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5 takeaways from Celtics summer league

07.16.16 at 10:55 pm ET
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Celtics summer league action ended Friday night, as the C’s finished out their Vegas season losing to Portland 80-75. Boston ended up with a 1-4 record in Vegas after sweeping the four-team Utah Summer League. However, this is summer league, where players are competing for roster spots, and the wins don’t really matter.

With that said, here are the C’s players who made the best and worst cases for playing at the Garden.

 1. Terry Rozier stands out

If only to resurface the backcourt talent log jam issue, which seemed to clear after Evan Turner signed with Portland, Terry Rozier is showing a lot of promise on the dawn of his sophomore season.

Averaging 20 points per game along with 5.3 rebound and 3.5 assists, Rozier could be the Turner replacement the Celtics are looking for. He was the facilitator of Boston’s offense throughout summer league, showing efficiency and a solid stroke throughout July. And of course, he made a last-second shot to win the C’s the Utah Summer League title, just to add to an already impressive summer league resume.

With Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart making the thought of cracking the point guard rotation difficult, Rozier will most likely be better suited to backing up Avery Bradley at the two. Granted, Rozier’s level of play could also mean that he would be a strong trade asset, or a solid replacement for another Celtics guard, should Boston want to sweeten their side of a major deal, such as the rumored three-team Blake Griffin trade.

2. Jaylen Brown silences draft day boos

Celtics fans were ready to welcome a superstar to Boston in exchange for the No. 3 pick in the draft on June 23, or at least bring home Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield or Marquese Chriss. Instead, they ended up with Jaylen Brown, who had much to prove in summer league after his selection was greeted with some boos at TD Garden and defended by Danny Ainge afterwards. Read the rest of this entry »

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Full Court Press: The real cost of Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin, summer league stars Terry Rozier, Abdel Nader

07.16.16 at 4:00 pm ET
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Will Russell Westbrook (0) scores a three point basket against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Will Russell Westbrook land in Boston this summer? (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Is the time finally right for Danny Ainge to cash in? 

The Celtics president of basketball operations has been stacking his place at the NBA poker table with lots of blue chips. The question is whether now is the time to head to the to the casino office and get the final pieces that will help Brad Stevens and the team get back to the NBA finals. 

There have been reports this week that the Celtics are lead contenders for either Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin in a potential trade. 

But either one of those deals would almost certainly require the Celtics giving up their ownership of Brooklyn’s unprotected pick next year, which could very easily be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Not only that, a team like Oklahoma City, with the always forward-thinking general manager Sam Presti, likely is going to want another top pick, either in 2017 or from the multitude of picks listed below. The Celtics also own Brooklyn’s first-rounder in 2018. The Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Jason Terry trade of July 2013 keeps on giving. 

If there’s any general manager with the wherewithal to pull off a major deal involving future picks and not entirely forfeit the future, it’s Ainge. Here, in full detail, is the remarkable portfolio Ainge has to work with: 

2017 first-round draft pick from Brooklyn
Boston has the right to swap its 2017 1st round pick for Brooklyn’s 2017 1st round pick; if Boston exercises this swap right, then Boston will convey its 2017 second-round pick to Brooklyn protected for selections 31-45 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Boston’s obligation to Brooklyn will be extinguished). [July 12, 2013]

2017 second-round draft pick from Cleveland
Cleveland’s 2017 second-round pick to Boston [from Cleveland, Sept. 25, 2014]

2017 second-round draft pick from L.A. Clippers
Clippers’ 2017 second-round pick to Boston [from L.A. Clippers via Phoenix, Jan. 15, 2015]

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Read More: blake griffin, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, NBA

Report: Danny Ainge ‘definitely wants to do something’ on trade market, Jahlil Okafor best bet

07.16.16 at 12:04 pm ET
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Feb 28, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) shoots over Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9)  during second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 130-116. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) could still be a big trade target for the Celtics. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Danny Ainge is still hungry to make a deal. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations wants to add one more big piece. But the price tag has been too rich. 

“Another sticking point in that and in other deals Boston is talking about is that pick from the Nets next year (2017 pick swap). Danny will make it available in the right situation, but he’s not going to give it up with core players, too,” a league source told Bulpett. “That’s going to be a good draft, and that’s going to be a high pick.

“Everyone’s been talking about how Danny’s trying to make a killing out here, but when it comes to certain pieces you have, I get that you have to be careful. You can give up equal assets, but you don’t want to take away your best opportunities to keep things going down the line.”

Bulpett also reports there have been no recent discussions on two rumored high-profile players Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin. But an NBA general manager told Bulpett that Philadelphia big man Jahlil Okafor is a different matter. 

“Oh, Danny definitely wants to do something,” the GM told Bulpett. “We’ve got nothing that really works with Boston, but I bet something happens there. I still wouldn’t be surprised if something happened there [with Okafor].”

The Celtics were reportedly close on Jimmy Butler on draft night as they held the No. 3 pick in the draft. The Bulls made no secret about their desire to trade up and grab Providence College point guard Kris Dunn. But, according to Bulpett, the Bulls also wanted two players, while the C’s only were willing to deal one.

