|Report: Celtics to work out Croatian draft prospect Dragan Bender||06.07.16 at 12:33 pm ET|
According to a published report, the Celtics have scheduled a workout with Croatian big man Dragan Bender, whom they could potentially select with the third overall pick.
Bleacher Report’s David Pick reports via twitter that Bender will visit the Celtics, Suns, and Timberwolves in the U.S.
The Celtics have already scouted Bender in Israel, where he’s playing professionally. Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said watching him in a practice environment and playing one-on-one against his younger brother, Ivan, a Maryland recruit, provided a better look at his skills.
“We had a 1-on-none and a 1-on-1 type of workout with his brother,” Ainge told reporters. “Actually, [Ivan] will be playing at Maryland next year. He’s a 6-10 kid. And then we watched [Dragan] in a full-team practice, which we actually thought was better than a game because we’d seen all his games. We’d seen him play in person in games and, because he’s not playing a major role as an 18-year-old in a tough Israeli league, we were able to watch him practice. And we thought that was more beneficial than what we’d seen in games.”
The 7-foot-1 center is considered a project because of his age and experience, but he’s also one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, thanks to his shooting ability and athleticism. While there had been rumors of the Lakers’ interest at No. 2, which would’ve upended the draft, Pick recently reported that L.A. will stick with Duke’s Brandon Ingram at No. 2.
Source: Dragan Bender has NBA workouts scheduled in US with Celtics, Suns, Twolves.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 6, 2016
|Butch Stearns on D&C: Kevin Durant’s representatives have let Celtics know which players he wants prospective teams to acquire||05.31.16 at 11:16 am ET|
D&C guest hosts discuss Kevin Durant
With Kevin Durant’s season ending Monday night courtesy of the defending champion Warriors’ Game 7 win over the Thunder in the Western Conference finals, the speculation about Durant’s future is set to take off.
There have been rumors that the Celtics will make a push at the pending free agent. If Boston is to land Durant, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge might have to start by looking into acquiring some auxiliary pieces first.
According to Butch Stearns, during an appearance as a guest host on WEEI Monday morning, Durant’s people have informed the C’s who those additional players are.
“I have this on pretty good authority: The Celtics have sat with his agent and other representatives of Durant. The Celtics do know — I don’t know who it is — but they do know who he would prefer to be brought here in a LeBron [James]-Chris Bosh-Dwyane Wade-like way. Because that’s how it works in the NBA. You need to know who the guy or guys that that guy wants, which would be a factor,” Stearns said.
“Now, I don’t know if Durant’s told them that. But the Celtics know. They know. They’ve been told what group of guys he would want to come here.”
Considering Durant could make more money with Oklahoma City — around $30 million per season — than anywhere else, he would need more incentive to leave. Perhaps an easier path to the NBA Finals would be one such appeal.
Said Stearns: “Why would he come here? If I were him? Because I don’t have to deal with the West anymore. I only have to beat LeBron [and the Cavaliers].”
|Celtics choice: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender||05.19.16 at 6:17 pm ET|
As the days pass by leading up to this year’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice”
Today: Trading for Jahlil Okafor, using the No. 3 pick as the primary chip, or drafting Dragan Bender.
The case for Okafor
As the No. 3 overall pick a year ago, the Sixers forward established himself as a legitimate, top-notch NBA big man. At just 20 years old, Okafor was named to the NBA All-Rookie team, having averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds while playing 30 minutes per contest. He’s the legitimate, go-to, 7-footer the Celtics crave.
The case against Okafor
Google “Okafor, trouble” and you’ll get a flurry of posts using words like “off-court incident.” He also isn’t the kind of rebounder the Celtics might want from their presence in the paint.
|Report: Lakers to explore trading No. 2 pick, which could hamper Celtics efforts to deal 3rd pick||05.19.16 at 1:43 pm ET|
According to a story on Bleacher Report, the Lakers will seriously entertain offers for the No. 2 pick in the draft, which is widely expected to be Duke shooter Brandon Ingram. Such a move could seriously impact the Celtics.
