Johnson listens to advice KG has to offer

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Johnson listens to advice KG has to offer

BOSTON Full-time emotional catalyst. Part-time 3-point shooter.

Kevin Garnett wears many hats for the Boston Celtics.

But his greatest contributions have little to do with his numbers, or even the Celtics winning games.

It has to do with his leadership, his accountability and willingness to portion off a few swigs from his fountain of basketball knowledge, and sprinkle a few of those drops here and there on the C's younger players who have proven themselves worthy of Garnett's tutelage.

No player among the youngsters seems to embrace the 'Book of Kevin' more than JaJuan Johnson.

From the moment he was traded to the Celtics on draft night, Johnson talked about wanting to learn as much as possible from Garnett.

Having heard how Garnett would tune young players out who weren't willing to listen, Johnson was emphatic during a recent interview with CSNNE.com that he was not going to be that player.

"He's one of the greatest to ever play the game," Johnson told CSNNE.com. "That's just dumb to not want to hear what advice he has to tell you. I'm looking at the big picture, and that's being in the NBA for a long time. Guys like KG, Paul (Pierce), Ray (Allen), they've been great in helping me and the other young guys."

But there is something different about the relationship between Garnett and Johnson.

Part of it has to do with them playing the same position. Both have the ability to stretch defenses with their shooting, in addition to making mid-range shots or scoring around the basket. And then there's the fact that both players are really focused on being great defenders.

"Like I said, when Kevin talks, I listen," Johnson said. "He's really been good to me."

And to a certain degree, you can say Johnson has been good for Garnett.

If you spend enough time around KG, it's clear that his passion for the game won't go away when he stops playing. In Johnson, there is the hope and promise that all the things that Garnett values - leadership, accountability, work ethic - will continue to play out in Johnson's career.

Make no mistake about it.

Garnett spends quality time with all of the Celtics' young players. Even when young players like Semih Erden are traded and return to face Boston, Garnett is one of the first players they seek out.

"KG, was very good to me when I was in Boston," Erden told CSNNE.com earlier this month when the Celtics hosted Erden's new team. "He talk with me a lot, help me become better player. He's good guy."

As much as Garnett appreciates the desire of young players like Johnson to learn and listen, there comes a time when a young player's voice has to be heard.

Garnett believes that time is now, for Johnson.

"I do encourage him to speak up a little more because I can't read minds," Garnett said. "And use the guys in here. I always tell him that you have a lot of guys in here with a lot of different experiences. You should get to know them."

Johnson has done that.

But in the end, Garnett remains his greatest influence.

For Garnett, he's simply doing what previous generations of NBA players did for him.

"When I do have the young boys on the plane, when I have them individually, I just like to talk to them about just life, this league and the journey and all that," Garnett said. "So I open up to them a little bit from that standpoint. Just about NBA life; it can be difficult for young guys. I don't think it's enough veterans out here on teams, to speak and guide some of these young guys and let them know how important hard work is. Having a work ethic, love for the game, respect for the game, respect for yourself, respect for your family, those things. I'm sort of that on this team."

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Phil Kessel emotional about reaching Stanlery Cup Final

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Haggerty's Morning Skate: Phil Kessel emotional about reaching Stanlery Cup Final

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while picking the San Jose Sharks over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

*Patrick Lalime hopped on sports radio in Ottawa, and said the Chris Phillips/Zdeno Chara defense pairing was the best he ever played behind.

 

*Don Cherry had a major problem with Steven Stamkos suiting up and playing in the losing Game 7 to the Penguins.

 

*Phil Kessel gets pretty emotional about finally getting to the Stanley Cup Final after years of struggle in Toronto.

 

*USA Today’s Kevin Allen says the gap between the No. 1 goaltender and the backup isn’t what it used to be.

 

*Speaking the Sharks, the trip back to Pittsburgh for the Cup Final brings back memories for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

 

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) writer has the news about Dustin Brown getting stripped of the captaincy with the LA Kings.

 

*Bryan Rust was in the AHL to start this season, but much like Mike Sullivan and Matt Murray he killed it for the Penguins in the playoffs.

