Ainge: Garnett decision to have very little impact on draft

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Ainge: Garnett decision to have very little impact on draft

WALTHAM Danny Ainge knew that the Boston Celtics would have stiff competition this summer for Kevin Garnett's services, the stiffest challenger being Father Time.

In his multiple conversations with Garnett since the C's season ended, Ainge said he has been given a sense that Garnett's decision will be between a return to Boston for an 18th NBA season, or retirement.

Because Garnett is eligible for an extension, Ainge has been able to speak freely with Garnett and his representatives leading up to free agency, which begins July 1.

Ainge said there's no deadline for Garnett to let the C's know what his intentions are, but Ainge added, "I'll know that by July 1. I'll be in communication with him, and have some sort of read on that."

If Garnett's decision doesn't come by then, Ainge acknowledged that it could put some of their plans this offseason on hold.

"The sooner we can get Kevin done, the better it would be for us, the sooner we would have an idea on what direction we need to go," said Ainge, the C's president of basketball operations. He added, "We don't want to rush him. We don't want to pressure him."

With a pair of first-round picks, the Celtics could look to add at least one big man who could help, but no one believes that a player in this draft, let alone a late first-round pick, could make up for the potential void left if Garnett decides to retire.

The best center most likely to still be on the board when the C's are on the clock at No. 21 and No. 22, is Syracuse's Fab Melo. Boston might also consider St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson, the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year who recently had his first workout with the Celtics.

While Garnett's uncertain status will weigh on all the moves being considered, Ainge said it will have "very little" impact on what the Celtics do on draft night.

"With us only having four guys under contract, we need every position filled," Ainge said.

Mickael Pietrus is also a free agent, and he has made it absolutely clear that he wants to return to Boston.

He has been in town the past few weeks working out, and is anxious for Sunday -- the first day of free agency -- to arrive.

But when it does finally get here, he understands the focus for Boston will be on two letters - KG - and two numbers - 1-8, as in Banner 18.

The two have had discussions since the season, with their talks most recently centering around soccer.

"We have a bet," Pietrus said from the Celtics' practice facility on Wednesday. "He's rooting for Germany. I'm rooting for Spain. So hopefully I collect on my bet Sunday, and he signs his new contract."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."