Celtics contemplating a change to starting five


Celtics contemplating a change to starting five

DALLAS You don't have to hit Doc Rivers over the head for him to realize that what he's doing now with the Celtics is not working.

There are too many lapses at both ends of the floor. Players are beginning to talk more and more about not competing and being embarrassed. Boston's problems seem to have a Ground Hog's Day feel about them.

Rivers will do whatever it takes to make things right, even if it means shaking up the starting lineup.

In the aftermath of the C's third straight loss on Sunday, Rivers revealed that he and his staff have had serious discussions about making a lineup change.

"I have to figure out a way, figure out another combination, maybe," Rivers said. "We just have to keep searching."

As far as why he hasn't made a change yet, Rivers said, "I just haven't done it. It's tough to do it, when you don't have your guys. If you wanted to make a change, how can you? Kevin (Garnett) and Brandon (Bass) are out, or somebody else is out."

Based on the players currently healthy, the C's might consider inserting Mickael Pietrus into the starting lineup ahead of Ray Allen.

The upside to such a move for Boston would be having a bigger shooting guard, and a better defender, on the floor to start games. And while the Celtics have had their problems scoring, part of that has to do with their defense's inability to get easy points off turnovers and stops.

Because Allen usually doesn't score early on, having him come off the bench would make him a bigger focal point of the offense. With Bass out until after the break, having the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made go against second unit players could create a favorable matchup for the C's.

Rivers didn't say whether it was something they would do soon, but the fact that it's something they've talked about for a while speaks volumes as to how concerned Rivers and his staff are with what they're seeing on the floor now.

And while a trade is certainly an option, Rivers believes the team's turn-around will come from within this current group.

"I think it's a group in that locker room that fits," Rivers said. "But I have not found that right fit yet."

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.