Johnson listens to advice KG has to offer

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Johnson listens to advice KG has to offer

BOSTON Full-time emotional catalyst. Part-time 3-point shooter.

Kevin Garnett wears many hats for the Boston Celtics.

But his greatest contributions have little to do with his numbers, or even the Celtics winning games.

It has to do with his leadership, his accountability and willingness to portion off a few swigs from his fountain of basketball knowledge, and sprinkle a few of those drops here and there on the C's younger players who have proven themselves worthy of Garnett's tutelage.

No player among the youngsters seems to embrace the 'Book of Kevin' more than JaJuan Johnson.

From the moment he was traded to the Celtics on draft night, Johnson talked about wanting to learn as much as possible from Garnett.

Having heard how Garnett would tune young players out who weren't willing to listen, Johnson was emphatic during a recent interview with CSNNE.com that he was not going to be that player.

"He's one of the greatest to ever play the game," Johnson told CSNNE.com. "That's just dumb to not want to hear what advice he has to tell you. I'm looking at the big picture, and that's being in the NBA for a long time. Guys like KG, Paul (Pierce), Ray (Allen), they've been great in helping me and the other young guys."

But there is something different about the relationship between Garnett and Johnson.

Part of it has to do with them playing the same position. Both have the ability to stretch defenses with their shooting, in addition to making mid-range shots or scoring around the basket. And then there's the fact that both players are really focused on being great defenders.

"Like I said, when Kevin talks, I listen," Johnson said. "He's really been good to me."

And to a certain degree, you can say Johnson has been good for Garnett.

If you spend enough time around KG, it's clear that his passion for the game won't go away when he stops playing. In Johnson, there is the hope and promise that all the things that Garnett values - leadership, accountability, work ethic - will continue to play out in Johnson's career.

Make no mistake about it.

Garnett spends quality time with all of the Celtics' young players. Even when young players like Semih Erden are traded and return to face Boston, Garnett is one of the first players they seek out.

"KG, was very good to me when I was in Boston," Erden told CSNNE.com earlier this month when the Celtics hosted Erden's new team. "He talk with me a lot, help me become better player. He's good guy."

As much as Garnett appreciates the desire of young players like Johnson to learn and listen, there comes a time when a young player's voice has to be heard.

Garnett believes that time is now, for Johnson.

"I do encourage him to speak up a little more because I can't read minds," Garnett said. "And use the guys in here. I always tell him that you have a lot of guys in here with a lot of different experiences. You should get to know them."

Johnson has done that.

But in the end, Garnett remains his greatest influence.

For Garnett, he's simply doing what previous generations of NBA players did for him.

"When I do have the young boys on the plane, when I have them individually, I just like to talk to them about just life, this league and the journey and all that," Garnett said. "So I open up to them a little bit from that standpoint. Just about NBA life; it can be difficult for young guys. I don't think it's enough veterans out here on teams, to speak and guide some of these young guys and let them know how important hard work is. Having a work ethic, love for the game, respect for the game, respect for yourself, respect for your family, those things. I'm sort of that on this team."

Source: Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

Source: Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

WALTHAM, Mass. – No matter how an NBA team’s season ends, change is inevitable.
 
And while there’s no doubt that the Celtics are on the right track in terms of their ascension in the NBA, it's too soon to tell how many players on the Celtics’ 15-man roster that Danny Ainge, the president of basketball operations, will bring back next season.

MORE CELTICS

 
“One thing I do know. He’ll make the best decisions for the team and if players don’t end up being back here, I wish the best for them,” said Avery Bradley.  “Those are my brothers. We all had a special year. I appreciate everything, all the time I had with them. I’d love for all those guys to be back. We’ll see.”
 
And with Boston coming off its first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012, adding just any player won’t cut it.
 
The Celtics’ mindset now isn’t just to improve, but get good enough to where they can better compete with the likes of Cleveland, which just ended the Celtics’ season with a Game 5 thumping.
 
The most significant move made by the Celtics last offseason was the signing of Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract.
 
Like most of his Boston teammates this season, Horford is eager to see what changes are in store this summer.
 
“We just have to wait and see,” Horford said. “We had such a good year. A lot of positive things. It’ll be interesting to see what Danny, the organization feels is going to be the next step.”
 
Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.
 
That makes sense when you consider how guard-dominant the Celtics were this season and how that had a negative impact on the team’s rebounding and, to a lesser degree, their defense as a whole.
 
Gordon Hayward has emerged as a target, but all indications – for now at least – point toward him returning to Utah.
 
The Celtics may pursue Los Angeles Clippers big man Blake Griffin. Although like Hayward, he too is expected to re-sign with his current team for a max contract (for Griffin that would be five years, $175 million).
 
While trades are certainly in the cards for Boston, at this point the Celtics seem more inclined to improve their overall talent base via the draft and free agency.
 
“It’s always a good thing when you have the opportunity to add value to your team and don’t have to change your team too much,” said Celtics’ reserve Gerald Green, who will be a free agent this summer. “I’m going to be very interested to see what they do as far as building a team. We’re in a good place right now as far as being where we want to be organization-wise. I feel like we’re one or two steps away from actually being at the Finals. I think Danny has some things to think about, but I’m sure he’s going to do the job. I’ve seen Danny go to work in these situations. He always makes the team better. I’m pretty sure he’s got something planned that, at the end of the day, is going to make this organization better.”
 
Indeed, the Celtics could very well strengthen their position for next season by simply locking up some of their core players who may hit the free agent market soon.
 
Boston may look to work out an extension with Isaiah Thomas before the start of this season. Because if he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, he will be poised to command a salary that in year one would be worth more than the entire four-year, $27 million deal he signed with Phoenix in 2014.
 
“Boston’s changed my career, changed my life,” Thomas said. “I would love to be here long-term and win championships here. But as you guys know, it’s a business and anything can happen. I know that and understand that. But I would love to be here. This has been everything to me. This city, this organization … it’s been good.”

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks


Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while refraining from shoving any world leaders today.

*Larry Robinson and the San Jose Sharks are parting after working together for five seasons, per FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz.

*Speaking of Kurz, he also has a Sharks mailbag on which players are most likely to be traded out of San Jose during the offseason. Somebody has got to go, and you’d think it would be somebody without much tread left on the tires.

*Moving on to other topics, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said that losing a Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals to the Nashville Predators was the “toughest” loss of his career. I don’t see how this is possible. You see, Kesler is no slouch at falling short. In fact, he’s a tremendous loser, having dropped a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and also having lost a Gold Medal Game for Team USA at the hands of Sidney Crosby and Canada in 2010 in overtime that was also played in Vancouver. It took a simple Google search to find an actual postgame video of Kesler crying into his hockey glove on the bench in the aftermath of Game 7 vs. the Bruins. So, pardon me if I’m not buying Kesler talking about a conference finals loss as the worst of his career when he was one home win away from being a Stanley Cup champion in Game 7, and proceeded to lose like he’s done many, many times in the most important games of his career. Dude, you’ve been through tougher losses. Trust me on that one.  

*The idea of trading Alex Ovechkin might be gaining some traction with the Capitals fan base, but it doesn’t seem to be based on reality at this point.

*The pride of Melrose, Mass, Conor Sheary, delivered in Game 7 for the Penguins as they return to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons.

*Bobby Ryan said his strategy for success in the playoffs, at least in part, was staying off the phone. Maybe he ought to try that a bit more during the regular season.

*Congrats to the folks at NBC for another successful Red Nose Day that featured a reunion of the “Love Actually” cast among other things.