Boston Celtics

Locked out or not, Rivers prepares for the season

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Locked out or not, Rivers prepares for the season

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
BOSTON This summer, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers traveled to China to watch his son, Austin, a member of the Duke basketball team. Later this week, he's headed to Belgrade to see his oldest son, Jeremiah. And you can bet he's checked in a few times with his daughter, Callie, whom Rivers says is in graduate school at the University of North Carolina.

After deep playoff runs with the Celtics that took up most of the spring and left him drained in the summer, Rivers loves being able to hit the road and see his kids seemingly whenever he wants to.

"I needed a little break," he said on Monday as the C's celebrated their 25th year as a corporate partner of New England Baptist Hospital. "I have it now."

Rivers, like most NBA coaches and fans, media, etc. is ready for the NBA season to get started.

But there's this itty-bitty snag in that plan, better known to you and me as the NBA lockout, which is now in its fourth month of existence.

The players union and owners have been meeting more frequently the past couple of weeks, but progress toward a new deal has been moving with glacier-like quickness.

Some preseason games (43) have already been canceled, with more expected to be wiped out soon.

Each day passing without a deal in place puts the expected Nov. 1 start of the season in greater jeopardy.

"It's tough," Rivers said of not knowing when the season will begin. "You're just used to working, preparing and getting ready."

While the work load isn't nearly what it usually is this time of year, Rivers and his staff haven't spent the entire summer on the golf course.

Rivers said he's "driving his coaches crazy" this week as they gather to start discussing this upcoming season.

They'll meet every day until he leaves to see Jeremiah play for KK Mega Visura, a team in Serbia's A League.

Just because there are no games to be played and no players they can work with doesn't mean Rivers and his staff can sit back and relax.

"We have to do our jobs," Rivers said. "We have to prepare and when they say go, we'll be ready to go."

Every season presents a different set of challenges for Rivers, and this one will be no different.

However, making things more complicated are the many unknowns for both the Celtics and the NBA as a whole.

That's why Rivers and his staff were up late Sunday night, brainstorming over the various options that they'll have to consider once the NBA owners and players union reach an agreement on a new CBA.

"Well, we have all kinds of plans," Rivers said. "But we don't know what the plans will be until everything is done. We're just going to be patient and when they say 'go,' we'll be ready to go."

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

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

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NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.