Kevin Garnett: ‘I would do anything for’ Rajon Rondo

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It can be a little difficult keeping track of the feuds among the members of the Boston Celtics’ last title team.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce don’t like Ray Allen. Doc Rivers reportedly tried to fight Rajon Rondo. Rondo said he “didn’t feel anything” when Garnett and Pierce were traded.

It’s dizzying.

But between Garnet and Rondo, it’s all love.

Garnett, via Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

“It’s always good to see your little brother, man,” Garnett said before Thursday’s game. “I worry about his health. I know he wants to play. I know he wants to help that team. I try to keep an eye out for the young boys [in Boston], just to see how they’re doing.

“I know he’s eager to play, and I know he’s eager to get back out. My only concern is always health-wise. Rondo knows his body, he knows himself. I’m just glad he’s still able to fulfill his dream and play the game that he loves. Anytime, that’s first and foremost. Everything else is secondary.”

“Absolutely,” Garnett said when asked if Rondo being on the court will make his return to Boston mean even more. “That’s a little brother, man. We all grew together. When we grew, it wasn’t something we did minimally. We all gave all of ourselves to each other, and we grew in that. That connection, you grow with it through time, and it’s one of them connections that you look at as forever.

“That’s my little brother. I love Rondo. He knows that, and I would do anything for him. All in all, I’m just happy that he’s back, and I’m just happy he’s able to be healthy and continue to be able to do one of the things he does best.”

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Garnett and Pierce will return to Boston for the first time as Nets on Sunday, and with Rondo healthy, most of the old gang will be participating in the game, and that will make the night even more special.

It’s great Garnett has such a strong bond with Rondo. They won a championship together, and seeing up close the amount of sacrifice it takes to reach that level certainly brought them closer.

But I can’t read that quote – “it’s one of them connections that you look at as forever” – without thinking about Ray Allen, whom Garnett has feuded with the last couple years. Why wasn’t that connection forever?

Garnett surely has his reasons, and he’s entitled to them. That the relationship between him and Rondo has survived Garnett switching teams, especially comparatively, says a lot about how close those two are.

Reggie Bullock game-winner gives Pistons coach Dwane Casey victory in return to Toronto

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Revenge is a dish best served with two seconds left in a tie game.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey – certainly not thrilled with the Raptors firing him earlier this year – guided his new team to a 106-104 win in his return to Toronto tonight. Detroit erased a 19-point second-half deficit and got the ball with two seconds left, giving Casey and Reggie Bullock chances to shine.

Casey drew up a great play, an alley-oop to Glenn Robinson III. But Pascal Siakam made an even better play to knock the ball out of bounds.

The Pistons’ second play of the possession proved even more effective, as Bullock slipped toward the rim and hit the game-winner.

What a satisfying victory for Casey.

Reports: Steve Kerr chose and Warriors players supported suspending, not fining, Draymond Green

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The Warriors suspended Draymond Green one game for his argument with Kevin Durant during and after Golden State’s loss to the Clippers on Monday.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

Jackie MacMullan on ESPN:

What about an internal fine? And what I was told this morning was that the rest of the players on this team didn’t support that, that the rest of the players on the team felt this had to be to done and that they’re all prepared, on that plane ride to Houston today, to get those guys together and put this behind them for now.

Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

Green was surprised by the heavy-handedness. A fine was expected. Green had just come back from injury, giving him a rest day for Tuesday’s game against Atlanta and a private fine would have been an acceptable rebuke of his behavior. He was fined a few thousand dollars when he went after Kerr in the locker room in Oklahoma City in 2016. He didn’t think this incident was nearly as bad, so the punishment being drastically worse was shocking.

I wonder whether Green will feel as if the Warriors are ganging up on him. Many see his suspension as Golden State’s attempt to appease Durant before free agency, and the original issue escalated because Green thought there was already too much emphasis on Durant’s free agency. This could push a stubborn Green deeper into a corner.

Or he could realize his peers wanted him suspended and see that as a wakeup call. He might put more stock in that than Kerr’s point of view.

It’s too early to determine how this will go, but the starting point is apparently a divide between Green and everyone else.

Kyrie Irving, teammate of 12-year-veteran Al Horford: Celtics need 14- or 15-year veteran for leadership

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The Celtics just had a 1-4 road trip, the lone win coming in overtime against the lowly Suns. Most Boston players (except Marcus Morris and, lately, Kyrie Irving) look out of sorts offensively.

Irving, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

Looking at this locker room, me being in my eighth year and being a ‘veteran’ as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes. Right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, a 14-year vet that could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint, when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do.

Al Horford is in his 12th season. His team, the Hawks then Celtics, have made the playoffs every season of his career.

I’m not sure Irving intended this as a slight of Horford. Irving certainly didn’t forget about Horford, whom Irving mentioned the sentence prior.

But I’d definitely understand if Horford felt slighted. He’s experienced enough to provide that veteran leadership. So is Irving for that matter.

Ultimately, these comments might prove benign, just more weird words from Irving. Still, they’re potentially significant enough to keep an eye on Boston’s leadership situation.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns: ‘I’m not one of the most important [players on the team]. I’m just a piece on this team’

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Jimmy Butler made the Timberwolves his team. He willed himself into being their best player despite having teammates with more talent and physical skills. He took a leadership position by talking over everyone (for better or worse). He even asked for top-contract status with a renegotiation-and-extension that would have required gutting the rest of the roster.

With Butler traded to the 76ers, who takes up the mantle in Minnesota?

Karl-Anthony Towns is the logical candidate. He’s now the Timberwolves’ best player. He just signed a max contract extension that will hit super-max salaries if he makes an All-NBA team this season. He’s even already one of Minnesota’s longest-tenured players.

Kent Youngblood of the StarTribune:

Karl-Anthony Towns took issue with the idea that, with Butler gone, he had to become the team’s leader.

“First of all, I’m not one of the most important [players on the team],’’ he said. “I’m just a piece on this team. Everyone is just as important as the next. So if everyone’s doing their job and everyone is working hard, doing the little things, we make a great product.

Somewhere, Butler is cackling, assured his doubts about Towns were correct.

But leading isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t make non-leaders bad people. The world needs followers, too.

That said, things generally flow much more smoothly on teams where the best player is the main leader. It creates an orderly culture. If Towns doesn’t want that role, it’ll be something for the Timberwolves to overcome.

Maybe Towns, 22, will grow into it. There’s still plenty of time left for him to develop both as a player and person.

But Butler’s exit created a natural entrance for Towns into leadership. Towns could have seamlessly seized the reigns right here. That he isn’t shows how far he is as a leader.