|09.25.14 at 10:30 pm ET|
Days before training camp begins, the Celtics announced a series of roster moves, exchanging non-guaranteed deals and second-round picks with the Cavaliers, picking up a trade exception and releasing two players.
The C’s dealt Keith Bogans and the two heavily protected second-round picks from the Kings in 2015 and 2017 to the Cavs in exchange for Dwight Powell, the expiring contracts of John Lucas III, Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas, Cleveland’s 2016 and 2017 second-round selections and a $5.3 million trade exception.
Additionally, the C’s released Chris Babb and Chris Johnson. Got all that?
Powell, Cleveland’s second-round pick out of Stanford this past June, has a guaranteed deal, so the Celtics aren’t done dealing, since the addition of Evan Turner over the weekend would give them more guaranteed contracts (16) than the maximum allowed (15) once the season starts. The 6-foot-11, 234-pound Powell averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists as a power forward for the Cardinal this past season.
Lucas, Murphy and Thomas will all likely be cut at some point in the near future, although Murphy — a former St. Mark’s star in Southborough, Mass. — is an intriguing addition if the C’s could stash him on the Red Claws.
Those Kings picks will either fall from 56-60 in the draft or go back to Sacramento, so they weren’t worth much anyhow. The two second-rounders from Cleveland should also fall somewhere in the 51-60 range with LeBron James and Kevin Love now on the Cavaliers.
So, why the deal? The big return is the trade exception. The $5.3 million TPE the Celtics received in return for Bogans allows them to still trade for a player of the same value without having to keep paying dead weight on the roster.
Thus ends the illustrious Celtics career of Bogans: six games, 12 points and 55 minutes.
|09.23.14 at 10:03 pm ET|
The Celtics are coming off of their worst season since 2006-07. Despite high expectations this offseason, the team is entering 2014-15 with a similar roster to last season, which comes with similar expectations. However, Brad Stevens will be in his second season as coach, Rajon Rondo will begin the season healthy and Danny Ainge has added some new, young talent. But it’s still clear that the Celtics are entering another rebuilding season, leaving us with some major questions. We’ll try to find some answers in this five-part series called Rebuild Spotlight.
In the minds of many, the Celtics were a relatively guard-heavy team last season. One of the main reasons Danny Ainge traded away the likes of Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford (aside from clearing cap space and adding assets) was simply to make room for Rajon Rondo when he returned.
This season, Boston will begin the year with not only a healthy Rondo, but the additions of guards Marcus Smart, James Young, Marcus Thornton and Evan Turner to the roster. To say the least, the backcourt will be a crowded one yet again.
Brad Stevens‘ frontcourt is a far different story.
Stevens is going to need to rely heavily on young bigs to produce — Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and newcomer Tyler Zeller to be specific. Sure, guys like Brandon Bass, Joel Anthony and Vitor Faverani are still around. But the former trio provides much more youth and potential, the direction in which the C’s seem to be trending.
Take a look at how they performed on the court last season:
Sullinger: 13.3 ppg (42.7 FG%, 26.9 3P%, 77.8 FT%), 8.1 rpg, 1.6 apg , 0.7 bpg, 27.6 minutes in 74 games
Olynyk: 8.7 ppg (46.6 FG%, 35.1 3P%, 81.1 FT%), 5.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.4 bpg, 20.0 minutes in 70 games
Zeller: 5.7 ppg (53.8 FG%, 71.9 FT% — attempted and missed one 3-pointer), 4.0 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.5 bpg, 15.0 minutes in 70 games
It’s worth noting that Zeller came off the bench much of last season. He posted averages of 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 26.4 minutes during his rookie campaign in 2012-13.
Sullinger clearly has the most star potential of the group; it’s evident whether you are judging by the eye test or simply eyeing the numbers. Sully is locked in as the starting power forward in Boston. The question is: Can we expect to see growth from Sullinger for a second straight season? If he can find consistency, then the answer is yes.
