Johnson has experience to make impact

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Johnson has experience to make impact

WALTHAM No one is expecting Boston Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson to come in and average 20 points and 10 rebounds right away, if at all. But unlike most of Boston's rookies in recent years, Johnson comes in with a realistic chance of seeing some playing time from Day One.

An All-American who was Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year at Purdue, Johnson comes in with the kind of pedigree that bodes well for an NBA newcomer.

Johnson became the fourth player to return to the Celtics' practice facility since the tentative agreement between the players and owners was reached which allowed for players to resume working out at practice facilities.

While he declined to speak with the media following his Saturday morning workout, he discussed in an earlier interview the transition he'll have to make from college to the pros.

"Everyone is bigger, stronger," he said. "I know it's not like college, anymore. But I'm coming in to help this team anyway I can."

Even though he's yet to have his first practice with the Celtics, it's a given that he'll be one of the Celtics' best big men at running the floor and finishing in transition. He can also score facing the basket and at times from the perimeter.

Defensively, he doesn't have the strength yet to hold his own in the paint with the NBA's elite big men, but his knack for blocking shots as a weak-side defender should fit in nicely with the defensive-minded Celtics.

However, with the lockout wiping out all of summer league and leaving the NBA with a shortened preseason, it's unlikely that there will be many rookies making much of an impact. Johnson's experience may give him an edge in terms of picking up the Celtics' way of doing things, quickly.

"He's a four-year college guy and he's very mature," said his agent, Bill Duffy, who also represents Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. "That will serve him very well in the transition."

Ditto for Boston's other pick in last June's NBA draft, fellow Boilermaker E'Twaun Moore.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, believes the experience factor will help both players adapt to the NBA sooner than some younger, less experienced players.

"It helps a lot," Ainge said of the experience. "These guys have improved a lot over the course of their college careers. They've played in a lot of big games, a lot of hostile environments. They've been ranked very high at times in their college career, been ones expected to win. They've been through a lot. That can only help as they get ready for the NBA."

Most players selected in the late-teens or early 20s, usually begin their careers fighting just to crack the regular rotation behind an established standout who logs 30-plus minutes a night.

Kevin Garnett, a player that Johnson has acknowledged that he greatly admired even before he became a Celtic, isn't going to have too many 30-minute or more nights.

As has been the case in recent years, Garnett's minutes will be monitored closely and aren't likely to tip much, if at all, past the 30-minute mark.

That means if Johnson comes in and establishes himself, he can be there as a backup to Garnett.

But that was just part of the reason why Duffy likes having Johnson a member of the Boston Celtics.

"It's one of the signature franchises in basketball," Duffy said. "As an agent, you always want to have a player in this market. You know they want to win, you know there's a lot of visibility. And we're really excited for JaJuan to be here. We think the next several years, he has a chance to have a very prominent role as the Big 3 they're older players now, so they do need to look for new blood, if you will. And the fact that having Rajon here who is such a great leader, we feel this is a great fit for JaJuan to develop more expediently than he might elsewhere."

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”