Wilcox rediscovering winning feeling with Celtics

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Wilcox rediscovering winning feeling with Celtics

Chris Wilcox won the state 2A championship with his Whiteville High School (NC) team as a junior in 1999. He won the NCAA national championship with the Maryland Terrapins as a sophomore in 2002.

So what's he won in the NBA?

. . . (Crickets) . . .

Going into his 11th NBA season on his sixth team, Wilcox has yet to feel something literally half the players in the NBA feel each year: the playoffs.

It's not all his fault. After all, he was drafted by the Clippers a team that at the time was going nowhere, fast. That transition from a winning culture to a losing one was a shock.

"It was tough because growing up you're always on kind of a winning-type team, then all of a sudden you get to the league and your first year you don't win 20 games, then the next year you win like 22 games," Wilcox recalled. "And it's just like, 'Dang, I can't get a break,' you know what I mean? We got a good squad but we can't win nothing. And it was tough."

Those first two seasons would be a pretty good representation of how the next seven would be. Three-and-a-half seasons into his Clippers career, the team started to win some, but around that same time Wilcox had fallen out of favor with them. He was then traded to Seattle for Vladimir Radmanovic, but that trade was the first of many moves Seattle would make and not to better the team.

"Then it seems like OK, bam, I get my break and I go to Seattle, and as soon as I get to Seattle they break that whole team up, you know what I mean?" he said. "Then it's like boom. Then they move the team to Oklahoma, as soon as I get adjusted to Oklahoma, I get traded to New York (he was originally part of a package to playoff-bound New Orleans in a deal for Tyson Chandler, but Chandler failed the physical), and then Oklahoma goes to the playoffs. So then it's like alright here we go again."

Bam. Boom. A lot of sound signifying nothing. Statistically, Wilcox had his best years in Seattle the team just didn't win. He ended the 2008-09 season in a limited role on a bad Knicks team.

"When I got to New York, it didn't last long and then the end of the season, boom, that was over with. Then I get to Detroit (2009-11), they've been a winning program so I'm like, 'OK, bam, I finally get to go to the playoffs.' I get there . . . no playoffs. So it's just been tough for me, but finally I get to a situation where we have a chance to win it."

Wilcox once a proven winner wouldn't let the losses beat him down to the point where he accepted them and went through the motions, but his stats and his team's performance didn't always tell that story. While frantically piecing together a team in a lockout-shortened offseason last year, Danny Ainge gave Wilcox's agent a call. Doc Rivers knew he could get more out of him.

There would be no mistakes this time around: The Celtics were absolutely, 100-percent-without-a-doubt making the playoffs, and Wilcox looked to have a big role in it. Immediately that season he connected with C's point guard Rajon Rondo, and it was finally finally! going to happen: the playoffs.

"Last season, I get right there, and it's like, 'Hold up, you're not ready for it.' "

Another obstacle not a trade got in the way. Wilcox was diagnosed with an enlarged aorta. He needed surgery and would miss the rest of the season. The Celtics had no choice but to release him shortly after the news; they needed a body. Just like that, the playoffs escaped Wilcox again, this time in the unlikeliest of ways. But while he wasn't technically on the team, he found out that he was by no means on his own either.

"It takes you to go through something to realize what you really have in the end . . ." he said.

The Celtics and Wilcox agreed on a one-year deal for the veterans minimum in July. The decision to return was an easy one for him, but perhaps it was for a different reason than the first go-around.

"This is family to me," Wilcox said. "When I was at my lowest point in life, these were the guys that were with me, these were the guys that were calling, checking up on me making sure I was straight, making sure I had the right doctors, things like that. So I knew that there was no question that if they even called me there was no question that I was coming back, you know what I mean? Despite the money and everything, this is a more family-oriented team and this is what I wanted to be around."

It's taken 10 seasons and a heart condition, but Wilcox has finally found a team that he loves, one that loves him back.

And he'd love to make the playoffs with them, too.

Ingram, not Simmons, set to attend NBA Combine

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Ingram, not Simmons, set to attend NBA Combine

BOSTON – The list of players who will be in attendance at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago next week has been released.

And not surprisingly, there are some projected near the top of the NBA draft board who will not be in attendance.

