Billups to Boston? It's possible

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Billups to Boston? It's possible

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK All indications are that the New York Knicks plan to keep Chauncey Billups around for next season.

But in case they have a change of heart, a number of teams would be in the running for his services . . . including the team that drafted him, the Boston Celtics.

Billups is due 14.2 million next season, which will become fully guaranteed if he's not waived within five days of the season ending. If he is waived, he will be owed 3.7 million and can then sign with any team he wants.

As far as whether he would be interested in re-joining the Celtics, Billups was non-committal.

"That's something that I'll answer if that comes about," Billups told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics eliminating the Knicks from the playoffs with a 101-89 win on Sunday. "I'm not going to jump up and talk about that now, because I'm not available."

Billups is known for coming up with big shots in the playoffs -- hence the nickname, Mr. Big Shot.

However, the Knicks never really got a chance to see that because of a left knee injury he suffered near the end of New York's Game 1 loss to the Celtics.

When asked whether he thought that might be a factor in the Knicks' decision to waive him, Billups said, "I don't know. I don't think so. It's not like I'm really that injured; I just got a problem. But this will get better soon, and won't be an issue moving forward."

The prospect of Billups back with the Green team is an intriguing one.

While the addition of a veteran, championship-caliber backup for Rajon Rondo would certainly strengthen their roster, the Celtics also understand that there is a need to develop young, talented players for the future.

Adding a player like Billups, for example, may to some degree stunt the growth of Avery Bradley who spent the bulk of his rookie season on the bench and with the C's D-League affiliate in Maine.

But adding Billups might be just what the C's need to convince Doc Rivers to come back for one more season as the Celtics' coach.

And Kevin Garnett, maybe more than anyone, would benefit from having Billups around.

The two struck up a friendship when they played together in Minnesota, and have remained close ever since.

In fact, it was Billups and current assistant coach Tyronn Lue (then with the Atlanta Hawks) who helped convince Garnett to be open to being traded from Minnesota to Boston.

Regardless of what the Knicks do with Billups' contract, he is a proven talent that can help a team both as a starter and as a talented backup.

"You know me; I just want to win," Billups said. "All that other stuff, I'm done with that. It's all about competing and winning championships for me."

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

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

BOSTON – With the night’s outcome all but a foregone conclusion, Al Horford’s last basket of the night got a sarcastic round of applause and a few jeers from the few fans that decided to stick it out for the final few seconds of Boston’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks.

Horford finished with a season-low five points for the Celtics (26-16).

Connecting on just 2-for-14 (or 14.3 percent) of his shots also represented the worst shooting night percentage-wise in Horford’s nine-plus NBA seasons.

“I struggled bad offensively,” said Horford who still managed to dish out a game-high 10 assists. “I tried to do anything I could to help us. It just wasn’t going for me.”

But as poorly as Horford shot the ball, he was more bothered by his defense and for that matter the Celtics’ team defense.

New York came into Wednesday’s game having lost 11 of its last 13 games and spent most of the night playing like a team that’s thirsty for a win.

They shot 50.5 percent from the floor, 40 percent on 3’s and dominated the glass 57-33 which helped fuel New York’s 24-12 advantage in second-chance points.

“We have to do a better job of holding teams to one shot,” Horford said. “That’s the first thing. I have to do a better job at protecting the rim. I know I can recall a couple instances where I needed to be there and I wasn’t impacting the ball as much as I would like to. I know I have to be better on the defensive end.”

Horford’s struggles on many levels mirrored the problems experienced by the rest of the Celtics.

“They punked us,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who led all scorers with 39 points. “They were the harder playing team on both ends of the floor. That was the definition of this game; they played harder than us.”

For most of the night, the New York Knicks were making all the big plays defensively and clutch shots offensively while the Celtics consistently failed to get that one defensive stop or knock down the one jumper that could have at least shifted the game’s momentum closer to being in their favor.

Boston rookie Jaylen Brown believes the Celtics didn’t take the struggling Knicks as seriously as they should have.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Brown who came off the bench to score 12 points for Boston (26-16). “It’s a game we should have won. We underestimated our opponent. We are a better team than that even though we played bad we still had a lot of opportunities to win the ball game.”

Horford had a different take on how things went down on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we overlooked them,” Horford said. “But I think we kind of … consciously or not, we felt we were going to win this game like, ‘We’ll struggle a little bit, but we’ll figure it out and win it.’ It didn’t work like that. In the fourth, we were right there. They made a couple shots. They deserved to win. They played better.”

And as the Celtics found themselves on multiple occasions having a chance to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth, it would have been fool’s good if they somehow managed to squeak out a win on Wednesday night.

“We didn’t deserve it,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder who had 21 points. “When you don’t deserve it, the basketball gods don’t bless you.”

But there’s plenty of season left to be played, and the Celtics – as we saw on Wednesday – have plenty of room for improvement.

Especially Horford, particularly when it comes to getting back on track shooting the ball.

“It was at the point where I didn’t have it,” he said. “That was tough. So I tried to impact the game in other ways whether it was setting screens or giving people shots, stuff like that. That was definitely tough for me because they were good looks. They just didn’t go in.”