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Steve Pagliuca: Drafting James Young at No. 17 was ‘a great steal’

06.26.14 at 11:43 pm ET
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James Young looks to raise his level of play with the Celtics (AP)

James Young looks to raise his level of play with the Celtics (AP)

There were some eyebrows raised when the Celtics selected 18-year-old swingman James Young out of Kentucky with their second pick of the first round Thursday night. But listen to the Celtics‘ brass and they will tell you they were the lucky ones.

Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca said there were cheers galore in the team’s war room when Young fell to them at No. 17. Pagliuca made several references to Young’s 20-point performance against Connecticut in the national championship game in April..

“There were two or three players that we felt like we would love to get at 17, and he was the one we really wanted to get,” Pagliuca said. “We were on pins and needless in there as the selections went by. We were thinking Chicago might take him but they didn’t so we were really, really happy. There was a big cheer in the war room when his name was available.

“Young, as evidenced by the final game, the top two teams in the nation playing, scoring 20 points. He’s got an inside game, an outside game. He moves well. He will fit well with Brad’s ball-movement system. So, Young’s going to bring us a player that can slash and move and hit the outside shot. He’s crafty and can defend. We’re really excited to get him at 17. Thought he could’ve gone a lot earlier.”

What was also very clear was management’s sense that Young could play several positions and serve different roles for the Celtics, even at a young age. Combine this with the backcourt versatility the Celtics see in Marcus Smart and the Celtics think they’ve added two pieces they can put in different places in Brad Stevens‘ flex offense.

“Absolutely, actually, James can play the 3. He’s 6-7, prototypical NBA body,” Pagliuca added. “And Marcus Smart is a versatile player. He can play the 1 or 2. We’re going to have a very versatile and great team. We’re really excited about this. We had these guys ranked higher than Danny drafted them. Our staff is ecstatic.

“James Young is a versatile player. He’s 6-7, he’s Young, 18 years old. Young is young. We really feel he can develop into a versatile player and help us a lot. Twenty points in the final, 14 points per game average. NBA-length and quickness. He can shoot the ball. We’re really excited about him at 17. We think that’s a great steal.

“Danny [Ainge] is always looking at all the options. We had Young ranked a lot higher than he went. He scored 20 points in the [NCAA] final. He’s really progressing. Marcus Smart is a competitor, intense. As Red always said when we bought the team, he wanted us to get instigators, not retaliators. Marcus Smart is an instigator. He got fouled just about more than anybody in college basketball. We’re really excited about his addition.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, James Young, Steve Pagliuca,

Wyc Grousbeck: Drafting Marcus Smart doesn’t have ‘any impact’ on Rajon Rondo

06.26.14 at 11:12 pm ET
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The Celtics believe Rajon Rondo will give his thumbs up to playing alongside Marcus Smart. (AP)

The Celtics believe Rajon Rondo will give his thumbs up to playing alongside Marcus Smart. (AP)

It was the first question that came to the mind of most Celtics fans when the team selected Marcus Smart with its first first-round pick Thursday night: What does this mean for Rajon Rondo?

Well, according to owner Wyc Grousbeck, the answer is not much at all. The reason for Grousbeck’s public stance is Brad Stevens, who proved through a 25-win season that he could handle most of what Rondo could throw at any first-year coach.

“It’s interesting, that wasn’t a topic of conversation tonight,” Grousbeck said. “We have confidence in Brad that he can manage a roster but we also had confidence that of the top six we were going to take the best available as opposed to trying to slot in. That’s a strategy when you’re rebuilding a team, you take the best available athlete and then you let it all work out. We’ve got an All-Star point guard, so that’s not a question here.”

“I don’t think this has any impact on Rajon at all.”

Grousbeck acknowledged he hadn’t spoken with his star point guard before the selection was made.

Earlier this offseason, Grousbeck hinted at possible “fireworks” this summer if Danny Ainge found a trade partner.

“I always said fireworks were a possibility,” he said. “It takes two to tango around here. There just hasn’t been that much movement tonight. Typically on draft day, we make two trades if not three. That’s just the way we roll, ‘Trader Danny,’ and it’s had great effect for us. We like to be aggressive about rebuilding this team. We like to become contenders again as quickly as possible. So, we’ll keep working the phones, but it takes two partners to make a trade.”

So the Celtics did what Ainge predicted they would at the beginning of the night — hold onto their selections at 6 and 17 overall, taking Smart and Kentucky wing James Young.