Sullinger had 19 games in which he scored 19 or more points last season, highlighted by his 31-point, 16-rebound performance against the Kings and a 25-20 game vs. the 76ers. But Sully seemed to suffer from “Jeff Green syndrome” at times, finishing with 20 games when he was only able to score in single digits. But unlike Green, Sullinger’s inconsistencies hinged on … well, Stevens’ inconsistencies with distributing playing time.
|09.23.14 at 6:36 pm ET|
“You left off the Celtics,” another media member countered.
“I did. Yes, I did. Good observation,” said Ainge, pausing, and then adding, “but I do believe the extraordinary is possible.”
Ladies and gentleman, the 2014-15 Boston Celtics, where the extraordinary is possible, but the reality is the roster looks an awful lot like the edition that won 25 games this past season.
“There were things that we wanted to do that we weren’t able to do,” said Ainge. “There were some things that were tempting that we didn’t do, that I’m very glad we didn’t do. I like that we were able to get some things accomplished, although we weren’t able to get a big, big deal accomplished that we wanted to. But I’m excited about our two young guys that we drafted, I’m very happy that we have Avery [Bradley] coming back and I really like our young core.”
It’s no secret the Celtics wanted Kevin Love, but all reports indicated their interest never amounted to much. Now, it seems, there was another trade ownership considered “a major deal” this summer that Ainge dismissed.
|09.23.14 at 1:42 pm ET|
Vitor Faverani and Gerald Wallace are both expected to be healthy enough to participate when Celtics training camp begins next week, but whether Faverani will be in uniform on opening night remains a different story.
Each underwent season-ending surgery in March to repair a torn left meniscus, and the 32-year-old Wallace also had left ankle surgery. Both “should be all clear” when official practices begin Tuesday, said coach Brad Stevens, although Faverani faces a potential suspension for his DUI arrest this summer.
“We’re still contemplating [disciplinary action],” said team president Danny Ainge, “but there will be some consequences, absolutely. But I won’t make those public.
“Health-wise, Vitor’s knee has been up and down,” Ainge added. “He’s been on the court some, but he still had some challenges. I do expect him to be ready to go by training camp. We’re just being extra cautious with him right now, but he’s been on the court playing, doing drills. He’s had some setbacks with the swelling, but we’re hopeful that he can make it through training camp.”
As for Wallace, “I don’t know completely on Gerald,” said Ainge. “I think he’ll be ready to go by training camp, but I haven’t seen Gerald yet. He’s an old cagey vet, so we’ll probably see him on Media Day [Monday].”
Following his trade from the Nets to Boston last summer, Wallace didn’t show up until Media Day in 2013, either. Meanwhile, a number of other Celtics, including Faverani, have been working with Stevens in recent weeks.
|09.22.14 at 2:17 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge continued to straddle the fence on The Rajon Rondo Question — to trade or not to trade his four-time NBA All-Star point guard — during a Q&A session with former WCVB-TV sportscaster Mike Dowling at Worcester’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The truthful answer is I really don’t know,” Ainge told the congregation on Sunday, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “I have no intention. I’m not trying to trade Rondo, but because he’s a free agent this summer, he assured me that he wants to stay in Boston. We’d love to keep him in Boston.”
On the other side of the fence, “The possibility of a trade is not out of the question,” Ainge added. “Nobody is untradeable, but I don’t see that happening.”
According to the T&G’s Bill Doyle, Ainge told the several hundred gathered that the Celtics approached Rondo’s agent about a contract extension to no avail each of the past two summers. Of course, Rondo’s value the last two offseasons isn’t close to what he could command as an unrestricted free agent next year should he submit another All-Star caliber season. In the meantime, Ainge will keep on straddling that fence.
|09.22.14 at 12:26 pm ET|
I think we can all agree the Celtics won’t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’s pieces in a series we’ll call Asset Management. Next up: Avery Bradley.
