Celtics react to Pitino's involvement in recruiting scandal

Celtics react to Pitino's involvement in recruiting scandal

NEWPORT, R.I. – The FBI investigation that has rocked the college basketball world has had a rippling effect that has been felt in all corners of the basketball world – even here in Rhode Island where the Boston Celtics are holding training camp. 

Among those affected by the investigation was Louisville head coach Rick Pitino who was put on “administrative leave” without pay. 

Multiple reports indicate that the former Celtics head coach and team president will not return as the Cardinals’ head coach. 

But Pitino’s connections to Boston extend beyond his short-lived time as the basketball czar of the Celtics franchise. 

Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty is a former assistant coach for Pitino in Louisville and played for him at the University of Kentucky.

And Boston’s third-year guard Terry Rozier spent two seasons at Louisville under Pitino before the Celtics drafted him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. 

 Rozier spoke about his former coach prior to the team’s afternoon practice on Wednesday. 

“Just a great guy,” Rozier said. “He was tough on us, but it was all love at the end of the day; a guy that I respect.”

The 65-year-old Pitino will leave a Louisville program as one of the most decorated coaches in NCAA history, having won national titles at Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013) as part of seven trips to the Final Four.

 It remains to be seen if Pitino can resurface somewhere else as a coach, or whether that’s something he is still interested in. 

Speaking about the FBI investigation which involved 10 assistant coaches as well as at least one shoe apparel maker, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said, “It’s sad to see that stuff.”

Stevens, who spent six seasons (2007-2013) as the head coach at Butler University which included a pair of national runner-up (2010 and 2011) finishes prior to coming to Boston, still has close ties to the college game.

So there’s no question, while his focus remains steadfastly on the Celtics, there’s no escaping how much he still deeply cares about the college game. 

“Clearly, there’s an issue,” Stevens said. “I think that there’s a lot of guys that are going to be not talked about, that are doing it right and have been doing it right for a long time. Certainly, I don’t think you can paint college athletics with a broad brush. Certainly, there’s a lot of guys doing it the other way too.”

One of the underlying issues in all this is the issue of whether college players should be paid. 

Here’s Stevens’ take on that topic. 

“There’s a top, small percentage (of athletes) that really brings a lot of attention to their programs and … probably have some market value themselves at that age,” Stevens said. “And then there’s a large number of players on scholarship that don’t bring their scholarship amount to the table from a marketing perspective, right? The hard part from an NCAA perspective would be determining how you divide that, how you decide that.

Stevens added, “But ultimately, that’s somebody else’s job. I have to coach the Celtics.”

Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story


Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story

The quad injury that will keep Kyrie Irving off the floor tonight against Chicago doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue.

The knee bruise that had Al Horford’s availability in question - NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin says he will play tonight - isn’t a serious thing, either.

But it’s unclear just how big a deal Marcus Morris’ left knee issue is going forward.

Prior to Sunday’s 91-81 win at Detroit, the Pistons announced that Morris would miss that game as well as tonight’s matchup against Chicago.

A Yahoo Sports! report said that Morris will miss “extended time” due to the left knee injury that has resulted in him missing 13 games which includes tonight’s game.

“Just like I said the other day, when we found out that he wasn’t feeling as good, we decided that he wasn’t going to play in these two games, we’ll re-evaluate it tomorrow with our docs,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game against Chicago. “That meeting has already been scheduled.”

Morris missed the first eight games of the season to give the left knee soreness a chance to heal and not be as sore. The Celtics began him with a minutes restriction, and increased his playing time gradually while not allowing him to play in back-to-back games.

And this latest flare-up comes at a time when Morris seemed to find a groove at both ends of the floor while providing Boston with some much-needed offensive punch off the bench.

“He played so well against Philly and Phoenix … I thought he looked really good,” Stevens said. “Played that Monday against Milwaukee and then missed the Dallas game, it’s just been kind of going back and forth. And it’s what we said from the get-go, we didn’t want that to happen. But we’ve got to figure it out for him so that he feels great.”

The Chicago Bulls will be short-handed as well tonight.

In addition to Zach LaVine (left ACL) and Cameron Payne (right foot), Chicago will also be without rookie Lauri Markkanen (back spasms) who is averaging 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds which ranks fifth and second, respectively, among rookies this season.


Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls


Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

We have seen the Boston Celtics reach deep into their bench this season, but nothing like what we’ll see tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

Along with Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) who is out for the season and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation) who was ruled out for tonight’s game prior to last night’s win at Detroit, the Celtics will be without at least one of their two remaining all-star players.

Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to a left quad contusion. And Al Horford, who briefly went to the Celtics’ locker room after a knee-to-knee collision with Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver, is question for tonight’s game with a right knee contusion.


Horford was able to return to the Celtics’ lineup following the knee-on-knee blow, finishing with a near double-double of 18 points and nine rebounds to go with six assists.

If both Irving and Horford are unable to go, that leaves Boston void of its best scorer (Irving) and most complete player (Horford).

You have to wonder in the case of Horford, whether tonight’s opponent may factor in the decision to sit him or not.

Chicago (5-20) has the worst record in the NBA this season. And while the Celtics respect all opponents, if they are going to give guys some “strategic rest” in season, this would qualify as one of those nights considering the opponent in addition to knowing there won’t be any practice or a game tomorrow (the Celtics, like most teams, take the day off when they play back-to-back games).

We know Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and most likely Aron Baynes will be in the starting lineup. Beyond that, you're probably looking at Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier filling in for Irving, while Horford’s possible replacement will likely be from the trio of Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye or potentially Guerschon Yabusele.

Smart (four starts, 3-1 record) and Theis (two starts, 2-0 record) are the only ones from that group to have been in the starting lineup this season.