OFFSEASON

KG Deja Vu

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KG Deja Vu

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

I was out picking up dinner last Wednesday when Kevin Garnett strained a muscle in his lower right leg.

So as KG knelt over halfcourt, tapping out on Tayshaun Princes sneaker, my DVR was frozen in time at the five-minute mark of the first quarter.

I was waiting at the restaurant when the first text came in:

This injury looks bad.

First of all, I knew if Ed Lacerte was texting me during a game, it must be serious.

OK, it was friend Jay. And I had no clue what he was talking about.

What injury?

KG. Went up for a dunk. Non-contact. Looks like his knee.

Real bad?

I thought so. They just confirmed on TV that its his knee.

Sometime during this conversation, another text comes in,

I will die.

It was my friend Nick.

KG? I wrote. Did it look THAT bad?

Looked like the exact same thing that happened last time.

Crap.

I walked into the apartment, pushed play and just watched. The Celtics were running up and down the court like it was any other night, but I knew what they didnt everything was about to change. I spent most of those next few minutes just focused on KG, looking for signs of injury (he seemed fine) and waiting for the bomb to drop.

It was really pretty depressing. Not only because I care about the fate of the Celtics, but also because Garnett had quietly become one of the better stories of the NBA season. It was impossible not to marvel at the level hed worked himself back up to since struggling for most of last year. And the knowledge that his comeback was presumably about to derail was awful.

Anyway, I saw the injury and it was pretty much what I expected. It was exactly how theyd described it. It was just like Utah. He went up for the dunk, something clicked in the air, and he landed in a ton of pain. Afterwards, he wasnt even just limping on the same leg; it was the same limp with the same mannerisms and weight distribution.

Land on left leg, hops three times. Try to walk, hop three times. Try to walk.

His face was pained. It wasnt just physical pain, though. He looked like a guy who knew that something was wrong. Or at least thats how a lot of people perceived it. KG looked like Wes Welker on the sidelines last January in Houston. He looked halfway terrifiedhalfway devastated.

Honestly, who knows with KG? Hes obviously a supremely intense and emotional guy. And he was especially hyped on Wednesday with all the Charlie Villanueva stuff. So maybe he was just fired up, or lost in the moment, and overreacted a little.

Either way, his actions didnt leave you optimistic.

By the time my DVR caught up with the world, KG had already blown up Twitter. No one knew for sure what had happened, but the media on the scene were already widely reporting that it was his knee. At one point, you could even see Ed Lacerte inspecting the knee on the bench. It could have very well just been standard procedure. Maybe he was just trying to rule it out. Maybe KG had an itch. But in that one second, he was looking at the knee, the cameras picked it up and it was another reason to think the worst, which everyone did.

Then came the unexpected good news. And in a hurry.

Basically, as soon as the game ended, there was only positive (or at least relatively positive) information coming from the Celtics. Teammates said they didnt think it was bad. Doc said that it was a muscle in his calf muscle, not the knee. There were KG sightings on the team bus. The Cs tweeted out the official breakdown:

Muscle injury to the outside of his right leg, below the knee and above the ankle. He is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow.

Next came word from the team that the MRI wasnt even a necessity; that it was basically just something they were doing to give Kevin some peace of mind. Of the injury, Doc said, "It was pretty clear what it was. Honestly, Eddie told me at halftime. Once he told me Garnett would be all right, I was gone."

So they waited for the results of the MRI, and then announced that KG had a strained muscle in his right calf area (more specifically, the area right below the knee) and will be out for 2-3 weeks.

That brings us to now four days after the announcement and the question of the hour:

When do you think youll see him again?

So far, I get the sense that a lot of people breathed a huge sigh of relief after the Celtics prognosis. It feel like the majority are comfortable with the 2-3 weeks (especially relative to an entire season), and feel that the calf should heel, the knee will be fine and we'll see him in the middle of January. They think the Celtics just dodged a huge bullet. And thats fine.

But I think the bullet nicked them. And we have to wait and see what happens next.

Thats not to say I think the Celtics are lying. It seems like you cant have questions about KG's leg without someone inferring that you think the team is intentionally giving out false information. I personally dont think they are.

In fact, in spite of all the craziness of the 2009 season, I dont think they lied then either. I think they genuinely believed all along that Garnett would improve enough to play first, by mid-March, and then by the playoffs. No one realized how bad the bone spurs were and how much they were affecting his recovery.

Maybe they kept things a little more secretive when it came time for the actual surgery. There are still certain things from the procedure that are unclear. But when it came to the last few months of the lost season, I think the Celtics were just trying to find away to get KG back on the court, and were maybe even a little too honest.

So, when I look at this story, I'm not skeptical about lies. Im just concerned that, so far, 2011 truth is so similar to 2009.

