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Full Court Press: How the Brad Stevens deal got done, the kids are alright with Danny Ainge

06.04.16 at 8:46 pm ET
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Jul 5, 2013; Waltham, MA, USA; New Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and his wife Tracy are interviewed after he was introduced as the new coach during a news conference. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens and his wife Tracy have worked closely on all contractual matters with the Celtics. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

When Brad Stevens eventually took the plunge and decided to move his family to Boston in the summer of 2013, he did so having completed a very thorough vetting process of what he was getting into.

After all, what would any Stevens move be without first having given plenty of thought to it beforehand?

Helping him to uncover every stone and make sure he was ready to jump in with both feet (as he and Danny Ainge made reference to this week) was his representative — and wife — Tracy Wilhelmy Stevens. An attorney by trade, she negotiated the initial contract with Wyc Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, Rich Gotham — and, of course, Ainge.

“She gets a fee,” the Celtics coach deadpanned in classic Stevens form.

She played a big role this time again, when the Ainge told Grousbeck he was perfectly happy staying in Boston and that the real priority should be to lock up the prized head coach beyond the three years left on his $22 million deal signed around Independence Day 2013. Stevens said this week that actual talks on an extension began in the middle of this season.

“The first time I was approached it was midseason, and it was a real brief conversation,” Stevens said. “But it was during a time when we were weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, so it makes you feel even better about where you are when that happens. And so, after the season, Danny came in and we talked real briefly about it. It’s never been much of a question for me. Obviously, I’m flattered to be considered to be here. Then also to get a chance to continue to do it.”

That means it was early January, when the Celtics had lost six of seven, including consecutive ugly home defeats against the Lakers and Nets. That stretch just happened to coincide with rumors swirling of some prime college gigs possibly opening up.

“I guess I was kinda surprised,” Stevens said of the extension with still three years remaining on the original deal. “Again, it tells you the way that they think and the way that they value people around here. It’s why you enjoy working here.

“I’m not big into negotiations and I don’t have a third party doing that for me. It’s just, ‘Hey, we want to extend you, here’s what we’re thinking and what do you think?’ Then, a little bit of back and forth between us. It was a pretty quick process. It wasn’t very long. Again, we were flattered to be asked to do that and it provides good stability for our family, too. I understand that these things can change in coaching. Ultimately, we’re excited to be offered that opportunity.”

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Read More: Andre Iguodala, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge

NBA draft prospect profile: LSU F Ben Simmons

06.04.16 at 12:57 pm ET
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As part of WEEI’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

BEN SIMMONS

Position: Forward

School: LSU

Age: 19 (turns 20 on July 20)

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 239 pounds 

Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2015-16 Stats: 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists

Scouting report: At the beginning of the season Simmons was the consensus No. 1 overall pick. He was proclaimed by many to be the next LeBron James or Magic Johnson. After the season some experts are unsure if Simmons still should be the first selection, but he’s unlikely to slip to the Celtics at No. 3.

At LSU some of Simmons’ weaknesses became apparent, and that has left some NBA teams wondering if Simmons was overhyped. Over the course of the year Simmons’ shooting ability never improved. One of the biggest critiques of Simmons has been his attitude. Simmons looked bored toward the end of the season, as his team failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. NBA general mangers will have to examine whether Simmons has enough of a competitive drive to last in an 82-game NBA season.

Simmons, a native of Australia (his father, Dave, is an American who played professionally Down Under), did impress scouts with his passing and ball-handling ability — especially considering his size. Making Simmons a more attractive prospect is his athletic ability that allows him finish strong above the rim. His skill set has some believing that he will become an elite primary ball-handler in the NBA.

Notes: Simmons was a consensus selection for the All-America team. He was the USBWA Freshman of the year and a finalist for USBWA Player of the Year. In addition, he was a semifinalist for the Naismith Award. Simmons was the first collegiate player since 1986 to average over 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. If Simmons is drafted by the 76ers he will be going to a familiar coach. Brett Brown was an assistant coach for the Melbourne Tigers from 1988-93, when Simmons’ father was a star for the Australian team, and Brown has remained friendly with the family through the years. If drafted by the Lakers with the second overall pick Simmons will be joining his high school teammate D’Angelo Russell.

Related articles: 

ESPN: What is Ben Simmons’ NBA ceiling?

