Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (July 17) -- Boston Celtics' Steve Pagliuca willing to pay to keep contender together

Plus, JaVale McGee is feeling slighted by the defending champs and more NBA news from around the league Staff

This morning’s headlines:

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Pagliuca: Celtics willing to enter luxury tax to win — The Boston Celtics landed the biggest free-agent fish of the summer (Gordon Hayward) to a max contract. Next summer, a potential max deal looms for All-Star Isaiah Thomas and potential deals may be needed in years to come for the likes of Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and others. Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reports that Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca says he and Boston’s brass are willing to enter the luxury tax if need be:

Steve Pagliuca says the NBA is going “back to the future” where the salary cap is concerned.

This summer’s salary cap adjustment, which lowered the number to $99.093 million for the 2017-18 season, and set the luxury tax level at $119.266 million, took an especially draconian hit on the Celtics.

That tightened cap number is the reason Avery Bradley was introduced as a member of the Detroit Pistons last Thursday, thus giving the Celtics room to account for Gordon Hayward’s four-year, $128 million contract.

But with Isaiah Thomas demanding the arrival of his Brinks truck next summer, and Marcus Smart’s first big payday also at hand, the Celtics’ cap challenges have only begun.

So after the feel-good spirit of 2016, when an influx of new television money had teams like the Celtics spending freely, teams are going back to a previous sensibility.

“There was a time when teams had lots of cap space with the increase in revenues,” Celtics managing partner Pagliuca said last week in Las Vegas. “Now we’re entering a period where cap management becomes imperative.

“Now we’re going back to the future, where people had to work hard for cap space.”

Pagliuca isn’t sure the team will re-enter tax-land next summer, but if exceeding the tax line means once again having an annual chance of reaching the NBA Finals, then the co-owner says so be it.

“I don’t know if it’s inevitable, but if we feel it’s going to help us win a championship, then we will,” he said. “We have a history of doing what we need to do to win.

“But you have to be careful — if you sign people to bad contracts, it’s going to preclude you from signing other players. But I’m very happy with how it’s gone.”

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Van Gundy: Anthony not a ‘natural fit’ with Rockets — Carmelo Anthony reportedly wants out of New York and has his sights set on the Houston Rockets. But if that move transpires, how will Anthony fit along side All-Stars Chris Paul and James Harden? ESPN analyst and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy isn’t big on Anthony’s potential move to Texas and said as much to Marc Berman of the New York Post:

In Las Vegas working the summer league final four Sunday and Monday for ESPN, Van Gundy told The Post in a phone interview the Rockets need more defense, not more offense, after the Chris Paul bonanza.

“I think they have a lot on their plate integrating Paul and [James] Harden,” Van Gundy said. “They’re not going to be better offensively than they were last year. They were the second-best team in the league offensively. I thought they had defined roles everyone knew. [Coach] Mike D’Antoni did a fabulous job getting them to play on a consistent basis. The Chris Paul trade, there’s going to be some ups and downs, but they’re better equipped to win in the playoffs. Particularly if Harden has a bad night, they still have a superior player to play through. Their improvement is going to have to be defensively. So I’m interested in the Carmelo thing. I don’t necessarily see it as a natural fit.’’

Van Gundy said he thinks Anthony would have to improve on defense for the Rockets to get a boost. Anthony lost a step on defense last season.

“He’s a very good player, yet they don’t need help offensively,” Van Gundy said. “They were a fabulous offensive team. I’m interested to see if it happens and who’s involved if it does happen. I don’t necessarily see the fit.

“Unfortunately, what they need to combat Golden State is a two-way Hall of Fame-caliber player, and they got one in Paul. So Anthony certainly is a Hall of Fame player, but whether he gives them great defensive versatility. … It is where Ryan Anderson struggled, in pick-and-rolls. So maybe Anthony will be more versatile defensively than Anderson, and maybe that’s the upgrade there.”

“You have to have common vision and alignment of thought of not only how to play but to conduct business,” said Van Gundy, who once derided Jackson as “Big Chief Triangle.” “They need to stay aligned in their vision and support their head coach and his vision and how to play their very best. Jeff is going to be allowed to coach without the specter of: ‘How are we going to play?’ It was constant: ‘To triangle or not to triangle.’ It was always hovering. This is going to be good for Jeff, however he chooses to play.”

