OFFSEASON

Catching up with Brian Scalabrine: Part 1

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Catching up with Brian Scalabrine: Part 1

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

This summer the Celtics added one of the biggest names in the game to a roster that already boasted some of the best-known players in the league. But even among high-profile stars like Shaquille ONeal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (the list goes on), there is one name noticeably absent from the roster. Brian Scalabrine may never have scored 40 points in a game or broken a backboard with a dunk, yet chants of his name filled the Garden for five years. Scalabrine made an impact on Celtics fans during his time in Boston. And, even after signing with the Chicago Bulls last month, he has been impacted by his career there as well. In this exclusive two-part series with CSNNE.com, Scalabrine looked back on his time with the Celtics and looks ahead to the upcoming season with the Bulls.

Brian Scalabrine had been a staple figure on the Celtics bench since signing with the team in 2005. Fans embraced his commitment, and readiness to play at a moment's notice. Whether he was subbing to give a teammate a breather or stepping into the lineup for an injured starter, Scalabrine lived up to the true meaning of a role player.

And being a true role player allowed him to see the bigger picture as the Celtics entered free agency this summer. Scalabrine experienced just how close the C's had come to beating the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA Championship in June, and he knew they had a shot to revamp their roster for another title run.

He considers the acquisition of Shaquille ONeal to be an "unbelievable deal" for the Celtics and thinks Jermaine ONeal and Delonte West will be good additions to the team.

"When you're a championship-caliber team like that, they're looking at a situation where they feel that they can get really good players for a minimum deal," Scalabrine said. "And they did."

Scalabrine thought that had the Celtics beaten the Lakers, he would have been re-signed. But given the fact the C's had to make improvements, especially down low to replace the injured Kendrick Perkins, he understood the team's decisions.

"I think Danny Ainge was really up front with what he was trying to do," Scalabrine said. "He never led me astray or anything like that. He wasn't lying to me, he was being really honest with me. The Celtics have always been a great, upfront, straight organization. They tell you what it's going to be and they do it. He wasn't trying to hide anything, so I really respect him for that and I appreciate him treating me that way."

Even though the Celtics were able to enhance their roster, Scalabrine's presence will still be missed. He brought energy off the bench and averaged nine points and four rebounds in three starts last season while Kevin Garnett was sidelined. During that time, he played through a shoulder injury to stay on the court for the C's.

"I don't think it ever makes sense not to have a Scal on your team," Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com. "The Scalabrines of the world are rare. They are not a dime-a-dozen. When you get one, you do what you can to keep one. Once we made all those moves, we knew we couldn't. But we would love to. He's just a terrific guy."

The respect and admiration is mutual.

"I obviously cherished my time there," he said. "I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being with Doc I learned a ton from him. I enjoyed all of my teammates. I think that those are life experiences that I'll never get another opportunity to go through with a group like that, with a coach like Doc, with a city like Boston, with a team like those guys. Quite honestly, last year I could've played with four Hall of Famers. I don't know if Rajon Rondo makes it or not; he seems on that track. It's just a very, very, very unique situation. I respect every single one of those guys in there and I respect Doc and Danny."

His appreciation for the entire Celtics organization is one of the reasons why he wouldnt mind if the infamous "Scal-a-bri-ne" chants stayed back in Boston. To him, they represent individuality while he is focused on the team.

"People who know me, who really know me, know that that's not really my personality. All my concerns were only about my teammates and my team, the Celtics, the Celtics, the Celtics, the Celtics, he said. "People loved it, and I understand that and why they do those type of things . . . But we're grinding it out, and the Celtics at that point were the most important people to me in the world at that time. So I never want to stand out, I don't want to do things individually to stand out."

What he prefers to do is express his appreciation for everyone who helped make his time in Boston - on and off the court - a success. For Scalabrine, there are the thousands of people who packed the Garden and supported the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship - "We realized that we needed those fans to win" - the fans who always showed respect when they approached him outside of the arena; the season-ticket holders he got to know through various events; the children in the community who taught him he could live with less.

"At the end of the day, it's all about thanks," he said.

Check back with CSNNE.com on Wednesday as Scalabrine looks ahead to the upcoming season with his new team, including how he landed in Chicago, what it's like to play under Tom Thibodeau, and what he thinks about coming back to Boston as a member of the Bulls.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato.

OFFSEASON

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

BOSTON -- In some circles the pursuit of Dwight Howard by the Boston Celtics is just as perplexing as Boston being one of the six teams getting an audience with Kevin Durant and, with that, a shot at the Durant sweepstakes this summer. 
 
Both serve as examples of how the Celts are no longer at the back of the line when it comes to being a potential destination for the best free agents. 
 
Of course it’s about sealing the deal, and getting the best free agents on the market under contract, and all that good stuff.
 
But before that can happen, Boston has to be seen as a place to even be seriously considered by free agents. That's exactly what we’re starting to see happen right now.
 
It’s easy to point to the Celtics having a ton of salary cap space, which in itself makes them a possible landing spot for players who we all know will be hauling in max to near-max salaries this offseason.
 
But there’s just one problem with that line of thought. More than half the league enters free agency with enough money to sign one max player.

The fact that Boston is on the short list for the summer’s top free agent (Durant) and have already secured a sit-down with one of the top centers (Howard) says a lot in terms of how far Boston has come in the eyes of players. 
 
And several factors point towards the Celtics getting an audience with other top-shelf free agents this summer if they fail to secure one or two of their top choices.
 
But let’s not kid ourselves. How others view this franchise is the reality of what the Celtics have to deal with when it comes to adding elite, upper-echelon talent like Durant. 
 
The fact that Durant is willing to include Boston in his short-list of teams is a bit of a head-scratcher when you see that the Celtics are the farthest away from the group in terms of competing for an NBA title (although an argument can be made that they are neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat along those lines). Durant has said in the past that would be something he would be looking for in whatever team he signed with.
 
The biggest selling point the Celtics have to offer Durant or any other free agent (besides money) is that they are a franchise on the rise, they have stability on the floor with Brad Stevens as the head coach, and they have stability in the front office with Danny Ainge. Both Stevens and Ainge signed long-term extensions earlier this month. 
 
And one of the perks that players who come to Boston quickly discover is the fan base, which is about as rabid a group as you'll find in the NBA.
 
There’s no mistaking they wear their emotions on their sleeves, whether it’s cheering the team on following a season-ending playoff loss, or booing the owner after the team makes a draft pick they don’t particularly care for. 
 
They bleed green!
 
Add all those things up and it’s clear that Boston has the kind of environment, the kind of culture, where a star can come and thrive. 
 
The Celtics and their fans have known this for a while.
 
Now it seems some of the game’s best players are starting to catch on, as well.

OFFSEASON

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Mike Felger, Dan Shaughnessy and Glenn Ordway wonder why the Celtics are even getting a meeting with Kevin Durant when free agency begins. Does it mean they have a legitimate chance of signing him?