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.”

ESPN player poll: Celtics give best free agency pitch

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ESPN player poll: Celtics give best free agency pitch

The Boston Celtics have massively changed their reputation around the NBA.

Once known as a team which can't land marquee free agents, the Celtics have landed Al Horford and Gordon Hayward in consecutive seasons. That seems to support an ESPN poll, which ranks the Celtics as the top recruiting team in the NBA.

Here's what ESPN.com wrote on the poll where they quizzed 48 anonymous players.

Which team have you heard makes the best free-agent pitches?

Celtics: 27 percent
Heat: 15 percent
Lakers: 12 percent
Warriors: 9 percent
Other: 37 percent
Others gaining votes: Clippers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Knicks, Mavericks, Pacers, Rockets, Spurs, Wizards


The Celtics prepared a thorough pitch for Kevin Duran before he joined the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 offseason. The pitch included an appearance from Tom Brady. While Durant didn't pick Boston, he praised the team.

"I met with them and they were really good, and I was really impressed by it," Durant said in Nov. 2016, via ESPN.

He wasn't the only one who appreciated the Celtics' pitches.

"Boston [has the best]. If you bring Tom Brady? That's pretty damn cool," an Eastern Conference guard told ESPN.


What C's need to do heading down the stretch

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What C's need to do heading down the stretch

LOS ANGELES -- This season has been like one of those choose-your-adventure books for the Celtics, with seemingly no idea of what’s coming next other than to know every change is somehow connected with one another.

And as the Celtics gear up for the final 23 games of the season, there will be developments in the coming months that will go far in determining this team’s fate.
Here are five storylines to keep tabs on as the Boston Celtics begin their post All-Star break schedule.


One of the early leaders for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, Jayson Tatum now finds himself a distant third at best, behind Donovan Mitchell of Utah and Ben Simmons of Philadelphia. It’s not so much that he’s now all of a sudden started playing poorly. But there's no mistaking Tatum’s impact on winning games now isn’t what it was earlier this season. He’s averaging 13.5 points, which is sixth among rookies, and is shooting 42.7 percent, which is tops among all first-year players. Since Jan. 1, Tatum has averaged 12.3 points while shooting 33.3 percent on 3s. Those are decent numbers, but Tatum has shown he has more to offer. The All-Star break should benefit him not only in terms of providing some mental relief, but also allow that his dislocated pinkie injury added time to heal. He says it hasn’t affected his shooting, but the numbers suggest otherwise. Prior to the Dec. 21 injury, Tatum shot better than 50 percent from the field and from 3-point range, while averaging 13.8 points per game. Since then, his scoring average took a slight dip to 13.2, but his field-goal percentage (44.0 percent) and 3-point shooting (32.5 percent) each dropped off noticeably. We’ll see just how a little in-season rest will be enough for Tatum.


When it comes to Marcus Smart, there’s two very distinct opinions. You either love him despite his obvious basketball flaws (shooting), or you can’t stand him and pray that the Celtics find a player who helps them more. I hate to break it to Smart’s naysayers, but his value to the C's may not be any higher than it is right now. They've lost four of their last five games, and the defense has been the main culprit. Boston had problems defensively even when Smart was healthy, so why does his return matter so much? Because we’ve seen the next-man-up mantra play out and more often than not, it works. But there comes a point in time when the players being thrust into more prominent roles remind us that consistently, more than anything, is the difference between them and the players whose absence they're trying to fill. Smart has a defensive rating of 98.9 this season, tops among all players in the NBA averaging 30 or more minutes played. That kind of elite defense for such an extended period of time is among the many reasons why his return after the All-Star break will be worth keeping an eye on. 


After a slow start because of a sore left knee that kept him in and out of the Celtics lineup, Morris seemed to finally be healthy enough beginning with Boston’s Jan. 11 matchup in London against Philadelphia, in which he scored a then-season high of 19 points.
That would be the first of 11 straight double-digit scoring games for Morris, which was a first for him. More than the points, Morris’ availability has been huge. Including the Jan. 11 game against the Sixers, Morris has played in all but two games since then.

Boston will need Morris to continue along those lines, with the only question lingering around him is a pretty simple one: Will he continue to be healthy enough to contribute?


No one expected Greg Monroe to hit the ground running, with 20 points and 20 rebounds a game. But after four games, the early returns aren’t exactly overwhelming. Monroe has scored a total of 20 points and grabbed -- you got it -- a total of 20 rebounds.    
At the same time, it’s still too soon to know what he’s going to bring to this team. A low-post scoring threat for sure, Monroe has also shown himself to be a decent defender. However, Boston will need Monroe to put his imprint on games in a more significant fashion going forward.

That doesn’t mean he has to score a ton of points or grab a huge haul on the glass. But he has to make his presence felt,. Otherwise his signing will have done little to move Boston towards best positioning itself for all possible scenarios that may come its way in these final regular season games as well as the playoffs.


Most of us approached this season anticipating the worst when it comes to the Boston Celtics and rebounding. The Celts havs been a bad rebounding team for years and the moves they made in the offseason didn’t spark any hints things would get better. But they did . . . a lot better. And as the wins piled up, so did the rebounds which had the Celtics regarded as one of the league’s better rebounding teams.

And then they hit a swoon and have since been trying to get back to being a good rebounding team. The results of late, have been mixed. Lots of variables go into winning; rebounding for the Celtics is one of the bigger ones. In victories this season, they averafe 4.6 more rebounds per game than they do in losses. Improving their lot in this area not only provides a chance to improve their win total, but also allows their defense to be better, play at a tempo more to their liking and just overall, be a better team.