O'Neal says it's a contender or quits

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O'Neal says it's a contender or quits

WALTHAM Boston Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal wants to stay here and win an NBA title.

But if he's shipped out of Boston and winds up with a non-title contender, that may very well spell the end of his NBA career.

"If I'm not in Boston, I'm going to be somewhere where I can contend for a championship," he said. "If I'm not somewhere I can contend for a championship, then I'll be in the business world or come in and try to do what you're doing, do some interviews."

O'Neal has been the subject of a potential trade with the New Orleans Hornets that would net the C's two-time all-star David West.

Trade rumors come with the territory, says O'Neal.

"It's a business," O'Neal said. "We understand the position that these (team) presidents are in. They'll talk about anybody. If they have a chance on making the team better - in their opinion - they'll make a trade. You can't control those type of things. Just show up, come to work and focus on that."

O'Neal has had conversations with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge as well as C's head coach Doc Rivers regarding his future with the team.

He wouldn't discuss specifics from those conversations, but it's clear he is hoping for the best - staying in Boston - but being prepared for the worst which, for him, would be being traded to a bad team.

"If I go somewhere else, it won't be to a losing team," O'Neal said. "That just doesn't make any sense. It has to be a team that has an opportunity to win it. If not, then I'll focus more on my family and focus more on business."

While the deal being proposed would send him to New Orleans, he'll likely be shipped out immediately to another team.

O'Neal said he's "sure it would be a third team. They're (Hornets) not trying to get older. They're trying to build cap space and things like that. At this point in my career, any young team or team trying to get under the cap, wouldn't trade for me."

Getting rid of O'Neal seems a bit odd when you consider the Celtics do not have another center on the roster with NBA experience. However, Rivers alluded to the fact that the C's may not have a prototypical center in the starting lineup this season. If the West trade goes through, it's not out of the question to see Paul Pierce at small forward, West at power forward and Kevin Garnett start at center.

As much as trade talk seems to generate increased interest, O'Neal reiterated that his desire is to remain with the Celtics.

"That's the first option for me, to stay here," O'Neal said. "I'm getting comfortable with the guys, getting comfortable with the system. That's first and foremost. But you never want to act like you don't understand the business of the game. The business has changed dramatically over the last couple years, especially now where it's about making money (for teams) and saving money, and position yourself for future trades and stuff like that. It is what it is."

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”