Friday Free Throws: Lockout rules; Rondo's kicks


Friday Free Throws: Lockout rules; Rondo's kicks

By Jessica Camerato Follow @JCameratoNBA
Normally, Friday Free Throws is a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines. But this week we have to make an exception as we address the hottest issue in basketball that's been in the headlines for weeks: the lockout.

On Thursday evening the NBA announced the lockout would begin at 12:01am on July 1. In the statement, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said:

The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams. We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable.

We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting 2 billion annually as the players' share -- an average of approximately 5 million per player that could increase along with league revenue growth. Elements of our proposal would also better align players pay with performance.

We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game.

The NBA also noted restrictions for both players and teams during this period:

- Players will not receive their salaries
- Players will not be able to use team facilities for any purpose
- Teams will not negotiatesigntrade player contracts
- Teams will not conduct or facilitate any summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions, or team meetings.
Rondos Winning Approach
Last week we told you about the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2011, the sneaker Rajon Rondo is expected to wear next season. A promotion for the shoe is on Nike's website with the slogan, "Stay Quick or Stay Home," and a photo of Rondo with the sneakers hung around his neck.

Rondo sat down with the crew from Nike to talk about the shoe, his love for basketball, and how he views his role as a point guard. Check out a few snippets below or view the entire interview.

- "I love the game, I love competing. I want to be the best at what I do."

- When you're not 100 percent in a game and you try to push through it, I think the most important thing is adrenaline. Once, say if you sprain an ankle or something, you get back out there, you get a flow, you get up and down, you just try not to think about it. Once the game is over obviously it may swell up or it hurts a lot more, but during the game you just keep going and keep pushing.

- "From my rookie season where I didn't play a lot to now as a starting point guard, my mental preparation has changed because it starts with me on the floor. I feel like it starts with the point guard. I'm an extension out there on the floor of the coach, so if I don't bring it, it's a trickle-down effect to where my teammates might not want to bring it or have their energy if you're playing in an arena that's not full of fans. So it starts with the point guard and it finishes with the point guard."

Former Celtics Honored
A pair of former Celtics were honored this week by local and statewide halls of fame. Raef LaFrentz was announced as a class of 2011 inductee to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame (via SB Nation Kansas City). LaFrentz, a former Big 12 Player of the Year, played four years for the University of Kansas Jayhawks and is the school's third-leading scorer. In 2003 he was traded by the Dallas Mavericks to the Celtics along with Chris Mills and Jiri Welsch in exchange for Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, and a future draft pick the Cs would use to select Delonte West. LaFrentz played three seasons in Boston before being sent to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2006 as part of the Sebastian Telfair deal.

Bridgeport, Connective native John Bagley will be inducted to the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame in October. Bagley, who wore No. 5 nearly 20 years before Kevin Garnett, played over two seasons with the Celtics. He averaged nearly six points and six assists in 137 games in Boston. NBA official Bennett Salvatore (Stamford, CT) will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as reported in The Daily Weston.

Celtics Tweets of the Week
Celtics draft picks JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore came to Boston this week and took to Twitter while they were in town.

@JaJuanJohnson: Weoutchere! http:lockerz.coms114677458

@33ETwaun: Thanks to all Boston fans for showing love!

Birthday of the Week
Former Celtics first round draft pick (and current Atlanta Hawks guard) Joe Johnson turned 30 on Wednesday. Johnson was selected by the Celtics with the 10th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft and was traded to the Phoenix Suns in February of his rookie season. He played just 48 of his 771 career games with the Cs.
This Week in NBA History
On June 29, 1982, the Celtics drafted Indiana University standout Landon Turner, who had been paralyzed in a car accident before his senior year of college, in the 10th round of the NBA Draft. Turner had helped the Hoosiers win the 1981 NCAA Championship. On June 30, 1969, Bill Russell retired from the Celtics after winning 11 NBA championships in 13 years. Russell was a five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star. He served as a playercoach in his final three years with the Celtics and went on to coach the Seattle SuperSonics for five seasons. Plans for the creation of a Bill Russell statue in Boston were announced earlier this year.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at!JCameratoNBA

Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses


Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

OAKLAND, Calif. - As Stephen Curry dribbled out the clock in a raucous Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant could only stand and watch.

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals, while Durant's future in Oklahoma City is much less certain.

Two nights after blowing an opportunity to close out the defending champion Warriors at home, the Thunder got sent home for the summer when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals 96-88 on Monday night.

Instead of becoming known as the team that knocked off the Warriors after their record-setting 73-win regular season, the Thunder will be remembered for a playoff collapse. They became just the 10th NBA team to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead and now head into an uncertain offseason with Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

If he does leave the only franchise he has played for in his nine-year career, he will do it having failed to deliver the championship to Oklahoma City. The closest the Thunder have gotten in Durant's tenure was when they lost the NBA Finals in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012.

They then lost in the second round the next season, in the conference finals in 2014 to San Antonio before missing the playoffs entirely because of an injury to Durant last year.

But under first-year coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City earned the third seed in the top-heavy Western Conference this season and then upset 67-win San Antonio in the second round. The Thunder followed that by winning three of the first four games against the Warriors, with a pair of lopsided wins at home.

But after losing Game 5 on the road, the Thunder blew an opportunity to eliminate the Warriors at home on Saturday night. Oklahoma City led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining but made only one basket and committed six turnovers down the stretch of a 108-101 loss that could haunt the franchise for years.

The Thunder responded on the road in Game 7 by taking a 13-point lead in the second quarter. But once Curry and Klay Thompson started hitting Oklahoma City with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Thunder had no answer. The Splash Brothers combined for 13 3-pointers as Golden State outscored Oklahoma City by 30 points from behind the line.

