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Celtics, for the last time: Avery Bradley

10.29.13 at 2:06 pm ET
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One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘€¦ ?” Next up: Avery Bradley.

When’s the last time a player emerged as a defensive standout and then made the offensive leap?

Avery Bradley earned what should be the first of a long line of NBA All-Defensive nods last season, joining Mike Conley Jr. in the Second Team backcourt. Considering he returned midseason from surgery on both shoulders the previous summer, his offense continued to lag behind despite averaging a career-high 9.2 points per game.

Bradley’s 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and nearly five field goal attempts at the rim per 36 minutes during his sophomore season offered glimpses of his offensive potential, but his shooting percentages dipped dramatically in 2012-13 (40.6 FG%, 32.2 3P%). That pit bull defense, though, remained tough as ever.

At this point, Bradley is nearing a point where it’s time to either make the jump to becoming a two-way stud or accept an NBA life as a defensive hound. It’s the fork in the road that — in a best-case scenario — either leads to Bruce Bowen‘s career or Dennis Johnson‘s. So, which one is Avery Bradley?

Really, there’s no precedent for a guard establishing an All-Defensive reputation and later making an impact as a double-digit scorer. Guys like D.J., Maurice Cheeks and Joe Dumars had already proven themselves as valuable offensive weapons by the time they made their first All-Defense teams.

History would tell you Bradley’s on a similar career path to Michael Cooper, who made the first of eight All-Defense teams in his third season, submitted his highest scoring average the next year (11.9) and settled in as a career 8.9 points per game scorer. That’s not such a bad scenario, either, considering Cooper won five rings over 12 seasons and took home the 1987 NBA Defensive Player of the Year honor in his ninth year.

Except these Celtics aren’t those Showtime Lakers. They could use the 15.3 points per 36 minutes on 43.8 percent shooting from 3 that Bradley provided this preseason. All it would take is a precedent-setting performance.

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Celtics suspend Jared Sullinger for season opener

10.29.13 at 12:42 pm ET
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The Celtics announced the suspension of Jared Sullinger for the season opener on Wednesday night as the result of the Aug. 31 assault charges that were ultimately dropped on Monday.

“Jared’s case was dismissed yesterday in Waltham District Court,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “While we are satisfied that this was the correct ruling, we are suspending Jared for one game because he failed to meet the high expectations we have for all Celtics employees.”

Sullinger was allegedly involved in a domestic dispute with his former girlfriend, but a Waltham District Court judge dismissed the assault charges when she refused to testify against him. The Celtics forward released an apology soon after the incident, saying he was “embarrassed” by it.

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Celtics, for the last time: Gerald Wallace

10.29.13 at 11:23 am ET
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One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘€¦ ?” Next up: Gerald Wallace.

When’s the last time a declining over-30 former All-Star enjoyed a career resurgence?

In 2010, Gerald Wallace averaged 18.2 points (48.4 FG%), 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks for a seemingly lottery-bound Bobcats team that won 44 games and made the only playoff appearance in franchise history. Likewise, he received his first invitation to an All-Star Game for his efforts.

In the three years since, Wallace’s production steadily declined to last year’s line of 7.7 points (39.7 FG%), 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocks. Hence, the three trades of a former All-Star by his 31st birthday.

Still, Wallace’s “110 percent” effort, proclivity for demanding the same of his teammates, change of scenery from a Brooklyn playing style that didn’t suit his game and arrival to a team in desperate need of production might just be the perfect storm of opportunity he needed to reclaim his All-Star status.

In the past 40 years, however, only one player had at least three years and his 30th birthday pass between his first and second All-Star appearances. His name is Manu Ginobili, and he wasn’€™t in decline between All-Star campaigns in 2005 and 2011. (How Ginobili was snubbed in 2008 is a story for a different blog.)

The only real comparison to Wallace here is Archie Clark, who earned an All-Star invite on the Lakers in 1968, got shipped to the 76ers in the Wilt Chamberlain deal the next season, saw his numbers dip during his first year in Philadelphia and played his way back to an All-Star Game upon being traded to the Baltimore Bullets in 1972.

Only 10 other players made their second All-Star appearance more than three years after their first, including Antoine Walker and Tommy Heinsohn, but all of them did so before age 30. Both Rashard Lewis and Reggie Miller achieved the feat at age 29, and Miller made five trips in all. Larry Nance is the most interesting case. He made his first All-Star bid in 1985, his second on his 30th birthday in 1989 and his third at age 34 in 1993.

