’t want anybody to think they’re panic-trying to trade him, and they want to hope that somebody has something happen where they need Chris Paul,” said Windhorst.

Royce Young, who covers the Thunder for ESPN, added that he believed the Thunder would hold on to Chris Paul rather than surrender a draft pick.

This is the smart play. CP3 is still a top-flight point guard in the NBA, even if he has taken half a step back, and there are at least eight NBA teams going into this season thinking they have a shot at a title, and a few more looking at deep playoff runs. Some team is either going to realize they are not as good as they thought they were, or are going to suffer an injury, and be looking for an All-Star level player and replacement. Enter the Thunder and Chris Paul.

What this ultimately means is expect this to drag out. Not just through the summer and through training camp, but maybe all the way to the trade deadline.

Not a ‘tattooed guy’: Larry Bird wants mural changed

Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Larry Bird likes the mural but not the tatts.

A lawyer for the former NBA star has asked an artist to remove certain tattoos from a large painting of Bird on an Indianapolis multi-family residence. The tattoos include two rabbits mating on his right arm and a spider web on a shoulder.

Artist Jules Muck painted Bird in a blue basketball uniform. It’s a replica of a 1977 Sports Illustrated cover when he played for Indiana State.

Attorney Gary Sallee says Bird “needs to protect” his brand and “doesn’t want to be seen as a tattooed guy.” Muck says she adds things like tattoos to her art to avoid creating a complete copy of a photo.

She says she’s trying to reach an agreement with Bird’s representatives.

Blazers will let fans ride 1977 championship parade route with Bill Walton

via Dane Delgado
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This upcoming year is the 50th season in existence for the Portland Trail Blazers, and as such the team has quite a bit in store for us.

The Blazers already released a first look at the court they will be playing on this season. It harkens back to the very first court that Portland played on back in 1970 during the first year of the team’s existence.

Now, the Blazers are offering fans a chance to relive the 1977 NBA championship with none other than Bill Walton.

In a release posted to social media on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers said that fans will be able to go on a celebratory bike ride with Big Red himself. The route will follow that of the original championship parade, going from Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the east side of the Willamette River and ending in downtown Portland at one of the several park blocks.

Via Twitter:

This is pretty incredible given that things didn’t end well between Walton and the Blazers organization. There was a lot of back-and-forth about Walton’s foot in 1978, and it ended with the San Diego native sitting out the 1978-79 season, eventually signing with the Clippers in 1979. Things have calmed since then, but this is still nice to see.

No word yet on what the Blazers plan to reveal, but my guess is that it will be some kind of retro jersey that features the vertical BLAZERS wordmark a la the kind Walton wore in ‘77.