|06.25.16 at 9:31 pm ET|
Remember the pursuit of Manny Ramirez? How about the ill-fated chase for Alex Rodriguez? Think back when Zdeno Chara was on the market in 2006. The Patriots and Darrelle Revis married for one season, and it yielded New England’s fourth Super Bowl title.
Well, the Celtics’ dream of putting Kevin Durant in green next season has the potential of eclipsing all of those in terms of media focus and civic involvement.
Danny Ainge knows, just from their reaction to the lack of trade on draft night, that the entire fan base is in a frenzy. The Celtics are in full-in mode to get their guy who could change the fortunes of the franchise for the next decade.
This is like the summer of 2007. They not only brought in Ray Allen on draft night in the trade for the draft pick that netted Jeff Green, they got Kevin Garnett in a trade at the end of July. There is the draft. There are trades and then there’s free agency. All three factor in Ainge’s roster building.
This summer could be similar to ’07 as Kevin Durant and Kevin Love are potentially on the radar (that is, if Durant wants Love). Roc Nation Sports, Durant’s agency, is not only calling the shots on Durant’s deal, they are sending the message that Durant wants a full supporting cast around him that will immediately compete for his first NBA ring.
The Celtics have a lot going in their favor. They have tradition, a red-hot young coaching talent, loads of cap space and something L.A., Golden State, Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City don’t have. Civic pride and brotherhood among the pro sports teams. That’s why Rob Gronkowski, Bill Belichick and David Ortiz showing up courtside really matter. The Celtics should give Gronk, Belichick, Ortiz and even Tom Brady a call to reach out to Durant. Isaiah Thomas continued this effort on Saturday.
At $27.685 million committed to salaries for next season, the Celtics are in remarkably good shape to attack free agency. They not only are a young team coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, they have more cap space than any team that made the playoffs in last season. As a matter of fact, only the Sixers and Lakers, the two worst teams in the NBA last season, have less money committed to salary for the 2016-17 season.
Of the teams pursuing Durant (Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Celtics, Thunder, Heat), only the Celtics could pull off two max-deal free agent signings. There’s Durant, Dwight Howard, DeMar DeRozan, Luol Deng and Al Horford among others.
|06.25.16 at 6:13 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas is not taking no for an answer.
The Celtics dynamic and personable point guard took to Twitter Saturday to continue his marketing effort to sell Kevin Durant on why he should come to Boston.
In a tweet, Thomas indicated he was ready to go out and get a new pair of shoes, “I need me a pair of those new @KDTrey5. They look comfortable lol”
The Nike “KD 9” basketball shoes go for roughly $150. The new shoe was released by Nike on June 20.
This, of course, is not the first time Thomas has taken to social media to woo the would-be free agent. Just an hour after the Warriors eliminated Durant and the Thunder in Game 7 of the Western finals on May 30, Thomas tweeted a picture of a Shamrock with the number ’35’ next to it.
Durant would not be able to wear that number with the Celtics, as it has been retired to honor the late Reggie Lewis. Thomas, perhaps realizing this, removed the tweet later that night.
Thomas had no need to remove Saturday tweet, as it is just the latest effort in a growing move to recruit Durant to Boston. The superstar has agreed, through his agency Roc Nation Sports, to meet with the Celtics and five other teams (Golden State, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, L.A. Clippers and Miami) before choosing his final destination.
A week after his Shamrock tweet, Thomas said he would be “all-in” in an effort to bring his friend to Boston.
Thomas is hardly alone among Boston athletes who would love to see Durant in Celtic green. Hartford native and lifelong Celtics fan Terrance Knighton took time after a Patriots practice in mini-camp to express a desire to reach out to Durant.
I need me a pair of those new @KDTrey5 they look comfortable lol
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) June 25, 2016
|06.25.16 at 9:16 am ET|
WALTHAM – Danny Ainge and Wyc Grousbeck had very different takes on what happened Thursday.
Grousbeck, as the team’s principal owner, addressed the angry and disgruntled fan base after the Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown. He then told the fans and the media that the team was never close to pulling off a trade that many had hung their hopes.
The owner then acknowledged that Ainge, the president of basketball operations, would be in a much better position to explain why the team did what it did.
Ainge didn’t come out because he was getting ready for two more first-round picks. He chose Guerschon Yabusele at 16 and Ante Zizic at 23, two players that could wind up overseas next season. But Ainge said after the draft that there were many discussions about trading the third pick, just nothing that the Celtics could accept.
On Friday, Ainge made two things clear: He felt bad for Grousbeck having to take the heat for the lack of trade and don’t take out the frustration on Jaylen Brown.
“The only thing I felt bad about that is that Wyc went out there,” Ainge said. “If I would have known that or if I wasn’t in the middle of something, I should have been the one that went out there and I would have been happy to and I would have enjoyed it. It’s what I love about Boston. When you’re throwing a no-hitter they appreciate it. And when you get rocked in the second inning, they boo you.
