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Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown struggles in return to summer league action

07.09.16 at 10:34 pm ET
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Celtics fans hoping to see a glimmer of what Danny Ainge saw in Jaylen Brown before drafting him No. 3 overall will have to wait at least another day.

Brown, returning to action in the C’s Las Vegas Summer League opener Saturday after missing the final two games of the Utah Summer League with a bone bruise in his right knee, played 24 1/2 unimpressive minutes in a 71-62 loss to the Bulls. Brown scored nine points, hitting just 3-of-13 shots, and grabbed one rebound. He had a strong drive to the basket in the closing minutes but missed a dunk. Defensively, he got faked out of his shoes a couple of times, biting badly on shot fakes while looking for a block.

Brown acknowledged that he didn’t feel right Saturday.

“I felt a little slow, I felt like I was stuck in the mud a little bit, but it will pick up,” he told reporters afterward. “I missed some baskets easily to my left hand because I was exploding off my right leg. Just got to get it stronger, get better and make the right plays.”

— Terry Rozier continues to be the C’s summer star. Although it wasn’t his best outing — he made some questionable decisions running the fast break and was a minus-19 during his 29 minutes — he scored a team-high 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

“We got our butt kicked today, offensively and defensively,” he said. “I take full responsibility for it.”

Added C’s assistant coach Jamie Young: “I thought tonight was actually his worst game. I think he could have been better. But Terry’s come a long way. We need Terry to keep improving.”

— While the Celtics struggled inside against the bigger and stronger Bulls — Chicago held a 46-28 rebounding advantage and outscored the C’s in the paint 40-24 — first-round draft pick Guerschon Yabusele came ready to bang. The French forward finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

— Rookie Abdel Nader was a bright spot. The 58th overall pick showed the ability to get to the basket and finish. The Iowa State product ended the night with 12 points on 4-of-8 field goals in 16 minutes.

— James Young hit just 1-of-7 shots and scored three points, and he still appears to have no interest in playing any defense.

— Jordan Mickey made his first appearance of the summer and recorded five points and seven rebounds in almost 23 minutes. R.J. Hunter, who missed the previous two games, also returned and scored six points in just under 21 minutes.

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Al Horford marks new beginning with Celtics: ‘You have to consider this is a special place’

07.08.16 at 1:48 pm ET
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Even though Al Horford wasn’t officially a Celtic at the time of Friday’s introductory press conference due to his contract not being finalized, the mere image of the 6-foot-10 center sitting next to Wyc Grousbeck, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens marked a big step in bringing Boston basketball back to prominence.

Stevens talked about how Horford’s shooting ability and size will help the Celtics offense. 

“I think that [Horford’s] hard work and his adaptability to the way the game has been played in a lot of ways has just enhanced him even more by adding to what was probably one of the better mid-range shots in the league to extending that range and being not only a reasonable 3-point shooter, but a good 3-point shooter and a guy that is constantly thinking about now adding to perfecting that,” Stevens said. “I think that anytime that you have the opportunity to pop, roll or play in the seam [off the pick-and-roll] is a huge advantage and he is excellent at all three and the numbers bear that out. We play through our bigs a lot and that is something we have desire to continue to do. It is great from a fit standpoint in a lot of ways, but certainty in the way that we play.”

More importantly, Horford marks the first big-name free agent the Celtics have been able to attract — and Horford indicated he expects more will follow.

“It is a great organization. There is a lot of history here. I feel like everyone around the league respects it, we acknowledge it and that is a big part of the reason why I chose to come here,” Horford said. “In years to come I feel like this will open the doors for many other big free agents. You have to consider this is a special place and I think people that are open to it they will see how special this place is.”

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Danny Ainge, C’s brass welcome Al Horford to Boston: ‘He plays with a passion that is contagious to his teammates’

07.08.16 at 11:25 am ET
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Friday’s press conference to introduce free agent forward/center Al Horford started on a curious note, as Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck announced after a 40-minute delay that the paperwork on Horford’s deal is not finalized, making him a “pending” acquisition.

Horford, who reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth $113 million to join the C’s, did not sound like a player who had concerns about a holdup with his contract, saying he’s looking forward to a new challenge.

“I always admired the Celtics from afar, just how everything gets carried over here, and how committed the team and the city is to winning and doing things the right way,” he said. “I’m very, very excited, and I can’t wait to get started. I know we have a lot of work ahead. So that really excites me.”

Horford played all 82 games for the Hawks last season, averaging 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. The 30-year-old helped the Hawks end the C’s season in the opening round of the playoffs.

Said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge: “He plays the way that great Celtics in the past have played. He plays with a passion that is contagious to his teammates. He’s a player that can fit with all sorts of different players. He can play outside, he can play inside, on both ends of the court. But he is a player that watching him play against us in the playoffs this year and flying around and contesting shots and bringing an energy and passion, I think he is a player that our fans will fall in love with. And his teammates will fall in love with. And our coach will fall in love with him as well.”

Coach Brad Stevens said Horford’s legacy of success on the court should have a big impact on the young Celtics.

“The best thing that I can say about a basketball player as a person is that he constantly enhances his teammates on the floor,” Stevens said. “And the No. 1 thing that his career has been defined by is winning. That goes back to his days in college [at Florida]. That goes obviously through the nine years in Atlanta, leading Atlanta to the playoffs in every single one of those years. For us to have an opportunity here with a person who has achieved all that he’s achieved, who has not only the ability to help your team on the court with everything that he does well but also an ability to lead what is a still fairly young team in the way that you prepare, the way that you carry yourself and everything else. I don’t think that there is a better example out there for our players. So we’re thrilled, and I’m thrilled.”

