Archive for November, 2011

How the proposed CBA affects the Celtics: The draft

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

While we wait for the players and owners to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, we’€™ll be taking a look at how various parts of the proposal could affect the Celtics. If you’€™d like to check out the full proposal, Sports Illustrated obtained a copy and posted it here.

Part I: Free Agency

Part II: The Luxury Tax

There hasn’t been much to talk about regarding the Celtics recent draft history for the simple fact that Danny Ainge hasn’t been in position to select a difference-maker since the 2007 draft-day deal that sent the rights to the fifth pick to the then-Seattle Sonics for Ray Allen. (That pick of course was Jeff Green).

Since then Ainge has drafted J.R. Giddens, Avery Bradley and now JaJuan Johnson with his first round selections. Giddens never saw a third season in Boston, Bradley barely played in his first year and Johnson is a rookie. As such, the Celtics haven’t had to make a decision on whether to extend a rookie deal since signing Rajon Rondo to a five-year deal before the 2009-10 season.

The rookie scale will remain as is, with two years guaranteed for first round picks followed by two more years of team options before a player can hit restricted free agency like Green is now. The biggest change comes in the amount of the qualifying offer where rookie who outperform their draft position can earn a higher salary. Here’s the language:

  • Any first round pick who, over his prior two seasons, starts an average of 41 regular season games per season or averages 2000 or more minutes of playing time per season (the ‘€œstarter criteria’€) will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the player who was the 9th pick in the draft;
  • Any second round pick or undrafted player who meets the starter criteria will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the player who was the 21st pick in the draft; and any first round pick selected in the first 14 picks in the draft who fails to meet the starter criteria will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the 15th pick in the draft.

This won’t have an effect on Bradley who played just 30 games last season and it probably won’t affect Johnson either — if it did he’d either be much better than previously thought or something has gone horribly wrong — but it’s something to keep in mind.

There’s also the so-called Derrick Rose rule that would allow a player to earn a max payday if he meets the following criteria:

  • (i) named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team two times, (ii) voted in as an All-Star starter two times, or (iii) named NBA MVP one time. A 30% max contract cannot be signed as part of a sign-and-trade transaction.

Again, interesting, but doesn’t have much relevance to the Celtics at this point.

There is one other piece to the draft equation and it’s potentially a good one for Boston: The minimum-age requirement. This is one of the so-called “B-List” issues that has yet to be worked out but there are indications that the NBA will keep the one-and-done parameters for the time being.

Why is that important? The Celtics own a top-10 protected first round pick from the Clippers and under ordinary circumstances one might think it wise to wait for the Clips to inevitably screw up the Blake Griffin-era, wait until 2016 when it’s unprotected and swoop in with a prime pick, or simply keep it in their back pocket for a trade sweetener.

All of that may be true, but the 2012 draft will be loaded thanks to a number of underclassmen who stuck around for an extra year rather than wait for the lockout mess to be resolved and the Clippers may be good enough to get that pick next year.

While that wouldn’t put the C’s in the running for top prospects like Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger there should be a number of good players to be had in the middle part of the first round. Here’s the list of players ranked 11-15 on Draft Express Top 100 board:

  • 11. Jeremy Lamb, G UConn
  • 12. James McAdoo, F UNC
  • 13. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F Kentucky (an early-season Green Street favorite)
  • 14. Tyler Zeller, C UNC
  • 15. Patric Young, F Florida

Just for kicks, Duke guard Austin Rivers is No. 16 and while the prospect list will undoubtedly fluctuate, the point is that this is a draft where any team will want to have multiple picks.

Celtics free agent options at point guard redux

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Welcome to Part 3 of this week’s daily post-NBA lockout position-by-position breakdown of free agent options available to the Celtics. We have already profiled the C’€™s biggest needs — at center and shooting guard — so we move to a less pressing but critical position: Backup Point Guards.

The Celtics started and finished the 2010-11 season with three additional players capable of handling the point guard position behind two-time All-Star starter Rajon Rondo on the 15-man roster: Delonte West, Avery Bradley, Nate Robinson (before trade) and Carlos Arroyo (after trade). Only Rondo and Bradley remain, so it stands to reason that the Celtics will sign at least one more floor general.

The C’€™s targets depend on how confident they are in Bradley and how cheaply they can find a reliable backup (or third-string). As we’€™ve noted  before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’€™Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.

Signed through 2014-15, Rondo cemented himself as the franchise’s foundation (until this week’s rumors), and Bradley — under their control until his restricted free agency in 2014-15 — is slotted as the backup of the future. As a result, the C’€™s ideally would seek a veteran pure point guard and/or a capable combo guard who wouldn’t completely destroy their chances should Rondo’€™s injury issues persist and Bradley prove ill-prepared for big minutes. Arroyo and West fit those descriptions, but both might be too expensive or require more minutes.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options available to the Celtics at backup point guard, separating the current free agent players into five categories. (more…)

Report: Celtics wouldn’t be able to get Chris Paul to sign long-term extension

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

There are reports on the web that the Celtics have offered Rajon Rondo to the Hornets for Chris Paul, who is due to be a free agent after this season. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the C’s pursuit of Paul is futile because, he tweeted: CP will not sign a long-term [extension] with Celtics, according to source close to situation.

Broussard tweeted Tuesday that Paul wants to play out the season and became a free agent, with the Knicks his first choice as a landing spot. He wrote that Paul also would consider the Clippers, but the Clippers are more focused on Dwight Howard.

Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo rumors, fact and fiction

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

FACT: The Celtics are discussing Rajon Rondo in a trade for Hornets point guard Chris Paul.

