|07.13.16 at 2:02 pm ET|
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.
|07.12.16 at 4:15 pm ET|
The Celtics have had their eyes on Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler since last season, but for now, anyway, it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the retooling Bulls have decided to retain Butler and have taken him off the trade market “for now.”
It has been a busy offseason in Chicago, where the Bulls have said goodbye to former MVP Derrick Rose, as well as rugged frontcourt stalwarts Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. They have replaced them with former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, as well as longtime Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade.
But the star of the team remains Butler, the 6-foot-7, 26-year-old All-Star who has emerged as one of the best two-way players in the league. Butler averaged a career-high 20.9 points a game last year, along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
The Celtics were rumored to be in on him all offseason, but couldn’t convince the Bulls to swing a deal. With Chicago signing veterans, it becomes harder to try to pry Butler with draft picks.
Now it looks like he’s not going anywhere, at least for the time being.
|07.12.16 at 12:53 pm ET|
According to the L.A. Times, Clippers forward Paul Pierce intends to play in the 2016-17 season.
Nothing official, but person close to Paul Pierce says he intends to play next season.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) July 9, 2016
Pierce, who will turn 39 on Oct. 13, is now one of three active players drafted before 2000. He averaged 6.1 points per game in 18.1 minutes per game with the Clippers in his third year with three different teams. He only played 54 minutes during the playoffs.
The former Celtics forward was drafted by the Celtics 10th overall in the 1998 draft. He spent 14 years with the team, playing in ten All-Star teams and being named to four All-NBA teams.
He has said before that if he does play next season, it will certainly be his last in the league.
|07.11.16 at 3:30 pm ET|
Once the Celtics signed big man Al Horford, they no longer had room for restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, so they renounced his qualifying offer. He didn’t stay unemployed for long.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical, Sullinger has agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Raptors, which he trumpeted on his Twitter account by changing his logo to that of the Raptors. Sullinger thanked Celtics fans.
— Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) July 11, 2016
Sullinger averaged 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a game over four years with the Celtics after being selected 21st overall in the 2012 draft. Head coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe after the C’s set Sullinger free that he’d land on his feet.
“Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got beautiful touch and he’s a good guy,” Stevens said. “And so I think he’ll do well.”
|07.11.16 at 11:15 am ET|
In a game where the Celtics struggled offensively, some unusual suspects led the scoring for Boston.
Jordan Mickey carried the Celtics in their second game of the Las Vegas Summer League, totaling 18 points and six rebounds in an 87-74 loss to the Suns. The LSU product played in just his second summer game, but looked comfortable out on the court. He managed to convert on extra looks in the post in the fourth quarter to help Boston cut into the Suns lead. Mickey, 22, also excelled on the defensive end, stuffing Phoenix big man Marquese Chriss on a transition layup that riled up the crowd.
— Rookie Abdel Nader came off the bench to provide a spark for the Celtics, scoring 13 points and tying Mickey in rebounds with six. The 22-year-old showed a lot of promise scoring off of the dribble and created scoring opportunities for himself with ease. He has made smart decisions with the ball in his hands, and the No. 58 overall pick of this year’s draft should see an increase in minutes in the future.
“You’ll probably see him in the starting lineup next game,” C’s coach Jamie Young said of Nader following the loss.
— R.J. Hunter dropped 17 points in over 26 minutes, shooting 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. The most impressive part of Hunter’s game, however, was his tenacity. He got into a tangle with Suns star Devin Booker in the second quarter and stepped up his aggressiveness until he was taken out of the game. The Georgia State product would eventually get a nice block on Booker off the dribble, highlighting the second-year guards hustle. He’ll need to fully utilize that tenacity if he wants to break into Brad Stevens’ rotation this season.
|07.11.16 at 10:45 am ET|
There was no retirement tour for Tim Duncan, who called it quits on Monday in appropriately low-key fashion.
The 15-time All-Star and five-time champion wrapped up a Hall of Fame career via an announcement on the team’s official web site that didn’t even include a quote.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 11, 2016
Duncan, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, compiled a .710 winning percentage over his 19 seasons, the highest in any pro sport over that time, according to the Spurs, and just percentage points ahead of the Patriots (.704).
The Celtics had hoped to land Duncan in the ’97 lottery, but the ping-pong balls bounced the way of the Spurs and everything else is history.
Duncan finishes his career having averaged 19 points and 10.8 rebounds a game. The Spurs made the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons, and he’s the only player in history to start for champions in three different decades.
|07.10.16 at 2:51 pm ET|
Larry Bird understands why Kevin Durant chose the Warriors. But back in his own playing days, the former Celtics great wouldn’t have considered joining forces with rival Magic Johnson.
Speaking on SiriusXM NBA radio, Bird said Durant didn’t do anything wrong by leaving Oklahoma City to join the rival Warriors, but it’s not a choice he would’ve made.
“I know back in the day, I couldn’t imagine going to the Lakers and playing with Magic Johnson,” Bird said. “I’d rather try to beat him. But these guys are different, and I understand a lot of it and it’s within the rules, so they can do whatever they do. I can remember years ago, we were fighting when I played for free agency, pure free agency, so there’d be more movement. But I could never imagine myself going and joining another team with great players, because I had great players and I was in a great situation.”
A case can be made that Durant had a great situation in OKC, with point guard Russell Westbrook, big man Steven Adams, and a roster that took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
Bird played with Hall of Famers Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, among others. He won three titles and reached the Finals five times in his career.
Durant has reached the Finals once since entering the league in 2007.
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