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The Boston Celtics’ Jordan Crawford and the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 8.

Crawford led the Celtics to the East’s lone perfect mark on the week at 3-0, behind averages of 23.3 points (fourth in the conference) on .610 shooting from the field (sixth in the conference), 6.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds. Crawford connected on 12-of-23 three-point field goals on the week, including a career-high six makes from distance on Dec. 8, during a 114-73 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Aldridge led the Trail Blazers to a 3-1 week, including wins over the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder. He posted a point-rebound double-double in each of Portland’s four games, and averaged 26.3 points (third in the conference), 12.8 rebounds (fifth in the conference), 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals. On Dec. 4, Aldridge collected 38 points, 13 rebounds and five assists during a 111-104 win over the Thunder.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Indiana’s Paul George and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.

After trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Boston Celtics are building. Yet with a 9-12 record, playing without injured point guard Rajon Rondo, they have done better than expected. And currently lead the woeful Atlantic divison — for now. Here’s ESPN Boston with more good news for the team:

Kelly Olynyk may return soon for Celtics

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that rookie forward/center Kelly Olynyk went through an individual workout on Friday and could return to game action next week.

Olynyk suffered what Stevens had dubbed a “significant” sprain of his right ankle during a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 23. He was expected to miss two weeks, which would have put him back on the court for Friday’s visit from the Denver Nuggets, but needed additional time to heal. Olynyk will miss his seventh straight game on Friday, but Stevens said he could be back as early as Tuesday’s visit to the Brooklyn Nets.

Boston Celtics forward Gerald Wallace has been fined $10,000 for using profane language during his postgame media availability session following the Celtics’ 109-85 loss to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Toyota Center, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The New York Knicks season is off to a rough start. Even taking Tyson Chandler’s injury into consideration, and the assumption that J.R. Smith will play better soon, the team could be in need of a shakeup. One of their prime pieces to trade is young athletic guard Iman Shumpert. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on some interesting new developments:

rajon rondo

Iman Shumpert had a second left knee operation over the summer, the Daily News has learned and it is unclear if the unreported surgery could impact his trade value with the desperate Knicks trying to package Shumpert in a number of proposed deals including one for Boston’s Rajon Rondo.

According to a source, Shumpert had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last July that the Knicks never reported. In September, the Daily News reported that Amar’e Stoudemire had knee surgery over the summer which the Knicks also elected not to make public.

Shumpert originally tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee against the Miami Heat during Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Shumpert didn’t return until Jan. 17, 2013 and has experienced soreness on several occasions, including the Knicks second round playoff series against Indiana. In October, Mike Woodson cryptically said that Shumpert “battled this summer with some of his injuries” and added that Shumpert did experience knee pain but left it at that.

The Boston Celtics are off to a 4-5 start, which is better than what most expected of the rebuilding squad. Here’s ESPN Boston on a Celtic that’s playing well so far this season.

Jared Sullinger

Hey, Jared, how’s your back?

“I thought people forgot about my surgery; hardly anybody ever talks about it anymore,” replied Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, who underwent season-ending lumbar disk surgery back in February and worked hard to get back on the court for the start of his sophomore campaign.

The reason his surgery has become a mere footnote is because Sullinger is playing so effectively. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds over 19.7 minutes per game in seven appearances.

Even as he works to ramp up his conditioning after a surgery that left him inactive for much of the summer, Sullinger has surprised even himself with how well he’s started the year…

According to Synergy Sports data, Sullinger leads the team in post-up chances and production. Over 26 plays in post-up situations, he has averaged 1.077 points per play (that ranks him in the 83rd percentile among all league players). For comparison’s sake, Brandon Bass has 24 post-up plays (second highest on the team), but that’s in nearly twice as many minutes of playing time as Sullinger (Bass is averaging 1 point per play, ranking in the 78th percentile).

Sullinger is trying to give the Celtics a little bit of everything. He has extended his range beyond the 3-point arc with a green light from Stevens to fire away. He’s only 2-for-10 thus far from downtown, having air-balled a shot or two, but he won’t shy away from an open look. His total rebound percentage (15) is below last season’s mark (17.5) but that should rise with more minutes and better conditioning.

