|05.31.16 at 2:11 pm ET|
With the NBA draft three and a half weeks away, the Celtics’ ability to acquire an impact veteran has come into focus.
One school of thought has the C’s offering not only this year’s third overall pick, but next year’s New Jersey pick as well to acquire a veteran like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.
Here’s why that approach is flawed — next year’s draft class is loaded, and might actually represent the team’s best chance at landing a franchise player.
ESPN draft guru Jeff Goodman told Bradford and Giardi recently that the Celtics shouldn’t trade next year’s Brooklyn pick, which could easily end up in the top five.
“I wouldn’t trade next year’s pick,” he said. “Absolutely no way would I trade next year’s pick. Next year’s draft is absolutely loaded.”
The consensus top three, not surprisingly, are all high school seniors, led by a pair of Duke recruits.
The first pick right now would probably be big man Harry Giles, a 6-foot-10 force who has committed to the Blue Devils. He’s considered an athletic marvel, though he has already undergone a pair of ACL surgeries.
Next is Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-8 inch dynamo who might already be an NBA-level defender, followed by Duke’s Jayson Tatum, the 2016 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, a 6-9 scorer with a developing 3-point touch.
Add Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, and Arizona bomber Terrance Ferguson, and this has the makings of the best draft class of the decade.
So don’t be surprised if Ainge is hesitant to part with next year’s pick.
|05.31.16 at 12:41 pm ET|
In the days leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Oklahoma shooting guard and college player of the year Buddy Hield or keeping NBA first-team all-defense guard Avery Bradley.
The case for Hield
An NBA-ready scorer who played four years of college basketball in a major conference. Hield was a monster, adding dribble penetration and increased range to his explosive offensive game. He averaged 25 points a game and shot .457 from 3-point territory. His shot chart is off the charts, with above-average production from everywhere on the floor except the left baseline. As a senior, he’s more polished than most of the teens and freshmen coming out this year. And he demonstrated an ability to hit big, clutch shots throughout his senior year, leading the Sooners to the Final Four, where they lost to Villanova, the eventual champs.
The case against Hield
Will Hield’s 6-foot-4 frame translate to the NBA? It’s one thing when you’re stronger than most of the players you face in college. It’s another when you’re going up against ‘2’ guards with three or four inches on you and you need to create your own shot. Steph Curry can create his own shot with just a split-second of space. But he is certainly the exception to the rule. There are also legitimate questions about his foot speed and ability to create his own shot at the next level. He’s also considered a subpar defender. The biggest criticism of Hield is that he’s reached his ceiling.
|05.31.16 at 11:16 am ET|
D&C guest hosts discuss Kevin Durant
With Kevin Durant’s season ending Monday night courtesy of the defending champion Warriors’ Game 7 win over the Thunder in the Western Conference finals, the speculation about Durant’s future is set to take off.
There have been rumors that the Celtics will make a push at the pending free agent. If Boston is to land Durant, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge might have to start by looking into acquiring some auxiliary pieces first.
According to Butch Stearns, during an appearance as a guest host on WEEI Monday morning, Durant’s people have informed the C’s who those additional players are.
“I have this on pretty good authority: The Celtics have sat with his agent and other representatives of Durant. The Celtics do know — I don’t know who it is — but they do know who he would prefer to be brought here in a LeBron [James]-Chris Bosh-Dwyane Wade-like way. Because that’s how it works in the NBA. You need to know who the guy or guys that that guy wants, which would be a factor,” Stearns said.
“Now, I don’t know if Durant’s told them that. But the Celtics know. They know. They’ve been told what group of guys he would want to come here.”
Considering Durant could make more money with Oklahoma City — around $30 million per season — than anywhere else, he would need more incentive to leave. Perhaps an easier path to the NBA Finals would be one such appeal.
Said Stearns: “Why would he come here? If I were him? Because I don’t have to deal with the West anymore. I only have to beat LeBron [and the Cavaliers].”
|05.31.16 at 11:05 am ET|
Isaiah Thomas had good intentions in his immediate recruitment of Kevin Durant after the Thunder’s Game 7 loss to the Warriors Monday night.