“The only thing about that is I love the passion of Boston fans, I love that they feel and they care. I truly believe that. I never take that stuff personal because there’s so many differing views. I think that that’s what makes Boston fun. The only thing that I don’t like about that is that it’s a reflection of Jaylen.
“Instead of a reflection of me — like, ‘We don’t like YOUR choice.’ That’s like OK to boo me. But give him a chance, would be the only thing I would say. Like, let’s see. Let’s wait a year then boo me. Let’s not boo the kid when his name is announced. As far as criticism in my position, I expect it, I’m used to it, and I don’t think you guys can offend me. You can try, but I don’t think it’ll work.
“I think everyone wants a deal. I think everyone expects a deal. We’ve been working really hard on trying to get a deal and do something significant. But we just haven’t been able to do it yet. And it’s not because we’re not trying, it’s not because we’re turning down or we overvalue our players or any of that stuff. It’s because you need a partner. I’ve said this many times before: I tried three years to get KG before we got him. It just takes the right time and the right place and have a partner that wants to do a deal.”
Ainge knows what the expectations are for the Celtics heading into next season. He realizes the fan base has seen a young team with a bright coach go from 25 t0 40 to 48 wins. Now, what’s next?
“Maybe the public expects more — no, I think that’s pretty obvious,” Ainge said. “But not more than what we feel. I want to do a deal. But it’s my job to oversee the Celtics and not do what makes me look really good and do something that’s instant gratification. It’s like we’re trying to build something. It’s a big responsibility and I take it very seriously. We’re going to keep trying to do bigger deals that will people cheer instead of boo.”
|06.25.16 at 12:26 am ET|
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Celtics may not be frontrunners in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, but they’ll at least get an audience.
According to Yahoo NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and other interested clubs will travel to a central location to meet with Durant and his representatives from Roc Nation Sports starting on July 1.
The other teams that Durant will meet are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and his incumbent Thunder, according to the report.
Oklahoma City remains the favorite to retain Durant, since it can offer him a two-year deal with an opt-out that makes him a free agent again next offseason. The Warriors are also considered strong contenders if he wants to join Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to build the league’s next super team.
But the Celtics at least have a seat at the table, which is more than interested clubs like the Lakers, Nuggets, Knicks, Rockets, and Durant’s hometown Wizards can say. The C’s can sell Durant on their cap space, as well as the presence of coach Brad Stevens on one of the better up-and-coming teams in the relatively weak East, which could provide a clearer path to the Finals than the loaded West, even with the defending champions from Cleveland and LeBron James standing in the way.
Durant, 27, is a seven-time All-Star and former MVP who led the Thunder within a win of their second NBA Finals this season. He averaged just over 28 points a game.
According to the Yahoo report, he’d like to decide on his future by July 9, when he begins a publicity tour in the Far East.
|06.24.16 at 5:47 pm ET|
WALTHAM – On Friday afternoon, Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told WEEI’s OM&F that Boston fans should give their No. 3 pick a chance because “they don’t know who Jaylen is.”
During his introductory press availability with the Boston media, Jaylen Brown went a long way to giving everyone a clearer idea of not only who he is but how confident he is that he can help the Celtics take the next step right away.
“I’m overly confident. I believe in myself 100 percent,” Brown said. “I believe in my game and I believe in my work ethic. I don’t think anybody works as hard as me, especially not in this draft class. I’m going to go out and show what I can do. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take time. You’ll see.
“It’s set in but it but it hasn’t hit me yet. I haven’t like broken down emotionally. I’m just super ready. I haven’t had time for it to set in. I’ve been traveling. Things have been kind of a whirlwind but I’m ready for Summer League and show the Boston Celtics fans what I can do.”
Maybe it’s the fact that he played his one year of college basketball in the backyard of the Golden State Warriors but Brown believes his versatility will make him a big-time contributor, even in his rookie season, when he will be only 20.
“If you look at kind of the way the league is progressing, you look at the best teams in the world, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, a lot of those guys can play multiple positions and lot of those guys are around the same size as me,” Brown said. “You look at like Draymond Green, LeBron James, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, they play a lot of multiple positions and are able to defend multiple spots on the floor and it helps their team be extremely successful. So, following that [model] has been extremely helpful for me and I think that’s what Brad Stevens, and I’m willing to follow it.”
|06.24.16 at 1:45 pm ET|
Amidst Celtics’ fans frustration with Boston’s selection of Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 overall pick, Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria to defend his pick and discuss the Celtics’ upcoming offseason. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
“Boston fans don’t know who Jaylen is. If you want a really good picture of Jaylen you should call Bill Walton. I think he broadcast 10 or 12 of Jaylen’s games in the Pac-12 last year,” said Ainge. “The first thing is that with Jaylen, I don’t think he is going to reach his potential three, four, five years from now, fully, but the good thing about Jaylen is with his physicality and his body, athleticism, strength and maturity he can play in an NBA game right now. He can contribute now, he won’t reach his full potential to later.
