Billups to Boston? It's possible

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Billups to Boston? It's possible

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK All indications are that the New York Knicks plan to keep Chauncey Billups around for next season.

But in case they have a change of heart, a number of teams would be in the running for his services . . . including the team that drafted him, the Boston Celtics.

Billups is due 14.2 million next season, which will become fully guaranteed if he's not waived within five days of the season ending. If he is waived, he will be owed 3.7 million and can then sign with any team he wants.

As far as whether he would be interested in re-joining the Celtics, Billups was non-committal.

"That's something that I'll answer if that comes about," Billups told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics eliminating the Knicks from the playoffs with a 101-89 win on Sunday. "I'm not going to jump up and talk about that now, because I'm not available."

Billups is known for coming up with big shots in the playoffs -- hence the nickname, Mr. Big Shot.

However, the Knicks never really got a chance to see that because of a left knee injury he suffered near the end of New York's Game 1 loss to the Celtics.

When asked whether he thought that might be a factor in the Knicks' decision to waive him, Billups said, "I don't know. I don't think so. It's not like I'm really that injured; I just got a problem. But this will get better soon, and won't be an issue moving forward."

The prospect of Billups back with the Green team is an intriguing one.

While the addition of a veteran, championship-caliber backup for Rajon Rondo would certainly strengthen their roster, the Celtics also understand that there is a need to develop young, talented players for the future.

Adding a player like Billups, for example, may to some degree stunt the growth of Avery Bradley who spent the bulk of his rookie season on the bench and with the C's D-League affiliate in Maine.

But adding Billups might be just what the C's need to convince Doc Rivers to come back for one more season as the Celtics' coach.

And Kevin Garnett, maybe more than anyone, would benefit from having Billups around.

The two struck up a friendship when they played together in Minnesota, and have remained close ever since.

In fact, it was Billups and current assistant coach Tyronn Lue (then with the Atlanta Hawks) who helped convince Garnett to be open to being traded from Minnesota to Boston.

Regardless of what the Knicks do with Billups' contract, he is a proven talent that can help a team both as a starter and as a talented backup.

"You know me; I just want to win," Billups said. "All that other stuff, I'm done with that. It's all about competing and winning championships for me."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Waltham, mass. – Kelly Olynyk is in a good place right now. 

He’s playing a key role on one of the top teams in the NBA, doing more than just stretch the floor with long-range jumpers and 3-pointers. He has been a solid positional defender most of his time in the NBA, but lately he has become one of the team’s best rebounders … really!

But more than anything, Olynyk is in the best shape of his career both mentally and physically, delivering strong play in several categories.

“When he plays aggressive and with confidence, that’s when he’s at his best,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. 

And lately, the best of Olynyk has been in steady rotation for the Celtics who will host the Phoenix Suns tonight. 

Olynyk attributes his recent strong play to seizing his opportunity to help the Celtics in what has been a season-long area of weakness. The fourth-year big man is a threat to score from 3-point range whenever he’s on the floor. Because of that, teams are overly concerned about his long-range shooting which has allowed him to be an effective driver into the paint and finisher around the rim. 

He has also benefited by being healthy, something he could not say was the case on the eve of the Celtics’ postseason run last season which ended in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks. Olynyk was hampered by a sore right shoulder injury that limited him in the playoffs against Atlanta, and later required surgery which sidelined him for the start of this season. 

But those pain-filled days where he gave more thought to his shoulder rather than shouldering a greater load for the Celtics, are behind him now. 

“It’s something that I had to deal with and I had to get surgery,” Olynyk said. “Now it feels better than it has. I feel strong, confident, ready to roll.”

Boston has won five of its last six games, and the play of Olynyk off the bench has been among the reasons for the team’s latest run of success. In those six games, Olynyk has averaged 10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting a team-high 64.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range in 20.5 minutes per game – all better than his season average in those respective categories. 

And among Celtics players who have averaged double-digit minutes in that span, Olynyk has a team-best rebounding percentage of .170 in addition to an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .689 which is also tops among Boston players during their last six games.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn’t surprised to see Olynyk playing as well as he has now that he’s injury-free.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than playing with clear minds and fresh legs,” Stevens said. “I just think that, and not being injured is a big part of that.”

For Olynyk, part of the challenge he has had since coming to the NBA was finding that balance between being aggressive and assertive, while making sure he got teammates involved when the opportunity presents itself.

“There’s definitely a fine line between being aggressive, forcing things, over-aggressive and create and open things up for others,” Olynyk said. “It’s kind of a balance, kind of like a yin and yang; just go out and play basketball the way you know how to play it. That’s what’s going to make you the best version of yourself and your team the best version they can be.”

Olynyk’s teammates encourage him often (Avery Bradley and Thomas are probably the two most consistent in his ear) to be more assertive, but they recognize he tends to be hesitant far too often for a player with his skillset.

“When he’s second-guessing and … shot-faking when he should have shot, just not being the aggressive player that we need him to be … we don’t need him to be like that,” said Thomas. “We believe in him. He just has to remain confident at all times. When he’s confident and aggressive, he’s a hell of a player.”

Five takeaways: East top seed well within Celtics' reach

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Five takeaways: East top seed well within Celtics' reach

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