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.

Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird

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Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird

During our series discussing the 1986 Boston Celtics, we have sat down with many players from that championship, along with members of the media that were close to the team.

This week features a few of the opponents that were very familiar with the 1980’s Celtics  - Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, former Celtics coach (and Hawk) Doc Rivers, and Lakers great James Worthy.

Return of Gerald Green could fill vital bench role for Celtics

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Return of Gerald Green could fill vital bench role for Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON –  Say what you want about Gerald Green, but his athleticism is the one thing you can bank on him delivering.

The 30-year-old Green doesn’t play above the rim nearly as much as he used to, but he does enough to where his presence will indeed be an upgrade for the Celtics this season.

But in terms of what his exact role will be, that will be worked out in the coming months as Green begins a second tour of duty with Boston (the Celtics drafted him with the 18th overall pick in 2005).

The ceiling for Green: Sixth or seventh man

Green’s return will in no way impact Jae Crowder’s status as the Celtics’ starting small forward. And Avery Bradley has nothing to worry about when it comes to Green competing for his spot as the team’s starting shooting guard, either. But Green’s experience will give him a chance to compete for minutes behind both coming off the bench.

At 6-foot-8, Green has the size and length to play both positions. And having played nine seasons in the NBA, Green has learned enough in that time to find ways to impact games in ways besides highlight-quality dunks.

Green is coming off a not-so-stellar season in Miami in which he averaged 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds, while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and just 32.3 percent on 3s – both numbers below his career averages.

Part of Green’s drop in production last season (he averaged 11.9 points or more in three of the previous four seasons) had to do with the emergence of Justice Winslow, and Green’s own shooting struggles, which eventually led to him playing a more limited role in the Heat offense.

But in Boston, Green won’t be counted on to be a significant contributor in terms of scoring. Instead, he will be seen as a player who can be looked upon from time to time to provide some punch (offensively or defensively) from the wing. If we’re talking offense, Green can help both from the perimeter or as an effectively attacker of the rim.

The floor for Green: Active roster

As much as the attention surrounding Green’s game centers on what he does with the ball in his hands, it his defense that will keep him on the Celtics’ active roster all season. Although Miami sought scoring more often from others, doing so allowed Green to focus more of his attention on defense, which may wind up being the best thing for his career at this stage.

Coming off the bench primarily after the All-Star break, opponents shot 33.3 percent when defended by Green, which was more than 10 percentage points (10.9) below what they shot from the field (44.2) overall.

He was even tougher on opponents shooting 2-pointers against him. They were held more than 15 percentage points (15.5) below their shooting percentage from 2-point range when he was defending versus their overall shooting for the season.

But don’t be fooled.

Green can still score the ball and as he gets older, he’s finding more and more ways to do so.

While much of Green’s NBA success has come about with him attacking the rim, he has progressively improved his game as a catch-and-shoot player. In fact, 54.8 percent of his shot attempts last season were of the catch-and-shoot variety according to nba.com/stats.

That makes sense when you consider that he had an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .491 when he took shots without taking any dribbles, which was better than Green’s eFG% when he shot from the floor and took at least one dribble.

Green’s second stint with the Celtics doesn’t come with nearly as much hype as there was when Boston selected him  out of high school with the 18th overall pick in 2005. Still, he has the potential to fill a vital role for the Celtics now, a role that could go far in determining how successful this season will be for himself as well as the Celtics.  

 

 

Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

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Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

BOSTON -- Phil Jackson will be the first to admit he has made some mistakes during his tenure in the New York Knicks' front office.

Among the miscues was a deal that would have landed them Jae Crowder.

"One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics," Jackson told the website, www.todaysfastbreak.com.

Jackson later revealed that in conversations with Boston leading up to the 2014 NBA draft, he was given an option to either keep the second-round pick which was to be conveyed to Boston from Dallas, or take Jae Crowder and allow Boston to keep the second-round pick from the Mavs.

"I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo (Anthony)," Jackson said. "So I took the (second-round) pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early.”

Ouch!

With Crowder left out of the six-player deal between New York and Dallas, the Celtics were able to engineer a trade with the Mavericks six months later that sent Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell to Dallas in exchange for Brandon Wright, Jameer Nelson, draft picks and what many believed at the time to be a “throw in” player by the name of Jae Crowder.

Less than two years later, Crowder is the lone player acquired by Boston in that deal who remains on the Celtics roster.

And as we have all seen, Crowder is far from just a warm body on the Celtics’ roster.

The 6-foot-6 forward has emerged as a core member of this young, up-and-coming Celtics squad, a key to Boston going from being a team rebuilding just three years ago to one that’s poised to be among the top teams in the East this season.

And the play of Crowder has been a significant part of that growth.

Last season was his first as an NBA starter, and the 26-year-old made the most of his opportunity by averaging career highs in just about every meaningful category such as scoring (14.2), steals (1.7), assists (1.8), rebounds (5.1), field goal percentage (.443) and starts (73).

Meanwhile, Early has had a pair of injury-riddled seasons which have factored heavily into him seeing action in a total of just 56 games (9 starts) while averaging 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 34.6 percent from the field and a woeful 26.3 percent on 3s.

“While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us,” Jackson said, “He still has the potential to be a valuable player.”

That said, Jackson knows he screwed that deal up, big time.

Even with the potential Early brings to the game, Jackson concedes, “I should have taken Crowder."