As we learned this past Celtics season, Gerald Wallace never pulls punches. This time, he’s giving his own teammates a break from constantly calling out their effort and making the game’s best player his speed bag.

In a conversation with myfoxal.com during his annual basketball camp at Childersburg (Ala.) High, Wallace criticized LeBron James for both his handling of free agency off the court and his lack of a killer instinct on it.

“I don’t really pay attention to the offseason acquisitions or what’s going on just because of [the drama],” he said. “I think they put more attention into it than what’s needed. Their decision is no different than some of the other guys going through the same thing. It’s just their names happen to be LeBron, Carmelo [Anthony], Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, some of the superstars that are mostly seen on TV. I think that’s what makes a big deal out of it.”

Wallace’s love for Michael Jordan is no secret. A longtime Jordan Brand representative, Wallace idolized the Bulls legend and played five of his seven seasons in Charlotte under Jordan’s ownership, including one as an All-Star.

“I grew up in the ’90s,” added Wallace, whose camp t-shirt featured the Jumpman logo. “I grew up in the Jordan era. I’m a Jordan baby, and to me he will always be the greatest player that I’ve ever seen play. I had an opportunity to play against him at the end of his career, which wasn’t the same, but I’ve even played against him in practice and had an opportunity to talk to him. Watching him on TV growing up, he’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen.”

No argument there. However, Wallace’s commendation of Jordan also included a condemnation of James.

“Jordan never had an off night,” Wallace told myfoxal.com. “He found many ways to contribute to the team, and I’d say Kobe [Bryant] is pretty much the same. You can put Lebron in that category. I think what separates LeBron from Kobe and Michael Jordan right now is that he doesn’t have the attitude or the fight that those guys had. For me, he’s not willing to take over a game, demand a game or put the game all on his shoulders. I would like to see him get to that one day, but right now I don’t think he has that, and that’s what Michael Jordan and even Kobe has.”

Whether James wears a Heat or Cavaliers uniform, Wallace could ultimately find himself tasked with defending the four-time NBA MVP a few times this season, and those words may come back to haunt him. The 31-year-old will almost certainly be wearing Celtics green again this winter, even if he wished he weren’t a year ago.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was for me,” Wallace said of Boston. “Being where I’m at in my career, I think once I got there I was kind of against starting over and rebuilding a team, but being there, being a veteran, being able to help some of the young guys mature and develop themselves in the league and just given the experience that I was able to give to those guys turned out to be pretty much a good year for me. So, I was excited about it. I think I had a great time this year. I’m looking forward to going back and improving. We had [Rajon] Rondo for midway of the season, so I’m looking forward to being with him for a full season. So, it’ll be interesting this upcoming year.”

You can say that again.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics acquired Tyler Zeller and a first-round pick from the Cavaliers and Marcus Thornton from the Nets in a three-team trade that may pave the way for

Marcus Thornton

Marcus Thornton

The Celtics acquired Tyler Zeller and a first-round pick from the Cavaliers and Marcus Thornton from the Nets in a three-team trade that may pave the way for LeBron James‘ return to Cleveland, ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported.

In return, the Celtics are sending a second-round pick to the Cavs and using the $10.3 million trade exception they received upon dealing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn last summer. That TPE was set to expire on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Nets receive Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev from the Cavaliers, freeing enough cap space for Cleveland to potentially offer James a maximum contract (4 years, $94.8 million).

As a result, the Celtics reportedly received Cleveland’s No. 1 pick in 2016 (top-10 protected through 2018), a 24-year-old 7-footer under their control through 2016 and Thornton’s expiring $8.6 million contract for a second-round pick.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach
Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Do the Celtics covet Lance Stephenson or don’t they? That is the question.

According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Celtics are “showing interest” in the free agent shooting guard. However, the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett claims the C’s have not contacted Stephenson or his agent.

Considering Avery Bradley reportedly agreed on a four-year $32 million deal to play Stephenson’s natural position, it seems surprising the Celtics would also target the mercurial Pacers 2-guard, although he has the ability to play the 3.

While Indiana remains his ideal destination, Stephenson considered Pacers president Larry Bird‘s offer of five years and $44 million a “low-ball” one and began exploring the open market, according to Broussard.

Based on production, Stephenson (2,752 min, 13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.6 apg, 56.4 TS%, 14.7 PER) should command more dollars than Bradley (1,855 min, 14.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 51.0 TS%, 12.7 PER), but the former’s antics may prevent him from making double-digit millions annually. Either way, it’s hard to imagine the C’s stealing him from the Pacers.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo gave his thumbs up to playing alongside Marcus Smart. (AP)

Did Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo give his thumbs up to playing alongside Marcus Smart? (AP)

Given the drafting of point guard Marcus Smart and the failure thus far of the Celtics to land a big name this summer via free agency or trade, the discussion has naturally turned to trading Rajon Rondo.

