Celtics' Green, Lee adjusting to reserve roles


Celtics' Green, Lee adjusting to reserve roles

WALTHAM The bulk of Jeff Green's NBA career has been spent as a starter. Courtney Lee has also spent a decent amount of his career with the first unit of the three NBA teams he played for prior to arriving in Boston.

Both are now key reserves coming off the Celtics' bench. Prominent roles, but different nonetheless.

And they're roles that both players are still adjusting to, which explains to some degree the highs and lows in their play this season.

That said, each is starting to play with more consistency at both ends of the floor, which should reap huge rewards for the C's as the season progresses.

Lee has had just three double-digit scoring games this season, with two coming in the last two games.

Green has also been an impact player off the bench lately for the Celtics, tallying double-digit points in each of the last two games and is now the team's sixth-leading scorer at 8.9 points per game -- and rising.

Of the two players, Green's play has been more notable. Not only for the shear numbers -- 18.5 points per game in last two games -- but also for the fact that they have come in the role the C's envision for him this year: A difference-maker coming off the bench.

"I'm just going with the flow," Green said. "My shot's been dropping. I've been attacking the rim. I just have to continue that."

And Lee has to continue listening to Doc Rivers, who had a talk with him about a week ago.

While Lee was showing signs of being an impact defender that the Celtics are looking for, it appeared to have come at the expense of him contributing offensively.

In talking with Rivers, Lee said he came away with a better understanding that for all the energy and effort he puts into being a difference-maker on defense, he has to put forth that same level of focus and intensity on the offensive end whether he's starting or not.

Even before he replaced Rajon Rondo for the last two games because of Rondo's suspension, there were clear signs that the message was sinking in for Lee, who has been a starter in about 47 percent of the NBA games he has played prior to this season.

As far as whether it's easier to be a starter, Lee said, "You get in the game, you get in the game. You have to make the most of it when you get that opportunity. I'm just going to go out there and focus on the things I've been doing and just stay aggressive."

Bringing forth great effort and intensity is primarily what the Celtics are needing Lee to bring.

With Green, it's a little different.

They want those same things from him as well, but the C's also need him to get buckets.

When he's on the floor, often he's the one Celtic who has a mismatch in the C's favor at the offensive end either as a big small forward or a quick power forward who can also stretch a defense with his 3-point shooting.

His aggressiveness in those roles has often been questioned because far too many times, he tends to disappear when he truly should be dominating his matchup.

Part of his struggles he says in coming off the bench, is figuring out exactly how to be most effective while staying within the framework of what the Celtics are trying to accomplish at that point in the game.

"It's harder to try and figure out what you need to bring each game coming off the bench," said Green, a reserve in all 17 games for the Celtics this year after previously starting 83.5 percent (263 out of 315 games) of his NBA career. "Each game is different. It's tough; it's a transition. Starting is a lot easier. You can work yourself into the game. But when you come off the bench, you have to be prepared. You have to be focused on how the game is going . . . it's tough.

"But you just have to find your niche and figure out what it takes and be prepared before you go out in to the game."

Report: Bulls tell teams they won't trade Jimmy Butler

Report: Bulls tell teams they won't trade Jimmy Butler

The Bulls reportedly weren’t making Jimmy Butler available for a trade last month.

As the trade deadline approaches, it seems that hasn’t changed.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The teams that talked to the Chicago Bulls today were told, “Just about everybody on our roster is available, but Jimmy Butler is not.”

The Bulls are not obliged to stand by that, and there’s no indication they’ve assured Butler anything. If they’re offered a package more valuable than Butler, they’ll trade him.

But that’s a lot of value.

Click here for the complete story.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.