In other words, it’s probably best to set realistic expectations for just how far Wallace can resurge.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, gerald wallace, Last Time, NBA

Celtics, for the last time: Kelly Olynyk

10.29.13 at 9:21 am ET
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One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘€¦ ?” First up: Kelly Olynyk.

When’s the last time a middle-of-the-pack draft pick won NBA Rookie of the Year honors?

Overshadowed by their draft night agreement to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, the Celtics traded up to grab Kelly Olynyk in the No. 13 spot this past June, and the 7-footer has already been dubbed “the steal of the draft” in NBA.com’s annual survey of the league’s general managers.

Demonstrating an ability to run the floor and score both inside and out, Olynyk averaged 9.0 points (52.5 FG%), 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists during the preseason. But his defense isn’t quite so NBA ready. Quality bigs gave him the revolving door treatment, and his six personal fouls per 36 minutes is cause for concern.

Still, the lack of top-end talent in this year’s draft class combined with Olynyk’s early returns thrust the Gonzaga product onto a short list of potential Rookie of the Year candidates that includes heavy favorite Victor Oladipo.

Of the 64 players ever named NBA Rookie of the Year, only four were drafted in the double digits. The last to do so was Mark Jackson, who captured the award in 1987-88 when the Knicks selected him 18th. The others: Jamaal Wilkes (1974-75: Golden State Warriors, 11th), Woody Sauldsberry (1957-58: Philadelphia Warriors, 60th) and Don Meineke (1052-53: Fort Wayne Pistons, 12th). Amare Stoudemire, drafted ninth by the Suns in 2002-03, is the lowest draft pick of the 21st century to earn ROY. So, the next time you think about placing Olynyk in the NBA Rookie of the Year conversation, remember he’d have to be a real Woody Sauldsberry to do so.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kelly Olynyk, Last Time, NBA

Jared Sullinger cleared of domestic violence charges

10.28.13 at 12:23 pm ET
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The domestic violence charges against Celtics forward Jared Sullinger have been dismissed, according to Boston Globe news reporter David Abel.

Sullinger’s former girlfriend refused to testify and requested charges be dismissed against him, Abel said, and the Middlesex County district attorney’s had no choice but to drop the case. The Waltham District Court judge obliged.

Sullinger reportedly would not comment on the case but offered this response to a question about his status: “Ready to play.” The Celtics are scheduled to travel to Toronto for Wednesday’s season opener.

In early September, Sullinger first appeared in court after being arrested and charged with assault and battery, destruction of an iPhone and intimidation of a witness for allegedly pinning his then girlfriend to the bed, pushing her, grabbing her iPhone and smashing it when she attempted to call police during an argument over perceived infidelity.

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Celtics great Bill Sharman dies at age 87

10.25.13 at 2:33 pm ET
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Celtics great Bill Sharman has died at age 87, according to the Los Angeles Times. Sharman suffered a stroke last week and died at his home in Redondo Beach, Calif., on Friday, his wife Joyce told the paper.

Sharman played for the Celtics from 1951 to 1961, combining with Bob Cousy to form the backcourt of the franchise’s first four championship teams. Sharman was an NBA All-Star every year from 1953 to 1960, and he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976. His No. 21 was retired by the Celtics in 1966.

Sharman went on to coach the San Francisco Warriors from 1966 to 1968 and the Los Angeles Lakers from 1971 to 1976. In his first season with the Lakers, he led the team to its first NBA title in Los Angeles. The year before, he led the Utah Stars to an ABA championship.

Sharman was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach in 2004, making him one of just three people (along with John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens) to be enshrined as both a player and coach. He is credited with being the first coach to implement morning shootarounds.

Sharman was also a gifted baseball player, having been drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950. He was briefly called up to the majors in 1951 and played in the minors for five seasons before shifting his focus to basketball full-time.

When Reggie Evans gives you lemons …

10.25.13 at 11:03 am ET
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Lost in the recesses of a recent Celtics notebook from the great Baxter Holmes is this nougat (h/t Celtics Life).

As a joke, Reggie Evans and his teammates autographed a pair of lemons and had a ballboy deliver them across the locker room to his former teammates, MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans.

Either this is some strange inside joke among a bunch of former Brooklynite buddies who share a common love of citrus or Evans & Co. just squeezed the Celtics-Nets trade right in their former teammates’ eyes. I can’t be the only one who thinks Evans is saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” And why didn’t they send an autographed yellow fruit over for Gerald Wallace? I’m sure he would have found it hilarious. Or not.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Keith Bogans, Marshon Brooks
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