Yahoo Sports: Why Ben Simmons isn’t the top prospect in the 2016 NBA draft

USA Today: LSU’s versatile Ben Simmons has a natural position: Star

Philly.com: Brett Brown can’t deny strong Aussie ties to Ben Simmons

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2106 Potential Celtics, Ben Simmons,

NBA draft prospect profile: Notre Dame PG Demetrius Jackson

06.04.16 at 9:54 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DEMETRIUS JACKSON

Position: Point guard

School: Notre Dame

Age: 21 (turns 22 on Sept. 7)

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 194 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-5

Key 2015-16 stats: 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists

Scouting report: Over the last decade Notre Dame has only sent six players to the NBA, but last year the Irish sent two and this year Demetrius Jackson should continue the trend. Jackson is extremely athletic and quick, but his most impressive physical tool is his leaping ability. At the combine he recorded a 43.5-inch max vertical, which is the fourth highest in combine history. With the ball Jackson has the right fundamentals for a point guard — he is unselfish and makes smart decisions. One of Jackson’s biggest strengths is his shot. He was able to shoot 52 percent from inside the arc this past season. From beyond the arc Jackson shot 33 percent, which was a lower percentage than his sophomore season (43-percent), but scouts believe that is due to Notre Dame using Jackson more as a ball handler. Jackson will need to place more emphasis on his defense, but that shouldn’t be a problem given his physical tool set. Jackson has drawn a lot of comparisons to current Knicks point guard Jerian Grant. The two were teammates two seasons ago at Notre Dame and have similar body statures. Jackson is projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second.

Notes: Jackson was named second-team All-ACC. Jackson is the first Notre Dame player since 2011 to leave school early for the draft. He was named to the NCAA East Regional All-Tournament team after ending his college career by shooting 10-for-16 and scoring 26 points to go along with four assists in Notre Dame’s loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight. In the previous game against Wisconsin, Jackson hit a layup with 19 seconds remaining, stole pass and scored another layup six seconds later, then stole the ball at midcourt, was fouled and hit two free throws to secure the 61-56 win.

Related articles:

Chicago Tribune: Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson out to prove he’s worthy of first-round pick

CBS Sports: Demetrius Jackson the latest to revive Notre Dame’s NBA draft reputation

ESPN: Demetrius Jackson of Notre Dame Fighting Irish declares for NBA draft

Read More: 2015 Potential Celtics, 2016 NBA draft, Demetrius Grant,

NBA draft prospect profile: Florida SF Dorian Finney-Smith

06.03.16 at 4:26 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DORIAN FINNEY-SMITH

Position: Small forward

School: Florida

Age: 23

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 215 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2015-16 stats: 14.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists

Scouting report: Finney-Smith is a forward who has all the physical tools necessary for today’s NBA. A projected late second-round pick, he has the wingspan and leaping ability to excel above the rim, and his natural athleticism helps him defend both small forwards and point guards. He improved his outside jumper while at Florida, and can contribute on the glass for any NBA team.

“His ceiling compared to some of these guys people are weighing against, him in terms of drafting him or Dorian, might not measure up,” Florida coach Mike White told NBA.com. “We’re talking about 6-9 freak [athletes] with vertical leaps. But I think [Finney-Smith] is a guy that right now is ready. He played in the Final Four. He can contribute to a winner, get out there and not hurt you, guard a couple of positions.”

One of the question marks with Finney-Smith is whether or not he can become a 15-point-per-game scorer at the next level. He did most of his scoring on set shots or on putbacks, and he hasn’t shown that he can create his own shot. Finney-Smith turned 23 in May, so he likely has very limited upside. He’s not outstanding in any one area, often relying on his size and length to make plays.

Notes: At the NBA combine last month, Finney-Smith posted a 38.5-inch standing vertical leap, the highest this year and the third highest in combine history. He made second-team All-SEC after ranking second in the conference in total rebounds (300) and fourth in player efficiency rating (23.9). Finney-Smith, whose nickname is Doe-Doe, spent his freshman year at Virginia Tech before transferring to Florida for his sophomore year. In 2008 he witnessed his brother Ra-Shawn shot multiple times at a party. Ra-Shawn, who was a high school senior and star football player, died two weeks later. Finney-Smith has a 4-year-old daughter.

