Pietrus: 'My heart is still for Boston'


Pietrus: 'My heart is still for Boston'

ORLANDO, Fla. - Mickael Pietrus is well aware of Ray Allen's decision to sign with the Miami Heat instead of returning to the Boston Celtics for what would have been a sixth season.

In choosing the Heat, Allen signed for significantly less money than he would have received if he had returned to Boston.

Ironically, Pietrus may find himself in a similar dilemma if he returns to the team he desperately wants to play for - the Celtics.

Although the 30-year-old wing has yet to receive another offer, there's a good chance that another team will be willing to pony up more than the C's initial offer.

That leaves Pietrus to work towards Plan A an B.

Plan A being to return to Boston, while B would be to prepare as though that might not happen.

"It's up to Danny (Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations)," Pietrus told CSNNE.com in a phone interview on Saturday. "It's not up to me. You know my heart is still for Boston. I still want to be there and bring home Banner 18."

Allen's departure certainly makes that a more realistic possibility.

But the Celtics have their eyes set on a number of possible replacements for Allen, a pool of talent that includes but is not limited to, Pietrus.

"There will be a lot of good players looking for work this summer," Ainge said.

The C's are likely out of the price range for O.J. Mayo and Louis Wiliams who are both free agents and still in search of a team.

Boston does have a shot at landing players such as Courtney Lee, Josh Howard and former Celtic Gerald Green who are all free agents that should come at a more reasonable price than the Mayo's and Williams' of the world.

Meanwhile, Pietrus will be as patient as he can be, hoping that his agent Bill McCandless gets a call from Ainge offering a contract.

McCandless told CSNNE.com that he had a "very cordial" conversation with Ainge on Friday, and had plans to talk with other teams this weekend.

"Mickael wants to come back to Boston," McCandless said. "The Celtics know this; their fans know this. Everyone knows. It's just a matter of whether we can get a deal done to make that happen."

Like Allen, Pietrus underwent offseason surgery to correct an injury (right knee) that had been nagging him all season.

Pietrus had surgery previously on the same knee, but his recovery proved to be problematic which was in part why the Phoenix Suns bought him out and thus allowed him to join with the Celtics. In his lone season in Boston, Pietrus became an instant hit with his teammates and Celtics Nation in part by correctly predicting the C's would eventually make a strong playoff run despite a less-than-stellar start to the season.

They did just that, advancing all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before being eliminated in seven games by the Heat.

Although Pietrus' energy and as Doc Rivers puts it, "great spirit" were positives for the ball club, his struggles physically with the knee limited his impact at both ends of the floor.

"I was never 100 percent all year," Pietrus acknowledged. "Next couple weeks, I'll start running and start basketball and doing what I do in the summertime to get better. And with my knee better, I should be a decent player."

Having had surgery on his right knee on June 13, Pietrus is confident he can regain his pre-injury form and help the Celtics make another deep playoff run which he still believes will end with another title in Boston.

"The team goal - Banner 18 - that's what I'm about," Pietrus said. "That's what I want."

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told CSNNE.com. “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation


Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation

BOSTON – You’ll have to pardon Terry Rozier if he doesn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look about him when he takes to the floor tonight for what should be the first of many meaningful stretches of playing time.
You see, being harassed with the defensive pressure of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart while trying to become a pest to Isaiah Thomas (which I’m told Rozier is frequently in practice), has instilled in Rozier the kind of confidence that’s not easily shaken.
That’s one of the main reasons why the Celtics aren’t freaking out about the departure of Evan Turner to Portland this offseason and more recently the sprained left ankle injury to Marcus Smart that’ll keep him out for a few games.
When it comes to filling those two voids, all eyes will be on Rozier.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next guy has to step up,” Thomas said. “Terry has shown he’s ready for that opportunity. He’s worked very hard this summer. I’m proud of him. I’ve been in that position before. He’s been waiting for that opportunity. He’s ready.”
Rozier had an impressive run during summer league as Boston’s best player. And in training camp, he hasn’t let up in being one of the standout performers.
It has led to the second-year guard being exactly where he thought his hard work in the offseason would take him to, and that’s a prominent spot in the Celtics’ rotation.
And in doing so, Rozier knows it’ll likely mean taking some minutes from his veteran teammates like Isaiah Thomas who he credits for always being there to help him grow as a player.
“I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “Getting his (Thomas’) minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It certainly looks like it for Rozier who has shown growth in just about every phase of his game since he was selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
There were many who questioned Danny Ainge’s decision to draft a guard so high when he already had Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in the fold.
But Rozier has shown the promise that Ainge saw in him coming out of Louisville.

Now it’s just a matter of Rozier getting the kind of minutes and producing, that will ultimately validate the trust and faith Ainge and his coaching staff showed in selecting Rozier.
For Rozier, not being looked upon all that favorably is just par for the course when it comes to his basketball career.
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was when I came here; that’s fine. They’ll fall in love with me and my game sooner or later.”