Should the Boston Celtics give minutes to Kris Humphries, or instead focus in developing some of their younger talent? Here’s WEEI reporting:

Kris Humphries playing time under watch in Boston

The Kris Humphries Minutes Watch is one of the more interesting subplots of this Celtics season.

By sticking him on the end of the bench early this season, the C’s benefit twofold, accelerating the development of rookies Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani while improving the team’s lottery chances.

On the flip side, the Celtics might also benefit from increasing Humphries’ playing time. He’s a 10-year NBA veteran who’s averaged a double-double per 36 minutes over his career, so there’s little doubt he gives Brad Stevens a better chance to stay afloat until Rajon Rondo returns than Faverani. Meanwhile, showcasing him might actually increase his expiring contract’s trade value in the coming months.

The Boston Celtics are reconstructing themselves, and there are bound to be some growing pains in the process. Here’s NESN reporting:

Gerald Wallace

Wins do wonders to smooth frayed nerves.

A couple of hours after expressing exasperation with his role and frustration with being taken out of the starting lineup, Gerald Wallace changed his tune after the Celtics recorded their first win of the season with a 97-87 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. The 13-year veteran even joked a little about his 31-year-old body’s adjustment to the rigors of coming off the bench.

“My back tightened up coming in there,” Wallace said. “It’s a lot different coming off the bench, but other than that, it was a fun experience for me.”

Wallace scored nine points — his second-highest scoring total of the season — in 23 minutes as a reserve as the Celtics hung on after letting their 25-point lead get whittled down to six points in the fourth quarter.

Jared Sullinger

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have exercised a contract option on forward Jared Sullinger for the 2014-15 season.

This was an expected move. Sullinger is a talented young player and it makes sense to keep him around and see how he develops.

According to the Boston Herald, Sullinger will make $1,424,520 in the 2014-15 season.

Sullinger, a 6’9” forward, averaged 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game during the 2012-13 season. The second-year player only appeared in 45 games as a rookie for the Celtics before missing the final 37 games of the season due to lumbar disc surgery. Sullinger averaged 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steal in 20.6 minutes per game during the 2013 preseason. He notched preseason highs of 19 points and nine rebounds at Philadelphia on October 11.

Here is a statement from the Boston Celtics:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have suspended forward Jared Sullinger one game for his role in an incident that occurred on August 31, 2013. The suspension will be served during the team’s game at Toronto on October 30, 2013.

“Jared’s case was dismissed yesterday in Waltham District Court,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “While we are satisfied that this was the correct ruling, we are suspending Jared for one game because he failed to meet the high expectations we have for all Celtics employees.”

The team will have no further comment on this matter.

Charges against Jared Sullinger dropped

Good news for Boston Celtics big man Jared Sullinger, as charges against him have been dismissed. Here’s the Boston Globe:

jared sullinger

Forward Jared Sullinger practiced with the Celtics here Monday hours after domestic violence charges against him were dismissed in Waltham District Court.

The charges, which included assault and battery, destruction of property, and witness intimidation, stemmed from an altercation Sullinger had with his girlfriend in August at his apartment in Waltham…

The charges were dismissed after Sullinger’s girlfriend, Deann Smith, told authorities that she would not testify against him.

NBA preseason is a time for players who might be cut or perhaps make a squad but sit on the end of the bench to prove themselves worthy of respect and a bigger-than-expected role. One young Celtic appears to have done that. Here’s ESPN Boston:

One of the more promising developments of the preseason for the Boston Celtics was the play of undrafted rookie point guard Phil Pressey.

A strong showing as a summer league invite earned Pressey a three-year contract that included a fully guaranteed first season. But even being the only healthy pure ball-handler in camp this season didn’t guarantee the 22-year-old the chance to crack the rotation this year. His play this exhibition season might have.

