Blakely: Celtics' voices loom large in lockout


Blakely: Celtics' voices loom large in lockout

By A. Sherrod Blakely Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn The Boston Celtics got in a little bit of pre-lockout business by picking up the second-year option on Avery Bradley along with making a qualifying offer to Jeff Green, which makes him a restricted free agent.

By making the 5.9 million qualifying offer, the Celtics can match any offer made to Green who came to Boston via Oklahoma City on Feb. 24 via trade.

Normally such news would create thoughts about next season and how Bradley and Green fit into the C's mix moving forward.

But no one around NBA gave much thought to individual moves made on Thursday.

Instead, the focus remained squarely on the league's immediate future, which remains murky at best.

The NBA's owners and player's union made one last-ditch effort on Thursday to avoid the league's first lockout since the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season.

Both sides remain far apart on several issues such as instituting a harder salary cap, shortening contracts and scaling back salaries.

"I'm not scared, but resigned to potential damage this could cause to our league," NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters in New York after both sides met for three hours in what both described as being "cordial" talks.

With so much at stake, two of the more dominant voices behind-the-scenes for the player's union have been Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Garnett gave an "inspired sermon" to the union last week in which he made it clear he was more than willing to sit out the entire season and thus forfeit all of his 18.8 million salary.

Pierce, who is the C's union representative, came into the league on the cusp of the league's last lockout in 1998.

"I've seen a lot of guys end their career during the lockout," Pierce said. "They couldn't get back to the level of play. It's always about staying ready. Even at my age, I think a lot of guys, they go through the lockout in October. November comes, guys my age get lazy, probably don't work out. And then it bites them when they lift the lockout."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”