New amnesty rule hurts Celtics' flexibility

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New amnesty rule hurts Celtics' flexibility

WALTHAM Already armed with a reduced mid-level exception compared to the previous collective bargaining agreement, you can add the new amnesty rule to the factors that will make it tough for the Boston Celtics to significantly bolster their roster for the 2011-2012 season.

In the yet-to-be-ratified CBA between the players and owners, teams can waive any player currently under contract and not have that player's salary count against their salary cap.

The Celtics don't have any serious candidates to be waived under the amnesty provision. And teams with salary cap space -- the C's are not one of those teams -- get first crack at players who are released via amnesty, which is why Danny Ainge doesn't expect the luxury tax-paying Celtics to acquire any players this route.

But here's where it gets tough for the C's.

The teams that have the salary cap flexibility to add players via amnesty plan to wait patiently for those players to become available. The particulars regarding the amnesty rule are among the B-list items yet to be ironed out yet.

But with teams with cap space keeping close tabs on potential free agents via amnesty, some of the top free agents won't get deals done as quickly as they probably should, despite training camp being just a week from today.

And if the big names like Tyson Chandler, Nene and Jamal Crawford are still on the free agent market, the players that the C's hope will slide down to their price range, won't yet become available.

It puts the Celtics in an even longer holding pattern, well aware that their patience would be put to the test having just a "mini" mid-level exception worth 3 million and veteran minimum contracts.

So when Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told reporters on Thursday that he "hoped" to have 10 players in camp by next Friday -- the first day of training camp and free agency -- he wasn't kidding.

"Every year is a challenge; brings different challenges," Ainge said. "We don't have the same flexibility this summer to do some of those things. There's a lot of money out there, teams with cap space. So players are waiting for the big pay days. We have to be patient in this process."

And the new amnesty rule doesn't help.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Kings

WATCH: Celtics vs. Kings

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Celtics-Kings preview: Watch out for Cousins’ supporting cast

Celtics-Kings preview: Watch out for Cousins’ supporting cast

BOSTON –  There is no mistaking DeMarcus Cousins is priority No. 1 when it comes to beating the Sacramento Kings.
 
But dealing with elite individual players hasn’t been a huge problem for the Celtics.
 
It’s their supporting cast that are usually the game’s biggest difference-makers and where the Celtics have faltered.
 
Limiting Sacramento’s role players will be key to the Celtics (10-8) getting back on a winning track after losing 121-114 at home to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
 
Going into that game, all eyes were on Andre Drummond who has emerged as one of the league’s premier centers. And the former UConn product didn’t disappoint as he scored 25 points to go with 17 rebounds. 
 
But Drummond’s play didn’t decide the game’s outcome.
 
It was the dribble-drive penetration of Ish Smith (19 points, eight rebounds, eight assists), the red-hot shooting of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25 points) and the inside-outside work of Jon Leuer (12 points, seven rebounds) that ultimately sealed the Celtics’ fate. 
 
The Kings (7-11) have a number of players that, in addition to Cousins, can be problematic for the Celtics if they are not careful.
 
Rudy Gay, whose name will continue to be thrown about as potentially being traded, has put up borderline All-Star numbers for most of his career.
 
This season, the 10-year veteran is averaging 19.6 points, 3.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game from the wing-forward position.
 
Darren Collison is averaging 12.9 points per game along with 4.9 assists from the point guard position. While he’s not known as a great shooter (he’s shooting 34.8 percent on 3s this season), his speed and ability to get into the paint is something the Celtics have to limit.
 
The bottom line is Boston’s defense has to do a better job at not only accounting for the King’s main star, but also the talent around him.
 
“There’s a reason why guys are in the NBA,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com recently. “You know everybody in this league can play and if you’re not careful, they can play well against you and your team. We just have to do a better job defensively against everyone, really.”
 
And part of that starts with having the right attitude.
 
“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s not been an ongoing thing. It happened [against Detroit] and it happened in the Denver game; a couple games. For the most part we’ve been trying to impose our will first.”