“We knew there were six or seven kids that we wanted,” Grousbeck said. “So, the idea of moving to 8 or 10, moving slightly higher in the draft really wasn’t of interest. Maybe there’s a cliff in the draft. We wanted to stay at 6 or move up. We wanted to make other trades in recent days. We’d been on the phone quite a bit with other teams about other ideas. Nothing ever really seemed close to fruition, no matter how hard we tried. I remember trading for Kevin Garnett in ’07 and I got a call from Minnesota on July 30 or 31st, [so] the trade season is not over yet.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA Draft, Rajon Rondo

Celtics select Kentucky wing James Young at No. 17

06.26.14 at 9:25 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

Once again, the Celtics stood pat, selecting 18-year-old Kentucky wing James Young with their No. 17 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

The Michigan native averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.4 minutes per game as a freshman during the Wildcats’ run to the NCAA championship game this past season. Young is probably best known for his aggressive dunk as part of his 20 points in Kentucky’s title loss to UConn.

“I feel like I have a lot of potential to get a lot better,” said Young. “I’m only 18, so as the years go on I feel like my game is going to go to a greater level.”

Considered a potential impact scorer, Young shot just 40.7 percent from the field at Kentucky after being highly recruited out of high school. Questions also exist about his commitment to defense, but the Celtics had him high on their board.

“He’s just going to get better and better,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “He’€™s a young guy. We felt like he was a very, very undervalued scoring wing in this draft. Everybody in this room had him ranked a lot higher than 17, so we were surprised he was available at 17 and thrilled that he was available at 17.”

Both Young and C’s No. 6 overall pick Marcus Smart were ranked among Stevens’ top 11 prospects. The Celtics selected the best player available on their board with each of their first-round picks, although they specifically targeted wing scoring at No. 17, the coach said. Smart and Young have worked out together this summer.

For a complete scouting report, click here.

Read More: Boston Celtics, James Young, NBA,

Wyc Grousbeck thinks of Red Auerbach in drafting Marcus Smart: ‘He’s an instigator [and] a bull’

06.26.14 at 9:23 pm ET
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Apparently Red Auerbach paid very close attention to the Big Bad Bruins.

When the Celtics chose Oklahoma State fireplug point guard Marcus Smart with the sixth pick overall Thursday night, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck thought back to something Auerbach told him when he bought the team.

“We like the fact that he’s an instigator,” Grousbeck said. “Back to Red, as Red told me personally right when I came in, ‘You need instigators, not retaliators.’ This kid is energetic. He’s a bull. He is a force, and when I met him, he filled the doorway. He’s just got that physique and that drive and that attitude that we really like around the Celtics.”

Grousbeck said Smart has been on the radar of the Celtics for some time, including three sessions in front of team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

“Our war room is very happy with the pick,” Grousbeck said. “My job is to be part of that and be supportive. Our basketball guys are very excited and have been focusing on Marcus for several weeks. [They] really like the top six or seven kids in the draft quite a bit but really thought he’s pretty exceptional in a couple of ways and really looking forward to having him in green.

“He’s been on our list for a month as we started setting up the draft workouts. He came back here twice and Danny saw him again in a third workout elsewhere. He’s seen him personally three times in the last two or three weeks. We really think there’s a lot of quality in the top of the draft here and think that it’s not always clear how to differentiate among the quality. I’m repeating things as opposed to giving you my own personal evaluation. That’s not my role with this team. But we think this kid really has some special attributes.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA Draft, Red Auerbach

Celtics keep No. 6 pick, grab Oklahoma State PG Marcus Smart

06.26.14 at 8:29 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

After all the pre-draft debate over whether or not the Celtics should trade up, trade down or trade out of the No. 6 pick, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge held firm and selected Marcus Smart.

As Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck noted, the Oklahoma State point guard visited Waltham for three workouts prior to the draft. After his first visit, the C’s declared their admiration for Smart, and he told reporters in New York on Wednesday that he had an inkling he might end up in Boston. Despite all the smokescreens, all signs have pointed to Smart for weeks.

“As Red [Auerbach] told me personally when I came in, ‘You need instigators, not retaliators,’” said Grousbeck. “This kid is energetic. He’s a bull. He’s a force. When I met him, he filled the doorway. He’s got that physique and that drive and that attitude that we really like around the Celtics.”

It was Grousbeck who promised fireworks this summer, and Smart made a similar reference when asked how he felt about being selected sixth. Coincidence?

“It felt like fireworks,” said Smart. “It felt like the Fourth of July.”

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Smart has been described as a defensive stopper and a fierce competitor. Of course, he’s also known for pushing a Texas Tech fan during an altercation that led to his suspension this past February.

On the court, the 20-year-old averaged 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 32.7 minutes a game as a sophomore for the Cowboys. Many believe he’d have been drafted No. 1 overall had he come out as a freshman.

As was the case with both of his new backcourt mates, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, the knock on Smart is outside shooting (29.9 3P% in 2013-14), although Celtics coach Brad Stevens called those concerns overrated. (It should also be noted Rondo and Bradley have both improved their jump shots at the NBA level.) Should that trio remain intact, the Celtics could field one of the most fearsome defensive backcourt units in the league.