In a conversation with The Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes from his annual basketball camp in Louisville, Ky., Rondo offered fairly typical Rondo responses — brief, dry and interpretive.

“I don’€™t think nothing of it,” Rondo said, shrugging his shoulders, according to the Globe. “I am who I am. …

“I don’€™t have too many feelings involved in this business. I’€™ve played my heart out for the game, but business is business. I can be here today, gone tomorrow. You never know. For me to get bent out of shape, or to feel threatened by the Celtics drafting a point guard, it means nothing.”

So, he’s good, then?

Meanwhile, the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett spoke to three NBA general managers who believe — despite a number of potential suitors for Rondo’s services — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will struggle to receive fair compensation for his All-Star point guard this summer, suggesting the C’s could wait until the season starts before making a deal in hopes Rondo’s play increases his trade value.

Conversely, as the trade deadline approaches, opposing GMs will be circling like sharks knowing the Celtics face the possibility of Rondo departing in free agency next summer, leaving Ainge with nothing but cap space in return. In that regard, Rondo’s value may peak before the calendar turns to 2015 (i.e., Chris Paul in December 2011).

Ideally, as Rondo’s high school coach Doug Bibby explained to the Globe, “It won’€™t affect [Rondo]. œIf anything, it just woke up a beast.” Then, as Sports Illustrated Chris Mannix suggested, the Celtics could land a legitimate starter and draft picks in return. Unless, of course, Kevin Love walks through that door and the C’s keep Rondo.

Ainge remains at a fork in the road. Whether Rondo is still riding shotgun this winter remains up for debate.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

A great start turned into a big learning experience for the young Celtics in a Summer League lesson handed out by the Pacers Monday in Orlando.

The Green went up by 18 points early against the Pacers in their second game of Summer League action on Monday. Then they got absolutely throttled by Indiana. Boston ended up losing the game by 19 points, 96-77.

A great start turned into a big learning experience for the young Celtics in a Summer League lesson handed out by the Pacers Monday in Orlando.

The Green went up by 18 points early against the Pacers in their second game of Summer League action on Monday. Then they got absolutely throttled by Indiana. Boston ended up losing the game by 19 points, 96-77.

James Nunnally (11) gets by Celtics' Chris Johnson (12) in Summer League action Monday in Orlando. (AP)

James Nunnally (11) gets by CelticsChris Johnson (12) in Summer League action Monday in Orlando. (AP)

A great start turned into a big learning experience for the young Celtics in a Summer League lesson handed out by the Pacers Monday in Orlando.

The Green went up by 18 points early against the Pacers in their second game of Summer League action on Monday. Then they got absolutely throttled by Indiana. Boston ended up losing the game by 19 points, 96-77.

The 37-point turnaround was as ugly as it sounds. The Celtics shot a mere 34.3 percent (24-for-70) from the field, and only 25.9 percent (7-for-27) from beyond the arc.

Basketball is a game of runs. The Celtics never responded to the Pacers’€™ run, which seemingly lasted three quarters.

‘€œThat response has to happen on the defensive end of the court,’€ Summer League head coach Jay Larranaga told reporters. ‘€œWe were late on everything and we fouled too much.’€

Kelly Olynyk led the team in scoring for the second straight game with 15 points (5-for-13 shooting) to go along with six rebounds and four assists. Meanwhile, Marcus Smart ‘€“ the No. 6 overall pick in the draft ‘€“ had another shaky game. Smart shot just 3-for-15 from the field, finishing with 11 points in 27 minutes.

Shooting remains a huge concern for Smart. But he was also unable to fill out the stat sheet like he did on Saturday against the Heat. Smart only had three boards, four assists and a steal to follow-up his debut.

Smart looked lost at times, settling for bad shots while looking less energetic on the defensive side of the ball (although, the same can be said about the entire team during the last three quarters).

James Young sat out yet again with a neck injury from a June car accident. His status is still up in the air as to whether or not he will play in Summer League.

Willie Reed led the way for the Pacers. He scored 18 points (8-for-12) while adding six rebounds, three assists and blocking four shots. It’€™s just Summer League, but if Willie Reed is drawing comparisons to Willis Reed, it’€™s not a good thing.

The Celtics will look to bounce back on Wednesday against the Pistons at 7 P.M.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Over the weekend, Yahoo Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted, “Here’s something that remains unchanged: Danny Ainge‘s relentless pursuit of creative ways to engage Minnesota on a Kevin Love deal.”

