Celtics may start slow after lockout


Celtics may start slow after lockout

When it comes to fast starts, there are few who do it better than the Boston Celtics.

In the Big 3 (now Big 4 if you include Rajon Rondo) Era, the Celtics have been the one team no one wants to see early on.

Look at the numbers. Dating back to the 2007-08 season, Boston has won more than 87 percent of its games prior to Christmas -- easily the best in the NBA.

However, that success has come after a full offseason of free agency, training camp and preseason games. This season, which will kick off on Christmas Day, is anything but business as usual for teams like the Celtics.

With the NBA and players tentatively agreeing to a compressed 66-game schedule, it will be a challenge to all teams -- especially clubs like the Celtics.

Their core group (Rondo excluded) is old, and with the games coming faster and more furious than past years, the C's will struggle to keep up with their younger, more athletic opponents.

Sounds familiar? It should. Lockout or no lockout, we've heard this before about the Celtics.

Every year, actually.

And there they are, bolting out to start the season better than anyone else, positioning themselves for title talk before the calendar flips to a new year.

But this is a totally new season, and the Celtics will be a totally different team. And unlike their past success, their starting point to the season has changed as well.

But the biggest change, maybe more than anything else, is there will likely be more new faces playing prominent roles in the rotation, than past years.

The Celtics only have six players under contract this season. That does not include Jeff Green, a restricted free agent that the C's have said repeatedly they want to re-sign.

"It'll be a different makeup (this season)," Rondo said. "A lot of different guys; a lot of new faces around the city. We'll try and get them accustomed to how we do things here in Boston and go for a championship."

Report: Ainge could prefer George to Butler with Nets pick

Report: Ainge could prefer George to Butler with Nets pick

Will the Celtics part with the right to Brooklyn’s 2017 first-round pick in order to get a star before Thursday’s trade deadline? 


Citing a pair of NBA executives, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote this week that Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade the pick should be in doubt.

Sola named Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Paul George as potential targets, adding that the C’s might include the latter.   

Wrote Isola: 

Two executives doubt that Ainge, who historically plays it close to the vest, would give up the Nets pick in a deal for Butler. However, Ainge might consider it in a trade for George, the Pacers-free agent-to-be who has expressed doubts over re-signing with the Pacers.

‘With Danny, no one ever knows what he might do,' said the executive. ‘He's one of the best. If he thinks he can make a run at the Cavs this season, considering all the injuries Cleveland has had, I can see him making a move.

‘Everyone is talking about Butler to Boston but Danny and Larry Bird go way back. Paul George could be the sleeper.’

This season, the 26-year-old George is averaging 22.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game. 

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson was named the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations after longtime Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and vice president of basketball ops Jim Buss were fired, the team announced.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights [late owner] Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss' daughter, Jim Buss' brother and Lakers president and co-owner, said in a statement. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”

Johnson, the Hall of Famer guard who led L.A. to five NBA titles, said in the same statement: “It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family. Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

Johnson, part of a group that owns MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers, returned to the organization as an adviser earlier this month. Johnson coached the Lakers briefly in the 1993-94 season, going 5-11. 

Johnson's new job with the Lakers won't change his role with the Dodgers, according to the L.A. Times.

The current Lakers have the third-worst record in the NBA at 19-39 after finishing with the second-worst mark in the league (17-65) last season. Kupchak was named an assistant GM under Jerry West in 1986 and in 2000 took over for West as GM.