LSU’s one-and-done stud Ben Simmons, projected to be among the top two players selected, will not be in attendance.

Joining Simmons among the more notable players who won’t be in Chi-town is Croatian big man Dragan Bender whose current team Maccabi Tel Aviv is still in the middle of their season. He is projected by most as being the third overall pick. 

Providence star guard Kris Dunn, projected as a top-10 pick, will be among those in attendance, as well as his Friars teammate Ben Bentil.

The Celtics usually cast a pretty wide net at the combine, but this year it’ll likely be even wider due to the fact that Boston has eight picks that represents 13.3 percent of the draft.

Boston has three first-round picks, with the first to be determined during the draft lottery later this month. The pick comes from Brooklyn, and will be no worse than the sixth overall selection.

The Celtics also have the 16th and 23rd overall picks in the first round, along with five (31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th) in the second round.

Here's the full list of prospects attending the NBA Combine:

Player College/Club
 Ron Baker Wichita State
 Wade Baldwin Vanderbilt
 Cat Barber North Carolina State
 Malik Beasley Florida State
 DeAndre Bembry St. Joseph's
 Ben Bentil Providence
 Jaron Blossomgame Clemson
 Joel Bolomboy Weber State
 Malcolm Brogdon Virginia
 Jaylen Brown California
 Robert Carter Maryland
 Marquese Chriss Washington
 Elgin Cook Oregon
 Isaiah Cousins Oklahoma
 Deyonta Davis Michigan State
 Cheick Diallo Kansas
 Kris Dunn Providence
 Henry Ellenson Marquette
 Perry Ellis Kansas
 AJ English Iona
 Kay Felder Oakland
 Dorian Finney-Smith Florida
 Michael Gbinije Syracuse
 Daniel Hamilton Connecticut
 AJ Hammons Purdue
 Josh Hart Villanova
 Nigel Hayes Wisconsin
 Buddy Hield Oklahoma
 Brandon Ingram Duke
 Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame
 Justin Jackson North Carolina
 Brice Johnson North Carolina
 Damian Jones Vanderbilt
 Skal Labissiere Kentucky
 Dedric Lawson Memphis
 Jake Layman Maryland
 Marcus Lee Kentucky
 Caris LeVert Michigan
 Thon Maker Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute
 Patrick McCaw UNLV
 Isaiah Miles St. Joseph's
 Jamal Murray Kentucky
 Malik Newman Mississippi State
 Georges Niang Iowa State
 Chinanu Onuaku Louisville
 Marcus Paige North Carolina
 Gary Payton II Oregon State
 Jakob Poeltl Utah
 Taurean Prince Baylor
 Zhou Qi Xinjiang (China)
 Malachi Richardson Syracuse
 Wayne Selden Kansas
 Pascal Siakam New Mexico State
 Diamond Stone Maryland
 Caleb Swanigan Purdue
 Melo Trimble Maryland
 Tyler Ulis Kentucky
 Jarrod Uthoff Iowa
 Denzel Valentine Michigan State
 Isaiah Whitehead Seton Hall
 Troy Williams Indiana
 Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga
 Stephen Zimmerman UNLV

Is Danny Ainge or Larry Bird a better NBA GM?

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Is Danny Ainge or Larry Bird a better NBA GM?

Danny Ainge and Larry Bird were both hired as NBA general managers in 2003. Ainge was back with the Celtics, where he spent the prime seasons of his playing career. And Bird went back to the Pacers, where he coached for three seasons.

There's no question that Bird was the better player. But who has been the better GM?

Trenni Kusnierek has a very interesting argument for why Ainge gets the edge. Watch the video above for her reasoning.

Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

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Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, a good friend of Brad Stevens, is out in Indiana.

Pacers president Larry Bird made the official announcement on Thursday.

Vogel’s contract was up in Indiana and Bird elected to not renew it. That, according to Bird, was hard for Vogel to hear.

Both Bird and Vogel spoke shortly before Bird’s press conference with members of the media, and that’s when Bird gave him the news.

There is speculation now as to who will take over as head coach. With Kevin McHale removing himself from consideration for the Sacramento Kings job, there was some thought that he could become the head coach of the Pacers under good friend and former teammate Bird.

That isn’t going to happen either.