Now with the Bulls inking Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, the Bulls seem committed to keeping Butler and making a run next season. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jahlil Okafor, NBA

Jaylen Brown (21 points), Abdel Nader (16 pts) not enough as Celtics drop summer finale to Blazers

07.15.16 at 8:56 pm ET
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The Celtics concluded their summer league play on a down note Friday night in Las Vegas, falling to the Trail Blazers, 80-75, at Cox Pavilion. 

Rookie Jaylen Brown had a team-high 21 points for the Celtics but made just 7-of-21 shots from the field. Brown had a highlight-reel caliber dunk in the first half and again showed the ability to get to the rim with authority, something he’s been flashing this week with the Celtics. 

Brown struggled again from 3-point range, making just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. He was just 5-for-22 from long range in six summer league games.

Iowa State product Abel Nader continued his impressive week. The Celtics’ final pick (No. 58 overall) added 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field. 

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Read More: 2016 Summer League, abdel nader, Boston Celtics, Jaylen Brown

Report: Celtics closing in on ‘major deal,’ potentially for Clippers forward Blake Griffin

07.14.16 at 11:10 am ET
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Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin

Another day, another turn of the NBA rumor mill linking a superstar to the Celtics.

This time it’s not Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, but Clippers forward Blake Griffin.

According to Sporting News NBA insider Sean Deveney, the Celtics are working with the Clippers and Kings on a three-way deal that would bring Griffin to Boston and send guard Rudy Gay to L.A. The Celtics would also include picks in the deal, but according to Deveney, they’re reluctant to part with either of their upcoming Nets selections, since both could be high in the lottery, and the 2017 draft is considered especially deep.

Griffin, 27, was the first overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Oklahoma. He’s a five-time All-Star coming off a lost season due to suspension, as well as a broken hand after punching an equipment manager. Limited to 35 games, he averaged 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds a game.

Griffin, for what it’s worth, also penned a short goodbye to Tim Duncan, aka “the Big Fundamental,” on the Players’ Tribune.

Read More: blake griffin, Celtics rumors, Celtics trade rumors, NBA trade rumors

Jaylen Brown (25 pts) continues to learn, Terry Rozier (24 pts) impresses in loss to Cavaliers, C’s end summer league Friday

07.14.16 at 9:46 am ET
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Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier both made big statements in Boston’s penultimate summer league game Thursday in Las Vegas.

Brown broke out offensively with 25 points but showed he still has a lot to learn about the fine details of crunch time in the NBA while Terry Rozier added 24 in a 98-94 loss to the Cavaliers in a first-round playoff game at Cox Pavilion.

The loss dropped the C’s to 1-3 in Vegas after they won all three games in Utah. They will not advance to the elimination round and conclude their game action Friday with a 6 p.m. ET game against the Trail Blazers.

Wednesday’s game was a back-and-forth affair, with the Celtics taking a one-point lead on a Rozier finger roll with 1:53 left.

The Cavaliers grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in consecutive possessions to help them take the lead for good, 94-91, with 53.3 seconds remaining.

“We had them stopped the last two minutes there where we had a chance to get the ball, and they got offensive rebounds there,” Jamie Young, Boston’s Vegas head coach, told reporters after the game.

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After an empty possession and the Celtics still only down three, Brown made a mental mistake when he intentionally fouled with 24 seconds left. Brown apparently thought the Celtics needed to stop the clock. But there was an eight-second time differential between the shot clock and the game clock in a one-possession game.

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Read More: 2016 Summer League, abdel nader, Boston Celtics, Jaylen Brown

Report: Celtics ‘most likely destination’ in a potential Russell Westbrook trade

07.13.16 at 2:02 pm ET
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Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

It’s looking more and more like the Oklahoma City Thunder will have to trade point guard Russell Westbrook before they lose him in free agency. According to Bleacher Report NBA insider Howard Beck, Westbrook’s most likely landing spot is Boston.

“Let’s just say there’s a very strong suspicion, a strong belief among rival GMs, that Russell Westbrook is not intending to stay, that he would leave next summer when he hits free agency,” Beck said in a video on the site. “And because of that, the logical next step is that [Thunder GM] Sam Presti — who is always ahead of the curve on these things — will look to trade him. I don’t know that that’s happening right this moment.”

Beck, who is at the Las Vegas Summer League, keeps hearing from rival GMs that the Celtics represent his most likely landing spot.

“Not only do they think Westbrook will get traded, [but] that it’ll be sooner rather than later, probably before the season starts,” Beck said. “And that the most likely destination right now would be the Boston Celtics.”

Blessed with two potential lottery picks via the Nets in 2017 and 2018, plus a number of promising young players, the Celtics make sense as trade partners with OKC. The only problem is that Westbrook is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and there’s no reason for him to sign an extension now, since he’ll be able to earn a lot more money next summer when the salary cap expands.

The 27-year-old Westbrook is coming off a monster season that saw him nearly average a triple-double, with 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.8 rebounds.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Celtics rumors, NBA rumors, Russell Westbrook
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