Just about an hour after Durant and the Thunder fell, 96-88, to the Warriors, Thomas took to Twitter to plant a seed in the mind of the superstar, who will be a free agent this summer.
But the Celtics point guard quickly deleted his tweet to Durant, which featured the No. 35 with a Shamrock to the right.
There are a couple of reasons Thomas might have taken it down, not the least of which is realizing the sensitivity of the moment, after Durant’s dreams of reaching the NBA finals for a second time came to a crashing end. The Thunder became just the 10th team in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in a best-of-7 series and the first in the conference finals since the Philadelphia 76ers blew a 3-1 lead to the Celtics in 1981.
Another reason might lie in another sensitivity. The No. 35 is already retired in Boston, as it was raised to the rafters in honor of the late Celtics captain Reggie Lewis, who died in 1993.
Thomas is not the first Boston athlete to openly recruit Kevin Durant to the Celtics. New Patriots nose tackle and lifelong Celtics fan Terrance Knighton said last week during OTAs that he would be in the ear of Durant as soon as Durant’s season was over.
The efforts of Thomas and Knighton might be in vain as ESPN’s NBA insider Marc Stein reports that those close to the situation see Durant signing a two-year max deal to stay in Oklahoma City, with an opt-out after the first year.
Durant will become a 10-year vested NBA veteran after next season, and is eligible to take up a significant portion (up to 35 percent) of any team’s payroll. Durant is currently at the 30 percent threshold.
Most insiders see the most likely scenario at present to be Kevin Durant staying in OKC on a two-year max deal with an opt-out after Year 1.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 31, 2016
Wizards, Heat, Celtics, Rockets, Knicks, Lakers, Spurs and, yes, Warriors … all expected to pursue Kevin Durant in free agency this summer
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 31, 2016
|05.29.16 at 4:00 pm ET|
Maybe what the Celtics should really be looking for is the next Klay Thompson in the June 23 draft.
For all the talk about who to take with the third pick or if they should trade for Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel, the Celtics could use a long scorer like Thompson, the somewhat overshadowed other half of the Splash Brothers. For anyone who missed Saturday night’s epic 41-point effort from Thompson, they missed one of the greatest performances in an elimination game.
Thompson led one of the most dramatic comebacks in the fourth quarter. He made an NBA playoff record 11 3-pointers in 18 attempts and powered the Warriors to a 33-18 fourth quarter that turned an eight-point deficit into a stunning 108-101 Warriors win in Game 6 that sent the Western finals back to Oakland for Game 7 Monday night.
Thompson was the 11th overall pick of the Warriors in the 2011 draft, behind Brandon Knight (8th), Kemba Walker (9th) and Jimmer Fredette (10th). Thompson has been playoff MVP of the Warriors quest to finish off their historic season. He’s been averaging 26.5 points in the postseason, including 31.0 points in the five-game win over Portland, a series they were without the injured Steph Curry for the first three games.
There are a number of shooters like Thompson in the draft, including Jamaal Murray, who would be available at No. 3, and possibly No. 16. NBADraft.net has the Celtics taking Buddy Hield, the shooting guard and Wooden Player of the Year in college basketball. Hield doesn’t have the height of Thompson, who is 6-foot-7, but he is considered one of the most mature players ready to contribute right away in the pros.
NBADraft.net also has the Celtics taking Cheick Diallo, the big man out of Kansas. Those mocks, of course, don’t take into consideration potential trades.
Trippin: Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge left for Israel Friday to watch Dragan Bender, the highly-touted prospect and potential No. 3 draft pick play, along with another European star in Ante Zizic.
The Celtics have three first-round picks at Nos. 3, 16 and 23.
|05.27.16 at 11:35 pm ET|
As Danny Ainge and co. head toward next month’s NBA draft, there’s a potential move available that the Celtics may want to explore.