Related articles:

NBA.com: Having overcome obstacles, Finney-Smith ready for NBA

SB Nation: Dorian Finney-Smith has the type of versatility the Celtics value

MassLive.com: Boston Celtics auditioning Dorian Finney-Smith, Sheldon McClellan, among others

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Dorian Finney-Smith,

NBA draft prospect profile: Kansas SG Wayne Selden

06.03.16 at 12:49 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

WAYNE SELDEN

Position: Shooting guard

School: Kansas

Age: 21 (turns 22 on Sept. 30)

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 232 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2015-16 stats: 13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 38.3 3-point field goal percentage

Scouting report: Selden struggled his first two years in Kansas, but he bounced back impressively in the 2015-16 season. He improved his shooting and perimeter defense, two things that are crucial in the NBA. Selden has the physical tools to further improve his defensive versatility, and has improved his shooting both off the dribble and coming off screens. His competitiveness will be sure to intrigue NBA teams, but recent right knee surgery kept him from fully participating at the NBA draft combine.

“You want to get out there and always want to be able to compete and stuff like that,” Selden said after the combine. “But I’m not trying to rush anything, so I’m just going to take my time, and when I’m ready I’ll be out there.”

Besides the knee, NBA scouts question Selden’s lateral quickness on the defensive end, as well as his ball-handling. Another concern is his free throw shooting. Despite shooting 38.3 percent from deep, he only hit 61.7 percent of his free throws. It may be a mental issue that causes Selden to shoot so poorly from the charity stripe. Whatever it is, he’ll need to fix it if he wants to take full advantage of his high-flying drives to the basket. He is projected to be drafted in the middle of the second round.

Notes: A Roxbury native, Selden attended Tilton School in New Hampshire before heading to Kansas. He made the All-Big 12 second team last season and led the Jayhawks to a Big 12 Championship.

Related articles:

KSHB.com: Wayne Selden Jr. talks leaving KU, preparing for NBA draft

KUsports.com: Wayne Selden’s knee injury not helping 2nd-round status

Boston Herald: NBA draft prospect Wayne Selden embraces Boston connection

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Wayne Selden,

Report: 76ers discuss sending Nerlens Noel to Hawks for Jeff Teague

06.03.16 at 11:37 am ET
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Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel

There has been speculation that the Celtics are interested in 76ers center Nerlens Noel, and they previously were linked to Hawks guard Jeff Teague when he was said to be available at the trade deadline.

Now those two players might end up getting traded for each other.

According to a report from Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, the Sixers recently had discussions with the Hawks about sending Noel to Atlanta so Philadelphia could fill its hole at point guard with the veteran Teague.

Noel, known for his defense, averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks this season. The 6-foot-11 product of Everett was selected sixth overall in 2013 out of Kentucky and sat out his rookie season due to an ACL team. He is about to enter the third and final year of his rookie contract and then will be a restricted free agent.

The Sixers also are said to be willing to move center Jahlil Okafor, who is coming off a promising rookie season, but that would seem unlikely if they trade Noel.

Teague, who turns 28 next week and can be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 79 games this season, his seventh with the Hawks. He was an All-Star last season, but 22-year-old Dennis Schroder started taking some of his minutes this year.

Read More: Jeff Teague, Nerlens Noel,

NBA draft prospect profile: Kentucky SG Jamal Murray

06.03.16 at 9:36 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

JAMAL MURRAY

Position: Shooting guard

School: Kentucky

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 200 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-7

Key 2015-16 stats: 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 40.8 3-point field goal percentage

Scouting report: Murray is a scorer, plain and simple. He showed throughout his freshman campaign that he’s more than comfortable driving into the lane or moving off the ball for an open look. His deep ball has to be respected, and he thrives with the game on the line. NBADraft.net says that the likely top-10 pick “makes putting the ball in the basket look effortless,” something many NBA teams crave for.

Murray, who hails from Canada, hit almost 41 percent of his 3-pointers last season and does not expect a major change when shooting NBA 3-pointers in the future.

“Not much of a transition,” Murray said recently. “Just being consistent, adjusting my form a little bit, adjusting my strength and how much I lift.”

In order to be a true combo guard, Murray will have to learn to take better care of the ball. He averaged more turnovers (2.3) than assists (2.2), a very clear indicator that his ball handling must improve quickly. He is often too aggressive on the defensive end, gambling to steal the ball and hurting himself in the process. Murray will have to learn to make plays for others in order to stay afloat at the professional level.

Notes: Murray was selected to the All-SEC first team and the SEC All-Freshman team. He helped Kentucky clinch an SEC championship and led the conference in field goals (244).

Related articles:

ESPN: Inside look at Ingram, Murray and Maker

CBS sports: Jamal Murray vs. Buddy Hield is a close call

Fansided: Is Jamal Murray the best scorer in the draft?

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Jamal Murray,
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