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Paul Pierce: ‘Without a doubt,’ Celtics will next retire Kevin Garnett’s number

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Kevin Garnett wants nothing to do with the Timberwolves retiring his number. Presumably, he’d be far more open to receiving the honor from the Celtics.

But will Boston actually retire his number?

Paul Pierce, who just had his number retired by the Celtics, sounds certain.

Pierce, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN:

“Without a doubt, KG’s number will be [the next one] retired in Boston,” said Pierce. “It’s going to happen.”

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team has had informal discussions about retiring Garnett’s number, but that a final decision would come from ownership.

Maybe Pierce knows something. He obviously has access to Celtics management. But maybe he’s just projecting wishful thinking for a friend and former teammate.

Garnett played just six seasons in Boston. Of the 21 players the Celtics have honored in the rafters, none have played fewer seasons for the team:

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Ed Macauley and Reggie Lewis also played six seasons for Boston then had their number retired. Lewis’ number retirement was more about his untimely death than his on-court accomplishments, not really relevant here. Macauley and Bob Cousy were the Celtics’ first retired numbers (on the same day in 1963). Boston’s unprecedented success since puts Macauley into a context unavailable at the time.

Garnett had an excellent run with the Celtics. He put them over-the-top for the 2008 title, breaking their longest championship drought. He remained an All-Star four of the next five years. Maybe he even gets extra credit for waiving his no-trade clause, allowing Boston to trade him to the Nets for a ridiculous haul and potentially setting up its next window of title contention.

But Garnett approved that trade because he thought Brooklyn was better than the Celtics, not because he wanted to set up his soon-to-be-former team for future success. And he didn’t make another All-NBA team in Boston after his first season there. He just wasn’t quite the elite player he was in Minnesota, though he was close enough for the monumental highs of the 2008 season.

For most teams, retiring Garnett’s number would be a no-brainer. Considering the Celtics’ storied history, it’s a tougher call.

Ultimately, I believe Pierce will be right, though – in part because of the implicit pressure he’s applying.

Another LeBron James mural vandalized in Los Angeles

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Most of Los Angeles — and the vast majority of Lakers fans — are fired up that LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles. They see a return to glory for the franchise (well, once they get the rest of the roster right… sorry Lance Stephenson).

However, there is a segment — particularly the die-hard Kobe fans — who are having trouble assimilating to the new reality.

So when an artist did a LeBron James mural near Venice in Los Angeles recently — a really well-done tribute — it was quickly vandalized. Then eventually covered up.

This week another artist did another impressive LeBron/Lakers mural — this one with LeBron looking up at the Lakers’ legends — and once again, it was vandalized.

I’m not shocked by any of this, but it is depressing. If you’re vandalizing art, you are a cowardly buffoon.

There’s no way to really know the motivation behind the second attack, although the smart money is on it being the same as the first one — a few people think they are protecting the Lakers’ brand by not welcoming the best player on the planet to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. It’s incredibly flawed logic, but frankly flawed logic has become trendy in recent years, it can get you elected to all kinds of offices.

If you can’t embrace LeBron joining the team, I’m not sure how you could call yourself a Lakers fan. But to take that another step and deface a mural is another level of idiocy.

AP Source: Thunder trading Dakari Johnson to Orlando

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading reserve center Dakari Johnson to the Orlando Magic.

A person with knowledge of the details confirmed the move to The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

Yahoo Sports, which first reported the deal, said Oklahoma City will get guard Rodney Purvis in the deal. Purvis averaged 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 16 appearances for the Magic last season. The Orlando Sentinel said the Thunder also sent cash to the Magic.

Johnson played 31 games last season for the Thunder with six starts. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. The 7-footer averaged 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 10 games for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, last season.

Center Alex Len reportedly reaches contract deal with Atlanta

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Five years ago, the Phoenix Suns had just drafted Alex Len at No. 5 overall and thought he would be the big man in the middle the team would build around. It didn’t work out that way, he never averaged double figures in either scoring or rebounding for a season. While Len has said he thought he was not used correctly, and there has been plenty of change and inconsistency in Phoenix, he never grabbed hold of the top job, either.

When the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton No. 1 last June, there was no chance they were bringing back Len next season. The unrestricted free agent is headed to Atlanta instead, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent center Alex Len has agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Len received interest from several teams in recent days before finalizing an agreement with the Hawks on Saturday.

Len is not going to space the floor, 73 percent of his shots came at the rim last season, but he’s become an efficient finisher there. He is good as a roll man, will work off the ball, and can post guys up on offense. He’s also strong on the offensive glass and gets points via putbacks. His game is not that of a modern NBA center, but he’s become efficient at what he does.

Len is going to have to earn his minutes in the ATL, rebuilding team or not there is some quality along the front line. John Collins, who made the All-Rookie team last season and was one of the standouts of Summer League, will start up front, possibly at the four with Dewayne Dedmon at the five. The just-drafted Omari Spellman showed potential at Summer League and could be the backup four, which means Len gets the backup center minutes.

Len is getting his new chance on a team that can give him some run, we’ll see if a change of scenery is what he needed.

Gordon Hayward posts new workout video, he is moving pretty well

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Player workout videos on Instagram are a lot like how your life (or, your parent’s life) appears on Facebook — everyone looks their best, is always having fun and doing something interesting, and the daily grime of life has been scrubbed away.

That said, Boston’s Gordon Hayward looks good — he seems to be moving very well — in this latest workout video he posted.

It’s a good sign to see Hayward moving like that in July, months before that reconstructed ankle needs to be put to the test on the NBA hardwood.

With Hayward and Kyrie Irving healthy, the Celtics start the season as the favorites in the East — but Toronto is a sudden, serious challenger if Kawhi Leonard is all the way back and healthy. Philadelphia is talented and in that mix as well if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can take strides forward with their game.

The top of the East is going to be very interesting next season.