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Ainge, Celtics ponder future / Possible shake-up ?

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  • John S
    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060101&Category=SPORTS0403&ArtNo=601010494&SectionCat=SPORTS&Template=printart NBA Notebook Ainge, Celtics
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2006
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      NBA Notebook
      Ainge, Celtics ponder future
      Team executive's presence on road trip spurs rumors of possible shake-up
      Star news services
      January 1, 2006
       
      Boston Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge will travel with the team to Denver for Boston's game against the Nuggets. He said this scouting trip was planned long ago, but with the Celtics in disarray, the timing naturally raises suspicion.
      As the Celtics continue to slump -- they had lost the first three games on the five-game trip -- a major change appears necessary. Forget all the talk of taking a step back to move forward. They are fundamentally flawed. They do not work well together on the court, no matter how many combinations coach Doc Rivers tries. Anyone who has watched Boston fail to play defense on the trip and commit turnover after turnover can see that. Ainge certainly does.
      "I think the blame is on everybody," Ainge said. "But if you can't improve defensively, if you can't improve in limiting turnovers, then you need a change in personnel. No question."
      When it was pointed out that Ainge brought in Rivers and, with the notable exception of Paul Pierce, he drafted, signed or acquired in trade all the players on the roster, Ainge said, "It's on me, too, because of the players and coaches we have. I don't believe we've explored all the options, all the combinations on the roster. Maybe players who are not playing deserve a chance. I know Doc has tried a lot of different combinations.
      "At the same time, maybe it calls to shake things up. If the players who are on the floor can't defend, can't take care of the ball, then the players who can deserve a chance."
      Ainge made it clear it was the job of Rivers and his coaching staff to determine any lineup and rotation changes. Coincidentally or not, Al Jefferson replaced Kendrick Perkins in the starting lineup Friday night. Rivers cited better play by Jefferson in recent games combined with a desire to keep Raef LaFrentz and Perkins paired whenever possible as the reason for the switch.
      When asked whether there would be any more tweaks to the lineup, Rivers said, "I'm not a big believer in change. I think you are who you are and you've got to just do it better."
      Although Ainge is aware that the trade value of Pierce probably has never been higher (26.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 39 minutes per game, 49 percent from the field), the first step toward change for the Celtics could be a long, hard look at themselves.

      Grizzlies lose Stoudamire

      Memphis guard Damon Stoudamire ruptured a tendon in his knee and left the court on a stretcher in the Grizzlies' 93-90 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
      Stoudamire will undergo surgery pending an examination by team doctors in Memphis and will likely miss the rest of the season, said team spokeswoman Stacey Mitch.
      "I had a layup, but when I went up it felt like a sniper shot me," Stoudamire said. "It was just a feeling I've never had."
      Stoudamire, a Portland native who played more than seven seasons for the Blazers, slipped while driving to the hoop with 4:02 left in the half and Memphis leading 45-35. He landed on his backside, staying motionless with his head buried in his arm for few minutes until being taken off the court.
      The 5-10 point guard, who signed a four-year deal with Memphis in the offseason, had four points, six rebounds and three assists in 14 minutes.
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