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Austin Ainge admits his dad would’ve taken Kevin Durant over Greg Oden in 2007

06.21.14 at 2:54 pm ET
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Now we know.

In 2007, when the Celtics finished 24-58, they had a theoretical chance to finish first in the NBA draft lottery and choose between either Kevin Durant or Greg Oden.

On Saturday, as the Celtics continued to work out players for the 2014 NBA draft, Celtics director of player of personnel Austin Ainge announced what his father Danny would’ve done.

“€œI personally was not working here. But I was in college and I was in the draft room, and they would have taken Durant. I did have some inside information there,” Ainge said.

Of course, that became moot when the Celtics wound up with only the fifth pick of the draft class. Everything turned OK when Danny Ainge convinced Minnesota’s GM and good friend Kevin McHale to trade him Kevin Garnett for Al Jefferson before drafting Jeff Green at No. 5 and then swung a deal that netted Ray Allen. Oden was eventually chosen No. 1 overall by Portland while Durant was taken by the then-Seattle SuperSonics. Oden has been plagued by various injuries, including two bad knees and microfracture surgery. Oden played this season for the Heat.

Durant is the reigning NBA MVP, four-time scoring champ and led his team to the NBA finals in 2012.

Why is this relevant now?

The Celtics might get a chance to take another injury-riddled big man at No. 6 this year after it was revealed this week that Joel Embiid, another highly-touted center, has a stress fracture in his right foot. Throw in concerns about his back and those are serious medical red flags.

“€œProbably best not to share all of that, but I think we all want to know exactly what it is,”€ Ainge said. “€œEven when you have a lot of information, sometimes it’€™s still just a best guess. I’€™m not sure what the conclusions will be by the doctors. I’€™m sure, as with Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger when we drafted them, the medical staffs all had different opinions for every team. It’€™s hard to predict.”

The Celtics have had a track record of taking players with an injury background, taking Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger in previous drafts.

“It’€™s case by case. There have been many, many guys we passed on,’€ Ainge said. ‘€œOur medical staff told us to pass on Greg Oden, our medical staff told us to pass on Brandon Roy. Brandon ended up having some very good years, and that may or may not have been the right decision. It ended up costing them a lot of money in the end but he did give them a few great years ‘€“ four or five, I think, maybe six. So there’€™s two we’€™ve taken the chance on. There have been many others that we’€™ve not decided to (take a) chance on.”

Before picking Bradley, the Celtics were able to examine him and determine the extent of his ankle injury.

‘€œWith Jared, we weren’€™t (able to look at him),’€ Ainge said. ‘€œWe were just emailed and sent things. So it’€™s different. You just do the best you can.’€

Ainge acknowledged that taking Embiid would be a risk, given what is known so far.

“€œFoot and back, those are not good body parts to injure,” Ainge said. “We try to focus on the long-term health more than the short-term when you’re dealing with draft picks,” he added. “Free agency, it might be a little different. But when you’re drafting kids that are 19, 20, 21, it’s usually best to think: ‘Two years, five years down the road, will it be a concern?’ Those are the ones we usually try to avoid.”

The four that did work out on Saturday morning in Waltham were Louisville‘s Chane Behanan, UConn’s Niels Giffey, Glenn Robinson III of Michigan and St. John’s JaKarr Sampson.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Greg Oden, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant

Jeff Goodman on MFB: ‘I don’t know if Boston takes [Joel Embiid] if he slips to No. 6′

06.20.14 at 2:20 pm ET
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ESPN basketball reporter Jeff Goodman joined Middays with MFB to talk about the NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the MFB udio on demand page.

Goodman reported Thursday that Kansas center Joel Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his foot, an injury that could drop him from the top three to anywhere in the top 10 in next Thursday’s draft. Embiid could be available to the Celtics at No. 6, but Goodman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the C’s passed him up.

“I don’t know if Boston takes him if he slips to No. 6,” Goodman said. “He’s got the back issues, which is a concern, and now he’s got the foot issue that could put him on the shelf for the entire season this year. It would be tough for teams to take a shot on him because frankly if you’re a GM and you do that you get crucified if this guy isn’t able to play and be healthy throughout the early part of his NBA career.”

