Pierce's knee '90-percent', excited for upcoming season

784764.jpg

Pierce's knee '90-percent', excited for upcoming season

Paul Pierce has been almost as quiet as Kevin Garnett has since the Celtics lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat.

But the captain sat down with Celtics.com's Molly McGrath recently to talk all things Celtics, including his health and the state of the team going into next season.

Pierce has every right to be proud of the way the team played in the second half and in the playoffs, but he notes that injuries eventually became their ultimate downfall. The loss of Chris Wilcox, Avery Bradley, and yes, even Jermaine O'Neal added up. Jeff Green missed the season, too. And Ray Allen and Pierce were both hobbled throughout the postseason.

Pierce admitted that his sprained MCL bothered him over the last "10 to 15 games" in the postseason, but it's improving.

"The knee is a lot better," Pierce said. "It's not completely healed, but I figure I'm about 90-percent now so I've bend owing a lot of things to strengthen it so I can come back a stronger player. It really hampered me the last 10 to 15 games of the year, I couldn't explode like I wanted to. But everybody is hurt at that point in the year, everybody is dealing with some kind of nagging injury. So that's why I didn't really ponder too much on it or express upon it too much during the playoffs because I know everybody is dealing with injuries and I know that's just another excuse."

With Pierce expected to be healthy going into the season, the C's look like top contenders in the East with the re-signings and additions to the squad. Count Pierce as thrilled with the new-look C's.

"I love what Danny's been able to do," Pierce said. "It was a tough decision this summer. I know a lot was riding on what direction we were going to head and I think it was domino effect. Once we signed Kevin we knew we were going to try to make another run at it. Once we signed him a number of guys were able to jump on board. I thought Danny did a good job of trying to replace Ray Allen. As you know, Ray Allen went off to Miami on his choice. But he was a great teammate, it was fun playing with him. But I think the guys that are coming in here with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, trying to get a healthy Jeff Green, even some of our rookies, I think we've added a lot more depth and it's going to really take a lot of pressure off of me I think this upcoming season."

It should also take some pressure off of Garnett, a player the Celtics made sure to target first and foremost the second they were allowed to. KG's agreement to a three-year deal signaled that Boston wasn't ready to roll over and die -- quite the opposite actually.

"He's everything to us moving forward and trying to win a championship," Pierce said of Garnett. "If you don't bring Kevin back then you never know what direction the team is going to head in. You're probably talking about rebuilding, they probably would have looked to trade me at some point. There were rumors throughout the season when we weren't playing well. So just having Kevin back really told everybody what direction we want to head in and moving forward and trying to win another championship.

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas stood before the media throng on Friday afternoon at the Celtics’ practice facility and answered all the questions with the usual truthful tone sprinkled with a bit of humor.
 
But you could sense that he was still bitter about the results announced by the NBA on Thursday as to who will be the starters in next month’s All-Star Game.
 
Cleveland’s LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler were the frontcourt starters announced by the league. In the backcourt you will find Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who finished in a tie with Thomas in this first season in which fans, media and players all have a say in who will be the game’s starting five, as opposed to past seasons in which the starters were chosen strictly by fans.
 
DeRozan and Thomas finished in a tie under the voting system, but DeRozan moved ahead of Thomas due to a tie-breaker (fan vote), in which DeRozan had about 41,000 more votes than Thomas.
 
“It’s not the end of the world; it’s all good,” said Thomas. “I was disappointed, but those guys deserve it as well. I did everything I could in my control to put myself in position to be a starter. It’s not the end of the world.”
 
Especially knowing that the coaches will vote him on to the team for the second year in a row.
 
But for Thomas to be even in the conversation speaks to how the league’s new system of choosing All-Star starters, makes the whole choosing of starters about more than just a popularity contest, which is the irony of Thomas being left off the starting five – it ultimately came down to DeRozan receiving more votes from fans than Thomas.
 
“I didn’t really look at it. I didn’t look at what the reason was, but it is what it is,” Thomas said. “I’ll use it as motivation. I have to get better. That’s all I took out of that. I’m not where I want to be.”
 
Thomas finished fourth in fan voting for the starting nod, but was second among players and first among Eastern Conference guards among the media.
 
“I appreciate everybody who voted for me, especially you [media] guys,” Thomas said. “The media showed me some love and then my peers showed me love too.”
 
But as far as coming so close to being an All-Star starter and not making it, Thomas said, “It hurts but I’ll be alright. I’ll use it as motivation and keep going.”
 
Thomas is having a banner season that has elevated his name and game into the conversation for the league’s MVP award that so far is being led by Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
He averages 28.7 points per game, which is tops among Eastern Conference players and fourth overall. 

Among his more notable accomplishments this season, he scored a franchise-record 29 points in the fourth quarter of a win over Miami, and in the same game, wound up scoring a career-high 52 points.
 
Thomas isn’t the only NBA player who has had a season that most would believe would result in him being an All-Star starter.
 
“You look in the west, [Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook] averages a triple-double and he didn’t get in [to start],” Thomas said. “I guess…I’ll let everybody debate for me and argue for me. Those guys that made it who start, they deserved it.”
 

NBA reaches seven-year labor agreement with players' union

NBA reaches seven-year labor agreement with players' union

When was the last time you saw any labor contract — not just the NBA, not just pro sports, but in any business — get done before either side could opt-out, let alone the actual deadline?

That’s what happened with the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The teams had until Dec. 15 of last year to opt out, with the real deadline for a new deal being July 1 of this year. Yet the two sides reached a deal before either side even opted out.

Thursday the NBA and National Basketball Players’ Association announced that the new CBA had been signed. It’s a seven-year deal that kicks in July 1.

Click here for the complete story.