Ainge: Injuries may alter short-term plan


Ainge: Injuries may alter short-term plan

BOSTON Danny Ainge was already searching high and wide for ways to bolster the Boston Celtics' roster.

Now with Jared Sullinger out for the season following back surgery, it's basically a matter of what type of deal he's able to pull off prior to the Feb. 21 trading deadline.

The Celtics have been sifting through the list of players they suspect might be available to trade for as well as players still without a team.

Although the best player available mentality is still in play, the focus now has to shift almost exclusively towards adding a big man.

"It (Sullinger's injury) might have some affect on what we do now," admitted Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations. "But it's not going to have an affect on what we do long term."

In other words, teams looking to give up talent attached with a toxic (read: long and bloated) contract are not realistic options under consideration by the Celtics.

Instead, look for the C's to focus their sights on players with expiring deals, or contracts with a decreasing value attached to them after this season.

Ainge wouldn't rule out adding a player or two that's currently a free agent as well.

One free agent option that remains available is Kenyon Martin. However, league sources indicated on Friday that the C's have not expressed any interest in adding the former all-star recently and even with Sullinger's injury, it appears that's not going to change.

And while Ainge's focus remains on doing what he can to bolster the Celtics roster, he remains confident that the C's have enough to continue winning games.

Despite the injuries to Sullinger and Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL), the C's have won three in a row.

"I'm not ready to cave in yet? You kidding?" Ainge said. "It's going to take more than that. We'll just have to win in a different way. Jared's our best rebounder. We don't have to play that way. We're going to have to win in a different way without Jared and without Rajon. We'll see what we have."

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – At the end of Tuesday’s practice, the Boston Celtics donned a new-look jersey that was, well, quite colorful compared to the green-and-white clad uni-tops they usually wear.
It was in support of longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is currently fighting the good fight in a three-year-battle with leukemia, as well as the SagerStrong foundation.
The NBA on TNT, Nike and the Golden State Warriors will honor the 65-year-old Sager on opening night with Sager-inspired t-shirts, shirts that the Celtics wore on Tuesday followed by a team picture in which all the players as well as Boston’s coaches and support staff, yelled "Sager strong."
“A guy that means a lot to this game of basketball, a guy that means a lot to the NBA, the NBA family,” said Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas in describing Sager. “We wish him well, praying for him and his family daily.”
The shirts were inspired by the outfit he wore when he accepted the Jimmy Valvano Award at the ESPYs this past summer.
“The shirts are nice; look like something he would wear,” Thomas said with a grin. “I wouldn’t wear it, but I know he would.”