This a story from the Seattle Times after Garnetts first injury:

PHOENIX Boston Celtics officials say forward Kevin Garnett will miss from two to three weeks because of a strained muscle behind his knee.Garnett returned Friday to Boston after injuring the knee on the team's West trip. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said Saturday that team doctor Brian McKeon diagnosed the muscle strain after tests and an MRI.Garnett injured his knee while going up for a lob pass from Paul Pierce late in the first half of Boston's 90-85 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday. Garnett landed gingerly and immediately motioned to the bench for a substitute.

This is an injury that looked the same. And now its being diagnosed almost the same at least at this stage. And while I know there are other factors at play, Im at least going to make this injury show me that its different before I officially breathe that sigh of relief.

Am I encouraged that hes not out for the season? Yes, of course. But truthfully, I never really worried about that. I never thought he tore his ACL, or broke a bone, or anything else that have would immediately shelve him for the year.

Instead, from the moment I got those texts, I thought: Oh no, here we go again. I think a lot of us did. And I havent had any reason to stop. When that time comes I'll gladly exhale, but in the meantime it'll be three weeks of cautious nose breathing.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

OFFSEASON

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

You’re probably thinking the summer fireworks are finished after the Celtics brought back Tyler Zeller, added ex-Celtic Gerald Green, and signed rookies Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. It’s true, these moves do lower the likelihood of a multifaceted trade, but it doesn’t totally extinguish the odds of something seismic happening.

The Celtics still retain their flexibility, since none of these deals have actually been finalized. Even after they are, they’d still have the pieces required to make a deal work for a superstar like Blake Griffin. It’s not hard to make a valid trade for one player, but it is difficult if it’s a multi-step process like a Russell Westbrook renegotiate-and-extend trade.

“This is not necessarily what the team will be,” a source told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “There’s probably changes coming.”

Well, yeah. Changes have to come. The Celtics don’t really have a choice here.

Assuming Jaylen Brown is signed, they’ll have 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts. So at least three players will have to be exported before the season, since the NBA requires a maximum of 15 players on a roster.

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ current projected depth chart:

  STARTERS BENCH RESERVES ON THE BUBBLE
FRONT COURT Amir Johnson Kelly Olynyk Tyler Zeller  
Al Horford Jonas Jerebko Jordan Mickey Ben Bentil*
Jae Crowder Jaylen Brown* Gerald Green James Young
BACK COURT Avery Bradley Marcus Smart RJ Hunter John Holland*
Isaiah Thomas Terry Rozier Demetrius Jackson  

So, something has to happen. It’s just a matter of what. You can choose to believe the Celtics aren’t actually trying to make a blockbuster move. Or you can choose to believe the signals that have been firing off this month from the Celtics themselves indicating they’re “not done.”

It wouldn’t be difficult for the Celtics to get closer to 15 players by completing a blockbuster trade for a player like Griffin.
 
Perhaps some combination of veterans (Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Jerebko) with youth (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and James Young) and draft picks (2018 Nets pick) could bring in Griffin and Paul Pierce.

Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any transactions to follow.

Zeller is a bargain at just $8 million as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor. But, if Johnson were dealt, he’d be able to slide right up the depth chart as the team’s backup center.

Green shot 37.2 percent on spot up threes, per SportVU, over the past three years, so he provides spacing as a scorer who can catch fire. Considering Brad Stevens’ track record of sapping every ounce of talent out of each of his players -- hello, Jordan Crawford! -- it’s possible the Celtics will be getting the Green who scored an efficient 15.8 points per game just two years ago in Phoenix, and not the subpar Green who struggled to stay on the court last year in Miami.

If one or two of Boston’s young wings were dealt, Green, on a mere veteran minimum contract, would have an even easier path to playing time as a spark off the bench.

It’s difficult to read into the signings of second-round picks Jackson and Bentil, but either way the should both spend the season developing with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

The Celtics haven’t made a move yet, but they also haven’t done anything to suggest they’re entirely done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, or not. But at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

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Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

On a busy Saturday for the Celtics, they have brought back center Tyler Zeller and agreed to deals with draft picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported.

Earlier Saturday, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported that the Celtics will sign guard Gerald Green. 

Himmelsbach reports that Zeller's is a $16 million, two-year deal with the second-year not guaranteed. Jackson, the point guard from Notre Dame who was the 45th overall selection in the draft, has a guaranteed deal and Bentil, the forward from Providence who was the 51st player drafted, has a partially guaranteed deal. 

Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald reported that the second-year of Zeller's deal is a team option and that Green agreed to a one-year deal at the $1.4 million veteran mininum based on his nine years of NBA service.

The 7-foot Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes a game last season. 

R.J. Hunter, James Young, Bentil and John Holland are in position to fight for the final roster spot, Himmelsbach reports, pending more deals, which the Celtics are reportedly working on. A source told Himmelsbach, that while there are probably changes coming, "There is no big deal right now." 

Bulpett reported that Celtics' talks with the Philadelphia 76ers involving a deal for Sixers' big man Jahlil Okafor have, according to sources, grown "stale" and that the moves Saturday put 2014 draft pick James Young's roster spot in jeopardy.

With Green, Zeller, and No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have has 15 guaranteed contracts and three partial or non-guaranteed deals. 

 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.