Green soaking in every moment with Celtics


Green soaking in every moment with Celtics

WALTHAM The first day of practice can be a drag for many NBA players.

Not for Jeff Green, who was fighting a losing battle in trying to hide his ear-to-ear grin.

"It was hard," said Green, still trying (and failing miserably) to mask a smile. "I was trying not to smile too much in practice, keep a straight face."

Can you blame him?

The 6-foot-9 forward inked a four-year, 36 million deal with the C's this summer, which is enough right there to be giddy.

But when you consider what he has gone through this past year and how this was his first training camp with the Celtics, being in a jovial mood makes sense.

After being acquired midway through the 2010 season from Oklahoma City, Green had to sit out all of last season after a routine physical showed an abnormality with his heart. That ultimately led to the one-year, 9 million contract he signed being voided, in addition to him needing season-ending heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

Months of rehabilitation and workouts followed, bringing Green to the Saturday where he was ready to go all-out - literally.

Throughout the C's first practice, Green was doing what he does best - run the floor - which caught the eye of many, including head coach Doc Rivers.

While Rivers was pleased with the conditioning of most of his players, Green stood out.

"Jeff looked great," Rivers said. "He had one of the better practices. His conditioning was phenomenal. I thought that was great."

Even if he struggled, just being back on the floor is a blessing that Green does not take for granted.

He acknowledged that there was a point in which he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to return to the NBA.

Green is not only back, but he's seemingly in even better health than before the surgery.

That bodes well for Green being able to have the kind of major impact off the bench that he and the C's are hoping for.

One way of helping make that happen would be to cut down Paul Pierce's minutes, something Rivers said he will look into trying to do this season.

Pierce, who has averaged at least 34 minutes per game in each of his 14 NBA seasons, said he has no problem with Green getting some of his playing time.

"He's a guy that makes our lineup so much more versatile," Pierce said. "He can switch from the 3 (small forward) to the 4 (power forward), or he can make us a big lineup with him at the 3 and me at the 2 (shooting guard)."

Green said he spent most of Saturday's practice primarily at the small forward position.

But there's no question that with Rivers wanting to play more "small ball" this year, there will be times and lineups in which Green will be called upon to play multiple positions.

Green is clearly more comfortable at small forward.

Considering all that he has gone through this past year, being on the court is a reward in itself.

"I've gone through the tough times and I beat it," Green said. "Now I'm in great condition; my game is getting right and I'm just happy to play basketball."

Green added, "The surgery is behind me. Good times in front of me."

Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate


Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, a good friend of Brad Stevens, is out in Indiana.

Pacers president Larry Bird made the official announcement on Thursday.

Vogel’s contract was up in Indiana and Bird elected to not renew it. That, according to Bird, was hard for Vogel to hear.

Both Bird and Vogel spoke shortly before Bird’s press conference with members of the media, and that’s when Bird gave him the news.

There is speculation now as to who will take over as head coach. With Kevin McHale removing himself from consideration for the Sacramento Kings job, there was some thought that he could become the head coach of the Pacers under good friend and former teammate Bird.

That isn’t going to happen either.

Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?


Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA Draft, nobody has the flexibility to address a need the way the Celtics can this year.
If you are a draft-eligible player expected to be among the 60 names called next month, you are within the Celtics’ reach of being drafted.
That’s what having eight draft picks (three in the first round and five in the second) can do for you.
And while the Celtics have lots of needs, here’s a look at five specifically that they can address through the draft, and the best players to fill those voids.
5. Undervalued talent: Marquese Chriss
Getting players whose talent exceeds where they are drafted is certainly something the Celtics would love to do in a year when they have so many picks. Marquese Chriss of Washington could be that player. He’s a 6-9 forward who in this small-ball era in the NBA, can play both forward positions and have a matchup advantage at both spots. He’s targeted to be selected in the middle of the first round which makes him a prime target of the Celtics who could tab him with their second, first-round selection which will be the 16th overall pick.
4. Rim Protection
You have to give the Celtics props for having a defense that ranked 4th in the NBA despite no legit rim protector other than 6-9 Amir Johnson. As good as Johnson was, the Celtics need to add at least another player or two with rim protection as their strength. Enter Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis. He’s limited offensively in terms of what he can do, but his knack for blocking/altering shots, lateral quickness, vertical leap and overall strength makes him a force in the middle. He too is a player Boston has to give some thought to selecting if he’s still on the board (he’s considered a possible late-lottery pick) when it’s time for the Celtics to choose at No. 16.
3. Defensive versatility
One of the reasons Boston’s defense was so good this season was because of its ability to make defensive switches and it not create huge mismatches. Having players with the talent and skill to defend multiple positions will remain something the Celtics will also value on draft night. That’s why Jaylen Brown of Cal could be in the mix depending on where the pick Boston gets from Brooklyn, eventually falls. If it’s outside of the top-4, Brown becomes a viable possibility. He gets props for his strength and ability to use it as a means of scoring. But NBA teams are just as excited about his potential as a defender, already possessing an NBA-ready body with the tools to potentially defend all three perimeter positions.
2. Wing scoring
The Celtics ranked 11th in 3-pointers taken per game (26.1) but only 28th in 3-point percentage (.335) which shows that they were getting plenty of long-range shots but unable to make them with any consistency. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield could change all that. He was hands-down the best shooter in college basketball this past season. And with him being a senior, he’s more likely to come in and make an immediate impact than many of his younger draft brethren who are judged more on potential than proven work. If the Celtics wind up with a top-3 pick, Hield would be a bit of a stretch. But if Boston is on the clock with the No. 4, 5 or 6th pick, he should be on their short list of possible targets.
1. Superstar potential
The best shot Boston has of landing that superstar they’ve longed for, is to land the top overall pick. And with that pick, there’s a growing consensus that Duke’s Brandon Ingram should be that guy rather than LSU’s Ben Simmons. Ingram has a game that in many ways is reminiscent to a young Kevin Durant. But at this stage, Ingram is a better 3-point shooter (he shot 41 percent on 3s in his lone season at Duke) which is one of the many areas Boston could use a boost through the draft.

Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'


Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

If you know anything about basketball in the 1980s and early 1990s, you know it was a physical game. And in the playoffs, that physicality multiplied.

The Boston Celtics were no exception to that. There are countless highlights of Celtics players getting into it with their opponents, but perhaps the most famous incident was when Kevin McHale clothelined the Lakers' Kurt Rambis in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was a member of that team, and discussed that play on Thursday morning with the guys from the Toucher and Rich Show.

“I remember that we were at shootaround the morning of the Kevin McHale / Kurt Rambis clothesline incident,” Ainge said. “They had just beat us by 30 . . . it was Hollywood showtime Lakers all the way and we were humiliated. We came to practice the next day and we had some guys chirping about that, like, ‘We have to take some hard fouls. We cannot let these guys fast break over us and dunk on us in transition. We have to take some hard fouls.’ And I said to the whole team, I like screamed at them, I said, ‘Hey listen, I’m booed in every arena in this league because I’m the only guy who takes hard fouls. I need some of you guys to take some hard fouls. And sure enough Kevin clothelined Kurt Rambis and that was sweet.”