Celtics notebook

Brown and O’Neal said to be in play

By Gary Washburn and Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / July 7, 2010

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The Celtics’ search for a big man to replace the injured Kendrick Perkins could vary from one of the bigger busts to one of the all-time greats.

The Celtics will meet today with Kwame Brown, the 2001 No. 1 overall pick who has played with four teams in a disappointing career. While Brown never became an All-Star, or even a productive starter, his 6-foot-11-inch, 270-pound frame and defensive ability make him attractive.

Also, Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted that 15-time All-Star and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal could also be a consideration. O’Neal, 38, played last season with the Cavaliers and said he wants to play two more years. He averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Cavaliers a year after averaging 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds for the Suns.

“Nothing is out of the question, we need a big,’’ Rivers said. “Shaq, everybody is in play. No doubt. We haven’t done anything yet, but I think everybody’s in play. I will wait [on talking about O’Neal]. If the day comes that we sign him, then I will make more comments.’’

Brown, 28, is a Florida native and will drive to Orlando to meet with Rivers and Celtics president Danny Ainge. Brown earned $4 million last season, and Boston has the $5.6 million mid-level exception to offer.

Motivation always has been an issue for Brown, whose desire and talent never caught up with his NBA body.

Frank in assistant mix
Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, fired last season after a 0-16 start, joined the Celtics brass to watch yesterday’s 86-69 summer league loss to the 76ers. Rivers acknowledged that Frank is an impressive candidate for the assistant coaching position vacated by Tom Thibodeau, who left to coach the Bulls.

Frank coached the Nets for six-plus seasons, leading them to playoff appearances in the first four. He worked for NBA TV during the draft process but spent last night chatting with Rivers and Ainge, and the group headed to dinner afterward.

“It’s going good, I’m in no rush, and it’s really not going to be a big deal,’’ Rivers said. “Lawrence is one of the guys I am looking at, and we’re looking at a couple of other guys, but I don’t think it will be very hard to find a guy.

“Lawrence Frank is a great defense guy, but he knows the game. I want to get a guy like that who does everything.’’

Gaffney tested again
In two days, the Celtics’ Tony Gaffney’s had the pleasure of guarding James Harden, the No. 3 pick in the 2009 draft, and Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick last month. Believe it or not, he says he’s enjoying it.

“Two games, being able to play against James Harden and Evan Turner, is two pretty good challenges,’’ the University of Massachusetts product said after the Celtics’ loss to the Sixers.

“I love it. They told me before we came here, they said I would be matched up with the best player on every team, and my eyes lit up when they said that.’’

Turner scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Gaffney had 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting with five rebounds.

Their paths had crossed before, in the 2008 National Invitation Tournament title game, when Ohio State beat the Minutemen, 92-85. They joked about it before last night’s game.

“We were matched up a little bit in that game,’’ Gaffney said. “When I found out we were going to be matched up again, we match up well with each other, so I was looking forward to that challenge. He’s a great player. I thought I did fairly well.’’

After going ahead, 15-3, to start the game, the Celtics allowed a 27-4 run and played from behind the rest of the night. They committed 10 turnovers in the first half, costing them 20 points.

“I think our guys, we have to play so hard to compete physically and we didn’t give that at all times, so that’s the result,’’ said Celtics summer league coach Austin Ainge.

After shooting the lights out in the opener Monday, Luke Harangody put up a 14-point, 12-rebound effort, but he went 4 for 14 from the floor and missed both of his 3-point attempts.

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