In an interview with ESPN South Jersey 97.3, ESPN’s Chad Ford said he believes there’s a very good chance the 76ers will trade either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel.
“I think that there’s a very high likelihood, that whether it’s to move up in the draft or use them to grab a free agent in a sign and trade or just a trade, that you will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season,” Chad Ford said. “I think that they’ll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of these two players doesn’t necessarily work.”
With the No. 1 pick, the Sixers have two forwards to choose from in Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, leaving them with room to add a guard. According to Ford, the 76ers would jump at a chance to acquire the Celtics’ No. 3 pick, where they’d be able to add a rising star to their backcourt.
“If I was Philadelphia, it would be done tomorrow,” Chad Ford said. “I don’t know if Boston would do it, but for Philadelphia, 100 percent. That would allow them to actually I think bring in another guard, an elite guard, whether that’s Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray, and suddenly now you’ve got a very, very bright future. I think that’s an easy call for the Sixers if Boston would do it.”
Out of the two young studs, the Celtics should focus on pursing Noel.
The Everett native is a young rim protector — the kind of big man the Celtics lack — who also can rebound and score around the rim. This past season Noel averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Tied with the Warriors and Clippers, the Celtics finished fourth in the NBA in defensive rating. Adding a player like Noel into the fold would turn the C’s into a defensive juggernaut without having to break the bank in trying to sign a free agent big man like Hassan Whiteside or Bismack Biyombo.
Compared to Okafor, the asking price for Noel isn’t as steep, but of course he still will cost the Celtics their No. 3 pick in this year’s draft. However, if the Celtics were to package their No. 3 pick along with second-round picks and a prospect like Terry Rozier or James Young, that could be enough for them to acquire Noel, whereas a proposed deal for Okafor most likely would have to include one of their rotation guys like Marcus Smart or Kelly Olynyk.
Out of the two, Okafor certainly is a better scorer, but in Brad Stevens’ system, Noel would flourish. In a fast-break offense he can run the floor, set the pick-and-roll, and create second-chance opportunities for the Celtics on the glass.
At age 22, Noel still has plenty of room to grow and has the potential to become one of the best defending big men in the league. Sure, a move like this wouldn’t turn the Celtics into an instant championship-contending team, but it’s a great place to start.
|05.27.16 at 5:41 pm ET|
The buzz over Dragan Bender is getting louder.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge left for Israel Friday to watch the highly-touted prospect and potential No. 3 draft pick play, along with another European star in Ante Zizic.
The Celtics have three first-round picks at Nos. 3, 16 and 23.
According to the Herald’s Mark Murphy, both Ainge and son Austin, the team’s director of player personnel left for Israel on Friday to watch Bender in two practices Saturday and Sunday. There will be no game action.
18-year-old Bender plays for one of the top teams in Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv). This season, he’s been had his playing time limited to coming off the bench, averaging just 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds on the season. But Danny Ainge has longed for a player with his height (7-foot-1) and shooting ability. He is still underweight for the NBA but many scouts feel he has a great upside that make him worthy of a top-5 pick.
Austin Ainge has made several trips to Europe in the past two seasons and acknowledged that last week but indicated that pre-draft rules prohibited him from talking about Bender until the early-entrant deadline, which passed on Wednesday.
International basketball reporter David Pick confirmed Thursday that Ainge was in Croatia to scout Ante Zizic, another potential big man candidate who would likely need development before entering the NBA.
Zizic is a 19-year-old with a 6-foot-11 frame who has excelled in the Adriatic League despite his youth. Boston has 11 players under contract for the 2016-17 season. That means Ainge could have Zizic follow in the steps of Dario Saric (Sixers) and Nikola Mirotic (Bulls), who spent time overseas getting ready for the NBA. Saric may or may not join Philly this season.
The Ainges – Danny and Austin – fly to Israel today to watch Dragan Bender in 2 practices tomorrow and Sunday. No games involved.
— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) May 27, 2016
Two of my all-time favorite players and people👣👣 pic.twitter.com/NjRFDuAGyp
— Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) May 25, 2016
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