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NBA COAST TO COAST

Celtics' big three could dwindle

Danny Ainge, Celtics president, says he is willing to consider breaking up Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen for younger and more dynamic replacements.

January 21, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • The Celtics' Big Three (from left) -- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen -- wait for play to resume in a game against the Indiana Pacers earlier this month.
The Celtics' Big Three (from left) -- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and… (Michael Dwyer / Associated…)

Last hurrah?

Quick, catch a glimpse of Boston's big three. It could be shrinking fast.

Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, said this week he would consider breaking up the core of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen if it resulted in a younger and more dynamic roster.

Like, duh

It couldn't get much worse, as the Celtics' record fell below .500 and they became fringe playoff contenders. Even more worrisome, the production of all three veterans has dipped from last season, when the team made a not-so-inspiring run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ainge told the Boston Globe he didn't want the Celtics to repeat the failures of previous management, which refused to trade Larry Bird, Kevin McHale or Robert Parish in their latter seasons. Boston went on to endure a stretch where it did not reach the playoffs in seven of eight seasons.

One of the proposed deals that Ainge said former president Red Auerbach scuttled involved trading Bird to Indiana for Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich.

Even at 47, Person may be spryer than some of the current Celtics.

A happier home

Maybe Ivan Johnson should have started his career in the NBA.

He couldn't cut it at Oregon, having his scholarship revoked after one season because of anger issues.

A stopover in the Korean Basketball League ended when Johnson directed an obscene gesture at a referee and was banned for life. Johnson was also benched by the Erie BayHawks of the NBA's Development League in part because he led the league in technical fouls.

Finally, the forward appears to have landed in the right spot. He's an unlikely 27-year-old rookie with the Atlanta Hawks who has stepped up after Al Horford went down because of an injury.

Johnson combined for 22 points and 18 rebounds in victories over Charlotte and Minnesota, including two free throws in the final seconds of the Hawks' 93-91 victory over Minnesota.

With a baby due in March, Johnson has promised to be on his best behavior so that he can support his family.

"Now that I'm here," Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "ain't no messing it up."

L.A. story

Kevin Durant might feel left out when he huddles with the projected Western Conference starters before next month's All-Star game.

If the most recent All-Star balloting results hold up, the Oklahoma City forward would be the only West player on the court who is neither a Laker nor a Clipper.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Clippers counterpart Chris Paul will likely be teammates for the Feb. 26 game in Orlando, Fla.

The other West starters should be Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

Bynum might want to familiarize himself with the Orlando area in case he needs to return by the March 15 trade deadline.

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