It should come as no surprise that Ainge is continuing to target Love. After all, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck promised fireworks this summer, and a Love connection is the only big splash left to make. Go ahead, look at the available free agents at point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center.

News flash: LeBron James, Chris Bosh and/or Carmelo Anthony aren’t coming to Boston. The Suns, Pistons, Rockets and Jazz are all respectively expected to match offers for restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe, Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward. Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat are all off the board. Lance Stephenson, Luol Deng, Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce are rumored elsewhere. That leaves one top-20 player in Tom Ziller’s great free agent rankings: 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas.

Considering he plays the same position as Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart, Thomas doesn’t exactly qualify as fireworks. Now, look at the unrestricted free agents available in 2015. The two biggest names: Rondo and Love. If Ainge doesn’t pair them now, how confident are you he can do so when they hit the open market next summer? If nothing else, the first week of July has proven high-profile free agents have no interest in the Celtics. Re-signing Rondo and Love would be a different story, since the C’s could offer significantly more money.

In other words, the C’s only real shot to compete in the near future is pairing Rondo and Love. This is a star’s league, and those are the only two that set foot in Boston this summer. Other pieces will follow. Otherwise, Ainge might as well trade Rondo and start from scratch, because the Celtics won’t be contending for quite some time.

Ainge will exhaust all options to acquire Love, including every attempt to involve other teams and satisfy Minnesota’s desire to land a legitimate player in return. Since we can get creative, too, here’s one such option he could try.

CELTICS GET

Kevin Love ($15.7 million in 2014-15, $16.7M player option in 2015-16)
Gordon Hayward (restricted free agent to be signed for double-digit millions annually)
Kevin Martin ($6.8M in 2014-15, $7.1M in 2015-16, $7.4M player option in 2016-17)

While saddled with Martin’s salary for the next three seasons, the C’s land both Love and Hayward. Fireworks.

TIMBERWOLVES GET

Derrick Favors ($13.0M in 2014-15, $12.0M in 2015-16, $11.1M in 2016-17, $12.0M in 2017-18)
Trey Burke ($2.6M in 2014-15, $2.7M in 2015-16, $3.4M in 2016-17, $4.6M qualifying offer in 2017-18)
Jeff Green ($9.2M in 2014-15, $9.2M player option in 2015-16)
Avery Bradley (restricted free agent to be signed for 4 years, $32 million)
2015 first-round pick (Clippers)

While ridding themselves of Martin’s salary, Minnesota acquires a replacement for Love and a backcourt for the future while assuming Green’s salary (and production) in exchange for a first-round pick next summer.

JAZZ GET

Marcus Smart (rookie scale contract can be traded 30 days from signing)
Jared Sullinger ($1.4M in 2014-15, $2.3M in 2015-16, $3.3M qualifying offer in 2017-18)
Brandon Bass ($6.9M in 2014-15)
Keith Bogans ($5.3M non-guaranteed in 2014-15)
2015 first-round pick (Celtics)
2016 first-round pick (Nets)

On the surface, Utah is the real loser, parting ways with three of their most productive players this past season. However, the Jazz upgrade from Burke to Smart alongside Dante Exum, cementing a future backcourt worth building around. They also replace Favors with Sullinger while freeing up $10 million upon cutting Bogans and either letting Bass walk or dealing his expiring contract again at the deadline. Of course, Utah also gets a pair of first-round picks, giving them two apiece for the next three summers. An under-26 starting lineup of Smart, Exum, Jeremy Evans, Sullinger and Enes Kanter with six first-round picks through 2017 is a foundation for future success.

In essence, the Celtics trade Smart, Bradley, Green, Sullinger, Bass, Bogans and three first-round picks for Love and Hayward — a handful of quarters for a pair of dollars. Eating Martin’s contract, losing Bradley’s defense and parting with both 2015 first-round picks are tough pills to swallow, but a triumvirate of Rondo, Love and Hayward makes the Celtics one of the best four teams in the East this season once the roster fills out around them.

This is a pipe dream, probably, considering Bradley and Hayward would have to agree to sign-and-trade deals before waiting a month until Smart’s rookie contract becomes eligible to be dealt. Still, this is the type of creativity required of Ainge when searching for a third team to pull into a potential Love deal. Every day there’s a new idea.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

According to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics and Danny Ainge haven’t given up their pursuit of Timberwovlves forward Kevin Love.

Saturday afternoon, Wojnarowski tweeted the following:

Here's something that remains unchanged: Danny Ainge's relentless pursuit of creative ways to engage Minnesota on a Kevin Love deal.