When rumors started flying that team president Danny Ainge has included Rondo in trade discussions, there was always only one player who could possibly be on the other end of that conversation: Chris Paul.

With nobody to take over the reins in Rondo’s absence, the Celtics would have to land another point guard in return for the two-time All-Star. And considering the attractiveness of Rondo’s contract (4 years, $44 million remaining), that floor general would have to be decidedly better than Rajon Rondo.

In my mind, that list includes two names: Derrick Rose and Paul. There is no way in hell the Bulls are trading the reigning NBA MVP, so that leaves Paul, whose impending free agency puts him on the bargaining table.

Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick confirmed that notion on Tuesday, citing numerous sources in claiming Ainge “is highly motivated” to land the 2005-06 NBA Rookie of the Year. Colleague Paul Flannery explained why the exchange makes painstaking sense but may require a third team to get done. And Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported the C’s have made calls to the Pacers for just that reason.

The 26-year-old Paul has averaged 18.7 points (47.1 FG%, 35.9 3P%, 85.3 FT%), 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals in six NBA seasons, decidedly better numbers than the 25-year-old Rondo (10.7 points, 48.6 FG%, 24.2 3P%, 62.2 FT%, 7.6 assists, 1.9 steals) on a decidedly worse team.

While Rondo is one of the five best point guards in the NBA, Paul is one of the five best players in the league. That’s why Ainge is exploring the trade. And if it falls through, as ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher suggested it would, there’s nobody more stubborn than Rondo to prove Ainge, me and everybody else wrong.

FICTION: The Celtics offered Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green in a trade for Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and center Kendrick Perkins. (more…)

Report: Celtics offered Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green to Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, Russell Westbrook

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

According to a report from ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Celtics offered Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook following last season’s playoffs.

Broussard credits sources with the information that the Celtics were looking for another scorer who can create his own offense and thought Westbrook might be available after his erratic postseason play. But Oklahoma City apparently was not interested.

Westbrook averaged 21.9 points and 8.2 assists per game last season. Rondo averaged 10.6 points and 11.2 assists.

Celtics free agent options at shooting guard redux

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

After Monday’s updated analysis of free agent centers, we continue our daily post-NBA lockout breakdown of available options at the Celtics‘ next-greatest position of need: Shooting Guards.

Just as the Celtics seemingly solidified the center position prior to the 2010-11 season, the same could be said for two-guards. They featured a Hall of Fame starter (Ray Allen) along with a tough combo guard (Delonte West), a lengthy swingman (Marquis Daniels) and a shoot-first scorer (Von Wafer). The latter three are unrestricted free agents this offseason, and there’€™s a chance any of the trio could return.

As we’€™ve noted  before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2; Paul Pierce, $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo, $10; Jermaine O’€™Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley, $1.53), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.

However, unlike the center situation, there will be a ton of quality available shooting guards. As a result, Celtics president Danny Ainge can more easily upgrade the team as a whole by dedicating what little money he’€™ll have available to a two-guard once the free agency frenzy opens on Dec. 9.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at shooting guard, separating the current free-agent players into four categories.

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Jackie MacMullan on M&M: Veteran teams play well in shortened seasons

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan joined Mut & Merloni to give her thoughts on the Celtics and how they will fare now that the union and the owners have come to a tentative agreement to end the NBA lockout. Boston is set to face the Knicks on Christmas day in the first game of a shortened 66-game season.

MacMullan pointed to the 1999 NBA season, which was shortened to 50 games due to another lockout, and how older teams like the Spurs, the Magic and the Knicks were among the best in the league.

“You look at who came out of that shortened ’99 season, it was all veteran teams,” MacMullan said. “The Orlando Magic had one of the oldest teams in the league, the New York Knicks were dragging Patrick Ewing along and of course the San Antonio Spurs, who ended up winning the whole thing. They didn’t do well in those back-to-back-to-back games, in fact they did somewhat poorly, the older teams.

“But over the long haul, you had a bunch of veterans. Do you think anyone needs to tell Kevin Garnett how to stay in shape during the lockout? Do you think anyone needs to tell Ray Allen? And I would daresay even Paul Pierce has figured it out at this point. So the veteran teams tend to do well in these shortened seasons because they know what it takes not just to get into shape, but to stay in shape as the lockout goes along.”

While many think that the Celtics’ window to win another championship has closed, MacMullan said that the team has the ingredients to still be a contender.

“These guys know how to do it, they play the kind of defense that can get it done,” MacMullan said. “The question of course we always have with them is, can they score enough points? Because they really do get bogged down offensively.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On what moves the Celtics will make before the start of the season: “I think it will be small moves. They have a core that they can try to go out a win. Don’t laugh, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried going after Grant Hill one more time, another old guy, a veteran that Doc loves and I think would be great in their locker room. They need a big body. My guess is they’ll go for a defensive type of center, like Kendrick Perkins, who’s going to cost them less money. Maybe a Joel Przybilla, his name has been out there. Do they go after a young, athletic guy like Al Thornton? They might.

“I was intrigued with one thing. Greg Oden is a restricted free agent in Portland. We know about his terrible, terrible foot problems. Do you take a flyer on him, one that doesn’t cost you a ton of money? My guess is whatever you did Portland would match it. But I just go all the way back to when we thought the Celtics might have a No. 1 pick, they were in the Greg Oden camp. Not the Kevin Durant pick, and by the way, that’s true of 99 percent of the people in the NBA at that time. So do you take a shot at Greg Oden? I don’t know. I doubt you overpay for him. You maybe overplay a little, but I doubt you throw big, big bucks at him and my guess is Portland would match no matter what. But he’s just a guy to throw out there because if he could at all be healthy, he’d really help you.”

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