OFFSEASON

The Big GM: Shaq to Orlando?

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The Big GM: Shaq to Orlando?

Yesterday afternoon, Shaquille ONeal released a statement claiming that he had turned down an opportunity to interview for the Orlando Magics vacant general manager position.

Well, I have it on authority that Shaq was lying. In fact, he did interview for the job on Thursday morning in a suite at Orlandos Disney Yacht Club Resort.

Magic chairman Dan DeVos was pulled away at the last second on urgent business, so he sent CEO Alex Martins and Senior Vice President Pat Williams to handle the interview.

If you guys think hes worthy, DeVos told them, Ill fly back for a second meeting.

The interview was set for 10 am.

Here's how it all played out:

(Shaq walks in at 10:15, wearing a big smile and a novelty Goofy hat.)
Shaq: Well, well. The great Pat Williams. The man who brought me into the league

(Williams reluctantly shakes ONeals hand)

Williams: Shaquille ONeal, the man who stabbed an entire city in the back

(There's a brief, awkward silence)

Shaq, Dan DeVos unfortunately couldnt make it. He sends his deepest apologies. And you know our CEO Alex Mart

(Martins grabs O'Neal's hand)

Martins: Mr. ONeal, great to see you again. Really looking forward to this conversation. And if you dont mind me saying: The Goofy bit? Fantastic!

Shaq: Thanks, Alex. Im very excited for the chance to serve the great community of Orlando. And please, Mr. ONeal was my father. You can call me: The Big Goof Troop.
Martins: (laughing hysterically) You get a load of this guy, Pat? Hey, can I get either of you something to drink before we start? Coffee? Soda? Glass of scotch?

Williams: Were OK, Alex.

Martins: Shaq, you sure? Just one glass?

ONeal: Im straight, Alex. I don't drink booze. Only Shaqahol.

Martins: (Hysterical laughter)

Williams: Shaq, we appreciate you coming in today. We know it's a crazy time of year, and we dont want this to take any longer than it has to, so Alex and I are going alternate asking you a few questions. Just to get a feel for where you stand on things. Then well break, bring Mr. DeVos up to speed and move on from there. Should we get started?

Shaq: Let's do it, fellas. Im all EARS!

(He starts jiggling his floppy Goofy ears. Martins spits coffee all over the table.)

Williams: OK. Well obviously you know the biggest problem facing our organization: What are we going to do about Dwight Howard? But before we get there, just for some perspective, tell me how you think weve handled his situation so far. Would you have done it differently? What would you have changed? Have you forgiven yourself for brutally crippling this franchise in 1996?

Shaq: Good one, Pat. But seriously, Im glad you asked about Dwight. The way I see it, in Dwight Howard you have a guy whos just trying to be me. You have a guy whos trying to call himself Superman. Whos trying to fake the funk on something I already dunked. And thats weak. That's what I like to call "fake toughness." People want to say that hes the most dominant big man in our league, but we all know thats just because there arent any big men of MY caliber. So um, yeah. Thats pretty much what Id do differently.

Williams: OK, but that doesnt really answer the ques

Martins: Easy there, Pat! That counts as a question. My turn now. Shaq, heres what I want to know: What was it like working with Nick Nolte in Blue Chips?

Shaq: Oh, you mean, two-time Shaqademy Award winner Nick Nolte?

Martins: Aha! I knew it! Cool dude?

Shaq: Nick Nolte is a legend. A great, great man.

Martins: Boom!

(He throws ONeal a fist bump)

All right. Back to you, Pat.

Williams: Umm OK. Shaq, I understand that you and Dwight havent always had the best relationship, but I should tell you that if we bring you on board, it would be with the expectation that you and him can work together. You see, weve already been screwed over by one seven-foot egomaniac, and were not ready to go through that again. That being said, were also realists. If Dwight ultimately wants out, well have to give him an out. So, put on your GM hat for a second

Martins: Nah, stick with the Goofy one!

Williams: Shaq, Im sorry about him. Please, just put on your GM hat, and pretend Im the GM of another team in the league. Any team. Your choice. Now I want you to give me a call and pitch a legitimate trade offer for Dwight Howard. Who do you think we can get? What do you think we need? How do you sleep at night? And action!

Shaq: OK, OK. We can do this.

(Speaking into an imaginary phone)

Hello, operator. Can you please connect me to Mitch Kupchaks office

(He winks at Williams)

Williams: Ring, ring. Hello, this is Mitch Kupchak.

Shaq: Mitch, this is Shaquille ONeal, the new GM of the Orlando Magic. How are you today?
Williams: Oh, hey there, Shaq. Hope all is well. Let me guess, youre calling about Dwight Howard?'
Shaq: Actually, no. Im just calling to say: Look at me now, bitch! Have fun rebuilding SUCKAAAAA!!!

(Shaq slams down the fake phone and high fives a cackling Martins. Williams is stunned)
Martins: All right, Shaq. Question No. 2 from me. Its a little personal, but I figure if were going to be working together

Would you mind signing this Kazaam poster for my son? Hes a huge fan.
Shaq: Oh, of course. Hand it over and I'll give it the old Shaq Hancock.
Martins: Ha!
Shaq: Whats your boy's name?
Martins: Alex.
Shaq: Alex Jr.?
Martins: Nope Just Alex. Pat?