Added Ainge: “I think that you are missing what we have seen him do for the two years prior to this years college season. You guys know this I’m sure, but he was a guy that was projected at no.2 in the draft at this time last year … Usually those are fairly close to accurate. If a guy is not that high he is usually pretty close with a few exceptions. Jaylen was a guy we were watching for a longtime. We have seen him play against good players that are in the NBA right now with great success and be the better player. I have seen him in two draft workouts against really good college players or guys that were drafted yesterday and watch him make shots and I’m not so concerned. I am concerned with those numbers (referring to Brown’s 29 percent field goal rate). I think there are some things that with the way Cal played with two bigs all the time and with a non-shooting point guard. They didn’t have the greatest spacing. I’m not trying to make excuses for him. Jaylen is not a perfect finished product. He has been able to overpower kids throughout his time because of his body and power and explosive athleticism.
“Yeah, he’s got to make some better decisions, but again I focus on what he can do, I look at the things Jaylen Brown can do. With all these kids, we have gone through them with a fine tooth comb. We have looked at everything they have done offensively, defensively with their character, how hard they work. We look at every bit of their background; we talk to a lot of different people in regards to them, so we see the good, the bad, the ugly and the great.”
Ainge also reiterated that the Celtics did try to trade the pick before making the selection.
“Throughout this entire draft we were trying to get players and talk to most every team in the NBA for the different picks. We were still trying to trade, but we weren’t able to for a couple of reasons,” said Ainge. “I think that the difference in the NBA now, then it was even just five years ago, is that there is not very many teams that have full 15-man rosters right now and are looking to dump contracts and dump cap space because everybody has cap space for the next two years. For the next two summers you are going to see that, as the TV money has doubled the salary cap. It is a unique time where we are and those kind of deals are just harder to get. I’m not saying that you expect to get a star at 16 or 23 in the draft, but sometimes you can get an OK player … I think it is dangerous to draft a guy to just be able to have a higher trade value because first of all we don’t know who has higher trade value.”
Ainge believes that Boston is an attractive destination for free agents once the signing period begins on July 1.
“I have to believe this it is my job to sell a product, there are players out there that have shown interest in Boston in the past and we have come very very close and we didn’t lose out because we were Boston or we didn’t lose out because we didn’t have another star guy in those cases it just there is always some reason,” said Ainge. “I am still optimistic that our Boston Celtic organization and the city of Boston and our history can be an attractive place for some, even though it has never happened in the history of the Celtics with the exception of KG, which was, yes, a trade but also he had to agree to sign here on an extension before a trade was made.”
In addition, Ainge addressed how the Celtics would approach free agency.
“It is need based in free agency, but the need of a really good player at any position is a need,” said Ainge. “So it will be need based. But there will be some needs that if we strikeout a list of players that we seek our A list, we go to our B list, our C list , our D list. We will put an immediate call into Evan [Turner] out of respect if nothing else. But we do have interest in Evan, or we may use his cap space to sign a different player. We will be taking trades even before free agency begins, we are back at it today.”
|06.24.16 at 8:39 am ET|
The announcement of Jaylen Brown as the Celtics’ first draft selection prompted boos and heckles on the floor of the TD Garden Thursday night.
Owner Wyc Grousbeck even came out to try and explain the pick but was drowned out by the disappointed fans.
Then Danny Ainge, hours after completing the draft with five more selections, came out to explain himself and the organization and what they were thinking.
“So, there was a lot of discussion over the last couple of months with the No. 3 pick. And a lot of study and hard work by my staff. We had some, like I said, a lot of discussion and even trading that pick and trading down in the draft and trading for future picks and so forth. Ultimately, there wasn’t anything to our liking.
“We grew very fond of Jaylen. He’s a great kid; 19 years old who has a man’s body, great athleticism, sort of a vogue new type of player in the NBA, of the versatile player, the versatile wings, can play multiple positions, defensively. And we think he has a lot of upside but we think he’s a 19-year-old kid that can get on the court and play with the big boys right out of the gate.”
To read his WEEI.com draft profile, click here.
Was Brown always the guy at No. 3?
“No, it was a tough choice,” Ainge added. “There was a lot of good players, lot of good players at (No.) 3. So that was never really done completely. There’s a lot of different views, internally, and we went back-and-forth many many times. But everybody unanimously really liked Brown as well, there was other guys as well.”
The biggest concern is Brown’s shooting touch at Cal in his only season there as a 19-year-old. The 6-foot-7 projected wing shot only 29.4 percent from 3-point range.
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