Blakely: Celts, Paul willing to gamble on CBAMORE: Schedule highlights

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Blakely: Celts, Paul willing to gamble on CBAMORE: Schedule highlights

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics have no problem trading Rajon Rondo to New Orleans for fellow point guard Chris Paul without him agreeing to an extension, well aware that such a trade would come at the risk of giving up one All-Star point guard (Rondo) for another (Paul) who may be out of town in a New York City minute.

However, the gamble that the Celtics would be taking is no different for them than it would be for any other team - even his destination of choice, New York.

In one of the first noticeable changes under the yet-to-be-ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement, the new CBA will make players like Paul more reluctant to do extend-and-trades in the future.

That's why New Jersey's Deron Williams, in a similar situation that Paul is in, has made it clear that he will not be signing an extension with the Nets.

After word came out that Williams was opting out to become a free agent in the summer of 2012, he went to the one place where his voice apparently could be heard loud and clear by the masses - Twitter, of course.

"Don't know why people are tripping just because I'm opting out doesn't mean that I won't resign with the Nets!" Williams wrote. "With the new CBA it makes sense."

Under the new CBA, Williams could have signed an extension that would have made his contract worth about 70 million over four years.

By opting out and becoming a free agent next summer, he can re-sign with the Nets for as many as five years for more than 100 million - a 30 million bump for just one additional year.

So if you're the Celtics, there's no point in worrying initially about him being around for the long haul. Any team Paul gets traded to, will have to deal with him potentially leaving them with nothing to show but whatever production he provided during this shortened 66-game season.

The bigger issue for the Celtics is trying to convince the Hornets to accept a package that'll most likely include Rondo and restricted free agent Jeff Green.

In addition to those players, CBSSports.com reported that the Celtics also offered up two future first-round picks to sweeten the deal.

But as first reported by Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics have serious competition for Paul's services coming from Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Both of those teams have young, established talent that the Hornets are more enamored with than a Rondo-Green package.

Boston counters with the potential for Paul to play with future Hall of Famers Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce which would give Paul a better shot at winning now, than playing with the Clippers or Warriors.

But this isn't about who he'll play with, or their chances of winning big. This comes down to the same thing that led to 149-day lockout money.

Paul wants to maximize his earning potential.

By passing on the security that would come with a contract extension to become a free agent in the summer of 2012, it serves as Paul's best shot at a nine-figure payday.

It's risky, for sure.

But it's no bigger a gamble than the one any team trading for him, would be taking.

LeBron James hasn't always been dominant the game after a bad performance

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LeBron James hasn't always been dominant the game after a bad performance

Conventional wisdom has been spreading almost from the moment Avery Bradley's shot (finally) dropped through the cylinder in the closing seconds Sunday night, and it goes something like this:

LeBron James was so bad in Game 3 that, determined to exact revenge, he's going to come out like a force of nature and obliterate the Celtics in Game 4.

Makes sense. But, you know, LeBron has had other playoff games in which he's scored fewer than 12 points. He's always been good the next time out -- certainly better than >12 points -- but nothing sweeping or historic:

And amazingly enough, his teams lost two of those three games.

So if you were thinking the Celtics' Game 3 triumph virtually guaranteed a Cavalier victory and a dominant LeBron James performance in Game 4 . . . well, maybe not.

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury


CLEVELAND – Brad Stevens won’t know until shortly before tip-off tonight if he will have to make another lineup change.
 
Amir Johnson, whose right shoulder was injured in the Celtics' 111-108 Game 3 win on Sunday, is questionable for tonight’s Game 4.
 
“It’s better for sure,” Johnson told CSN this morning. “Yesterday, it was hard to lift. Today, I can move it all around. In shoot-around, I’m going to get a couple shots, see how it feels and go from there.
 
He added, “it’s definitely going to be a game-time decision. I’m going to go and shoot around, just to get a feel. And then for the game-time, I’ll shoot around some more, see how it feels and take it from there.”
 
Healthy or not, Johnson being with the starting group is far from a given.
 
The 6-foot-9 veteran has consistently been the first starter subbed out and usually winds up playing the fewest minutes.
 
In Game 3, two of his backups – Kelly Olynyk (15 points) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) – shined brightly.
 
Here are some other highlights from the Celtics’ morning shoot-around.
 
THOMAS UPDATE: Isaiah Thomas met with a hip specialist on Monday, according to Stevens. “Still collecting information,” said Stevens, adding, “We’ll wait and see or we’ll discuss second, and third, and fourth, and fifth opinions.”

Thomas injured his right hip March 15 and later re-aggravated it in the first half of the Game 2 loss Friday. Less than 24 hours later, he was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.
 
He was replaced by Marcus Smart in the starting lineup and Smart responded with a career-high 27 points in Game 3, which included seven made 3’s which is a career-best mark as well.
 
BOUNCE-BACK CELTICS: The Celtics winning Game 3 sent shockwaves throughout the league, especially coming on the heels of a 44-point home court drubbing at the hands of the Cavs. “If you’re in sports long enough you’re going to have clunkers,” Stevens said. “You’re going to have games that don’t go your way. And our guys took seriously the idea of responding and just playing the next possession as well as they could.”
 
ROZIER HOMECOMING: The second-year guard grew up in nearby Youngstown, Ohio (75 miles southeast of Cleveland), so you can expect he’ll have a decent contingent of fans at tonight's game.
 
While he’s all-in for the Celtics, the same is not true of his friends and some family members.
 
“My family does a good job of staying on my side except for my one younger cousin,” Rozier said. “She loves LeBron.”