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Brad Stevens praises Jared Sullinger, Marcus Smart after C’s beat Pelicans

01.13.15 at 8:38 am ET
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After a tough road trip filled with trades, the Celtics returned home Monday to collect an impressive victory over Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. Jared Sullinger was a huge reason why. Sullinger finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, stepping his game up against one of the top young talents in the league.

“I thought today’s a good example of his versatility,” coach Brad Stevens said of Sullinger’s big game. “When we had [Brandon] Bass in the game they usually matched up [Ryan] Anderson on [Sullinger], when we had Kelly [Olynyk] in the game they had to match up [Omer] Asik on [Sullinger]. And so when Asik’s on him he stretched it a little bit, and when Anderson was on him he posted. That’s why, in my opinion, a guy like Jared has to be able to do both if he’s going to be really good. I thought he did a lot of really good things tonight.”

While Sullinger really stood out in the box score, rookie Marcus Smart’s name would not pop if you only looked at the numbers. Smart’s contributions go beyond what’s on the stat sheet. He hit a 3-pointer out of the corner while falling down that clinched the game for the C’s — the most clutch shot of Smart’s career to date.

“He had nothing but zeros at halftime except for two assists and one turnover, and we talked as a staff, we thought he was terrific,” Stevens said of the No. 6 overall pick. “All that other stuff on a stat line isn’t where his impact can be the greatest, and he really made a huge impact, being his hands on balls, being active. I didn’t know coming into the game if he could guard [Tyreke] Evans and I thought he did a decent job on him — he’s a hard guy to guard, too. So he did a lot of great things. And obviously hit a big 3.”

Check out Sullinger’s postgame press conference below, but on a night when his Ohio State Buckeyes won the NCAA football national championship, Sully wanted to be brief so he could rush home for the second half.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger, Marcus Smart,

Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder carry leadership torch

01.13.15 at 2:01 am ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Whether it’s a direct result of trading Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green or a direct response to those deals, these young Celtics are playing with more purpose than they have all season.

“It’€™s kind of like being a younger brother,” C’s rookie Marcus Smart said following a 108-100 victory against the Pelicans. “You’€™re always told, ‘You can’€™t do this; you’€™ll never do this,’ and you just want to prove them wrong. And that’€™s kind of what we’€™re trying to do.”

Rondo has since admitted to a lack of effort during his final 18 months in Boston, and Green was notorious for showing up one night only to disappear the next. That’s a horrible message for young players, and probably part of the reason they’re gone.

“I’€™d like to see everybody carry the torch,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said of a void left by trading his two top players, adding: “Everybody has to be a leader, and I’€™ve seen just in recent weeks that there are more voices to be heard and more people that are stepping up and trying to be leaders, and time will tell whether they can be. Sometimes some voices snuff out the voice of others, and we’€™re tying to create a culture where everybody takes ownership and it results in the success of the team.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, NBA

Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens explain Jeff Green trade, uncertain future

01.13.15 at 1:37 am ET
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When Rajon Rondo was shipped out of town just over three weeks ago, Danny Ainge used a key word to describe why — uncertainty. It also seemed to remain the reason Ainge felt the need to ship Jeff Green to Memphis as well.

“I just felt like [it was] a timeline thing,”€ Ainge said prior to Monday’€™s home win over the Pelicans. “€œThe players that we had, the uncertainty of the future and free agency, and [I] felt like we were getting good value in return based on this contract situation.”

The trade doesn’€™t make this current season any easier on coach Brad Stevens, but the coach understands it’€™s a process geared towards the future.

“Losing [Green] three weeks after losing your multiple-time All-Star point guard, there’€™s going to be challenges that come with that,” Stevens said. “That’€™s why you prepare everyone to play and that’€™s why everybody’€™s got this talk about ˜next man up.”

Last year everything was very new to Stevens, especially the trade deadline. Now in his second season in the NBA, Stevens is learning to adapt to what to expect during the rebuild.

“This is about the time last year where we had some –€“ at the time for that team we had some pretty significant moves — with Jordan [Crawford] being traded and Courtney [Lee] being traded,” Stevens reflected. “€œSo there’€™s a little bit of being able to look back and learn from that. I think I learned a lot from the Rondo trade, just as far as not only losing a really good player, but also trying to bring new guys in and get them up to speed as quickly as possible, but also recognizing that you don’€™t have to rebuild Rome in a day.”

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Jeff Green,

5 things we learned in Celtics’ victory over Anthony Davis, Pelicans

01.12.15 at 10:54 pm ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

The Celtics defeated the Pelicans, 108-100, Monday night at TD Garden (click here for the box score).

In a back-and-forth game which featured 14 lead changes, the Celtics finally managed to protect a late lead and seal a victory in the final frame.

