5 Celtics training camp questions


5 Celtics training camp questions

With the Boston Celtics scheduled to begin training camp Friday evening, I'm sure you all have questions -- lots of questions.

So do we and we have answers, too.

Wanna see 'em?

Here they are.

Q: How will Rajon Rondo handle the Chris Paul trade rumors?

A: If you go by his track record, the answer is obvious: not well. I may be in the minority on this -- OK, I AM in the minority on this -- but I really believe Rondo will handle this better than most might expect.

It's not the first time his name has been associated with trade talk, and it certainly won't be the last, either. In the past he has sulked and become even more distant when such talk surfaced, showing a lack of maturity that isn't all that unusual for young players.

But Rondo is 25 years old, has a growing family and isn't the same kid anymore (we hope so, at least). Trade talk comes with the territory as an NBA player.

If anything, Rondo needs to use that as motivation especially when you consider one of the reasons why the trade didn't go through was because frankly, the Hornets didn't think he was worth it.

And who can't use a little added motivation, right?

Q: What shape will vets like Jermaine O'Neal be in?

A: On the first day of training camp? Awesome. I don't expect any players to come in out of shape, honestly. But the real challenge for them will be how their bodies hold up with so many games crammed together in such a short period of time. I worry most about Kevin Garnett. He's the one veteran whose minutes will be limited, regardless of what condition his body is in. Remember these words: strategic rest. Chances are good -- very good -- you'll be seeing and hearing a lot about it this year.

Q: What's up with the bench? Will the C's even have one?

A: They'll have one, for sure. How good will it be? That remains to be seen. The addition of Brandon Bass gives the C's a player with offensive skills comparable to Glen Davis. And Keyon Dooling will provide a much-needed defensive pressure at the point coming off the bench. But the key for the Celtics will be who among the big men invitees steps up and provides some relief for Jermaine O'Neal at center.

Q: Will Jeff Green be back?

A: Great question. You have to believe that the C's decision to sign-and-trade away Glen Davis for Bass, will increase the likelihood that Green accepts the Celtics' qualifying offer. Green's youth (25), versatility and athleticism are all qualities the Celtics are short on.

Q: Can the Celtics bring home Banner 18 this year?
A: As it stands now, it's unlikely that the Celtics will be the last team standing when all is said and done. But we've seen stranger things happen in the NBA. For the C's to beat the odds and win another NBA title, two things are absolute musts: stay relatively healthy and get players to outperform their contracts. The most likely players to do that are Jajuan Johnson, Boston's first round selection who will see minutes in the frontcourt behind Kevin Garnett; and Marquis Daniels, the kind of high-impact player off the Celtics bench, when healthy.

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

NEW YORK - Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBA announced the suspension Saturday, saying Noah tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 – something that can be found in over-the-counter supplements.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported the suspension.

Noah has not played since Feb. 4 and was likely to miss the Knicks’ final 10 games this season because of a knee injury. The NBA said Noah’s suspension will begin with the ”first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.”

Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract. He and the Knicks (27-45) have been a disappointment this season. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season, and has been limited to 75 games over the past two seasons.

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

BRIGHTON, Mass – Let’s start with the straight fact that it’s asinine, apologist drivel to let the Bruins off the hook, and perpetuate an off-the-mark myth there isn’t enough talent on the B's roster to be a playoff hockey team.

They are middle-of-the-road in the talent department to be sure, and the roster depth clearly isn’t what it was in their elite years, as the Bruins balance an aging core group with an influx of youthful talent from the next generation. But this is also a proud, talented group with one of the best all-around centers in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame defenseman in Zdeno Chara, a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and in-his-prime All-Star left winger in Brad Marchand, an emerging 20-year-old offensive superstar in David Pastrnak and a former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender still in his prime in Tuukka Rask.

That doesn’t even mention high-end players David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug that are game-changing talents in their own right.

Combine that with the other players on the Bruins roster and this is a team interspersed with proud Stanley Cup winning players and enough talent to still take care of business in the final eight games and punch their playoff ticket. Winning a Cup in 2011 can never be taken away from Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and Adam McQuaid, and neither can the seven straight seasons in the playoffs under Claude Julien.

But there’s a danger now of some late-in-the-game tarnish on Black and Gold legacies for some of those distinguished, proud players if they once again collapse down the stretch this season and miss the playoffs for the third year in a row with a late-season nosedive. Four consecutive regulation losses have cast doubt into everything for the Bruins and roused all the same old uncomfortable questions from the past three years.

Bergeron and Marchand need to find their best games and dominate the way elite players do in big-game situations like Saturday night vs. the Isles. Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano need to show they're ready for the playoffs.Rask needs to finally show he's ready to shine as a No. 1 goalie and lead his team to victory in a big game rather than buckle under weighty pressure. 

“This is their legacy, those guys. They are Stanley Cup champions and they missed last year. Each year we talk about writing our own story, and I believe that because guys come and go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “But generally there is a core group of guys and it’s their legacy. I’m sure they want to reach the playoffs and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender every year.

“That’s what they want and to a man I’m sure they would tell you that. I do believe that they believe it’s different [this season]. Until you change the course of your results, those questions are going to come. We have to change the results to make then go away. One week of not getting results that we want doesn’t mean we’re panicking, but we do understand what’s at stake. We want to be playing in April and May.”

If the Bruins can’t pull out a win on Saturday night against the Islanders, who just pushed even with them at 82 points on the season, then their playoff lives will no longer be under their own control anymore. It will become another late-season choke job by a team that will have its character and courage questioned. The highs of six years ago will be matched by the bitter lows of the past three seasons.

People won’t talk about a scrappy, little underdog Bruins team that just couldn’t get over the hump once again. Instead, they’ll lament a formerly proud, tough-minded group of hockey players that somehow turned into NHL tomato cans all too willing to play the victim once the going got tough late in the regular season.

That’s no way to go out if you’ve ever had your name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Bruins that know better should be taking that to heart right now.