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Terry Rozier (23 points) hits winning 3-pointer as C’s take Utah Summer League title

07.07.16 at 11:43 pm ET
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Even before he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining, Terry Rozier was the star of the show Thursday night as the Celtics beat the Spurs, 87-86, to win the Utah Summer League title.

Rozier, prepping for his second season with the C’s, scored a team-high 23 points, dished out a team-high six assists and tied for the team high with seven rebounds in 31 minutes. He made a number of key plays down the stretch as the Celtics rallied from a late six-point deficit to go 3-0 in Utah.

On the game-winning play, James Young inbounded from the sideline to Guerschon Yabusele in the high post. Yabusele passed it back out to Rozier, who was a few feet behind the 3-point arc. Rozier immediately went up for the shot and was fouled on the hand by Spurs first-round draft pick Dejounte Murray, but it didn’t matter as the ball went through the net.

Rozier missed the ensuing free throw, but Yabusele grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock.

The winning play was designed for Rozier to set a pick for Young off the inbounds, but the Spurs switched and had Young defended, leaving Rozier a small window out deep.

“I was kind of open and I got the ball and I’ve just got to knock down the shot. And it worked,” Rozier said in an on-court interview with NBA TV. “It was big. It was big. It felt good.”

Added Rozier later in a postgame interview: “I threw up a prayer and got the win.”

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Danny Ainge: ‘I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance’ to land Kevin Durant

07.07.16 at 1:12 pm ET
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Danny Ainge felt the Celtics had a chance at Kevin Durant. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Danny Ainge felt the Celtics had a chance at Kevin Durant. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Since Kevin Durant’s Fourth of July fireworks on Monday announcing that he would be joining the Warriors, Danny Ainge has had time to mull over what exactly happened to see Durant slip from the Celtics’ grasp.

“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge said to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had some chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.

“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen.”

Ainge admitted he was incredibly disappointed when he got the courtesy call from Durant saying he was going to Golden State shortly before his Players’ Tribune piece came out.

The Celtics certainly pulled out all the stops trying to sway Durant into wearing green next season, bringing a cavalry of team personnel, coach Brad Stevens, players Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder and even Tom Brady — Durant’s favorite athlete — to meet with the star in the Hamptons on Saturday.

Even David Ortiz tweeted at Durant to apologize for not being able to make the meeting. And upon signing Al Horford — who multiple times indicated him and Durant had discussed playing together — the Celtics seemed like legitimate contenders for the prized free agent.

“I felt like the meeting and presentation couldn’t have gone any better. I think we all felt that,” Ainge said. “I think it went as well as it could have, and we got a really good sense that it was going to be a really hard decision for him, but that we were a strong consideration.

“We felt like that was the most important part of the whole presentation — who he’d play with and how he’d be utilized. He had some good questions about that and about his role – how he would play, how we would use him. I think we did a great job of explaining and making a great presentation, and I think it was tempting for him. I think he is very, very excited about Boston and the history, the Celtics, all of that. I think he loved what Brad had to say. I think he was impressed with Brad’s preparation, and we had a really good feeling about it.”

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Read More: Danny Ainge, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Kevin Durant

Guerschon Yabusele, James Young deliver big efforts in Celtics’ summer league win over Jazz

07.06.16 at 1:33 pm ET
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When the Celtics selected French forward Guerschon Yabusele with the No. 16 pick in last month’s draft, it came as a surprise — and it didn’t sit well with some Celtics fans who were hoping the team would draft a more recognizable name.

Yabusele didn’t help his cause in the Celtics’ summer league opener on Monday, tallying just five points and six rebounds and looking uncomfortable on the court. But on Tuesday he showed why the C’s considered him worthy of a mid-first-round pick.

Starting at center, the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder scored on Boston’s first possession, catching the ball at the 3-point line, driving right and then finishing with a nifty left-handed reverse against second-year Jazz center Tibor Pleiss, who at 7-foot-3 stands almost a half-foot taller than Yabusele.

Yabusele finished with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds in 24 1/2 minutes. He had a memorable stint late in the game when he pursued Jazz point guard Marcus Paige from behind and blocked his layup bid, then ran down the court and got a layup.

He was one of four Celtics in double figures as Boston posted an 89-82 victory.

“Everybody came in and gave us a big lift,” Celtics summer league coach Micah Strawberry said. “Guys made big shots when they were called upon, and it was good to see. It was fun to see the bench cheering each other on, the guys that are out there.”

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Read More: Guerschon Yabusele, James Young, Marcus Thornton, Terry Rozier

Celtics reportedly still trying to pull off major trade

07.06.16 at 9:57 am ET
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Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler

The Celtics did not pull off the major trade many fans were hoping for prior to last month’s draft, but they still might have a chance to make a splash. According to a report from the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the C’s have been continuing their attempts to improve their lineup by landing a big-name player — namely Bulls guard Jimmy Butler or 76ers center Jahlil Okafor.

The report notes that the C’s may have hurt their chances with their surprising selection of Jaylen Brown at No. 3.

Wrote Bulpett: Sources tell us the C’s are still holding the line on their offers from prior to the draft. They will make trades if teams come around to their price.

Jimmy Butler and Jahlil Okafor are said to be still available, but getting them now won’t be as easy as on draft night when Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively, both coveted the No. 3 overall pick so they could take Providence’s Kris Dunn.

The Celtics helped their cause with the acquisition of free agent forward/center Al Horford but clearly need to do more to compete with the best in the East.

Read More: Jahlil Okafor, Jimmy Butler,
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