Sports Illustrated writer Chris Mannix joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning and talked about what the future might hold for the Celtics following their Game 7 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
Mannix said he's heard from people close to Kevin Garnett that the forward is leaning toward retirement, but if Garnett returns to the NBA it's likely to be with the Celtics.
"I think if Kevin Garnett wants to keep playing basketball, he will stay in Boston," Mannix said. "I think he's a loyal guy -- remember, he didn't really want to get traded out of Minnesota in the first place. He doesn't like to be a guy who's a mercenary, who wants to bounce around to different organizations and just chase rings like some other players in his age bracket. I think he wants to stay with one organization."
As for Ray Allen, his departure seems likely, with New York, Miami and Chicago leading the way as possible landing spots.
"There is going to be a ton of interest in Ray Allen in the offseason," Mannix said. "He's going to be able to pick and choose where he wants to play."
Allen conceivably could return to Boston, but Mannix said that decision might be affected by Allen's apparent struggles to get along with Rajon Rondo.
"I think there's no question that the relationship was strained over this year," Mannix said. "How strained is the key, and it's still a little bit unclear. There was some friction between those two. I think that could play a role in Ray's decision not to come back. Now, I agree, I think that Boston probably wasn't going to bring him back anyway, you're right, it's Avery Bradley's job and Ray isn't coming back to the Celtics to be a bench player, especially when he can be a bench player on a team that might be more likely to win a championship. But I think the relationship over the last year between Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo soured. Now, I'm not entirely clear as to how bad it got. But certainly I know that there was some legitimate, palpable friction between those two players and I think that will ultimately affect his decision in free agency."
Looking at the NBA finals, Mannix predicts LeBron James and the Heat will have a tough time with the Thunder.
"I thought that the Boston-Miami series was the JV game, it was like the bronze medal to me, because I think Oklahoma City is just on a different level right now," Mannix said. "Miami has great talent at the top, but Oklahoma City is talented all throughout. Your old buddy Kendrick Perkins has made them a defensive force. I'm putting the over/under at maybe 16 minutes before Perkins flagrant fouls LeBron in that Game 1. I think he's going to have a physical impact. … The difference-maker in this series is Russell Westbrook. Russell Westbrook has the potential to just go off and have an absolutely monster series. He's a much better player than Mario Chalmers, and I think he is going to have a major, major impact in this series, and Oklahoma City wins it in six games.
"And you know, if they do, I hate to sound hyperbolic, but this could be the start of something big for Oklahoma City. We talk about Miami and their potential to win multiple championships. This Oklahoma City team is made up of a bunch of NBA toddlers. They're going to be around for years to come. The majority of these guys are tied into longterm contracts. If they win this year, they could be the next Jordan-esque Bulls team for the next five, six years."
Mannix also covers boxing for SI, and he offered his take on Manny Pacquiao's controversial loss Saturday to Timothy Bradley for the world welterweight title.
"When I saw that decision -- I was ringside, I scored the fight for Pacquiao -- bad decisions are sort of epidemic in boxing," Mannix said. "And I've seen it far too many times. … I honestly think it's less corrupt as it is just downright incompetence from some of the judges in boxing."
Added Mannix: "I had it reasonably close, I had it 115-113 [for Pacquiao], but that was as close as you could get. Bradley, one of the things he won, at least in the punch stats, was he threw more punches. If you're in the state of Nevada, one little inside boxing thing is that Nevada favors aggression in their fighters. Their judges tend to favor fighters who throw a lot of punches. So, I thought that Bradley got the benefit of the doubt from me and I think from the judges in that sense. … But look, no chance he won that fight. No chance whatsoever he deserved that decision."
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