(Williams is shaking his head. Beyond frustrated)
Williams: OK, last question from me: We need a coach. Any suggestions?
Shaq: Well, Pat. As you know, I had the pleasure of playing for many legendary coaches over my career. The great Dale Brown. The great Phil Jackson. The great Pat Riley. And they all played an integral role in me becoming the most complete, dominant and devastating big man of all time. But honestly, you can't help but wonder how different their legacies might have been if they'd never had the chance to coach Shaquille O'Neal I'll just leave at that.

Williams: Thank you, Shaq. That was enlightening. Anything else, Alex?

Martins: Me? Oh, I've heard enough. And I think I speak for the entire Magic organization when I say: Shaquille O'Neal, it has been a pleasure. You'll be hearing from us very soon.

(They all stand up, shake hands and Shaq leaves the room)

Martins: Soooo, pretty great, right?

(Williams gets up, pours himself a glass of scotch and walks away without saying a word. Martins, unaffected, leans back in his chair and takes a long, satisfying sip of coffee.)

The Big Goof Troop Ha!

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

OFFSEASON

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

You’re probably thinking the summer fireworks are finished after the Celtics brought back Tyler Zeller, added ex-Celtic Gerald Green, and signed rookies Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. It’s true, these moves do lower the likelihood of a multifaceted trade, but it doesn’t totally extinguish the odds of something seismic happening.

The Celtics still retain their flexibility, since none of these deals have actually been finalized. Even after they are, they’d still have the pieces required to make a deal work for a superstar like Blake Griffin. It’s not hard to make a valid trade for one player, but it is difficult if it’s a multi-step process like a Russell Westbrook renegotiate-and-extend trade.

“This is not necessarily what the team will be,” a source told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “There’s probably changes coming.”

Well, yeah. Changes have to come. The Celtics don’t really have a choice here.

Assuming Jaylen Brown is signed, they’ll have 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts. So at least three players will have to be exported before the season, since the NBA requires a maximum of 15 players on a roster.

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ current projected depth chart:

  STARTERS BENCH RESERVES ON THE BUBBLE
FRONT COURT Amir Johnson Kelly Olynyk Tyler Zeller  
Al Horford Jonas Jerebko Jordan Mickey Ben Bentil*
Jae Crowder Jaylen Brown* Gerald Green James Young
BACK COURT Avery Bradley Marcus Smart RJ Hunter John Holland*
Isaiah Thomas Terry Rozier Demetrius Jackson  

So, something has to happen. It’s just a matter of what. You can choose to believe the Celtics aren’t actually trying to make a blockbuster move. Or you can choose to believe the signals that have been firing off this month from the Celtics themselves indicating they’re “not done.”

It wouldn’t be difficult for the Celtics to get closer to 15 players by completing a blockbuster trade for a player like Griffin.
 
Perhaps some combination of veterans (Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Jerebko) with youth (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and James Young) and draft picks (2018 Nets pick) could bring in Griffin and Paul Pierce.

Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any transactions to follow.

Zeller is a bargain at just $8 million as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor. But, if Johnson were dealt, he’d be able to slide right up the depth chart as the team’s backup center.

Green shot 37.2 percent on spot up threes, per SportVU, over the past three years, so he provides spacing as a scorer who can catch fire. Considering Brad Stevens’ track record of sapping every ounce of talent out of each of his players -- hello, Jordan Crawford! -- it’s possible the Celtics will be getting the Green who scored an efficient 15.8 points per game just two years ago in Phoenix, and not the subpar Green who struggled to stay on the court last year in Miami.

If one or two of Boston’s young wings were dealt, Green, on a mere veteran minimum contract, would have an even easier path to playing time as a spark off the bench.

It’s difficult to read into the signings of second-round picks Jackson and Bentil, but either way the should both spend the season developing with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

The Celtics haven’t made a move yet, but they also haven’t done anything to suggest they’re entirely done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, or not. But at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

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Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

On a busy Saturday for the Celtics, they have brought back center Tyler Zeller and agreed to deals with draft picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported.

Earlier Saturday, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported that the Celtics will sign guard Gerald Green. 

Himmelsbach reports that Zeller's is a $16 million, two-year deal with the second-year not guaranteed. Jackson, the point guard from Notre Dame who was the 45th overall selection in the draft, has a guaranteed deal and Bentil, the forward from Providence who was the 51st player drafted, has a partially guaranteed deal. 

Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald reported that the second-year of Zeller's deal is a team option and that Green agreed to a one-year deal at the $1.4 million veteran mininum based on his nine years of NBA service.

The 7-foot Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes a game last season. 

R.J. Hunter, James Young, Bentil and John Holland are in position to fight for the final roster spot, Himmelsbach reports, pending more deals, which the Celtics are reportedly working on. A source told Himmelsbach, that while there are probably changes coming, "There is no big deal right now." 

Bulpett reported that Celtics' talks with the Philadelphia 76ers involving a deal for Sixers' big man Jahlil Okafor have, according to sources, grown "stale" and that the moves Saturday put 2014 draft pick James Young's roster spot in jeopardy.

With Green, Zeller, and No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have has 15 guaranteed contracts and three partial or non-guaranteed deals. 

 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.