O'Neal gives C's a taste of what they've missed

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O'Neal gives C's a taste of what they've missed

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WASHINGTON When the Boston Celtics signed Jermaine O'Neal this summer, the plan was for him to be the team's starting center.

Things haven't quite worked out the way he or the Celtics would have wanted.

But for the first time since he's been part of the Green team, O'Neal delivered a starter-like performance against the Washington Wizards on Monday night.

Despite a strong showing, his play was not enough as the Celtics lost 95-94, in overtime.

O'Neal tallied his first double-double with the Celtics, scoring 15 points to go with 13 rebounds. He also had five blocked shots.

"He defended the basket about as well as you can defend it," said coach Doc Rivers.

More important, he played a season-high 37 minutes.

"I knew I would play extended minutes, but I didn't know how many," O'Neal said. "It's definitely minutes that were welcomed."

More than anything else, his health has held him back from logging more minutes for the Celtics.

A series of nagging injuries forced the C's to limit his playing time at the start of the season.

When rest didn't do the trick, O'Neal eventually opted to have surgery on his left knee on February 4, which sidelined him for a couple months.

Unsure of how the knee would respond upon his return, the Celtics have been cautious in their approach to his minutes played.

Prior to Monday night, O'Neal had played no more than 18 minutes since returning to the lineup on March 31 against San Antonio.

"It's all about getting a rhythm," O'Neal said. "I felt like tonight I was given an opportunity to stay out there longer; get a feel for the game and get back to doing some of the things that I'm quite comfortable doing."

Because he has been sidelined for so long, and essentially was a forgotten man with the Miami Heat last season, it's not that surprising that some forget that he is a six-time All-star who at one point was on the short list of elite big men in the NBA.

That O'Neal is not with the Celtics now, and chances are pretty good that he'll never get back to being that dominant a player.

But as he showed on Monday, he still has enough to offer the Celtics a solid presence defensively as well as a player they can turn to from time to time, to be a scorer.

O'Neal said he has had conversations with the coaching staff about getting more touches offensively when he's on the floor with the second unit.

"I think I can still help this team offensively, when the starting five is out, on the bench resting," O'Neal said. "It's not about that. It's about playing good basketball."

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

Thomas says NBA 2K wouldn't accept Cousins trade, NBA 2K confirms it wouldn't

Thomas says NBA 2K wouldn't accept Cousins trade, NBA 2K confirms it wouldn't

The Kings have not exactly been celebrated as geniuses since news of Sunday’s DeMarcus Cousins trade broke. 

The deal, which sent Buddy Hield, a top-three-protected 2017 first-round pick, a 2017 second-rounder, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway to Sacramento for Cousins and Omri Casspi, has been widely mocked for how little the Kings fetched for the All-Star center. In handing out trades for the deal, SI gave the Pelicans an A and the Kings an F.

One team that could have easily beaten New Orleans’ offer was the Celtics, who seemingly did not participate in Sunday’s trade talks. On Monday, Isaiah Thomas tweeted his thoughts on the trade: 

Just as good as Thomas’ tweet was the fact that NBA 2K confirmed that it would not allow the trade to happen. 

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.