Pelicans forward Anthony Davis scored a game-high 34 points, while Jared Sullinger led the way for the Celtics with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Here are five things we learned in the game:

Davis is a superstar

Given the Celtics’ inability to defend big men, it was expected Davis would dominate. For the first three quarters, the Celtics did a solid job of containing him, limiting him to 21 points, but in the fourth quarter, the NBA’€™s best player not named LeBron James took over, scoring 13 points over the final 12 minutes.

Beyond the box score, Davis impacted the game with his mere presence in the paint at both ends. The Celtics rarely drove the lane out of respect to his shot-blocking ability (three blocks), and in defending the pick and roll, the Celtics overplayed Davis, leaving Eric Gordon alone to score a number of points at the rim.

Sullinger is ready to step up

With the recent trades, Sullinger is now the most talented player on the Celtics. Just like Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green before him, Sullinger was the final Celtic to be announced during introductions. Sullinger had a great night, scoring 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He was dominant on the offensive glass, accounting for six of his 10 rebounds. He did an excellent job using his large posterior to keep Davis from getting position deep in the paint.

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger,

Celtics finalize Jeff Green trade for a No. 1 pick, Austin Rivers and Tayshaun Prince’s expiring contract

01.12.15 at 11:53 am ET
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The Celtics officially announced the Jeff Green trade for an unidentified future first-round pick, Tayshaun Prince‘s $7.7 million expiring contract and Austin Rivers, son of former C’s coach Doc Rivers.

Green, whose 17.6 points per game currently lead the Celtics, joins a Grizzlies team battling for home-court advantage in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Memphis sends Quincy Pondexter and a second-round pick to a Pelicans squad in search of a playoff spot.

According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the deal, the Celtics will receive a first-round pick from Memphis that won’t come to fruition until 2019 and are expected to send Rivers elsewhere in exchange for a second-round pick and expiring contracts. Surprisingly, the Clippers have been mentioned as a potential trade partner, potentially pairing Rivers with his father in Los Angeles.

Prince’s expiring deal will give the Celtics as much as $30 million in cap space this summer.

Following the trade’s completion, Green posted his appreciation for Boston on Instagram.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, NBA,

Report: Celtics finalizing Jeff Green trade to Grizzlies

01.09.15 at 7:05 pm ET
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Mere moments after finalizing a deal with his former assistant general manager, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge phoned another erstwhile front office employee to make a separate trade on a wild Friday night.

According to multiple reports, Ainge has agreed to trade Jeff Green to the Grizzlies in exchange for Tayshaun Prince‘s expiring $7.7 million contract and a protected first-round draft pick. The two teams are reportedly waiting on a third team to facilitate the deal. Green remained active for the C’s game against the Pacers on Friday, but was replaced in the starting lineup by Jae Crowder. The deal cannot be finalized until Monday, offering either team a chance to back out.

The news of Green’s imminent departure comes shortly after the Celtics sent newly acquired Brandan Wright to the Suns for another protected first-rounder.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough was once Ainge’s assistant, and Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace held the same position in Boston from 1997-2007. In a strange twist, current Memphis vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger had this to say of Green in 2012 while a writer for ESPN.com:

I can’t stress this enough: Green is 26 and played four full seasons in the league, and after all that time there’s no evidence he’s actually any good and considerable evidence that he’s a health risk. Yet he’s being paid like a second-tier star. This was, without a doubt, the worst contract of the summer.

The deals give the Celtics as many as 11 first-round selections over the next four seasons, although that number will more likely be nine based on the protection of picks acquired in exchange for Green, Wright, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers and Jordan Crawford. In addition to their own No. 1 picks through 2018, the Celtics also have the rights to the following:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green,

Celtics trade Brandan Wright to Suns for pick(s)

01.09.15 at 6:01 pm ET
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The Celtics traded recently acquired and underused forward Brandan Wright to the Suns for a future draft picks(s), the team announced on Friday night. Yahoo Sports guru Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade on Twitter.

In exchange for Wright — seemingly the prized jewel in Celtics president Danny Ainge’s trade of Rajon Rondo — Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is sending a Timberwolves pick to his former employer that is top-12 protected for this season and next before turning into a pair of second-round picks in 2016 and 2017.

The 6-foot-9 Wright came to the Celtics with the league’s highest field goal percentage (74.8 percent), but then played in just eight games for Boston, averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in only 10.8 minutes a night.

In essence, the Celtics have turned Rondo into Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson’s relatively low $2.73 million expiring contract, a late 2016 first-round pick from Dallas and two second-round picks from Minnesota in 2016 and 2017.

Meanwhile, the Celtics are nearing a deal that would send Jeff Green to the Grizzlies in exchange for Tayshaun Prince‘s $7.7 million expiring contract and a future first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski, likely giving Ainge nine No. 1 selections over the next four seasons.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandan Wright, NBA, Phoenix Suns
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