Added Goodman: “This is a big guy who weighed in at 270 pounds last I was told at a workout. A foot injury is significant. Listen, Yao Ming‘s career ended with a foot injury, a similar injury, and big guys are troublesome. In conjunction with the back issues, which is something that’s going to need to be certainly watched throughout his career, I just think it’s too much in a draft that is pretty good at the top.”

Goodman said if he were Celtics general manager Danny Ainge he would not take his chances with Embiid given his injury risk and the strength of the draft.

“If No. 6 were last year I would probably do it,” Goodman said. “No. 6 this year is going to be a good player. Not a franchise player, but if you evaluate correctly, the No. 6 pick could be a good No. 2 guy on your team. I think you take that and run with it if you’re confident in that player.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jeff Goodman, Joel Embiid, Middays with MFB,

NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Australia G Dante Exum

06.20.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

DANTE EXUM

Position: Combo guard
Country: Australia
Age: 18
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 196 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-9.5

Key 2013-14 stats (FIBA U19): 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists

Scouting report: Once a mystery man of the 2014 draft, Exum is now one of the stars and is even being discussed as a potential top-three selection — for good reason. Exum is a mastermind with the ball in his hands, possessing an elite first step with advanced dribble moves.

Even though he must continue to work on incorporating his off-hand, the talent is obviously there as he can penetrate the paint and get to the rim at will. This is where Exum excels, as he is able to finish creatively or dish it out to a teammate for an assist opportunity.

Exum still needs to develop his jumper, but he has already shown the ability to adjust his body while airborne, which is a skill many players his age don’€™t have. If he’€™s able to progress his perimeter skills, he could become a lethal scorer from all areas of the court.

On the defensive end, Exum is raw, as he doesn’t stay in his stance and often gets burned, especially off the ball. But with exceptional lateral quickness and long arms, he projects as someone who will eventually develop into an effective player that can defend multiple positions.

Exum might just be the steal of this year’€™s top 10. He has enough skill to be the best player from this draft class, but the limited amount of scouting opportunities certainly lessens the confidence one can have in that statement.

How he fits: Exum could slide in as a starter at either guard position, but he would more likely work as a backup behind both Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, giving the front office time to assess how to handle their future at the position.

Related articles:

Sporting News: The four games that made Dante Exum

Boston Globe: Dante Exum is an X factor from Australia

Video: NBA Draft video scouting report

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Dante Exum,

The official Celtics-centric Kevin Love timeline

06.19.14 at 9:02 pm ET
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The Celtics-centric story surrounding Kevin Love actually began before the All-Star break, but Boston’s Love affair reached “Fatal Attraction” levels when the three-time NBA All-Star spent three days in the city a few weeks back.

Since then, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and Celtics counterpart Danny Ainge have seemingly pulled the puppet strings masterfully, casting sources in a drama worthy of Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. The plot thickens every day, so here’s the storyboard updated through the latest episode.

For more analysis, read about Ainge’s final play for Love.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Love, NBA

Joel Embiid, the Celtics and an NBA foot fetish

06.19.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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Projected top-three pick Joel Embiid will undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, navicular stress fracture surgery requires 3-4 months of recovery, although fellow 7-footers Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Yao Ming needed more time following similar injuries. Embiid is scheduled for surgery on Friday; training camp is less than four months away.

If teams weren’t already fearful of a freshman 7-footer with just four years basketball experience who also sprained his knee and suffered a season-ending back injury in 2014, you better believe they’re rethinking their draft boards.

The question is whether Embiid will fall from a potential No. 1 overall selection and surefire top-three pick to the Celtics with the sixth pick. Teams haven’t always shied away from selecting injury-plagued bigs with the first few picks in the past, but the Greg Oden saga may have finally changed the landscape.

