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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: USC C Nikola Vucevic 06.06.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Nikola Vucevic

Position: Center

Team: University of Southern California

Height: 7-foot

Weight: 260 pounds

Stats: 17.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg

What he brings: Nikola Vucevic may be a European center, but unlike many before him he’s not an unknown commodity. He played his senior year of high school at Stoneridge Prep (Simi Valley, Calif.) before earning a scholarship to USC.

After averaging just 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman, he captured Pac-10 Most Improved Player honors in his sophomore campaign and produced 17.1 points (50.5 FG%, 34.9 3-PT FG% & 75.5 FT%), 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 blocks before declaring for the draft after his junior season.

The tallest player at the 2011 NBA combine, Vucevic possesses a lot of qualities generally associated with European bigs — touch around the rim, a reliable mid-range jump shot (as well as developing 20-foot-plus range) and a lack of athleticism. He’s been criticized for his failure to play “above the rim” and his lack of success against athletic NBA-caliber big men. However, his high motor, particularly on the defensive glass, has separated him a bit from the stereotype.

More skilled than a guy like Semih Erden, Vucevic is expected to be a valuable backup center in the NBA — a role the Celtics most definitely need to fill. Touted for his high character, Vucevic has hinted that he may play in Europe for a year should a lockout threaten the 2011-12 NBA season, and such experience could actually serve the still-developing center well.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “His strength, his conditioning, and the key, for me, for Nik to make it in the NBA, he has to become a proficient NBA 3-point shooter, which is a much harder shot than the college 3. And he’€™s not a totally proficient college 3-point shooter, yet. He’€™s got to be shooting four times a week, 1,000 NBA 3s a day. That’€™s what he needs.” — USC coach Kevin O’Neill

Notes: The Swiss-born Vucevic was raised in Belgium before moving to Montenegro as a teenager. Both of his parents — father Borislav and mother Ljiljana — played both professionally and for the Yugoslavian men’s and women’s national teams, as chronicled in this LA Times piece. Vucevic himself has played for the Montenegro U20 national team, averaging 15.5 points and 10.8 rebounds during the 2009 European Championships. Oh, and Vucevic, who said he would want to be an actor if he weren’t a basketball player (hence, USC), learned English partly as a result of watching “Love & Basketball” over and over.

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Read More: 2011 NBA Draft, Boston Celtics, NBA Draft, Nikola Vucevic
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Tokyo Apache PF/C Jeremy Tyler 06.01.11 at 2:48 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Jeremy Tyler

Position: Power Forward/Center

Team: Tokyo Apache

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 262 pounds

Stats: 9.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg

What he brings: It’s been a wild ride for a kid who’s only 19 years old. Tyler reneged on a commitment to play for Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville and signed with the Israeli league’s Maccabi Haifa for $140,000 — foregoing his senior year of high school. He then left Maccabi over a playing time dispute. From there, he signed in Japan to play for Bob Hill and the Tokyo Apache (if you’ll remember, Hill is the last man not named Gregg Popovich) to coach the Spurs .

Tyler is a project, no doubt, but it’s not like an American has never made the leap from overseas to the NBA (see: Jennings, Brandon). As a junior at California’s San Diego High, he averaged 28.7 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks per game, vaulting himself to a top-five national recruit ranking in the Class of 2010 alongside guys like Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Knight. Whether or not Tyler still belongs in that conversation depends on who you ask.

Athletic, physical, defensive-minded guys with top-five upside who are 6-foot-11 aren’t easy to find, so somebody will take a chance on him. Tyler is said to have matured as a result of Hill’s tutelage and his experience in Japan. That and his 7-foot-5 wingspan may have played his way into the first found at the recent NBA Draft Combine.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “It’€™s a case-by-case basis. Some [overseas players] will be successful and others won’€™t. But Brandon Jennings didn’€™t hurt his draft stock at all. … I have a hard time with that because I believe people should have a right to earn a living. But if you’€™re not doing it for financial reasons, you should definitely go to college.” — Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Notes: The trials and tribulations of Tyler are many. A Google search of “Jeremy Tyler” and “NBA” returns 89,900 results. But these three articles from The New York Times chronicle Tyler’s unique path better than most.

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Instant Irish Coffee: Big Baby blogs 05.31.11 at 10:27 am ET
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Following an atrocious performance for the Celtics in the conference semifinals against the Heat, free agent Glen Davis is refocusing on two things that made him so successful to start the 2010-11 season — working out and eating right — as well as one new hobby: blogging.

Here’s a bit from Big Baby, who took some time out from eating chicken burgers, pasta and kale with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Kearns to blog at iambigbaby.com:

I am very excited to start working out again, set some summer goals and really get ready for next season. It is all about a balanced lifestyle, putting time in at the gym and eating right. I have a great team around me and as you will see my main man, my trainer, is already trying to one up me in the first edition!

While Davis may have a great team of trainers around him, he doesn’t have a basketball team to play with quite yet. The Celtics have said they will offer Davis a contract but won’t match an offer from another team that exceeds his value to the Celtics.

Of course, as is always the case, the blog isn’t always entirely accurate (it is the Internet after all). In his second entry, two weeks ago, he was under the impression that the Celtics had gotten a No. 2 seed in the NBA Playoffs. Perhaps that’s why he seemed so confused in Miami.

