The Commercial Appeal

End of era as Celtics rebuild without Pierce

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BOSTON — Letting Doc Rivers go to the Los Angeles Clippers was the first sign. Getting rid of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett clinched it. The Boston Celtics are rebuilding. The Celtics have agreed to the terms of a deal that would send the two remaining members of the Big Three that won the 2008 NBA title to the Brooklyn Nets for a package of draft picks and players.

Pierce is the longest-tenured member of the team, its captain, a 10-time All-Star and a likely Hall of Famer. Garnett is also a likely Hall of Famer, though only the last six years of his career were in Boston.

That’s why Pierce’s departure is the one that signals the end of an era in Boston.

“It’s sad to see everybody leave Boston. You just want them to go someplace where they have a chance to win, and they have,” Rivers said at Clippers draft headquarte­rs late Thursday night. “It’s a great trade for Boston, too; not now, later. Danny (Ainge, Boston GM) wanted to rebuild, and that’s what he’s doing.”

Rivers’ exit was negotiated with the Clippers, landing Boston a firstround draft choice in 2015 and freeing the Celtics from the $21 million remaining on his contract. Garnett and Pierce will go to Brooklyn as soon as the deal can be completed July 10.

Yahoo Sports, which first reported the talks, said the Nets will also get veteran Jason Terry from Boston and send Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 to the Celtics. Boston is left with Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, along with Jared Sullinger and first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, a 7-footer from Gonzaga.

Tim Hardaway, a scout for the Miami Heat, said: “We don’t have to worry about Boston no more.”

Not next year, at least. But the Celtics will have two first-round picks in four of the next five drafts, including the loaded one expected next year.

“The Celtics wanted draft picks and they wanted to drop contracts. I was one of those contracts,” Rivers said Friday. “It’s a hard thing to do, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”

DEVELOPMEN­TS

Germantown alum gets NBA chance: Belmont’s Ian Clark, a former Germantown High star, will play for the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors’ summer league teams, The Tennessean reported.

Tennessee State’s Rob Covington signed a partially guaranteed contract with the Houston Rockets. Covington, a 6-9 forward, averaged 17 points and eight rebounds last season but missed 10 games after having knee surgery.

Clark will be the first Belmont player to participat­e in the NBA summer league. He will play for the Heat in Orlando from July 7-12 and for the Warriors in Las Vegas from July 13-22.

“Everybody wants to hear their name called, but there’s other ways and other paths to guys reaching their dreams,” Clark said, who wasn’t drafted Thursday.

The 6-3 guard was third in the NCAA in 3-point percentage and is Belmont’s NCAA-era leader for points in a career (1,920) and 3-point field goals (340). Clark’s agent, Jamar Smiley, said if Clark is signed by Miami he will not play in Las Vegas.

“It’s a positive, just getting the exposure playing for both teams,” Clark said. “I think it can only help. Fatigue will be a factor, but it won’t be a big factor.”

Allen returning to Heat: Ray Allen exercised his $3.2 million player option Friday to stay with Miami, barely a week after the Heat finished off the San Antonio Spurs to win the NBA Finals in seven games.

Allen made one of the biggest shots in Heat history, a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 of the finals to tie the score and force an overtime, in which Miami prevailed.

Allen turns 38 next month but played in 102 games during the regular season and playoffs for Miami — the most appearance­s by any player in the league last season.

Allen averaged 10.9 points in the regular season, and 10.2 points in the playoffs for the Heat.

76ers say they don’t have a coach: Philadelph­ia General Manager Sam Hinkie denied a New York Daily News report that the Sixers have decided to hire San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown.

“Nothing of that substance happened I could tell you,” Hinkie said Friday. “We had a lot of things going on. That was not part of what happened in the last several hours.”

Hinkie said he has not formally interviewe­d anyone for the coaching job vacated April 18 by Doug Collins.

NBA assistant coaches David Fizdale (Miami Heat), Michael Curry (Sixers), Melvin Hunt (Denver Nuggets), and Houston Rockets assistants Chris Finch and Kelvin Sampson have also been mentioned as potential candidates for the Sixers job.

