If season is lost, C's could make run at Howard


If season is lost, C's could make run at Howard

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
WATCH: NBA Labor Battle Part 2: How the lockout impacts the Celtics

If you love the NBA, your heart is in some serious pain right about now.

The league owners and players union are gearing up for what looks like the NBA version of Armageddon, with neither side showing any signs of backing down soon.

TNT analyst and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley wasn't off his rocker -- not this time, at least -- when he talked about the possibility that the NBA might miss the entire 2011-2012 season.

It seems unfathomable to most of us that a league that's at its apex in popularity and growth, would allow a work stoppage at such a critical time in the game's development globally.

But the owners seem hell-bent on changing the economic model used by the league, and the players are digging their heels in for what is expected to be a long and tumultuous fight between owners and the player's union which wants to keep as much of what they've had in the last couple collective bargaining agreements.

The idea of there not being any NBA basketball in 2011-2012, in a word, sucks.

However, as bad as that may seem, there's the potential for things to brighten up quickly for the Celtics.

And it can be summed up in two words - Dwight Howard.

For weeks, I have not wavered from my belief that Howard will never wear the Green and White, at least not in these prime years of his career.

And the reason is simple.

If the Orlando Magic can't re-sign him at some point during the 2011-2012 season, they will surely trade him to the highest bidder.

And the Celtics don't have enough attractive chips to be a real player in the Howard sweepstakes.

But if there's no 2011-2012 season, that is what we would call a game-changer in the pursuit of Howard.

He could terminate his contract and thus become a free agent next summer.

This would rob the Magic of having an opportunity to move him and get something in return this upcoming season. They could still do that if Howard were to agree to be moved via sign-and-trade next summer. But if he's interested in joining the C's, it's highly unlikely that the Celtics will have enough pieces that they would be willing to part with, or that the Magic would be interested in having.

Once a free agent, it would then be up to Howard to pick the team that he feels will 1) give him the max-salary contract that he deserves and 2) can give him the best chance at winning a championship.

With Kevin Garnett likely retiring after the '11-12 season, the void in the C's frontcourt for a veteran defensive presence is obvious.

And when you look around the NBA, there's no player that dominates the interior better than Howard.

No one.

When you combine that ability defensively with a franchise that has placed a high premium on great play defensively, he would give the C's the kind of presence defensively that, as we have seen, is essential to winning a championship.

And then there's point guard Rajon Rondo, who spent most of this past season as the top assist man in the NBA.

Well aware that this Celtics team will be his sooner rather than later, the C's have gone about assembling the kind of frontcourt players (Jeff Green, first-round pick JaJuan Johnson) who can best take advantage of Rondo's strengths - running the floor and finding teammates in position to score.

Of course, this is all pie-in-the-sky, best-case-scenario type stuff that hinges on there not being an NBA season.

And that is something that nobody wants to see.

But if the players and the owners can't come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time to salvage the 2011-2012 season, adding Dwight Howard is not a bad consolation prize for the Celtics.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Isaiah Thomas likes video of Jalen Rose calling Paul Pierce 'petty'


Isaiah Thomas likes video of Jalen Rose calling Paul Pierce 'petty'

Just when all the video tribute controversy between Isaiah Thomas and Paul Pierce seemed to be dying down, Jalen Rose heated it right back up.

Live on ESPN's "NBA Countdown," Rose called Pierce "petty" for his comments on the Celtics potentially holding a video tribute for Isaiah on Feb. 11 when Pierce gets his jersey retired.

Jalen Rose called Paul Pierce petty right to his face... 😳

A post shared by DIME on UPROXX (@dimemagazine) on

Thomas tweeted on Tuesday that he (again) declined the Celtics' offer to hold the tribute for him so it wouldn't interfere with Pierce's night. But if you look at the likes on the Instagram video above, posted by dimemagazine, you'll see Thomas appears to agree with Rose on the matter.

It doesn't look like the video tribute drama is going to end until the Feb. 11 matchup between the Celtics and Cavaliers is over with.

Horford: Fighting in NBA 'needs to stop'


Horford: Fighting in NBA 'needs to stop'

WALTHAM, Mass. – Three Houston Rockets players entered the Los Angeles Clippers’ training room before being stopped by security but not before a profanity-laced exchange that’s sure to result in fines and possibly some suspensions.

Orlando’s Arron Afflalo threw a punch – and barely missed – hitting Minnesota’s Nemanja Bjelica which led to both players being ejected and for Afflalo will likely result in a suspension of some kind.

Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons got into it with Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, resulting in both players being tossed and apparently leading to Simmons signaling to Lowry that they could continue having their “discussion” in the hallway.

That hallway encounter never happened (Lowry said he was there, Simmons said he didn’t see Lowry so you believe who you want to), but the fact that it was even a possibility speaks to this being one of the more bizarre weeks in recent memory when it comes to potential fighting in the league. 

And remember … it’s only freakin’ Wednesday!

I asked Boston’s Al Horford about this.

“It’s very, very bizarre,” said Horford, now in his 11th NBA season. “I don’t think I remember any period of time, (with) all this chippiness going on. You want to compete, you want to play hard; that’s fine. But all the extra stuff, I think needs to stop. At the end of the day you need to focus on basketball. We’re here to play.”

Horford added, “I’m sure the NBA will address those things and fix them.”

No one was shocked that things got a little testy in the Houston-Los Angeles Clippers game which was played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was the first time Chris Paul, now with the Rockets, returned to Los Angeles to face his former team. 

The Clippers won 113-102, a game filled with trash talk from both sides. But apparently the chatter soon turned to chippy play with hard fouls delivered and taken in the latter stages of play with a total of five technical fouls called, two of which were on Blake Griffin which is an automatic ejection. 

Talking trash gone bad was a factor in the Simmons-Lowry bruhaha with the Sixers emerging with the victory. 

And on Tuesday, Afflalo and Bjelica had already been assessed a technical for an earlier run-in. Soon after, there was a collision between the two which pissed off Afflalo who swung with great force at Bjelica’s face. 

“We’re professionals,” Horford said. “We can’t get caught up in that stuff.”

Horford plays around the basket and is no stranger to banging around with the big, bad angry bodies. 

But as much as there will be times when he’ll want to snap, Horford has consistently resisted the urge. 

“It’s hard; it’s hard,” he said. “But we have to remember what we play the game for; I play to win. I’m playing for my teammates and sometimes you need to take a step back before you do something you regret. That’s the way I look at it.”