Rivers: Celtics 'close' with multiple free agents

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Rivers: Celtics 'close' with multiple free agents

ATLANTA With each passing day, the Boston Celtics' need for another big man only grows.

Well there's help on the way. But here's the catch: The Celtics still don't know who it will be.

C's coach Doc Rivers told reporters following Monday morning's shoot-around that the C's were "close" with a couple of free agents.

In a later interview with CSNNE.com, he said Boston was hoping to have added a player "today," adding that the C's expect to have another big man on board no later than Friday, which is the waiver deadline for playoff eligibility.

Rivers also told CSNNE.com that the hold up right now is that there are a couple players that the C's have interest in that are buy-out candidates that could become available soon.

"You want to wait for that," Rivers said. "You don't want to sign a guy and then another guy (you're interested in) buys out. It's a game of chicken, but it's hurting us. We literally need a body. We just need, anybody."

Rivers would not say who the players were that the C's were waiting to see would become available, but the two buy-out candidates that are on the Celtics' radar are Chris Kaman of the New Orleans Hornets, and Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom.

The Hornets have indicated that they have no plans on buying out Kaman, but they would not totally shut the door on the idea, either.

"Everything is always a possibility," Hornets general manager Dell Demps, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I mean there's no reason to say I'm certain, 100 percent sure. There's always a possibility. I never want to say never. But our intention is to keep Chris."

As for Odom, the Mavericks have repeatedly said they have no plans on buying out Odom, even as reports continue to surface about Odom seeking a buy-out.

If neither one of those players become available, Boston's pool of big man targets include former Celtic Chris Johnson and Ronny Turiaf who was recently waived by Denver when he was acquired as part of a trade from Washington.

Boston may tap into the D-League as well, which includes veterans such as Dan Gadzuric who is averaging 8.8 points and 10 rebounds for the Texas Legends who are coached by longtime NBA veteran coach Del Harris.

Regardless of who they acquire, the newest Celtic's arrival can't get here soon enough as Boston's frontcourt depth continues to take one hit after another.

Rookie center Greg Stiemsma is dealing with a right foot injury that kept him out of the team's morning shoot-around.

"I don't know how much he can give us," Rivers said. "But he's going to play."

And the same can be expected of whoever the Celtics add to their roster.

When it comes to fitting them into the C's system, Rivers isn't worried.

"No one has practice anyway" he said. "We have a chance to practice on Wednesday. We're going to take tomorrow off. Right now, we probably won't (practice Wednesday) because we don't have enough bodies. We'll see."

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

BOSTON – Like most of us around New England, Wyc Grousbeck heard all the early praise doled out on the Boston Celtics as being one of the elite teams in the East prior to this season starting. 

“I felt before the season that maybe we were being overrated,” Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, told CSNNE.com. “That we were maybe a top-10 team in the league and the top few in the East, maybe. But it still felt like a longshot.”

And here they are, preparing to play Game No. 75 this season, against Milwaukee, with the best record (48-26) in the Eastern Conference. 

“They’ve grown into themselves,” Grousbeck said. “They’re playing better than I probably thought.”

But Grousbeck has been around the NBA long enough to know there is still much work to be done. After all, the Celtics’ focus remains on winning an NBA title. But Grousbeck is wise enough to know that while that is the goal, it often takes longer to accomplish than anyone – himself included – would like. 

It’s even trickier when you consider how the East is still relatively close despite their being just a handful of games remaining. 

“There’s a bunch of teams scuffling around in the East, and we’re scuffling around with them,” Grousbeck said. “We gotta do something in the playoffs.”

This will be Boston’s third straight season advancing to the postseason. Each of the first two appearances ended with a first-round exit. 

But this year is different. The Celtics are on pace to finish with home court advantage at least through the first round of the playoffs. But if they’re able to win the games they are favored throughout the remainder of this regular season, they will finish with the top seed in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

And as we’ve seen of late, home court has indeed been an advantage for Boston which comes into tonight’s game having won its last seven at home, which includes the first four games of a current six-game home stand. 

The success Boston has had thus far has raised the expectations of many. 

And while Grousbeck certainly wants to see the Celtics have more success than they have had the last couple of years in the playoffs, there’s no mistaking he is pleased with the direction of the franchise that just four years ago was a lottery team.

“There’s no reason to put a ceiling on the season,” Grousbeck said. “I think this season already looks good to me. I love our coach. I love our young players. I love our draft picks and our potential cap room (this summer); all of our fans. So I’m already happy with where the team is going.

Grousbeck added with a grin, “If we can speed it up all the better.”

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."