If Los Angeles deals the No. 2 pick, that would make the Celtics’ third pick that much less valuable. If the 76ers select LSU’s Ben Simmons first overall, as expected, the Lakers hold the ticket for Ingram. The talent drop-off is considered steep after those two and the Celtics own first crack at the best of the rest.
Still, if a club is willing to listen on a player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George, or Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, the second pick will be a lot more enticing than the third.
The Lakers, according to the report, are willing to listen on the pick because they want to improve sooner rather than later, particularly with the 76ers holding their first-round pick next year if it falls outside the top three.
From the story:
Still, the Lakers will actively explore trading the pick. They want to get better as soon as possible—in part to make sure Philadelphia doesn’t get too good of a pick next year when the Lakers’ first-rounder conveys to the 76ers if it’s outside the top three. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is also seeking a better blend of youth and experience on the roster.
But it’s an open question if the Lakers can find a star another club is willing to send away. Trading away the likes of Paul George or Jimmy Butler would be hard-to-explain steps back for the Pacers or Bulls. And with George Karl gone and a new arena to open, the Kings aren’t likely to move DeMarcus Cousins.
It’s also valid to wonder why the Lakers would want to give up young assets they have under cost-controlled contracts that would fit perfectly with massive incoming free-agent deals.
So while nothing is definite with any of these picks, it’s worth noting that the Celtics may soon have some competition on the trade front.
|Brad Stevens on Dale & Holley: Tradition is Celtics’ best selling point for star free agents||05.09.16 at 4:22 pm ET|
Celtics coach Brad Stevens joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the current NBA landscape and the future of the team. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
This is considered a pivotal offseason for the Celtics, who are coming off a first-round elimination at the hands of the Hawks but have the third-best shot at the first overall pick because they have the Nets’ first-round selection. Whether with picks, a trade of roster players or in free agency, the team hopes to add at least one star player to the roster.
Stevens, who is coming off his third season in Boston, says he will play whatever role he can in trying to recruit players, but noted he considers the Celtics’ history to be the biggest draw.
“I’ll play an active role,” he said. “I’ll do anything that I can as far as meeting with guys, calling guys, whatever I can after the July 1 time frame when we’re given the go-ahead to meet with those guys. I think the best selling point, I would say that I’m probably not near that. I think that the tradition, the history, the way that the city embraces the Celtics, the way that our players feel about being Celtics, the amount of pride that they’ve taken in that, and this group in particular, how thankful they’ve been to get a chance to play in front of these fans and in this place where those banners hang above you — to me, that’s the top of the list.
“I’m a basketball guy; I love the game and I love the tradition and the history and the tradition of the game. Maybe that just means to me, but I think it means a lot to a lot of people. Certainly there are other factors involved, when ultimately free agents have to choose a place to play, but for me, those were a lot of the things that obviously flattered me about being asked to be the coach here.”
The Celtics had an All-Star in Isaiah Thomas this season, but the feeling around the team is that it needs to have a true superstar in order to contend with teams like Cleveland in the East. Stevens acknowledged as much, but noted it’s how a team shapes its roster around stars that allows the team to thrive.
“A lot of the NBA is really focused on whoever your one, two or three guys that draw the most attention are, but then who can space the floor for those guys and how effective is that all working together,” he said.
Added Stevens: “Let’s say that you end up drafting a person that is a great rim-protector but may have limited offensively ability, for example. You’ve got to come up with a plan to manage and maximize that. I think that generally speaking, I think that versatility — and when I say versatility, I’m talking about guys that can guard really 2 through 4 — because at times those guys can switch everything and make it as difficult as possible on a number of different positions while at the same time shooting are two of the big things that we just have to continue to focus on.”
|Follow Celtics-Hawks Game 6 live||04.28.16 at 7:26 pm ET|
|Follow Celtics-Hawks Game 5 live||04.26.16 at 7:14 pm ET|
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