BOSTON – (Wire Service Report) – The Boston Celtics might be without guard Marcus Smart at the outset of the regular season due to a sprained left ankle. Smart was injured during Boston’s preseason finale on Wednesday against the New York Knicks. The Celtics open the regular season Wednesday, October 26 against the Brooklyn Nets. Smart left the arena on crutches and wearing a boot on the injured ankle.
“He’s had an ankle sprain or two in the past, but early indications are that it looks like hopefully not too long term,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters.
“We don’t know what it means. We’ll have a better idea in the next couple of days.”
Smart is entering his third NBA season. He averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season.
LOS ANGELES – (Staff and Wire Service Report) – Former Boston Celtics great Paul Pierce, currently with the Los Angeles Clippers, announced he will retire from the NBA at the end of the 2016-17 season, his 19th in the league. The 38-year-old Pierce made the announcement in a post published by The Players’ Tribune. Pierce said he is eager to win a championship with the Clippers.
“This is it, my final season,” Pierce wrote. “It’s time to move on from the game of basketball. Just like any difficult decision, I think you’ve got to be at peace with yourself. I’m at peace with retiring, but I’ve got one more ride left. One more season. One more opportunity.
“With the Clippers, in the city where I grew up, I feel like I have that opportunity on a great team. We’re hungry. We want to win a championship.
“After 18 NBA years, it’s hard to believe I’ll be playing in each arena for the last time. So I’m going to enjoy every practice, every bus ride, every team dinner, every time running out through the tunnel. I’m going to do my part to give us a shot at the ultimate goal.”
Pierce was selected in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft and spent his first 15 seasons with the Boston Celtics — nine of them for Clippers coach Doc Rivers, including winning the NBA championship in 2007.
Pierce, who has also played for the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards, signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the Clippers before last season.
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound Pierce was named an NBA All-Star 10 times and enters this season fourth on the all-time list in 3-point field goals made. He has averaged 20 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in his career.
MINNEAPOLIS – (Staff and Wire Service Report) – Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett, the former Boston Celtics champion, announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons in the league.
“It has been a real joy to watch KG come into the league as a young man and watch him develop his skills to become one of the very best in the NBA,” said Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. “I have treasured the opportunity to see him grow as a leader. I wish him continued success in the next chapter of his life. His Minnesota fans will always cherish the memories he has provided.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Garnett and the Timberwolves reached a contract settlement earlier Friday. Garnett was signed for $8 million this season. Garnett, 40, easily the most productive player in Timberwolves franchise history, spent 13 1/2 of his 21 NBA seasons with Minnesota.
He was drafted out of high school in 1995 and developed into one of the top power forwards in NBA history.
The 15-time All-Star ranks 17th with 26,071 career points, ninth in career rebounds with 14,662 and 17th in blocked shots with 2,037.
“Kevin Garnett is one of the fiercest competitors our league has ever seen,” NBA comissioner Adam Silver said in a statment. “He held himself to the highest standard of preparation and performance for a remarkable 21 seasons. On behalf of the NBA family, I thank Kevin for his sustained excellence and the enormous impact he’s had on the game.”
Garnett played in just 38 games last season due to knee and leg injuries and averaged just 3.2 points and 3.9 rebounds. His value lied more in terms of being a mentor for young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins than for his production.
The Timberwolves hired Tom Thibodeau as coach and president in the offseason as well as a new general manager in Scott Layden. The duo is charged with completing the rebuilding process and halting a playoff absence that dates back to the 2003-04 campaign.
That meant resolving the Garnett situation in a manner that would eliminate the veteran from the roster prior to Tuesday’s opening of training camp.
Garnett was drafted fifth overall out in 1995 and quickly blossomed into a major star and franchise icon. He averaged over 20 points in nine consecutive seasons and earned MVP honors in 2003-04 when he averaged 24.2 points and 13.9 rebounds.
Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007 and was part of that franchise’s 2008 championship squad.
“Very few players can affect an organization like Kevin did here in Boston, both on and off the court,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. “He led our team by example every day with his drive, his passion, and his relentless commitment to winning. While always putting team ahead of individual, Kevin earned his place among the greatest players in Celtic and NBA history.”
Garnett returned to Minnesota prior to the trading deadline in 2015, when he was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. He played in just five games prior to the end of the season.
Upon returning to Minnesota, Garnett spoke of his desire to become part owner of the team once his playing career again. But last year’s death of Flip Saunders, the coach and president of basketball operations, began a transformation that now has Thibodeau and Layden shaping the team’s future.