IMPORTANT NBA COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT DATES

If you’re at all interested in the possibility of an NBA lockout, Ken Berger‘s piece over the weekend is a must read. He highlights a few important dates in the negotiations and compares the NBA’s predicament to the current NFL fiasco. Here’s an important note:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, NBA
Columnists: Less Kendrick Perkins is a good thing? 05.23.11 at 8:59 am ET
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While many Celtics fans wished Danny Ainge could hit the rewind button on the trade deadline and get more playoff minutes out of Kendrick Perkins, at least two NBA columnists have urged Thunder head coach Scott Brooks to do the exact opposite and give the former C’s center less playing time.

Mavericks center Tyson Chandler is averaging 8.7 points on 60 percent shooting and 12.0 rebounds in 33 minutes a night, leading Dallas to a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. Meanwhile, Perkins has produced just 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 27 minutes a game.

Here’s Oklahoman columnist Darnell Mayberry’s take on the lopsided matchup:

In Perkins’ 82 minutes of playing time, the Thunder has been outscored by 32 points. With Perk on the bench, the Thunder has outscored the Mavs by 23. Furthermore, with Chandler on the court, Perkins’ plus/minus per 36 minutes is minus-17.7, according to NBA.com’s StatsCube data.

Perkins has the worst plus/minus of any Thunder player in this series.

By comparison, the Mavs have outscored the Thunder by 19 points with Chandler on the court. And Chandler has made his impact mostly against Perkins, compiling a per 36-minute plus/minus of plus-17.7 with Perkins on the court and a minus-15.8 with Perkins on the bench.

And here’s ESPN.com columnist and stats guru John Hollinger’s breakdown:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder
Celtics made Doc Rivers highest-paid NBA coach 05.19.11 at 10:47 am ET
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Following the retirement of Phil Jackson, formerly the only eight-figure earner among coaches in the four major sports, Doc Rivers has become the highest paid coach in the NBA, according  to Forbes Magazine.

After making $5.5 million this past season, Rivers will now make an average of $7 million over the next five seasons after signing a $35 million extension. He surpassed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who both make $6 million per season.

Interestingly, the magazine credits the jumps by Rick Pitino from the University of Kentucky to the Celtics and John Calipari from UMass to the Nets “as the catalysts driving NBA coaching salaries to a new level.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics may have to hire a new assistant coach, as Lawrence Frank is a candidate for the opening head coaching positions for the Warriors and Rockets, although Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey appears to be the favorite in Houston, according to CBS Sports.

As a side note, Forbes determined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick‘s annual estimated salary of $7.5 million is the highest paycheck for any coach in the four major sports.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Lawrence Frank
Report: Rockets interview Lawrence Frank again 05.17.11 at 8:44 am ET
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Just a year after losing defensive-minded assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and watching him take the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics and head coach Doc Rivers might be posting the position on the NBA’s “Help Wanted” list for a second straight season.

Thibodeau’s replacement, Lawrence Frank, went through a second round of interviews with the Rockets on Monday for the head coaching position left vacant in Houston by Rick Adelman, according to Houston’s local FOX affiliate. He is reportedly one of three finalists for the job, along with Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey and Celtics Hall of Famer Kevin McHale.

This past season, Frank did an admirable job as Rivers’ assistant coach, leading the Celtics to a No. 1 ranking in points allowed (91.1) and No. 2 ranking in defensive rating (100.3 points per 100 possessions). Under Thibodeau in 2009-10, the C’s ranked fifth in both points allowed (95.6) and defensive rating (103.8).

Last serving as a head coach in 2009, Frank totaled a 225-241 record (.483 winning percentage) with the Nets for six-plus seasons.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Houston Rockets, Lawrence Frank
Kevin Garnett: Celtics didn’t reach their potential 05.16.11 at 1:21 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett was the only member of the Celtics‘ Big Four not to address the media following the team’s meltdown in a Game 5 loss to the Heat that effectively ended the 2010-11 NBA season in Boston last week. Now, five days later, Garnett addressed the C’s demise in his Anta blog. Here’s the entry …

As you know, we were knocked out of the playoffs by Miami. It’s unfortunate that we are out and in my mind didn’t reach our potential. Taking the last couple of days to think about things and the season was long. Their were ups and downs all season and dealing with teammates, leaving teammates, gaining teammates. Long hours, flights, practices, workouts, etc. Another season under my belt, but not satisfying. I’ll be getting back to the “lab” (workouts and court work) to work on my craft, so I can keep improving. I will be working on my skills and constantly trying to get better.

Quick shout out to my man [Shaquille O'Neal], who is the best.  He worked hard all season, but couldn’t get his Achilles right.

Amazing to think that I was playing with so many potential HOF (Hall of Famers). I will remember these times, on and off the court.  This will be a memorable season!!!

Thank you all so much for your constant support and encouragement throughout the season. Hanging in with us through the ups and downs of the season. Your support gets me through and pushes me to be better. I will be back in China some time in July or August, so stay tuned. I met so many of you all last summer that it will be exciting to meet more.

Keep reaching higher and thanks to all my supporters.

my 2011 season is officially over.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal
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