By Ben Golliver
• With the Celtics losing both Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger to season-ending injuries, trade rumors were sure to follow in short order. True to form, the Sporting News reported over the weekend that the Clippers were in pursuit of Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, ready to offer Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe.
• Multiple media outlets denied that talks were taking place between the two teams, including the Los Angeles Times.
The Clippers are not pursuing Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett despite what has been reported, according to NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Furthermore, the Clippers’ front office has not had any conversations with Boston’s front office about a rumored deal in which L.A. would use back-up point guard Eric Bledsoe and small forward Caron Butler as the centerpieces to acquire Garnett, said the officials.
• Brian Robb of Celtics Hub offered a thorough breakdown of Garnett's availability, including some possible destinations. He concludes a move is unlikely.
With that said, if you are a Celtics fan, you can now breathe a bit easier over the coming month when the Garnett rumors inevitably surface. The C’s will remain competitive as long as he is around, and have all their supporting pieces in place for next year to make another serious playoff run if Rondo comes back healthy. Barring getting bowled over with a deal he can’t refuse, I expect Ainge to sit tight and keep the core intact, for now anyway. Blowing it up completely would just be too messy to do at this point for everyone involved.
• Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will coach the Eastern Conference in the 2013 All-Star Game, but the Associated Press reports that he refuses to reveal who he will name as a replacement starter for Rondo. One possibility is Heat big man Chris Bosh.
"Wouldn't it be so much more fun with some suspense,'' Spoelstra said Monday before the Heat hosted the Charlotte Bobcats. "We have time.''
Keep an eye on Dallas, as rival executives believe the Mavericks will look to unload some of their older money if they keep losing (aka Shawn Marion, who is owed $9.3 million in the last year of his deal in 2013-14, or Vince Carter, who is owed $3.1 million in the last year of his deal in 2013-14).
Martin is not as good as Harden, and it's not really close. However, he's filled his role on the Thunder this season almost as well as Harden did for last season's squad. Close enough, anyway, to avoid offsetting the improvements OKC has made elsewhere. Harden averaged 19.3 points per 36 minutes, and had a .660 true shooting percentage on a .216 usage rate. Martin comes pretty close: 18.2 points per 36, .617 true shooting, .209 usage.
The bottom line is that Oklahoma City is outscoring opponents by 11.2 points for every 100 possessions Martin is on the court. That number for Harden last season was 9.9. The question now is whether Martin can maintain that effect in the playoffs
• Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post with an excellent look at playground legend Jamar Board, who died of a gunshot wound in December. • Tom Ziller of SB Nation with a nice thought piece on maximizing the trade value of quality, non-star players on rookie deals.