 

*For something completely different: It’s official that moving Jackie Bradley Jr. in the lineup wasn’t what killed his hitting streak.

Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

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Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

As expected, Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Red Sox on Tuesday in Baltimore and Clay Buchholz will go to the bullpen, manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto.

The move became apparent after Buchholz (2-5, 6.35 ERA) struggled again Thursday night, allowing three two-run home runs in an 8-2 loss to the Rockies.

Rodriguez, who hurt his knee in spring training, has yet to pitch for the Red Sox this season. The left-hander, who was 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie last season,  made three rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. 

"The bottom line is the results, and there's been a strong precedent set with that," Farrell said of Buchholz in annoucning the move. 

Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

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Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

BOSTON – Celtics fans are slowly but surely getting over the disappointment of the team not landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery earlier this month.
 
As cool as that would have been, the conference finals serve as a reminder that while having the top pick can be a good thing, most teams have to take a different route when it comes to getting on track towards and NBA title.
 
Of the four remaining teams in the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the only one that has truly been elevated to their current lofty status courtesy of landing the number one overall pick (first with LeBron James back in 2003 and more recently with Kyrie Irving in 2011).
 
That means the rest of the remaining field built their way up into an NBA power relying on a combination of making wise draft picks and shrewd additions via free agency and trades.
 
So much of that has to do with leverage, something the Celtics have plenty of on all three fronts.
 
They have the potential to free up enough salary cap space to sign a pair of max players, a first for this franchise. Boston also has eight draft picks in next month’s draft (three in the first round, five in the second), the most of any team leading up to the draft since it went to a two-round system in 1989.
 
Those picks plus a roster full of really good but not great talent, gives them the kind of ammunition to pull the trigger on a trade that could add that much-needed All-Star caliber talent.
 
But it’s like a high school chemistry experiment as the Celtics try to figure out the right combinations to avoid having it all blow up in their face.
 
For now, the emphasis has to be on the June 23 draft.
 
A big part of that planning process involves figuring out what to do with the No. 3 pick, the highest selection the Celtics have had since they took Jeff Green (and traded him that night) with the fifth overall selection in 2007.
 
If the Celtics keep the pick, it will certainly bring about some controversy regardless of who they select.
 
By taking Dragan Bender of Croatia, the Celtics will be selecting the youngest player in the draft (he turns 19 in November) who may take years to develop into a legitimate contributor.
 
Selecting Providence College’s Kris Dunn, arguably the best perimeter defender in this draft, seems a bit redundant considering all the guards Boston has under contract whose strengths are essentially the same as Dunn’s.
 
Buddy Hield of Oklahoma is another option. He’s the best shooter in this draft, but doesn’t provide much other than scoring. Is that really worthy of a No. 3 overall pick?
 
Regardless of who the Celtics take with the No. 3 pick (and that’s assuming they keep it and not trade it away which is indeed an option), one thing we know for sure.
 
History tells us that if the Celtics keep the pick, he will wind up being a pretty good player.
 
In the past 20 years, the No. 1 overall pick has produced 12 All-Stars.
 
Among top six picks in that same span of time, the No. 3 selection has generated the second-highest number of All-Stars (8), while the No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 picks each had five All-Stars.
 
That’s important to note because the need to have multiple All-Stars is paramount to a team’s chances at making a deep playoff run.
 
Take a look at the four remaining teams.
 
There’s the defending champion Golden State Warriors, whose roster includes a quartet of current (Stephen Curry; Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) and former All-Stars (Andre Iguodala).
 
Cleveland’s roster includes a similar breakdown of recent (LeBron James; Kyrie Irving; Kevin Love) and not-so-recent (Mo Williams) All-Stars.
 
And then there’s Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook) and Toronto (Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan) who each have a pair of All-Stars.
 
For Boston, the team's lone All-Star is Isaiah Thomas, who knows all too well that he can’t carry this team to a deep, meaningful playoff run without getting some All-Star caliber help.

The top two picks in this year’s draft – Duke’s Brandon Ingram and LSU’s Ben Simmons – are head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class, but the Celtics are in a good spot if you’re talking about adding a key piece to a potential title contender.