KG still has some fans

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KG still has some fans

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES Not every young NBA big man hates Kevin Garnett.

Its true.

For every Joakim Noah, Charlie Villanueva and Dwight Howard; for every kid who grew up idolizing the Celtics star, only to become disenchanted after meeting him face-to-sweaty face, theres a young pro who still sees Garnett as the player theyd one day like to be; who doesnt take his affronts as a sign of disrespect, but more a means for victory; who doesnt care so much about KG the bully as much as they do KG the teammate or KG the NBA champ.

With all the hits Garnetts reputation has taken over these last four months, you wouldnt necessarily think this was possible. You got the sense that KGs antics had gotten the best of even his most ardent former disciples and that the only fans Garnett had left in the league were the 14 guys he shares a locker room with.

But from talking to some of the big men in Friday nights NBA RookieSophomore game, you realize thats not the case.

Now, thats not to say that these guys still idolize KG. None of them do, and thats more than understandable. After all, its one thing to look up to a player when youre growing up. When hes in a place you want to be. When hes reaching levels and dominating the game in ways that you could only dream. Everyone needs an idol; someone to push you to bigger and better things; someone to extend your aspirations and prove how much one person can accomplish. And if you were an especially bigespecially talented, young basketball player the late 90s or early 00s then Kevin Garnett was that guy.

But once youve reached this level, once hes your competition, you need to forget about all that idolization. Theres no more time for that.

OK, maybe just a little.

Pistons center Greg Monroe recalls the first time he took the court against KG:

It was weird, said the rookie, whos averaging 7.4 points and 6.4 rebounds this season. Thats somebody I idolized growing up. Thats Kevin Garnett. Hes one of the best big men to ever play the game. Hes definitely one of the best to ever play in my lifetime. So youre walking out on the court now, and pounding fists with him before the game, and hes doing his routine, and all this stuff that youve been watching him do for years, and I actually had to guard him. So you know, it was surreal but obviously you have to get out of that.

Once Monroe did get out of that he said he was able to then just appreciate all that Garnett does, without getting caught up in the extra curriculars.

I dont want to say its a tough guy image, Monroe said, hes just a tough player. Thats how it is in this league. People get it mistaken a whole lot. Most of the time hes not even talking trash. Sometimes he is, but most of the time hes just talking. Thats why hes such a good player, thats why hes such an anchor on defense. A lot of people take that as him talking trash but hes not.

The Nets (for now) rookie Derrick Favors was three years old when Garnett entered the league, but as he grew up and developed into one of the biggest frontcourt prospects in the country, Garnett was always a guy Favors looked up to. That came to a head when he first met KG on the court.

My first time playing in Boston I was a little nervous, probably the most nervous Ive ever been playing a basketball game, Favors said. I was star struck.

He also knew that those nerves were something Garnett might try to use to his advantage. He understood why, too. Because it gave his team a better chance to win.

And Favors respects that; he would even do it himself if he had the chance (and its likely that some day he will). But for now, all he can do is stay focused and not let Garnett get the best of him.

I knew I had to forget about all that and try to play my game, Favors said. Hell try to get up under your skin, but Ill never let him do that. Its tough but you gotta be tough. You gotta have tough skin and thats what I got.

Taj Gibson, 25, was thrown into KGs fire last season when he was drafted by the Bulls, and has logged a good deal of minutes in five career match-ups against Garnett. But for Gibson, the connection grew even tighter when Tom Thibodeau took over in Chicago. As the power forward in Thibodeaus defense, Gibson began looking at Garnetts game in a whole new light, and with a new level of appreciation.

Its kind of strange, because you look at him on film, and see how he plays and you see how Thibs has us doing that every day in practice, Gibson said. And its crazy because you want to get to that level. You want that championship. So I think its great. I think hes great

As for the reputation, or the antics that have led others, like Noah, Howard and Villanueva to take such a negative stance on KGs character?

It doesnt really matter what you think about him, Gibson said. At the end of the day hes a team player, his teammates love him, and they won a ring. He win games. Hes where I want to be.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Celtics waive guard/forward John Holland

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Celtics waive guard/forward John Holland

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics moved one step closer towards trimming down its overcrowded roster with the waiving of John Holland.

The 27-year-old would have gone into training camp with a very slim shot at making the roster. He signed a two-year deal that would have been worth $874,636 for the 2016-2017 season.

However, the contract was non-guaranteed and would have more than likely been used as part of a potential trade.

