Blakely: A ready-made rival to Warriors awaits LeBron in Boston

Blakely: A ready-made rival to Warriors awaits LeBron in Boston

BOSTON – Golden State once again steamrolled towards another NBA title while leaving LeBron James and the Cavaliers as the last bit of roadkill on the journey.

But the Warriors’ third title in four years was a secondary topic of discussion as James’ impending free agency was to the surprise of no one, the center of attention.

The future of James will dominate the NBA rumor mill for weeks with several teams – including the Celtics – being talked up as a possible landing spot.

But James coming to Boston will require a bit of role reversal to come to fruition.

In the past, teams have gone through a series of salary cap gymnastics, spending months, sometimes years, shedding salary to create enough space to bring James into the fold.

Boston hasn’t done anything like that with an eye towards acquiring James and won’t even consider going down that road unless James makes it absolutely crystal clear that he wants to be a Celtic.

Success at the highest level tends to travel with James, in part because of what’s already in place but also because of what – and who – he brings with him.

In Boston, the only thing James needs to bring is his ridiculously impactful game.

Because with or without James, Boston is built to compete for an NBA title now and in the near future.

The Cavs have very little financial flexibility to make major upgrades to their roster, which few envision will be good enough to contend for a title next season even if James decides to return.

Trades in Cleveland are always possible, but who’s really trying to holla at George Hill for $19 million? Or Jordan Clarkson, who has two years and $25.9 million left on his deal? J.R. Smith is owed $14.7 million next season, but considering his up-and-down, erratic – no, make that bad – decision-making...there’s not a viable market for him, either.

And while the Los Angeles Lakers have been the most aggressive team in terms of creating space to make a strong run at James, the Lakers will have to add at least one more proven star (Paul George? Trade for Kawhi Leonard perhaps?) to convince James to join the Purple and Gold.

Even LeBron-to-L.A. came to pass, the Warriors would still be the odds-on favorite out West with the Houston Rockets a close second.

Boston came one win away from being in the NBA Finals instead of Cleveland and the Celtics’ entire postseason run came without their two best players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

With those two back in the fold next season, the Celtics will begin the season as the odds-on favorite in the East along with Philadelphia.

The Sixers are one of the league’s youngest teams and looked the part in their second-round exit from the playoffs courtesy of the Celtics.

So, the need for them to add James is great.

As for the Celtics, like the rest of the league, they would love to have James on their roster for next season.

But the difference is that most teams see the addition of James dramatically improving their chances of competing for an NBA title.

The Celtics?

They’re already on the short list of title contenders and the addition of James would put them over the top.



Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge was busy on Twitter late last night poking a little fun at a couple of his players.

Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, wondered where the defense was in a video of "Scary" Terry Rozier playing in a pickup game with Wizards guard John Wall and other NBAers. 

A little good-natured payback for Rozier's FaceTime interruption of Ainge's drafting of Robert Williams back in June?

A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.

Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills. 

So, Celtics players, post those Twitter videos at your own risk because the boss is watching.



Anything is Podable Episode Two: New owner, new era

Anything is Podable Episode Two: New owner, new era

It’s not very often that a marquee franchise like the Boston Celtics is sold, but in 2002, control of the green and white changed hands.

Episode Two of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” looks at the first several years of the Wyc Grousbeck era and how the new ownership group began to lay the building blocks of the next great Celtics team.

“Mortgaged the house to put down the deposit and started to figure out whom I could call to raise all this money,” said Grousbeck in an exclusive interview for the podcast series. “But as of that moment, I knew I was going to be the controlling owner of the Boston Celtics, or I was going to die trying. I mean, that was going to happen.”

While the Celtics’ transformation from pretender to contender took several years, Grousbeck and his team were committed to giving fans the team’s seventeenth championship.

“When you come into the Celtics, you can’t come into it for money, and we never did” added Grousbeck. “I named the company ‘Banner 17’ because I wanted to win the 17th banner and hopefully more.”

The podcast continues on to address the coaching transition from Jim O’Brien to Doc Rivers, as well as Danny Ainge’s first few seasons as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations.

“I’m not exaggerating if I say 10-15 different coaches and ex-coaches told me not to take the Boston job,” said Rivers. “Too much pressure, they’re going to be bad for a long time, not sure if you and Danny will work well together. I mean, I just got a lot of calls.”

“As excited as I was for Doc, you know, Wyc and Pags, they wanted to sign him before we left the house,” joked Ainge. “They were so excited. They were enamored with Doc.”

With Ainge and Rivers now in charge of all things on the court, Grousbeck and his team were on their way to fulfilling their goal.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.