In NBA circles outside Boston — and even some in Celtics Nation — Bradley’s four-year, $32 million contract extension received extensive criticism this summer, which seems weird for a player of his caliber. Let’s think about this.
When compared to Detroit’s overpayment of Jodie Meeks (3 years, $19.5 million), Bradley’s average annual value of $8 million doesn’t seem so bad, but teams were frugal with guards this offseason, and a deal like San Antonio’s with Patty Mills (3 years, $12 million) makes Bradley’s price tag appear a bit high.
Play along for a minute and take a look at these numbers from 2013-14.
Player 1: 18.4 ppg (44.4 FG%, 41.7 3P%, 79.5 FT%), 3.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.9 spg
Player 2: 14.9 ppg (43.8 FG%, 39.5 3P%, 80.4 FT%), 3.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.1 spg
If you were paying attention this past season, you’ll recognize Bradley as Player 2 in this scenario. Player 1? None other than Klay Thompson, the shooting guard Golden State wouldn’t give up to land Kevin Love. The same Thompson whose agent, Bill Duffy, recently dubbed his client, “the top two-way, two-guard in basketball,” in an attempt to land a maximum contract extension from the Warriors that would start at roughly twice Bradley’s average annual value.
|09.17.14 at 11:01 pm ET|
The Celtics are coming off of their worst season since 2006-07. Despite high expectations this offseason, the team is entering 2014-15 with a similar roster to last season, which comes with similar expectations. However, Brad Stevens will be in his second season as coach, Rajon Rondo will begin the season healthy and Danny Ainge has added some new, young talent. But it’s still clear that the Celtics are entering yet another rebuilding season, leaving us with some major questions. We’ll try to find some answers in this five-part series called Rebuild Spotlight.
Despite just 25 wins in Brad Stevens‘ debut season in Boston, the verdict is in on the coach: He’s the real deal. That was the hope when Ainge lured Stevens away from Butler with a six-year contract, but now we have clarity. After dazzling in his first season on the NBA sidelines, Stevens has made it clear that he is going to be as much a cornerstone of the Celtics’ rebuild as anyone.
Of course, much like the young players he coaches, Stevens must reach his full potential if he is going to lead the Celtics back to contention. The C’s were a solid defensive team right away last season; they were 14th in defensive rating heading into the All-Star break, but finished 20th at season’s end. Stevens wants to establish a defensive identity, and with Avery Bradley (who sees Boston having a top-10 defense this season) returning and the addition of Marcus Smart (whom scouts believe is the league’s next great perimeter defender), improvement on that side of the ball is expected.
Defense will be Stevens’ focus when training camp begins, but the Celtics’ offense, untraditionally, is where the biggest improvements are needed. Frankly, last season was a mess offensively, regardless of whether Rajon Rondo was on the floor or not.
Boston finished the season 27th in offensive rating and 28th in turnover rating. Until those numbers change, the losses are going to continue to pile up. Last year’s plan was to make Jeff Green the featured piece on offense. Yet, he failed to prove himself as a consistent option when all signs pointed to Green compiling career numbers.
On the other hand, Bradley (23 years old) and Jared Sullinger (22) stepped in as strong offensive options when healthy. Stevens would be silly not to present his younger stars with larger roles in the offense this season. Obviously, beginning the season with a healthy Rondo to go along with the additions of Smart, fellow rookie James Young, Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton and Evan Turner have to prove to be of some help.
Stevens likely will be dealing with an offense by committee like he was last season, this time with Rondo at the helm from the get-go. Bottom line is that there must be more offensive fluidity if the Celtics expect to up their win total from a year ago, particularly in terms of attempting to find some sort of consistency that Green couldn’t provide.
When it comes down to it, Brad Stevens is a fantastic leader for the Celtics going forward. His job is certainly not in any kind of jeopardy at all, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect improvements this season. Stevens has had a year to settle in and learn the ropes of the NBA. This season, prepare to watch him take the next step toward becoming one of the elite coaches in the league.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow
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