Blakely: Celtics in the market for bigs . . . badly


Blakely: Celtics in the market for bigs . . . badly

LOS ANGELES For the Boston Celtics, rebounding has been an issue all season.

It becomes an even greater concern with Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) not expected back, and Chris Wilcox out indefinitely while waiting to have additional tests performed sometime this week on his heart after the findings from an earlier cardiac test raised a red flag that warranted further testing.

Without those two, the C's best (and only) big man off the bench is Greg Stiemsma.

And with the NBA trading deadline at 3 p.m. Thursday, it's no secret that the Celtics are indeed in the market to add another big man.

Rivers acknowledges the need, adding that he hopes a big man can be added without disrupting the team's current roster.

"You don't want to do anything silly, you really don't," Rivers said. "We're building for this year and the future. We're not going to do anything that's going to hurt either one of those. Obviously, we're looking to grab a big from somewhere; hopefully by not giving away a player, doing it another route."

The Celtics have a pair of first-round picks to dangle out there as possible trade bait. Boston may also dangle out a player or two off their bench, such as Keyon Dooling or Marquis Daniels who both have expiring contracts and have limited (Dooling) to non-existent (Daniels) roles off the Celtics bench currently.

Rivers has already said that the team is working under the assumption that O'Neal won't be back, and if he does return it would "be a bonus."

As for Wilcox, who has been one of the team's top reserves the past couple of weeks, his uncertain status has made it difficult for the C's to figure out what their next move should be, roster-wise.

"We don't know if he's coming back or not, and the (trading) deadline is coming up," Rivers said. "So the quicker we find out, obviously that helps us."

But even if Wilcox were healthy, the need for size remains.

"We need another one, regardless," Rivers said. "So we'll be out there. But I don't think there are a whole bunch of teams out there lining up to help the Celtics."

Rivers and Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, have said tapping into the D-League is also under consideration.

"Of course, they're in the D-League and there's probably a reason for that," Rivers said. "And usually there aren't a lot of bigs floating around the D-League. But we're going to look everywhere, wherever we can."

Sunday's game only reinforced how badly the Celtics need help on the boards if they are to have any shot at making a strong surge during the second half of the season and potentially make some noise in the playoffs.

The Lakers had an eight-rebound edge, which was a key to Los Angeles enjoying a 17-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Boston tried to counter the Lakers' size with speed, and at times it worked.

But late in the game, a time when the game tends to slow down and half court offense is the norm, Boston's greatest weakness - lack of size - shined brightly.

Even Kobe Bryant, who is as clutch a player to ever play the game, looked to 7-footer Andrew Bynum in the game's closing seconds instead of getting shots for himself.

To see Bryantlook for Bynum did not come as a surprise to Rivers.

"Listen, they looked at our team and saw our size," Rivers said. "I think they knew exactly where they were going before the game. They won't say it, but the two places they wanted to go was Bynum and (Pau) Gasol. Kobe's going to get his, regardless."

Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener


Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener

BOSTON – Marcus Smart’s sprained left ankle injury continues to heal, but the Celtics remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to his availability for the season opener on Wednesday against Brooklyn.
Smart sprained the ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holliday.
He was helped off the floor by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas along with head trainer Ed Lacerte.
Since the injury, the Celtics have been pleased with the healing progress of the ankle, the same ankle he sprained as a rookie which kept him out for several weeks.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart is no longer in a walking boot and continues to be day-to-day as he receives a steady diet of treatments to help speed up the healing process.
Smart will undergo a series of tests to determine the ankle’s strength, prior to getting any kind of clearance to play.
That’s why Stevens isn’t worried about Smart returning to the floor too soon.
“I trust our staff. Our staff and Marcus will make that decision well,” Stevens said. “Then I play guys, if they are available.”
Smart has established himself as one of the Celtics’ top reserves, with the ability to play both guard positions and some small forward depending on the lineup on the floor. The Celtics have to prepare for the possibility that he will not be able to play in the opener (or the first few games considering Boston opens with three games in four nights.

His absence would create more playing time for Terry Rozier in addition to likely resulting in extended minutes for starters such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
As eager as Smart is to get back on the floor, he and the Celtics are mindful of the big picture.
This team wants to make a deep playoff run and they’ll everyone – Smart included – to do so.
That’s why as much as Smart wants to get on the floor immediately, he has to remember – or be reminded of – that this is an 82-game season and his long-term value to this team and its goals can’t be taken for granted.

Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice


Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice

BOSTON - The Celtics got a bit of good news on the injury front with Kelly Olynyk being cleared for full contact.
The 7-foot center participated in most of the Celtics’ drills on Saturday, some of which included contact.
Olynyk said he had been doing some contact work prior to practice Saturday, but in a more controlled setting.
“I’m just trying to ramp it up a little bit more, every day,” Olynyk said. “Just trying to take a step in the right direction every day.”
Olynyk had surgery on his right shoulder in May with him expected to be out for at least five months.
Danny Ainge, C's president of basketball operations, recently said that he anticipated Olynyk returning sometime in the middle of November.
That would put his return about six months out from the time of surgery.

“He did a lot more than he has done,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ll see how he feels and progress at the appropriate rate after that.”
One of the strengths that Olynyk brought to the floor when he played was the ability to help space the floor because of his 3-point shooting.
Olynyk was not just a good 3-point shooter for a center, but one of the better 3-point shooters in the NBA last season when he connected on 40.5 percent of his 3s last season.  And it’s clear that last season was not a fluke, evident by him shooting 37.3 percent on 3s for his career.
However, the addition of Al Horford not only solidified the Celtics’ interior defense but also provides them with another stretch center.
Horford, who spent the past nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, shot 34 percent on 3s last season which at the very least, makes him a player that defenses have to respect when he’s outside of the 3-point line.