“[Pressey has] shown a ton,” said Stevens. “I think at times that we’ve played our best basketball with him on the floor. At other times, he hasn’t been as good, and that’s to be predicted. He’s a young guy. But I’ve said this at the start, the guy works at his game. He wants to be good. It’s not an accident that he’s here. He is a good player. He’s a hard worker. He cares. He’s an easy guy to coach. All that stuff adds up at the end of the day. You can see it in the exhibition games.”

Here’s Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

The Celtics, as expected, cut their roster down to 14 yesterday with the release of forwards Damen Bell-Holter and DeShawn Sims, and guards Chris Babb and Kammron Taylor.

Though Babb was one of the team’s best 3-point shooters — a stat that Stevens cherishes — even a rookie minimum contract would have pushed the Celtics over the luxury tax threshold. They are now approximately $200,000 under the line with every intention of not adding payroll.

Don’t be surprised if Babb starts the season with the NBADL’s Maine Red Claws.

But the Celtics do have two important decisions to make by Thursday. They have until that date to reach agreement with Bradley on an extension. Though both sides have indeed been in negotiations, as of this weekend nothing is imminent.

They also have until Thursday to pick up the option on MarShon Brooks for next season, when the shooting guard would make approximately $2.2 million.

boston celtics

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have waived forwards Damen Bell-Holter and DeShawn Sims and guards Chris Babb and Kammron Taylor. The Celtics roster stands at 14.

Bell-Holter, a 6’9” forward, appeared in three games for the Celtics during the preseason totaling one rebound in five minutes of action.

Sims, a 6’8” forward, averaged 2.3 points in 4.0 minutes per game while appearing in three games during the preseason.

Babb, a 6’5” guard, appeared in five games for the team during preseason while totaling 16 points, four rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes of action.

Taylor, a 6’2” guard, appeared in three games for the Celtics during preseason and scored two points in seven total minutes of action.

It’s just NBA preseason, but still, credit goes to players who want to set a winning tone early:

Gerald Wallace

Gerald Wallace called out his new team for its sub-standard effort following Sunday night’s loss to the Timberwolves in Montreal, and the Celtics forward backed up those words following today’s practice.

Coach Brad Stevens supported those Sunday critiques from Wallace and Jeff Green, saying today that the result was one of the best practices of training camp.

But, according to Wallace, the coaches have asked him to rein in his words a bit.

“I’m getting fussed at by the coaches every time,” said Wallace. “They’re trying to tell me to relax and ease up. But the main thing is I want the guys to compete. If we lose all 82 games, but we lose them going down fighting and competing hard. I can live with that. I can’t live with losing and we didn’t compete, we didn’t give our best effort and we just gave the game away. I don’t want that for these guys and this team.”

Reported by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald

Can’t knock a player for trying to make sure his squad competes, even in preseason.

Gerald Wallace brings hustle to Celtics

The Boston Celtics are probably in for a rough year. But one thing they do know is that Gerald Wallace is going to outwork a lot of the opposition:

Gerald Wallace

Asked Saturday about the reasons for Boston’s inability to put together 48 consistent minutes this preseason, Gerald Wallace suggested some of his young teammates might not be familiar with the necessary level of intensity needed on the floor, dubbing the team’s effort “lackadaisical” at times this preseason.

Lackadaisical is one adjective that will rarely be associated with Wallace. Slotted in a starting role on Sunday in Montreal, Wallace injected the first unit with a jolt of energy. He finished with a team-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go along with 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds while working up a regular-season sweat over 26 minutes.

Wallace couldn’t save the Celtics from absorbing a 104-89 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Bell Centre, their sixth defeat in seven tries this preseason, but he gave another glimpse of the relentless energy and effort that he’ll bring to the team during the 2013-14 season.

Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

Rebuilding or not, the Celtics are still worth watching.

gerald wallace

“If it ain’t on the Xbox, I ain’t reading it,” said Wallace. “I couldn’t tell you anything about no magazines, newspapers, none of that.”

But try as he might to avoid the noise, even Wallace couldn’t help but acknowledge that few pundits expect Boston to be very competitive this season with most win projections — both locally and nationally — topping out in the high 20s.