Oklahoma City's stars were no match. Russell Westbrook missed 14 of 21 from the field and shot just 36.8 percent in the three potential clinchers. Durant finished with 27 points but took only 10 shots in the first three quarters.

Durant did score seven straight points to cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining. But Serge Ibaka then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, allowing Golden State to build the lead back to seven.

Durant then missed two shots and could only stare blankly when Curry ended Oklahoma City's season with a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left. Now the Thunder can only hope it doesn't end Durant's tenure in Oklahoma City as well.

Warriors rebound from 3-1 deficit, beating Thunder to return to NBA Finals


Warriors rebound from 3-1 deficit, beating Thunder to return to NBA Finals

OAKLAND, Calif. -  Stephen Curry dribbled every which way and drained yet another 3-pointer in the waning moments, pulled his jersey up into his mouth and yelled to the rafters in triumph once more.

A special, record-setting season saved for the defending champs, with a memorable comeback added to the long list of accomplishments.

Now, the MVP and his teammates are playing for another NBA title - just as they planned all along.

Bring on LeBron James once more.

Curry and Klay Thompson carried the 73-win Warriors right back to the NBA Finals, as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-88 on Monday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Curry scored 36 points with seven 3-pointers to finish with an NBA-record 32 in a seven-game series, while Thompson added 21 points and six 3s, two days after his record 11 3-pointers led a Game 6 comeback that sent the series home to raucous Oracle Arena for one more.

The Warriors became the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a postseason series. They return to the NBA Finals for a rematch with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the 2015 title in six games as Golden State captured its first championship in 40 years.

Game 1 is Thursday night in Oakland.

His signature mouthpiece dangling out and the game ball cradled in his left hand, Curry pumped his right arm as yellow confetti fell through Oracle Arena once the final buzzer sounded.

The Thunder trailing 90-86, Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a 3-point try with 1:18 to go and the shot clock running out. The MVP made all three free throws, then a 3-pointer to seal it.

And Golden State's beloved "Strength In Numbers" catchphrase coined by Coach of the Year Steve Kerr was needed in every way on this night to do it.

Andre Iguodala joined the starting lineup for just the second time all season and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP hung tough against Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

Oklahoma City won Game 1 108-102 at deafening, soldout Oracle Arena, so Golden State never envisioned this one coming easily.

It just took a quarter and a half for Thompson to warm up after he hit an NBA playoff-record 11 3-pointers for 41 points in a 108-101 win Saturday at Oklahoma City that sent the series to a decisive seventh game back home in the East Bay.

He missed his initial seven shots before hitting a 3 6:02 before halftime, energizing the Warriors in their first Game 7 at home in 40 years.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and Iguodala pulled the Warriors within 54-51 with 7:57 left in the third. They tied it on Curry's 3 at 7:21 and he followed with another 3 to give his team the lead.

Curry and Thompson each topped the previous record for 3s in a seven-game series, 28 by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen. Curry hit one over 7-foot Steven Adams in the third, and Thompson wound up with 30.

Iguodala replaced Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup for just his second start of the season and first of the playoffs, and what a move by Kerr and his staff, who did the same thing last year in crunch time. Iguodala made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to Draymond Green for Golden State's first basket of the game, and his smothering defense on Durant kept the Thunder star without a shot until his 3 at the 5:45 mark in the first. Durant had just nine points on five shots in the first half.

But Oklahoma City dictated the tempo with snappy passes and the hard, aggressive rebounding that had been such a part of its success this season. The Thunder couldn't maintain it.

The Warriors, who began 3 for 11 from long range and 9 of 32 overall while falling behind 35-22, lost their last Game 7 at home: 94-86 to Phoenix in the Western Conference finals on May 16, 1976.

2017 NBA title odds are out, Celtics rank second in the East


2017 NBA title odds are out, Celtics rank second in the East

Teams are still fighting for the 2016 Larry O’Brien Trophy, but the 2017 NBA title opening odds have already been released by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Warriors unsurprisingly come in as heavy 3/2 favorites. The Cavaliers already punched their ticket for this year’s finals and are second, with 5/2 odds. Then there’s the Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers, as you’d expect rounding off the top five.

But then there’s the Celtics with 20/1 odds -- sixth-best in the NBA -- to raise Banner 18.

With eight draft picks and a chunk of cap space, the Celtics are in a position to capitalize on any opportunities that may come their way. There is a lot of uncertainty at this point in the NBA calendar, so Vegas must be hedging their bets on the Celtics making a leap towards contender status.

Celtics fans will also be happy to know the Nets have 500/1 odds to hoist the trophy next season, which ranks last of all teams. The Celtics have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in the 2017 draft, which could give them another swing at a superstar prospect.

For full draft profiles of players the Celtics could draft this year, click here.

Team Opening odds
Golden State Warriors 3/2
Cleveland Cavaliers 5/2
San Antonio Spurs 6/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 8/1
Los Angeles Clippers 16/1
Boston Celtics 20/1
Toronto Raptors 25/1
Miami Heat 25/1
Chicago Bulls 40/1
Atlanta Hawks 40/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 60/1
New Orleans Pelicans 60/1
Houston Rockets 60/1
Portland Trail Blazers 60/1
Memphis Grizzlies 80/1
Utah Jazz 80/1
Charlotte Hornets 80/1
Washington Wizards 100/1
Indiana Pacers 100/1
Dallas Mavericks 100/1
Milwaukee Bucks 100/1
Detroit Pistons 100/1
Los Angeles Lakers 100/1
New York Knicks 100/1
Sacramento Kings 100/1
Philadelphia 76ers 100/1
Orlando Magic 100/1
Denver Nuggets 100/1
Phoenix Suns 300/1
Brooklyn Nets 500/1