Boston Celtics

Wilcox happy to play for contending Celts

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Wilcox happy to play for contending Celts

WALTHAM Chris Wilcox has no idea how much he'll play for the Boston Celtics this season. But playing time at this point in his career is not important.

Wilcox is in his ninth NBA season, with the previous eight ending the same: no trip to the playoffs. He said a chance to contribute on a playoff team was among the many things that made Boston so attractive to him.

The feeling was mutual, as Danny Ainge told the media today that the Celtics offered Wilcox their mini mid-level exception to come here.

"This would be my first chance playing for a team of this caliber," he said. "I was willing to take this opportunity to come out here to Boston."

The closest Wilcox came to the postseason was in 2006 with the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Clippers had no love for him that year, shipping him out to Seattle (now Oklahoma City) on Valentine's Day for Vladimir Radmonovic.

His lack of postseason success is surprising when you consider his resume is filled with championship-caliber success at every stop.

In high school, he won a state title as a junior. At the University of Maryland, he was instrumental in the team's first national championship, in 2002. That success led to him being the No. 8 pick in the 2002 NBA draft.

But since then, Wilcox has rarely shown the consistency that comes with being a top-10 talent. In 576 NBA games (250 starts), he has career averages of 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent from the field. But in Boston, he won't be counted on to carry the team.

In fact, if he can put up numbers similar to his career averages, all involved would consider the season a successful one.

Ray Allen, who played one season (2006-2007) with Wilcox in Seattle, is happy to see the 29-year-old in a Celtics uniform.

"A lot of people don't know him," Allen said. "Just the fact that he was on the West coast most of his career and playing in Detroit where he didn't play a whole lot. A lot of people don't really know him, haven't had an idea of seeing him when he gets on the floor and seeing his athletic ability . . . it makes the team more exciting."

Allen believes one player who should benefit from Wilcox's presence, is point guard Rajon Rondo.

"It gives Rondo a different dimension, fast-break wise, especially with so many shooters out there," Allen said.

Head coach Doc Rivers has simple expectations for Wilcox.

"Energy, athleticism (and) running the floor," are the qualities Rivers believes Wilcox will provide the Celtics this season.

"Defensively, he can be solid for us," Rivers added. "He's got a good motor. So that's what we're expecting from him."

As for why Wilcox hasn't enjoyed more success in the NBA, Rivers said there's no rhyme or reason.

"I know here, the environment he's in, will help him," Rivers said. "Playing against Kevin (Garnett) everyday, has to help."

Rivers can see the changes in Wilcox in even something as simple as when he takes a water break.

"He's laughing today, I've not had a water break in three days," Rivers recalled Wilcox saying. "I said, 'You'll be saying that at the end of the year, too. You can go get it (water) whenever you want, but we're not going to break for 15 minutes so everybody can sit down and have water.' "

Apparently that was something new to Wilcox.

"That's the way it is," Rivers said. "He's getting used to it. I saw him today, four or five times grab a cup. I want you to drink water all practice; we're just not going to have a whole little seance about it."

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.