Still, Smart’s presence in Boston stirs up plenty of questions about the future of both Rondo and Bradley going forward. The former is entering the final year of his contract, and the latter is a restricted free agent this summer. The addition of Smart won’t quell the trade rumors surrounding the C’s All-Star point guard anytime soon.

Asked if he thought Rondo and Smart could coexist this season, Stevens countered, “I don’t think there is any doubt.” While the Celtics didn’t directly discuss the prospect of drafting Smart with their captain in recent days, Stevens and Rondo talked about the former McDonald’s All-American out of Texas last week.

For a complete scouting report, click here.

Danny Ainge expects he’ll stay put at Nos. 6 and 17

06.26.14 at 7:40 pm ET
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For all the speculation on possible trades up and down in the first round, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he’ll like stay put with his two first-round picks. Of course, he made that prediction 90 minutes before the first pick of the 2014 NBA draft.

Who knows what will happen after that? The Celtics stayed put in 2007 and drafted Jeff Green at No. 5, only to package a deal to Seattle for Ray Allen.

“There’s been a lot of conversation over the last month,” Ainge said of the interest from other teams looking to move up to take Boston’s first pick at No. 6 overall. “A lot of discussions regarding trading of the picks. Trading up, trading back, trading for players. Big deals, little deals. We’re ready for some different scenarios but just like all trade deadlines, the draft really isnt a deadline, but it is a time where you’ve got to make a decision to take the pick or trade it. Probably it looks like most likely that we’ll keep it.”

Ainge, who said he has “processed” all of the medical information on Joel Embiid, said there’s been “a lot more” dialogue on picks this year compared to last year.

“Quite a few real conversations, but a lot that end in a phone call,” Ainge said. “A yes or a no. Some go a little bit deeper. Two or three phone calls. Some even deeper.”

If Embiid is available, will Ainge be tempted?

“We have processed the information. And I believe in my medical staff. And that’s all,” Ainge said.

Then Ainge was asked to characterize this group of NBA talent.

“I think early in the year, I said it’s a little bit over-hyped,” Ainge said. “I think midway through the year i thought it was still over-hyped. Part of that is maybe the player in me. Like, ‘C’mon let these kids be kids.’ None of these guys are franchise-turners and I still believe that. Everything I said I still believe.

“I’ve always believed, just like in every draft, there are going to be players that are good, guys that can start, guys that can play in rotations on championship teams. There will be a couple of them. Two or three or four maybe that can become NBA All-Stars. I wish I knew which one of those that would be. I think that when you start making comp to Lebron James and Kevin Durant to kids before they’d even played a game in college, that’s sort of unfair. And that’s sort of what they hype was that I was referring to as over-hyped.

“Let’s let them prove it before we start making comparisons. I do feel like we’re going to get a good player at six. A player that I think can be a starter in the NBA. How good they become, time will tell. Players that we’ll be excited about adding to our roster, but players I’m not expected to turn us into an immediate winner by themselves.”

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Read More: 2014 NBA Draft, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge,

NBA draft roundup: Celtics, 76ers, Lakers rumored landing spots for Joel Embiid; Kings likely keeping No. 8 pick

06.26.14 at 2:57 pm ET
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Foot and back injuries have caused Kansas center Joel Embiid — once expected to be the first overall selection in Thursday’€™s NBA draft — to slide down the boards.

Embiid’€™s fall has opened up the possibility of the Celtics getting the opportunity to draft the promising big man, something that Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted could be a possibility.

Embiid, a 7-foot center from Cameroon, averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his only season with the Jayhawks, despite only playing organized basketball since 2011.

– It appears that the rumored deal between the Celtics and Kings, which would include point guard Rajon Rondo and Sacramento’€™s eighth overall pick as the two main components, may not come to fruition.

Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Kings seem to be content to keep their pick.

The Kings have been at the forefront of trade rumors recently, including a deal to acquire Pistons forward Josh Smith, adding him to a frontcourt that already includes DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.

– With the draft fast approaching, it seems that the 76ers are going all in in an effort to acquire the first overall pick from the Cavaliers and draft Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins.

Tom Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News tweeted that the 76ers are doing everything they can to pry the top pick from Cleveland.

Philadelphia certainly has many trading chips at its disposal, including the third and 10th overall picks and a host of promising players such as Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

– The Celtics aren’t the only Atlantic Division team reportedly looking to make a few draft-day deals. The Raptors are trying to acquire the Grizzlies‘€™ 22nd overall pick, according to ESPN.

The framework of the deal would be Toronto sending veteran swingman John Salmons and the 37th overall pick to Memphis in exchange for Tayshaun Prince and the 22nd pick.

The move benefits the Rapotors because it would put them in position to select Syracuse guard (and Ontario native) Tyler Ennis.

By making the trade, the Grizzlies would be able to take Prince’€™s $7.7 million salary cap hit off their books for next season.

Read More: Celtics, Joel Embiid, Kings, NBA Draft
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