Curry, who was the associate head coach under Collins, will run the Sixers’ Orlando Summer League team from July 7-12.

The Boston Globe reported Friday that Brown is “extremely” interested in coaching the Celtics, according to league sources.

Briefly: The Charlotte Bobcats have extended a qualifying offer to guard Gerald Henderson, making him a restricted free agent, but not to center Byron Mullens. Mullens becomes a free agent. Henderson is coming off his best season, averaging a career-high 15.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and one steal in 31.4 minutes per game. Mullens played in 53 games last season, averaging 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game. ... Former NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaf­f will be an assistant on Mike Brown’s new staff with the Cavaliers. Bickerstaf­f has been a head coach with Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte. He took over as the Los Angeles Lakers’ interim coach last season after Brown was fired after just five games. Bickerstaf­f also worked in the front office for the Nuggets and Bobcats. ... Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank will return to the team as an assistant under new Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd. The Nets said they also have agreed to terms with assistants Roy Rogers, Eric Hughes and holdover Doug Overton to fill out the staff of their rookie coach.

INDEPENDEN­CE, Ohio — Anthony Bennett wasn’t really all that interested in playing basketball. Yeah, it was cool dunking on guys, and a great way to make new friends after moving from Toronto to the city’s suburbs.

Then, he decided to get serious about six or seven years ago. His future was calling. “I just started growing,” Bennett said, flashing a smile while talking about his path to the NBA. “And everyone said, ‘You should probably play basketball.’ So I said, ‘All right. I’ll give it a shot.’ Look where it got me now.”

Bennett was formally introduced Friday by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who chose the UNLV power forward with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday night.

Although he wasn’t regarded by many draft experts as the best player, Bennett was always at the top of Cleveland’s board. The Cavs scouted the 6-7, 240-pounder extensivel­y all season, fell in love with his game and after getting rave reviews about his character, chose him over Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr. in a lightly regarded draft.

“As we did our evaluation­s throughout the entire year, we just kept coming back to his ability and his talent and how it fit with our guys,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. “A lot of times, like last year, it’s just clearcut. But for us, through the year, we always had him very high in our rankings and as we went back and reviewed the film and went on campus and visited everybody, we came away saying he’s a great kid. He’s willing to work and do the right things and he’s got a bunch of talent.”

Bennett, who averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in his one season with the Runnin’ Rebels, didn’t find basketball as much as the sport discov- Cavaliers first-round pick Anthony Bennett averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in his one season at UNLV. ered him.

After his family moved from inner Toronto to Brampton, Ontario, Bennett enjoyed basketball, but it wasn’t his passion.

“I was just playing around and just wasting time,” he said.

His mother, Edith, was encouraged to get him on an organized team, but as she watched her boy clumsily run up and down the floor, she never dreamed it would one day become his profession.

“At first, people were saying, ‘Oh, he can’t play,’ ” she said. “But a few of the coaches stuck with him and gave him a chance. See what a chance will get you?”

Bennett’s arrival didn’t come without some risks for the Cavs. He recently underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and has reportedly struggled with his weight while recovering.

Grant, though, sees him as the next piece — along with Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters — to help turn around a franchise that has gone 64-166 in the three seasons since LeBron James left.

“A lot of guys in this draft were out for medical reasons, but at the end of the day we just felt like this was the right guy to add with all the talent he has,” Grant said. “You put him in a pick and roll with Dion or Kyrie, he’s going to be pretty difficult to guard because he can shoot the ball and is athletic and can handle the ball and get to the rim.”

 ??  ?? ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Boston will be starting over without perennial All-Stars Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett after the Celtics reached a deal to trade them to the Brooklyn Nets.
ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Boston will be starting over without perennial All-Stars Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett after the Celtics reached a deal to trade them to the Brooklyn Nets.
 ?? MARK DUNCAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS ??
MARK DUNCAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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