Celtics notebook

Robinson’s bonus may have been blocked

Coach Doc Rivers had no answers last night as the Cavaliers handed the Celtics their worst home playoff loss. Coach Doc Rivers had no answers last night as the Cavaliers handed the Celtics their worst home playoff loss. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Gary Washburn and Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 8, 2010

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Representatives of Nate Robinson are monitoring whether the Celtics impeded the guard’s chances of earning a $1 million bonus and are considering filing a grievance, according to NBA sources.

Robinson played in 56 games this season and when the Celtics acquired him from the Knicks Feb. 18, he needed to play in Boston’s remaining 28 games to earn the bonus. Robinson played in 21 straight games before being benched April 4 against Cleveland. He then missed the April 7 game against Toronto, and played a combined 55 minutes in Boston’s final four games.

Robinson’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, facilitated the deal with the Celtics in hopes of getting his client that additional $1 million. Now his representatives are attempting to determine whether the $1 million the Celtics saved prevented them from exceeding the NBA luxury tax, which would cost the team $2 million for surpassing $71 million in player salaries.

Robinson spent the final two weeks of the season in coach Doc Rivers’s doghouse and he and Marquis Daniels were taken out of the rotation in early April. If the Celtics’ salary cap at the end of the season is close to approaching the luxury tax, Robinson’s representatives could file a grievance with the league that could potentially force the Celtics to pay Robinson the bonus.

After a fast start, Robinson has been wildly inconsistent, although he scored 11 points in 12 minutes during last night’s 124-95 Game 3 loss to the Cavaliers.

Official discrepancy
This time, the boos were aimed at the officials. The Celtics jogged into the locker room down 22 at the half, and officials Bennett Salvatore, Ken Mauer, and Zach Zarba jogged in after. The boos trailed them.

At that point, Cleveland had taken more than twice as many free throws as the Celtics (17-8). And in a series in which the Celtics came in with 56 fouls to Cleveland’s 33, the whistles continued to pile up. Rivers was coy in addressing the discrepancy.

“I think we are attacking as well, but I think I’m going to have to start sending more video in, like they are,’’ Rivers said. “Maybe that works.’’

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown sent footage to the NBA of a Game 2 collision between Rajon Rondo and Shaquille O’Neal for clarification.

Paul Pierce chalked the difference up to Cleveland’s aggressiveness. They scored 50 points in the paint. The Celtics tried to fend them off, from Kendrick Perkins shoulder tackling LeBron James on a fast break in the first quarter — earning Perkins a flagrant foul — to Robinson doing the same in the fourth quarter.

“I mean, we fouled, they didn’t,’’ said Pierce. “Simple and plain. They were aggressive, we weren’t. That’s usually what happens when a team’s attacking and drawing contact, they’re going to get to the line.’’

Elbow room
Exploding for 38 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists led James to downplay the right elbow injury that had become a soap opera. “I think it was much bigger than what it was,’’ James said. “But I think that’s what happens sometimes in the whole media circuit. But it didn’t bother me at all. I wasn’t tired of hearing about it. I didn’t really focus on it that much. My only focus was on Game 3.’’ After touching his arm and wincing in pain at points during the first two games, James showed no signs of injury . . . In memory of Bobby Vines, the team’s longtime senior ticket executive and 15-year employee, the Celtics wore white armbands with his initials inside a shamrock. Vines died May 1 due to complications from a lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia . . . Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau interviewed for the Hornets’ head coaching vacancy yesterday in Boston. The Hornets also interviewed ESPN analyst Mark Jackson.

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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