But no such deal materialized.

So rather than have the 6-foot-5 guard/forward in training camp with the odds heavily stacked against him making the team, Boston waived him now so that he has enough time to either go to training camp with another NBA team or sign with a team overseas.

Holland, who starred at Boston University, has already played overseas in France, Spain and Turkey in addition to having played with the Development League’s Canton Charge last season.

He played in one game for the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics now have 18 players in training camp, 16 of which have guaranteed contracts.

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

The NBA’s 38 rookies had their annual photo shoot and were polled by NBA.com with a couple of questions about their class. When asked which rookie was the most athletic among them, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 pick overall last June, won in a landslide.

Here are the results of that question:  

1. Jaylen Brown, Boston -- 38.7%

2. Brice Johnson, L.A. Clippers -- 16.1%

3. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix -- 9.7%

T-4. Malik Beasley, Denver -- 6.5%

Kay Felder, Cleveland -- 6.5%

Gary Payton II, Houston -- 6.5%

Providence guard Kris Dunn, No. 5 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the freshman class’ pick to win rookie of the year honors, with 29 percent of the vote, followed by No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram of the Lakers and No. 1 pick Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Click here for the complete poll. 

 

Mickey has to prove to Celtics he has more than just potential

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Mickey has to prove to Celtics he has more than just potential

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 Jordan Mickey. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – Jordan Mickey admittedly came to Boston with a chip on his shoulder.

Selected by Boston with the 33rd overall pick, Mickey felt he should have been a first-round pick.

The Celtics felt the same way.

That's why they signed the 6-foot-9 forward from LSU to a four-year, $5 million contract, a deal that made his annual average salary higher than fellow rookie R.J. Hunter, who was taken in the first round by Boston with the 28th overall pick.

While Mickey landed a deal comparable to what a player selected in the first round would make, he still has to prove that he’s more than just a player with potential.

The ceiling for Mickey: Regular rotation

Mickey didn't have the kind of breakout summer that he and the Celtics were hoping for, primarily because of a left shoulder injury that limited his availability.

Mickey did not play for Boston's summer league entry in Salt Lake City because of the injury, but did see action with the Celtics' summer league squad in Las Vegas. 

He appeared in five games, averaging 9.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 25 minutes, to go with 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Mickey also shot 56.3 percent from the field. 

It was a decent showing, but for Mickey to have the kind of continued growth both he and the Celtics are seeking, he’ll need to become a more consistent defender in addition to continuing to expand his offensive game. 

Like most big men in the NBA, Mickey is doing his best to show that he can help space the floor with his perimeter shooting that extends beyond the 3-point line.

It was something you saw him work during pregame shootarounds with the assistant coaches. In summer league, Mickey was 1-for-3 on 3s.

But Mickey understands he is in the NBA because of what he can do defensively and around the rim. He was the nation's leader in blocked shots per game (3.6) in his final year at LSU. 

And it was among the many areas in which Mickey stood out this past season in his time with the Celtics' Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Of course, college and D-League success don’t always result in similar results in the NBA.

But when it comes to Mickey, he has shown himself capable of doing some impressive feats defensively in a very small and limited role in the NBA.

Although he only appeared in 16 NBA games as a rookie, Mickey was the only player who held opponents to less than 50 percent shooting in the restricted area (48.9 percent), in the non-restricted area in the paint (46.2 percent) and mid-range (44.4).

In addition, opponents shot 16.7 and 18.8 percent from the left corner on 3s and above-the-break 3s, respectively.

Mickey finding a way to continue improving as an offensive player while providing the same level of play defensively will go far in him solidifying a place for himself in the Celtics’ regular rotation.

The floor for Mickey: Roster spot

The Celtics have too many players in training camp and someone with guaranteed money has to go, but don’t look for it to be Jordan Mickey. The Celtics didn’t sign him to a four-year deal worth end-of-the-first-round money to not at least see what he can do given more of an opportunity to play. He spent most of his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws. 

And his time there was indeed well spent. 

He appeared in 23 games for the Red Claws and was named a D-League all-star before finishing the season averaging a double-double of 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds along with a league-best 4.4 blocks per game. In addition to shooting 53.1 percent from the field, Mickey showed he had some range as well while connecting on 35 percent of his 3-point shots.

Mickey has shown the kind of promise that the Celtics want to see more of before making a decision on his long-term future. 

That is why worst-case scenario for Mickey this season, barring him being traded, is for him to be another available body on the Celtics bench.