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Ball shines before calf injury — Another day at the NBA Summer League and another stellar effort from Lonzo Ball as the Lakers advanced to the championship game in Las Vegas. But the hotshot rookie had to leave the game in the third quarter due to tightness in one calf and Ohm Youngmisuk of says that Ball could miss the title game against the Trail Blazers:

The Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick said he will receive treatment leading up to Monday night’s championship game against Portland.

“This is the first time my calf got tight,” Ball said, adding that he still felt stiffness. “Just being cautious. I wanted to get back out there, but the training staff is going to take care of me, and I will be with them tonight and tomorrow and hope I can get back out there tomorrow.”

Ball suffered the injury in the third quarter and departed with 6 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 108-98 semifinal win. The Lakers’ medical staff held Ball out for precautionary reasons, but the team sounded optimistic about the possibility that he plays in the championship game.

The Lakers will play their fifth game in six nights on Monday, so they could always play it safe with Ball. They’ve seen everything that they needed to see from the prized rookie.

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McGee feels slighted by defending champs — The Warriors gave JaVale McGee a chance to rehabilitate his reputation and to slip a championship ring on his finger. Now it seems the backup center is unhappy that the defending champs aren’t giving him a shot at the starting center spot for 2017-18 and that has McGee in a bit of a snit, according to Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News:

The Warriors wound up bringing back Zaza Pachulia and David West, which is not bad. But neither of them averaged 19 minutes per game, in the regular season or playoffs. And they are a year older.

Pachulia will start. West can be penciled in as a fixture in the lineup to start the second and fourth quarters. But with their respective limitations, the third string center is still important — to potentially close first and third quarters, to give them a different look from the plodding, grounded centers.

At this point, the best recourse is bringing back JaVale McGee. But one source said he is not happy with the Warriors for not giving him a shot at the starting slot and giving all of the mid-level to free agent guard Nick Young.

McGee believed his play this season earned him more minutes and money, and is looking for that on the market.

To be in position to need McGee is a tad precarious. Their other options at third-string center are major question marks.

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Report: Perkins eyeing comeback in 2017-18 — Kendrick Perkins was a key member of the Boston Celtics’ title team in 2008 and was a member on three other teams that eventually reached The Finals. He hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2015-16 season (with New Orleans) and is looking to make a comeback this season, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

The former Celtics big man has been working feverishly on his conditioning over the past several months and is looking for a training camp invite at age 32.

Perkins appeared in good shape when he stopped by the Las Vegas Summer League last week. He played in just 37 games for the Pelicans in 2015-16 before sitting out all of last season after teams showed little interest in his services. Perkins wasn’t pushing as hard for a return last summer, but that doesn’t mean he considers himself retired.

He hungers for a return, hoping to contribute as a backup center.

“The body feels good, man, I’m just sitting here waiting on an opportunity,” he said. “Hopefully I can get a training camp invite soon. I want to earn my way. I don’t want nobody to give me nothing. So I’ve been working hard, going two or three times a day, working and grinding. I’m just trying to stay with it.”

Perkins wanted to play last season but couldn’t find a contract. And although the year off allowed him to heal and rest, Perkins said it didn’t help the perception. He felt overlooked.

“You’re sitting back, waiting on a job, you want in and not just sitting around the house. I wasn’t ready for that in that point in my life,” he said. “I think it was a very humbling situation for me. I thought it made me realize the importance and not to take it for granted.”

“I’ve been keeping my weight down, making sure I’m getting all the cardio I need, staying in great shape,” he said. “I’m just going to do what I can. I feel good. I’ve been on top of my basketball work and I’m just waiting for my opportunity, it if happens. I’ve just changed my diet, working on my quickness, and just trying to get better. It’s 30 teams out there and I’m just looking for one opportunity. It will come. I’m just trying to leave it in God’s hands.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: No meeting between the Bucks and Derrick Rose has been scheduled — for now … For once, Stephen Curry is happy with a fourth-place finish … LeBron James takes his talents back to Miami, but only for a photo shoot. … The Answer to the Big3 question: Who didn’t play in Philly? … Jodie Meeks says he’s healthy and ready to help work some magic with the Wizards … You might want to check out the Day 10 standouts at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.