Take Nerlens Noel, for example. Once believed to be a lock at No. 1 in last year’s draft, the Everett native fell to the 76ers at six. Granted, Noel’s ACL injury necessitated a redshirt season of sorts, but the wealth of talent in this year’s draft may also force teams drafting in the top five to consider a healthy Dante Exum, Marcus Smart or Aaron Gordon over an injured Embiid, even if he could return sooner rather than later.

Likewise, it’s hard to imagine Philadelphia spending a second straight lottery pick on an injured center. And given the presence of young centers Nikola Vucevic in Orlando and Enes Kanter in Utah, it’s certainly not inconceivable Embiid drops to the Celtics if the Cavaliers and Bucks pass on him with the first two picks.

If Joel Embiid falls to the Celtics, should they take him with the sixth pick?

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Joel Embiid, NBA,

Antoine Walker on D&C: ‘I trusted people that I shouldn’t have trusted’

06.19.14 at 12:53 pm ET
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Former Celtics power forward Antoine Walker joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the upcoming documentary on his financial struggles: “Gone in an Instant: The Antoine Walker Story.” To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The documentary, which is scheduled to be released in August, will chronicle the rise and fall of Walker’€™s career and his nine-figure fortune. Walker stated that he chose to do this documentary both in order to clear the air on some aspects of his financial turmoil as well as instruct young NBA players on how to be responsible with their money.

“€œI think there were a lot of false things put out there and I wanted an opportunity to get my chance to tell my side of the story the correct way,” Walker said. “I just felt like I was getting misjudged in the public eye, not so much about losing money but how I lost it and what were the things that went on to lose it. More importantly, I’€™m trying to use it as a learning tool for younger guys that come into the NBA, but also for kids. … I think, as an NBA player, we look at ourselves as a fraternity, so I try to make sure that I can give back and really turn this negative story into a positive.”

A three-time All-Star, Walker earned $108 million in salary during his NBA career. However, a combination of poor investing ventures, gambling and unnecessary purchases, such as a $400,000 Maybach car, led to Walker filing for bankruptcy in 2010.

“It took a while for me,”€ Walker said. “€œIt took 10-plus years in the league for me to start seeing a little difference in people, let alone my financial changes. I tried to take more risks, as far as investing. I started dipping and dabbing in real estate investments and making things a little bit more difficult than it had to be. I trusted people that I shouldn’t have trusted in. … I think the gambling piece got blown way out of proportion, so I wanted to bring that to light. … People got the wrong impression that I gambled my money away.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Antoine Walker, Celtics, Danny Ainge,

NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Cape Verde C Walter Tavares

06.19.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

WALTER TAVARES

Position: Center
Country:  Cape Verde
Age: 22
Height: 7-foot-3
Weight: 265 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-8.5

Key 2013-14 stats (ACB Spain): 6.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks

Scouting report: Let’€™s not split hairs: Tavares is a monster. At 7-foot-3 with a gargantuan 92.5-inch wingspan, the Cape Verdean big man is quickly rising up draft boards because of his size. Yet, it’€™s not just his height that has teams excited, because he has abnormally quick feet, which gives him potential as a star pick-and-roll defender.

But he might be years away from ever making that type of impact since he picked up a basketball for the first time in 2010 and is still learning how to play the game and how to use his strength. Tavares is a bit of a gentle giant and occasionally gets overpowered in a David vs. Goliath fashion. Likewise, as you would expect from such an inexperienced player, his fundamentals are poor, as he allows deep post positioning and misses rotations on the defensive end.

Despite the flaws, Tavares has already shown enough potential to warrant consideration as a late first-round pick. With his size and rebounding ability, only his mindset stand in the way of him making an impact in the NBA. If teams believe he has the right attitude to learn, then it would be surprising if he weren’€™t playing consistent minutes in a few years.

How he fits: The Celtics would get the rim protector they so desperately desire, but they’€™d have to wait at least one year for him to really make an impact. Tavares works out with the team this week, and they’ll likely decide whether they really want to draft him or not.

Related articles:

CelticsBlog: Scouting Spain: Which international bigs could the Celtics have interest in drafting?

NBA.com: Walter Tavares prospect analysis

Video: Walter Tavares video scouting report

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 60-page 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Walter Tavares,
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