“Our main thing is we want to try to get better,” said the 31-year-old Wallace, the Boston player with the most service time in the league (12 seasons). “We know nobody is picking us to win the championship; nobody is picking us to make the playoffs. Our main thing is we just gotta continue to get better. I told the guys, we’re like a sleeper team. We’re that team that everybody’s looking at on their schedule like, ‘OK, we can get a win,’ [or,] ‘We can rest, this might be a night off for us.’ We can surprise some teams and do some things. … A lot of teams are not going to be expecting it.”

Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

rajon rondo

For the first time in 63 years, it is likely that the Boston Celtics will not have a formal captain this season. But just because first-year coach Brad Stevens prefers not to formally designate a leader doesn’t meant that this team won’t have one.

Stevens went out of his way Friday to again laud the guidance of Rajon Rondo, offering the latest vote of confidence for the rehabbing point guard.

“I don’t know what the leadership roles were like last year, because I wasn’t here,” said Stevens. “The guy that’s been the most vocal leader for us has been Rondo. I think he’s done a really good job of it.”

Rondo isn’t expected back on the floor until December — or whenever he feels his right knee is healthy enough to resume activity after undergoing surgery in February to repair a partial tear of the ACL — but he’s been an on-court presence for the Celtics every day since camp opened Oct. 1 in Newport, R.I.

Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

MarShon Brooks was frustrated on the Nets

Nets fans can remember: MarShon Brooks was once part of the future.

He was an All-Rookie selection and one of a few reasons to feel good about a terrible team in New Jersey, a smooth scorer who was talking about winning Sixth Man of the Year. Then it all fell apart in Year 2, and the divorce was finalized on draft day when he was dealt to Boston.

According to multiple sources, Brooks had communicated to the Nets that he wanted to be dealt. Brooks didn’t go that far while opening up in an interview with the Daily News on Tuesday, but he outlined some of his frustrations under Avery Johnson and PJ Carlesimo.

“I wasn’t really sure with (Jason Kidd becoming coach). I didn’t know what to expect. Last year obviously we knew what was going on, it was so rocky, I didn’t know if I was playing. There just wasn’t any structure to any of my minutes,” Brooks said. “So it was kind of hard for me to perform under those circumstances and obviously I didn’t want to be in that situation next year.”

Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

Celtics: Keith Bogans out indefinitely

Celtics: Keith Bogans out indefinitely

Celtics shooting guard Keith Bogans is out indefinitely with a sprained right thumb, coach Brad Stevens announced Saturday before the Celtics played the New York Knicks in a preseason game at the Verizon Wireless Arena here.

An MRI confirmed Bogans’s sprain, which he suffered in the Celtics’ 97-85 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in a preseason game Friday in Newark, Del. Bogans is scheduled to be re-evaluated Monday at New England Baptist Hospital, so a timeline for return is unclear.

Reported by Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe

Celtics and 76ers both in rebuild mode

That the Sixers and Celtics are on parallel paths back to respectability is nothing more than the reality of the NBA. The league’s salary cap and the impact of even a single superstar often force a franchise to gamble that, by breaking apart its roster and struggling for a season or more, it will increase the odds that it will draft a player who can change everything. (A simpler way to say all this is that the league encourages tanking, but that’s well trod ground.)

For too many years, the Sixers were unwilling to accept this necessary evil. They didn’t want to bottom out, so they lingered on the periphery of the playoffs, sometimes reaching the postseason, sometimes missing it, usually inspiring little more than a shoulder shrug from a frustrated fan base. Everything about them became stagnant and stale. It was only when their attempt to “go for it” - their misbegotten trade for Andrew Bynum - failed last season that they effected the sort of overhaul in front-office personnel and philosophy they needed.

“This year is going to be a lot about development - bringing some of our young guys along, try to change the culture, what hard work looks like, what expectations look like,” Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie said. “We’re looking as long-distance as we can, versus next month or next year.”

At least the Celtics got to lengthen their legacy before hitting the restart button. With point guard Rajon Rondo and their trio of eventual Hall of Famers - Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen - they won a championship in 2008, then reached the NBA Finals in 2010 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 for good measure.

Reported by Mike Sielski of the Boston Herald

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